Senator Ibikunle Amosun is a former governor of Ogun State and now, the senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with CHUKWU DAVID, he speaks on Nigeria’s 60 years of independence, stressing that poor leadership has been the major hindrance to the country’s development. Excerpts…
In the last 60 years, Nigeria has seen a lot of turbulence in her political, social and economic life but has also been able to survive it. What do you think has been helping to hold the country together in spite of the tortuous journey?
First, let me congratulate Nigeria and Nigerians for attaining the diamond age of 60 years. I will like to say that, for me, it is twist and thorns; what I call sweet and sour. There are some downs and certainly we’ve had many ups than downs. It is the Nigerianess in us; it is our burning desires to survive despite whatever challenges we encounter. And for me, I am an incurable optimist, I know, yes we have our challenges but ultimately we are going to triumph, we are going to have a Nigeria of our dream. Of course the foundation is being laid now. I argue this any time I have the opportunity to say this, I will mention it, yes clearly, we are not where we should be, but I can safely say, confidently too, that now the building blocks for development are being laid now, and I’m sure we are going to get there.
How can this country heal and get to where she should be in the midst of mutual suspicion and lack of trust among the different sections?
If truth must be told, it’s more from us the elites really, for me an average Nigerian see themselves as one, you won’t even know who is a Muslim or Christian; Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. I remember, while growing up and in school, we don’t even know the difference between both. So, I think it’s more from people like us, the politicians. The elites that tend to dwell more on what divide us, than may be concentrating on those things that unite us. We are lucky because of our diversity in Nigeria, how many nations can boast of may be our population, our diversity, our human capital, the endowment, natural resources that the Almighty endowed us with, how many countries of the world can lay claim to this but again just like you said, we all must come together and see ourselves as one and once that is done, there is no height that we cannot attain. So for me, that is what I believe. We should be our brother’s keeper, we should see ourselves as one, which indeed we are really and truly. And once we imbibe those things I call core values, yes we will overcome all these our predicaments.
Insecurity is a big challenge facing Nigeria. How did we get here, and how can we get out of it?
Win up to NGN50,000 when you register on BetBaba. Click here
Get a chance to win $50 when you register on BetBaba. Click here
Enjoy unbeatable 150% WELCOME BONUS only on BetBaba. Click here
On BetBaba, Na you be boss! Click here
I have said it, and fortunately when President Muhammad Buhari came on board, he did mention that he was going to focus on three key areas; security, fighting corruption and this our economy, huge unemployment, that he is going to address them. I know that nothing good can come out of insecurity really. Security is very key, yes we have challenges, serious challenges in the area of security but as people would say, the problem identified is half solved. We have all identified that we have these security challenges, just like what I said again; all hands must be on the deck. Security is not fought by just one arm of government or may be it is the government that should fight security, no, even in all the advanced climes, you will see that everybody is part of the security. So, I am sure that we have some concerns; even at the legislative arm, we have mentioned certain things that should be done. I’m sure that all hands should be on the deck and maybe it is now on deck and I’m sure that we are going to get out of this insecurity challenge that we presently have in the country. Another area that we look at, and we are doing that already, is infrastructure. For any economy to develop, for any nation to get it right, it must be private sector driven, and the government will just have to create an enabling environment. And I think that is being created now because we have a huge deficit of infrastructure. Nigeria just wasn’t created just 60 years ago, and you have seen what is being done now. For me, I mentioned that infrastructure will include not just roads, infrastructure will include rail, the air, the waterway, power and even security. When you get security right, it’s part of its environment, so those are the things, the whole gamut; they form what we call infrastructure. Look at our power, look at our steel industry, without us getting those things right, there would be limitations to what we can do and what we can achieve as a nation. Just like I said, we are now building blocks, so that when we build them to a capacity, to a level that it is what we have, we have every other thing like the advanced nations. We will get there.
Between leadership and followership, which one do you think has slowed down the pace of Nigeria’s advancement and development?
I think both have contributed to the problems the country is facing today in terms of development, but I will say that it is more of leadership. You may apportion the ratio of 60:40 but because it takes two to tango, we must hold the two responsible for the woes of the country. For instance, there is a lot of indiscipline among the masses. You go out, you see people eating and dropping rubbish here and there, littering the environment. You cannot find that elsewhere. In Nigeria, people denigrate their country, by saying all manner of things; that’s not what it should be. I am not saying that Nigeria is what it should be now; no, everybody agrees that there will be ups and downs, and probably we are facing our downs now, but clearly, we are not allowing that to weigh us completely down. Indeed, it is even when there are challenges that we will get the best out of us; we can now think out of the box and say how we can get out of these challenges. Even the COVID-19 and other challenges are bringing the best out of us. Of course, as leaders, we must take responsibility at all times; so, I will want to say that our problems should be blamed more on the leadership than the followership, even though I am not saying that followers don’t have a role to play. Followers also have their share of the challenges that we are having.