Ayodele Adewale is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Lagos State and a former chairman of Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of the state. In this exclusive interview with INIOBONG IWOK, he says the Buhari administration must prioritise education and human capital development for the country to make meaningful progress. He also spoke on moves to amend the 2010 Electoral Act, 2023 general election, among other issues in the polity. Excerpts:
What is your take on President Buhari’s New Year’s message and what areas do you think his administration focus should be now?
I would look at it from the different sectors; when you look at the state of infrastructure now compared with past administration, I would give them a pass mark. They have been able to bring about improvement in the state of infrastructures that would be long lasting and durable. On Oshodi Expressway, I can see the partnership between Dangote and the Federal Government, I see the concrete road and the project is doing well. I would also urge the administration to make sure that the estimate of the 2020 Budget is executed to about 90 percent; it has been signed into law. I would expect that every agency of government helps this administration to achieve that. That takes me to education; the administration is trying to revitalise the education sector, if you look at the content of the President Buhari’s New Year speech, he said that he would work with various state governments to revitalise that sector. But if you look at a federal constitution, education is the function of the state, the federal government can only support.
The system of driving the education in the country is wrong; it must be left to the state; the federal government is too preoccupied. The world is talking about artificial intelligence; so Nigeria should be looking into that direction of science and technology.
Only education that can help our people to be sustainable and develop individuals. Nigerians should be educated so that they can survive on their own. They can create jobs; we can’t survive as a people by depending on people.
I am talking about sustainable education, we must try and key into sustainable development that the world is trying to drive into. Recently, a Nigerian professional is ranked number one consultant on kidney and heart treatment throughout the world, we have to try and bring back a lot of our citizens who are out there and doing well back to the country to come and help us develop what we have.
That is why I am starting with infrastructure in the president’s New Year’s speech. Buhari talked about the on-going partnership between Nigeria and Germany, he talked about electricity, you can’t take it away from the Germans, the British, the advanced countries; these are people who have demonstrated capacity. Germany, most especially, produces a lot of electricity installations and equipment, the administration is working closely with them. Also state government should tap into these. I see no reason state and local governments cannot produce their own energy source.
We should be able to produce our own energy sources for rural, estate and schools; all of these things. Recently, University of Ife pulled out of the national grid; they are producing their own energy source now that is sustainable. We should encourage this because this is the kind of thing that would drive our economy. A lot of our youths have gainful energy that can be tapped, and help us develop the state and tackle insecurity and so on.
Recently, we saw how Anthony Joshua made the country proud. I am sure that there are so many like him in the country, only that we need to put in place the right infrastructures. This should be the concern of the state and federal governments.
One of the issues that has generated controversy in the last few weeks has been hate speech bill. What is your take on the bill?
I think we should be able to differentiate between individuals and the administration. President Buhari did not sponsor that bill. People are saying the administration, but someone in the National Assembly sponsored that bill. But the bill is a good bill; what is bad in that bill is the capital punishment that is there. Somebody just sitting in the corner of the house and just passing false information about the other person; but we need laws that would take care of that, may be not with capital punishment.
If that bill can be put to public hearing, let the NBA, the media and other stakeholders come and make input, it would help protect a lot of things. Look at what happened to Davido recently;.two girls just came out and accused him falsely; what if that had destroyed his relationship with Chioma? What if it had destroyed their relationship to a point of irreconcilable? Why would someone just bring false news and people are killing themselves and later we would see that it was false? I think that capital punishment is what killed that bill, but it is a good bill.
President Buhari just reaffirmed that he is not seeking a third term; it is presumed that power would shift to the South in 2023; what do you think about the issue?
Is a lovely thing that President Buhari has come out to clarify that false news that he was going for third term in office.
The President also said that he was ready to work more with INEC, so that they can create more transparency and reform in our electoral system. But you should know that the way democracy is practised in this country it is about numbers, we don’t have any written power sharing formula, what we have is an understanding.
So I would not want to be sentimental. But I want power to also go to all the geo-political regions, especially the west. It is good that power moves across the regions so that we all have a fair share of government in Nigeria. But again, it can be put into law that power must rotate across the country. If it is put into law, political parties must be ready to put out their best candidate, through that we would not allow some hoodlums or some people with questionable character to take power. We must try and put it into law that people who have questionable character, or do not have the love of the people should not come into power.
You have been a strong advocate of restructuring; Olisa Agbakoba recently advocated for cooperative restructuring, how feasible is that?
Well, I believe we can still take a look at restructuring, but what Agbakoba said is still mostly the same with restructuring.
The country should be restructured; the state should have their own independence, the federal should have their own independence and local government should be independent.
We should allow resources to be controlled by the state, while they pay royalties to the federal government. The greatest resource that we have in Nigeria is human, it is not agriculture. Go to Silicon Valley, what they have is human resources and that is where you have goggle, Facebook, Apple and the rest.
Restructuring is good; if you put the GDP of these companies I just mentioned in Silicon Valley together, it is bigger than the GDP of Nigeria and the jobs they create is bigger than what the Nigerian government would create.
What I am saying is that; we should invest in education of the citizens. Who would not believe that Zamfara with its natural resources like gold and the rest, if adequately tapped the state would be bigger than Dubai. It would create jobs, so the best investment is to invest in human capital.
We should focus more on technology that would bring about human development that is the only way to go. A lot of people are very lazy now, that is why I applauded the Lagos State government that wants to employ teachers, but not doing it on the basis of influence. What they are saying is that anyone who is interested should just go online and apply.
NASS has started the process of amending the 2010 Electoral Act and part of it is to deregister political parties, what is your take?
Yes, I support the amendment; 80 percent of the political parties have not even won a councillor seat, so if you cannot win a councillor why are you there? They are just clogging the system. We would get to a stage where we would have a million parties; can we put that in the voting paper? It would be crazy.
We need to set limit and set boundary; that is we are not saying you should not form a party, but if you form a party you need to be in a class, if you win certain number of seats you move to the next class. We should create independent candidacy, because if we do that we would not have this number of political parties.
We should also encourage parties to form alliance with a dominant party. But what I think the focus should be more is on electronic voting so that people can vote from the comfort of their rooms. Not where poling units where someone would come and snatch the ballot box away.
E-voting is what is done in Canada, Britain and other advanced societies; it would discourage all these problems and make people have confidence in the system when they know their votes would count. Even in LASU, electronic voting has been adopted and is being used in the conduct of SUG elections, within few minutes the result is out; we even do money transfer from our phones why not electronic voting?