Why Okun wants to pull out of the North - Olusule Tunde Olusule is a chief­tain of the PDP from Kogi State. He speaks on the na­tional con­fer­ence, pol­i­tics of Kogi State and other sundry is­sues. Ex­cerpts:

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - From Us­man A. Bello, Lokoja

Some are say­ing the na­tional con­fab is not nec­es­sary. What is your opin­ion?

I think it is al­ready serv­ing some pur­pose, the ex­pres­sion of pent-up anger by Nige­ri­ans over a host of things which people are gen­er­ally dis­af­fected with. The 492 del­e­gates there are speak­ing the minds of many Nige­ri­ans. In The­ater Arts, there is what we call pur­ga­tion of cathar­sis, whereby some­body who is ag­grieved is en­cour­aged to weep so as to get it out of the sys­tem. So even if that is what the con­fer­ence achieves, it is serv­ing the pur­poses and I think it is de­sir­able. I also hope with the se­ri­ous­ness at­tached to it and the cal­iber of people rep­re­sent­ing us, it will serve the pur­pose, es­pe­cially if it ad­dresses prob­lems of im­bal­ance in the fed­er­a­tion, and is­sues that have both­ered the people that they want to break away.

Some are of the view that most of the del­e­gates at the con­fer­ence are the same people that caused the na­tion’s prob­lem. What is your take on this?

I don’t think the del­e­gates are the ones that caused the prob­lem be­cause Nigeria cel­e­brated cen­te­nary this year and his­to­ri­ans would say the prob­lem of Nigeria has been with Nigeria since in­cep­tion and there is no­body in that con­fab that is 100 years. So it will not be right for us to say that those at the con­fab are the people that caused the prob­lem of Nigeria. If you talk about rep­re­sen­ta­tion yes, may be the pa­ram­e­ter for rep­re­sen­ta­tion was not prop­erly de­fined be­fore the con­fer­ence and that is an­other mat­ter. I be­lieve there will be an­other con­fer­ence. When Pres­i­dent Obasanjo held a na­tional con­fer­ence in 2005, no­body knew we were go­ing to have an­other one. There is a study that was com­mis­sioned by an agency of govern­ment, The People of Nigeria’, I have a friend who is the edi­tor of the se­ries and in the cost of re­search they dis­cov­ered that we have 428 eth­nic­i­ties in Nigeria, and it comes back to what I have said that we did not prob­a­bly de­fine our pa­ram­e­ter to take rep­re­sen­ta­tive along eth­nic lines. By tak­ing one from each eth­nic group, we would have 428 del­e­gates but govern­ment in its wis­dom de­cided to broaden it.

As an Okun elite what will you de­fine as the real in­ter­est of Okun people?

I don’t know whether you were in Kabba in March this year when the joint Okun paper was pre­sented by the Okun De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion. Trac­ing the tra­jec­tory of Okun man, the op­pres­sion and the marginal­iza­tion the Okun man has suf­fered over time, and the no­madism that had at­tended our geo- po­lit­i­cal life. First, we were in Kwara and now we are in Kogi and un­for­tu­nately it does seem that our for­tune are wors­ened in Kogi State, which is what we also cap­tured in our visit to the gover­nor. In a nut­shell, prin­ci­pal among the things we are ask­ing for is, we want a sit­u­a­tion that the is­sue of power ro­ta­tion is en­trenched in the Con­sti­tu­tion. We are also can­vass­ing a state of our own. We did this ear­lier and also when the federal govern­ment con­sti­tuted the con­sti­tu­tion re­view com­mit­tee. We are still un­der ad­vo­cacy. We have given about four or five sce­nar­ios. The Okun people for in­stance want to be com­pletely de­tached from the North be­cause we have no cul­tural and lin­guis­tic affin­ity with the North. So we are say­ing in re­mod­el­ing or re­des­ig­nat­ing the geopo­lit­i­cal zone which we be­long, it is ei­ther we are called cen­tral or mid west. And our people are also clam­our­ing for a state, we are say­ing that since Kogi State was cre­ated on Au­gust 27, 1991, from old Benue and Kwara State, those of us from the old Kwara should stay to­gether, that is Kogi cen­tral and the west which is a great pos­si­bil­ity. An­other al­ter­na­tive we also pos­tu­late is that let’s stay on our own as Okun people be­cause in terms of num­bers, we are not too small, if you add Oworo com­po­nent in Lokoja lo­cal govern­ment, hy­po­thet­i­cally, we can be talk­ing about six lo­cal gov­ern­ments. When Bayelsa was cre­ated in 1996, it has about six or seven lo­cal gov­ern­ments, and in terms of num­ber we are equal even if not more. We have a pop­u­la­tion of over one mil­lion and I think that is not too small. Also, If that is not go­ing to work let us have an Okun State with Okun people in Kogi, Kwara, Ekit and Ondo states, we can come to­gether to form a state. We can also have an Okun state by bring­ing Ig­bom­ina of Kwara so that we can form a State. The bot­tom line is that we want the na­tional con­fer­ence to re­dress and ad­dress the is­sue of sub­ju­ga­tion, un­der­de­vel­op­ment, crass marginal­iza­tion which we have se­ri­ally suf­fered over time.

Where do you think the na­tion got it wrong po­lit­i­cally?

I think it is all wrong per­cep­tion but it is just un­for­tu­nate that at some point in the evo­lu­tion of politic we al­lowed our cul­ture, ethics and value eroded and don’t for­get that people are in pol­i­tics to serve. We must be­gin to play the pol­i­tics of Benue people. The Tiv na­tion has been dom­i­nant in the pol­i­tics of Benue State and the way they do it is that they don’t make rich men their gover­nor, they look for people who had achieved in their own right and they would not mon­e­tize the po­si­tion, so that people would be able to hold the per­son ac­count­able. For­mer gov­er­nors like, Late Rev­erend Moses Adasu be­came gover­nor 1992 and Se­na­tor Ge­orge Akume, was a di­rec­tor of pro­to­col in the Benue state civil ser­vice as well as spe­cial as­sis­tant to Dr Iy­ocha Ayu when he was in the Se­nate. Gabriel Suswam was a for­mer Rep mem­ber and he would tell you he was not nec­es­sar­ily the rich­est per­son dur­ing the 2007 pri­mary elec­tion. At the end of the day, the elders would sit down to say ‘who are we go to give the po­si­tion?’ I am close to Akume and Suswam and I have dis­cov­ered that when their elders visit the govern­ment house, they are kept not wait­ing in the wait­ing room as the Gover­nor pleads with who­ever he is meet­ing with at that time to say the people who put me here are here to see me. So we must get to that point when we would hold our rep­re­sen­ta­tives ac­count­able.

Where do you stand in 2015?

I am a PDP man, be­gin­ning from 2009, I was con­sult­ing with my people be­cause I wanted to rep­re­sent them at the level of the Se­nate. We have three federal con­stituen­cies in Kogi West , one is Lokoja/koto which has pro­duced Se­na­tor Tunde Og­beha from 1999 to 2003, he played by the rules and left even when he could have con­tin­ued. Se­na­tor Smart Adeyemi won in 2007 and we also voted for him in 2011 and the un­der­stand­ing was that the se­na­to­rial seat will move to Yagba federal con­stituency. Now be­yond mov­ing to Yagba federal con­stituency, some people wanted it re­duced to lo­cal govern­ment. People also said the first se­na­tor in Kogi West was Chief Olu­bode Olu from Yagba West, we pro­duced Chief Fun­sho Obasaju though short-lived, we also pro­duced Se­na­tor S.B. Awoniyi un­der the Ba­bangida po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion, mak­ing it three. We also pro­duced Se­na­tor Ado Shaibu from Ko­tonkarfe un­der the botched UNCP ar­range­ment. It was be­cause of that botched one that we said it was still the turn of Lokoja /Koto, so let us sup­port them in 1999 for Se­na­tor Tunde Og­beha. So Se­na­tor Adeyemi from IJumu lo­cal govern­ment is the sixth se­na­tor from the western se­na­to­rial district. So people will tell you that it is not only the turn of Yagba federal con­stituency but that of Yagba East lo­cal govern­ment which had not pro­duced a se­na­tor. I ran to the point of pri­maries the other day be­fore we were asked to col­lapse our struc­ture for Se­na­tor Adeyemi to come in a sec­ond time. So I am in the race for the se­nate of the federal repub­lic of Nigeria in 2015.

But some say there’s no va­cancy in Kogi West se­na­to­rial district as the in­cum­bent is be­ing sup­ported to re­main there….

In­deed, the name of the Pres­i­dent has been men­tioned but I think we should ad­vise people not to take the name of the Pres­i­dent in vain be­cause it can­not be sub­stan­ti­ated that the Pres­i­dent would want to fo­cus on one se­na­to­rial zone out of 109. I do know the Pres­i­dent as a demo­crat knows the im­por­tance of mass par­tic­i­pa­tion and the risk of im­po­si­tion. There is in­ter­nal con­ven­tion every­where. It is not about the Con­sti­tu­tion now but about in­ter­nal con­ven­tion. You and I know that in our var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties in the process of pro­duc­ing an Oba, the next com­mu­nity takes over from the first one. I think people have to be very care­ful be­cause our people will ve­he­mently op­pose any at­tempt to im­pose a can­di­date on them and they are go­ing to be united on it ir­re­spec­tive of the po­lit­i­cal party.

Tunde Olusule

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