Pasade: Those opposed to restructuring are benefitting from the system

Prince Babatunde Rotimi Paseda

• What Ogun Needs Now Is Positive Change

Prince Babatunde Rotimi Paseda is a politician and member of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). He told CHARLES COFFIE GYAMFI that good and quality education for all would restore Nigeria’s lost glory.

On Democracy
Democracy is maturing, but we have not got to where we ought to be. We are learning from our mistakes, but the pace at which we are learning is very slow, considering our age. We are a ten-year old behaving and learning at the pace of a three-year old. We still have a very long way to go.

Structure is one of the biggest lapses that we have got. We are not building institutions and we need to concentrate on building our institutions. Unless our institutions are functioning, we will remain where we are. I’m talking about education that produces the people that actually govern us. We are not doing the right thing in this sector. Instead, what we are doing is just churning out anybody that resembles or pretends to resemble the kind of people we want. If we can correct that, everything else will correct itself. If we start correcting the people that are in the helms of affairs, how they get there and who they are, if we can do that, the effect will trickle down and things will start changing for the better.

A typical example was when President Muhammadu Buhari first came into office; within the very first one month, people started obeying rules, people stopped for traffic light automatically, civil servants started behaving well, things just changed because it is Buhari. Until we start building institutions, then we are just going to keep regressing instead of progressing.

On 18 aspirants for Ogun Guber
Physically, there is nothing different between them and I, but mentally, there is a lot of difference. Emotionally, there is a lot of difference; intellectually there is a lot of difference. When they say you must come with clean hands, there is a lot of difference. Let them go and find out where I’m coming from, but can people do that about them. I can easily say this is where I’m going to and mean it, can my opponents say that. It is not about me becoming the governor; I could have become governor earlier than now if I had chosen the easy way out. I have the resources, if I had joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the time I came out I would have got the ticket. I could have joined the All Progressives Congress (APC), or any other party with the resources that was at my disposal, that would have been the easy way out and in case they didn’t give me the governorship ticket, they would have given me the Senate ticket but I was not and I’m still not desperate for power. My aim of going for the governorship is to make a positive change and I know it is not going to be easy.

The different between other aspirants and I is that I want to take us back to that point where things started going wrong. I don’t want to patch things up, let us go back to what we know, which is the political party and structure that helped us back then. That is Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), which is Awolowo’s manifesto that gave us education in the first place.

UPN has a firm and solid ideology; that is why I said I want to take us back to the time of Awolowo. Our party is the only ideologically based party for now. It is not that the others don’t have it or can’t have it, but they choose not to practise it. They are all offspring of UPN, they are all offspring of Awolowo, but they have all abandoned it. Ideologically, I think UPN is the only party that has solid and sound ideology.

On money politics
Most of the elite during election don’t come out to vote, they leave it to the lower and middle class. On election day, the elite would prefer to sit at home with their children, but you will find the drivers, cooks, housemaids in polling boots casting their votes. So the question here is, if the politicians offer somebody who is hungry and does not enjoy minimum living standard, anything, won’t he collect it? If all these young people that we see around as political thugs are educated and empowered, if they have jobs, would they be doing that? So, it is in the interest of politicians to keep these people constantly in abject poverty so when election time comes, they call on them and ask them to vote and offer them a paltry amount of money.

So unless we start re-educating voters, we can’t blame them, it is called survival instinct, people will do anything to survive. There is no job, there is no food, people are suffering and what do you expect them to do? They have to survive. Sometimes, politicians come in and organise empowerment programmes and you will find a lot of people rushing there, not because they like that but they want to collect that token that will probably keep them for the next few days.

If you truly and really love our people you will ensure that their living standards increase a bit, so that it will be difficult for them to sell their votes for just N500. Let them increase the minimum wage a little so that their living conditions will be improved a little.

The younger ones have the energy, they have intellect, and they have exposure. They have all it takes to rule, what is stopping a 30-year old man from becoming the governor of Ogun State? Nothing, once you have the basic education, the first degree, you’re ok. But that is not the case in Nigeria. The first thing that will happen is that they will look at you and say at 30 you are too young to rule and because our institutions are weak such person is denied the opportunity to rule. If the institution that produces our leaders is strong and working well, the kind of leaders that we will be churning out will not be determined by age, but based on ability and performance like it happens everywhere else in the world. In civilised countries, institutions bring out the leaders, but here it is the leaders that determine who rules, not the institutions.

We are just regressing, yes, we have to celebrate that we are independent. We are practising democracy, which is a milestone, we are learning from mistakes and we are correcting them, slowly, very slowly but the problems are not solved yet, we keep having persistent headache and the actual cause of the problems are yet to be addressed.

On restructuring
There is nothing wrong in having regional government, but there is stiff opposition to it because it will not benefit the minority in power, because some of them will lose power and none of them will accept the fact that they are loosing power. They have tasted power and power corrupts. There is no reason why we cannot go back to running regional governments as long as we remain one. For instance, the United States of America has something similar to regional government but they are one united country, they practise what I call semi- independent system of government, one State’s law is different from the other. We need that also in Nigeria because one paracetamol doesn’t cure everybody’s headache. Let us go back to regionalism and let every state enact their own laws and rule according to their own culture, religion, sentiments and whatever that suits them, but we will still be together. I’m a strong advocate of one united Nigeria. Those that do not want us to be together are those who don’t know their history very well, they don’t understand the implications and aftermath of a civil war.



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