• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Why Nigeria must impose capital punishment on kidnapping, others- Kolawole

Why Nigeria must impose capital punishment on kidnapping, others- Kolawole

Musibau Taiwo Kolawole, former House of Representatives member from Ajeromi/Ifelodun Constituency in Lagos State, expressed his belief that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is on the right path to addressing Nigeria’s challenges.

Kolawole, who has served as deputy speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, emphasised in an interview with Iniobong Iwok that nation-building requires leaders to make tough decisions.

He also cautioned against premature celebration, remaining optimistic, seeing a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. Excerpts:

President Bola Tinubu is one year in office; do you think we have anything to celebrate, especially in the areas of the economy and security?

There is no time we would not celebrate at least because of life, one should be happy. As the people in power and people who are determined to solve the problems of the country, it is not yet Uhuru. We have set a standard; people have seen that this is a serious government.

They have never seen this type of government or President before, the President that can stand before the world and talk about the country proudly and boldly and invite them to come and invest.

Bola Tinubu is a President that faces the economic problem of the country headlong and is tackling it. We have a lot to celebrate, but we have not got there and when it comes to the time of celebration, we will celebrate. President Tinubu is moving forward, Nigeria is moving, but I won’t tell you that we have anything to celebrate rather than to work harder.

But people are saying that President Bola Tinubu started economic radicalism too early and that he shouldn’t have removed fuel subsidy immediately. Do you agree?

Don’t let us deceive ourselves; it is the people that are there that see the problems that we have. If Tinubu had not removed subsidy as at the time he did, the problem would have been much. There is no way they could run the government with fuel subsidy. There was no money to run the government again and nobody would borrow us money.

The revenue we were earning as a nation was not even enough to service the existing loans. There is no way you would not find hardship in solving problems, when we were destroying the whole thing, it was all of us that were enjoying it and laughing, then we were borrowing to pay salaries. We were giving ourselves subsidy that was not realistic.

This is a nation that is talking about capitalism, we have free market and we are doing subsidy. Subsidy is about trying to make life accessible and meaningful to everybody, while capitalism is saying that you cannot have it, when you don’t have the means.

The complaint is that the fuel of the commoners, which is diesel, was not subsidised then, but the fuel of the rich, which is petrol, was the one being subsidised to high heavens and people were taking advantage of it.

When I was a member of the National Assembly, on many occasions, we raised the issue of the exact figure of the petrol that we consume as a nation. They will round trip it, take it out and sell it to the neighbouring countries after it has been subsidised by the Nigerian government.

I don’t know any way else that we ought to go then, when subsidy was above a trillion naira annually. Do you think a good person that took over the government would go and sleep or continue the process that was there? There is no time they would remove subsidy that we will not experience hardship.

It’s even better to do it at the beginning, a good administration takes hard decisions at the beginning and he would have time to show the people that what he has done is for the benefit of all. Yes, we talk about insecurity, but for the first time, our children were kidnapped and they were returned.

For the time, we have an administration that said that they would release the list of the people that are funding this thing.

The list had been with the previous administrations and they refused to release it, but this administration released the names of those that are funding the insurgents and they said that they would go after them. Are you saying kidnapping has continued, no, it is reducing? Even in the past administration, when infrastructure started improving, kidnapping started reducing.

The spate of kidnapping is even beyond Boko Haram and terrorism issue, it has become an economic problem. Hope you can recall the story of a common driver that was kidnapping people and became a billionaire, but he was later arrested.

As a nation, particularly in Lagos State, we have imposed capital punishment on kidnapping and it has become less lucrative in the state. Due to the renewed hope on infrastructure of this government, the roads are getting better. In the past, there were some roads in Nigeria that the driver would have to get to zero acceleration before he could move to the extent that even if someone held a plastic knife, he could kidnap the whole people in a truck.

But is it possible now, can somebody cross Lagos-Ibadan Expressway now and say he wants to kidnap people, it’s not possible again. The work of a nation building is not done by one administration or by one person. That was why I said though we ought to thank God for being alive; it’s not yet time for celebration.

Recently, a former chief of defence staff, Theophilus Danjuma (rtd.) said that no person, especially foreigners, would be willing to come to the country to invest or visit tourist sites when their security was not guaranteed. What is your comment on this?

Is that a patriotic statement, it’s not. Even the insecurity that we talk about in the north, they are self-driven. For instance, see what is happening in Zamfara State, these are people that are stealing gold from the government.

But see what the government did, they put a very serious minded person in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development in person of Dele Alake and the guy is moving from one place to another.

They must catch them, so they are not happy. These are the people that have taken the resources of Nigeria free of charge and they are proving difficult. This is why you hear such comments from people that have benefitted even wrongly through the military interregnum and they are coming out to say all sorts of things about Nigeria.

This is a country that is ranked as one of the 10 happiest nations in the world. Lagos, for instance, is said to be one of the five cities in the world people should visit, according to them, not even us. With the types of infrastructure the state government has put in place, you can see that is happening there, and somebody sits in one corner to make comments that can deprive people from coming to Nigeria and you are celebrating that.

This is a man that is over 80 years old, he cannot even come out and jug. He ought to be praying for Nigeria rather than making such comments.

How soon do you think we should have state police in Nigeria?

It’s now, even yesterday. In 1999, I was a legislator, when President Bola Tinubu was the governor of Lagos State, and we requested for state police then. So, I’m not surprised that he said they could come up with state police and the whole states are planning it.

Lagos State is seriously planning how to start state police. We should not mind what federal police are saying that Nigeria is not ripe for state police. This is a time that the world is even moving from quality control to quality assurance. You must do it well the first time.

What do you think President Tinubu should concentrate on as he is moving to second year in office?

It is a government, and government is about everything. The President must know everything, he has set the tone, he has appointed people into positions and they are working.

Therefore, I don’t think there is one area that he should not look at, particularly now when you are talking of development, and restructuring, when you are talking of representing the blueprint for Nigerian development, it’s holistic.