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WHY IBADAN ELDERS SETTLED FOR AJIMOBI

By NBF News
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The Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Omowale Kuye, has revealed why the Ibadan Elders' Forum lined behind Governor Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi shortly before the elections in Oyo State. The forum pitched tent with Ajimobi of the Action Congress (ACN), Senator Adewolu Ladoja of the Accord Party (AP) and Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the then governor.

Kuye, former Federal Director of Budget, spoke with Daily Sun at his residence, Ikolaba, Ibadan, recently. He also confessed: 'Ladoja is a technocrat who has worked very well in a foreign company. Ladoja has additional experience which Ajimobi did not have.' Excerpts:

Why Ibadan Elders Forum supported Ajimobi
Support for Ajimobi is not because he is an Ibadan man. Support for Ajimobi is support for the integrity of the man nominated by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Ibadan Elders Forum is not made up of politicians. None of them has a card of any political party. They said they examined all the candidates of all the parties and Ajimobi is the most credible.

That was done not on the basis of tribal, ethnic consideration. It was on the basis of the qualification of the man involved. He has management skill and good reputation of having worked in a multinational company, having even worked not only in Nigeria but in the United States. That is why we supported him, calling all the voters, not only of Ibadan, but the whole Oyo State to support Ajimobi.

Ladoja is even more experienced
Former governor, Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja had equal or more experience. Ladoja is also a technocrat who has worked very well in a foreign company. Ladoja has additional experience which Ajimobi did not have. The experience of having been governor before. He has seen it all before. But no matter how fantastic he might be, you can't be a governor without having stepped on the toes of some people. We found that Ajimobi having not done that kind of assignment before will have little or no enemy in that area.

Let me tell you how well qualified Ladoja is. When he was there, he did his best. He spent the money of Oyo State on the needs of the state. He did it without discrimination as to whether one person is Ejigbo, Oyo, Ogbomoso, Oke Ogun or Ibadan. He was just doing what he thought right. Schools he built, teachers he paid regularly. The workers that were striking before he came in, he made them comfortable, and he even paid them one month addition every year ending.

Ladoja is a good manager of men and materials. Therefore, Ladoja is qualified to be governor permanently if it is possible. But because having been there before, it is not possible as a human being not to have offended anybody. This one who has not been there before is not likely to have too many enemies.

Ladoja's party, Accord, is a party whose name came only during that election. I have never heard of it before. But when he brought it, I embraced it because I know Ladoja that he would not do many things wrong. He is not likely to have started a party if he was not too sure. And you see, he started the party for less than three months and you see how many members he collected all over the place, see the no of votes he got. Therefore, you can see the organizing ability that Ladoja has.

That Ibadan Elders Forum said vote for Ajimobi is not a condemnation at all of Ladoja either that he did not perform well before or because he was not a good administrator. No, it was because they believe that there is no way, even if he was an angel, he must have offended some people. Therefore let's take a new person, that's all.

Alao-Akala not given credit
If Adebayo Alao-Akala was performing well, that was not too known. Akala unfortunately, many people do not know is someone I really like as a person because I knew him long time ago. I did not know him while he was in government. I did not know him that close as a person. I knew him as the ADC of a friend who became the Inspector-General of Police at that time, Chief Sunday Adewusi, while I was Federal Director of Budget.

The Ibadan Elders' Forum waited until the political parties came up with their candidates. As soon as the candidates were known, they examined the pros and cons of some of the candidates. They had a lot of arguments among themselves but they agreed. Let me confess to you, I am not a regular member because of the position I hold in the city. I cannot be partisan. I cannot be found to like one more than the other because all of them are treated as brothers and sisters. I don't have preferences except by the performances of individuals that I know.

Akala laid landmine for Ajimobi
Well, they look like landmines even to me an innocent observer. His government was paying only N9,000 minimum wage. The N9,000 he was not able to pay when due. Therefore, he was owing some of them. They were on strike demanding improved welfare package. Suddenly, the Federal Government in its own stupidity, announced N18,000 minimum wage. They forgot that we are not running a unitary government, we are running a federation. A state can only afford to pay its workers what it has. You cannot impose on me when you don't know whether I can afford it or not. That is why I say the Federal Government and the National Assembly are kinds of illiterates. They do not know what they are doing. They should never have passed that kind of law. They can only make recommendations to the state governments.

As of today, which state is paying the N18,000 minimum wage? Only Lagos State generates so much in terms of Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR). When former president Olusegun Obasanjo was quarreling with ex-governor Bola Tinubu. Obasanjo did not release money to him, the man (Tinubu) was governing happily because of the IGR.

But in Oyo State, like many other states, where the money they are getting hardly covers their running costs, how can you just sit in Abuja and instruct them to pay N18,000 and the President signed it? Is he also going to sign additional funds for the state governments to pay these salaries? He should have been better advised by his Finance Minister and Attorney-General. In a federal system, a state does what it likes in the interest of the state.

That is the beauty of federalism. It does not uniformise. It allows you within your resources to do whatever you want to do, and attract the best pay from wherever you can get it. The Federal Government will let most of the states commit financial suicide. They don't even allow the workers the freedom to move to where they can earn more. If I were in government, I would have stoutly advised against it.

Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs
Before Osun State was created, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, my good friend, insisted he must be permanent chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs. Alaafin, Olubadan and Soun who were deputies, went to court. They complained that historically, Obas do not meet. An oba is an oba in his domain. It was the Richards Constitution that started the obas' meeting. There was no Council of Obas before the Richards Constitution. The first meeting they had was in Ibadan, when the colonialists brought them together.

To put my city or town under another Oba is strange. But the modernity of political designs brought about the Council of Obas. Having decided that, they made Ooni the permanent chairman. Alaafin, Olubadan and Soun kicked against it.

They created Osun State, Ooni was accepted as permanent chairman. The chairmanship in Oyo State became rotational among Alaafin, Olubadan and Soun. Alaafin and Olubadan had done two years each as chairman. Soun did only six months and went to Mecca. By the time he returned, he met a decree by the military, under the late Col. Ike Nwosu, which made Alaafin permanent chairman.

The nullification of the permanent chairmanship by Akala is not a landmine. It was a law that made him (Alaafin) permanent chairman. Although it was a decree, but it was adopted by the succeeding civilian government of Alhaji Lam Adesina. The state House of Assembly which can review any law anytime and make new ones reverted to rotational chairmanship. Unfortunately, the governor that got the House to pass that law is not around to implement it. The new governor has to solve it. Afterall, life is full of problems. Not necessarily that the man who created the problems would be around when they are being solved.

NURTW crisis
We must have a permanent solution to the crisis. There must be somebody funding these National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) members by the kinds of weapons we were told they used. Those funding and harming them, they must have particular interest they are protecting. It is either you destroy those protecting interest, or the NURTW itself goes into oblivion. If the interest they are protecting is no more there, they will have no choice than to wither away.

I observe two things that may be parts of their interest. I gather they are collecting money from every transporter. That money does not go into the account or revenue of the government. I don't know where it goes to, they must be sharing it.

Although the politicians might have been using them, they also have self interest. The money involved is self-interest. Why should I be incharge of a particular garage, that is not bringing so much money, and you are incharge of a garage that is giving you N30 million? Self interest of the leadership is part of the problem. That may be the reason for the violence they are perpetrating.

Politicians find them useful. During the 2007 elections, I was at a polling station. Some people came in a van and carried the ballot boxes away. They were using these characters of the NURTW. It was their van they brought. That is why Ajimobi did not finally win in 2007. The NURTW can also be used to frighten opponents from coming out to vote. They can be used to kill opponents which is what is happening now.

It is not only opponents of the politicians, but opponents within the groups of the NURTW themselves. The Olubadan of Ibadan like any father has lots of sleepless nights, trying to resolve the crisis. The Olubadan is working hard, and we will soon see some improvement.

Law enforcers have failed
The characters involved are not above the law. But if the law enforcer is perceived as partial, that is why they are running away. The solution lies with the IGP. If I were the IGP, I would ask why is this happening only in Oyo State, when I have my men on ground? I would not bother Tokyo or Auxiliary, I would bother my officer (Police Commissioner) who I sent there. That he has failed in his duty, because he was sent there to keep the peace. But he has shown he couldn't keep the peace, he only allowed people to kill themselves.

Poor budget implementation
I was Federal Director of Budget during military and civilian administrations. I was with ex-president Shehu Shagari for four years. I did the job for Obasanjo as Federal Director of Budget 1978 to 1979 before he handed over to Shagari. I retired after almost 10 years.

There are many problems with present budgets. They stemmed from not keeping strictly to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. No matter how imperfect the Constitution appears to be, it makes provisions as to who has the responsibility for budget preparation. It gives the executive the exclusive responsibility for budget preparation.

You start having problems when the National Assembly members were varying the figures sent to them. They can object to it, saying we don't want you to build hospital, withdraw the money. But they can't say we instruct you to build two hospitals instead of one. This is because they don't know where the resources will come from. That is the responsibility of the executive.

You can see the in-experienced National Assembly we have. Not only that, you can see their greed. They rigged themselves into power. Some of them have never seen N1000 before. Now they are earning N42 million as three months allowance in addition to their salaries. When you watch them in session, hardly can you see 10 members sitting. Nigeria cannot afford to keep those characters as members.

We cannot even afford to keep permanent membership. That is why they are diverting attention to manipulate, steal, make money, create allowances that are not there. If I have the power, I will keep democracy going. But I will only ask them to come to that House only when they have to pass laws.

Over-bloated government
If we are truly running a federal system, duties left for the Federal Government should be clearly defined. These should be national currency, foreign affairs, customs, citizenship and defence. Others are for the states, because state government is nearer to the people. Money should be allocated to where the people need them. It is at the local government council that the people need primary and secondary education. At the state level, they need university. But the Federal Government takes the lion share of the money. It was never like that. It was the military when they came in 1966, centralized the government and the national income. It is when the Federal Government takes its own share, which it does not need anyway, that it shares the remaining to the people (state and local governments) who really need the money.

History of labour union
It was my time at the Ministry of Labour in 1975/76, that we created these unionized industrial unions. I presented the proposal. The military had a decree, during the tenure of General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), which said anybody on strike in the petroleum sector should be shot. I went to my permanent secretary then, Koku. I said 'Oga, what I have as a labourer to sell is my labour. Those who work in the oil companies sell their labour to the companies. If you do not shoot me as a civil servant because I want to withdraw my service because you don't pay me well, why should you shoot NNPC's truck drivers? It is not fair. I know the sector is important to the economy. But that is not enough reason for you should kill them.'

I suggested the setting up of Industrial Court to settle disputes which cannot be settled by the Arbitration Panel which was in existence them. When the case is on, they must not go on strike. When judgment is given, they must obey it before going on appeal. During this time, tempers will cool down and government will have no reason to shoot them. I did a paper on it. The Federal Executive Council approved it and ordered the ministry to set up the court. I went and secured accommodation for the court at Victoria Island. They are still there now. That is how we solved that problem.

It was also that time that I said all unions must be by their industrial sections. That is how you have NUPENG, and others are unionized according to industrial sections. That was how the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) came to being. Alhaji Hassan Sunmonu was elected its first president and Comrade Adams Oshiohmole its secretary.