Oba Prophet Dr. Olapade Agoro, the National Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC) is an household name, having traversed traditional, political, social and religious space for many years in this country. He recently played host to Oladele Ogunsola in his Aba Aladiye, Apata-Ganga, Ibadan sprawling estate during which he fielded questions on some contemporary issues in the country.
As a traditional ruler, political and religious leader, how do you react to the current agitation for the establishment of cattle colonies across the country to halt the herdsmen/farmers perennial clash?
If the British came here to colonize Nigeria and colonized the West Africa and gave Nigeria the name it bears now-‘Niger-Area’, those calling for cattle colonies should be asked to state genuinely what their mission is. If I got independence from Britain, why should I now submit my independence and father’s land to cattles in the name of cattle colonies?
But, those calling for the cattle colonies are of the view that it would bring an end to the perennial class between herdsmen and farmers, how do you see this view?
I insist that those rearing cattles should make provision for their cattles. If, for instance, a Daura man rears cattles, let him create colony for his cattles in his homestead. We know those people who find it convenient to live with cattles, it will be good to own cattle colonies in those areas where they rear cattles. I’m sure, nowhere in the whole of East, West, South and Middle belt will an inch of land be granted for cattle colony. Cattles should declare their areas for cattle, not me. I will not give an inch of my land to cattle and become colonized again, when, Britain did it and fail. Cattles are meant to be killed and consumed and if I find anyone near my own land, I will kill and consume it. Cattles can’t even stay in colony.
How do you think the Federal Government can tackle the insecurity attached to the herdsmen activities?
It is very simple. Let the FG tell the whole Nigerians how those AK 47, each worth N2.3m got into the hands of herdsmen. The Police said they saw me with locally made gun which was licensed and I was still taken to court. How can herdsmen now go about with AK 47 without anybody asking questions? I may even go to court on the issue.
The most important “take-away’ from the letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by former President Olusegun Obasanjo was his advocacy for the ‘third force’, which some people see as advocacy for another political party, do you see it so?
You are right. People thought it was a ‘third force’ for political party formation. But, the former President has debunked that insinuation, making people realising that it is not a political party. To me, it is a platform for policy generation for the good of the country. I see it as a platform or suggesting correction to the ills of the nation. People got it wrong, thinking that former President Obasanjo was out to form a political party, but, one would have seen this silly thought as marooning in the dark ally of realization.
Considering the past of the former President, who some people alleged did not do enough in solving the country’s problems while he was opportune, how qualified was he to write such letter?
Everybody is entitled to his or opinion and whatever anybody may say, the man did his best and whether his best was good enough is another matter entirely. Arising from that, are we now saying the man should not avail the country his experience because of some people’s perception? I will say capital no. So, Chief Obasanjo, as far as I’m concerned is now an authority, not only on African political matters, but a reference point in what is expected on good governance and human affairs management, whether we like it or not. You may take it or leave it, he was the first of such African military Head of State that was in power and voluntarily relinquished power to a civilian president in person of Alhaji Sheu Aliyu Shagari. Prior to that, he was the most lucky military man that took victory from the Biafra. He fought and brought an end to the Biafran war, even though, the late Brig. Benjamin Adekunle Rtd (Black Scorpion) was a noisy name in the war front. But, General Obasanjo Rtd was the one that took the victory. He later became second in command to the late General Muritala Mohammed and later became the Head of State. He was later jailed and from that jail became a two-term president of the country. One can say the former President had seen it all, paid his price and saw himself becoming a reference point of what taste political power look like.
The much talked-about letter was a vote of no confidence in the two major political parties in the country, where do we go from here?
I don’t see them as major parties. Would you say a man that stole into power won an election on a platform of a major party? Would you say people with terrible names and composite of horror can be classified as running major parties? Show me a politician in Nigeria that had been at the corridor of power aside from Chief Obasanjo who had not moved from one party to the other in search of power and money? A leader is one that sticks to ideology and midwifed the ideology into reality that must be good for all to see. Would you call those that had stolen to stupor leaders running major parties? Would you tell me that those who ruined the economy and forcing our young ones into slavery outside the country leaders running major parties? Would you call those who are building mansions on the sea at the expense of the masses leaders and their parties major? Would you tell me those who prefer going to overseas for medical treatment leaders? Would you call those, who ran Nigeria Airways, Nigeria National Shipping Line, Ajaokuta and Alhadja Steel Rolling Companies and others aground leaders? I won’t call them leaders and won’t regard their political parties as major, no. Rather, I will call them damagers. A recognized and admirable major party will parade good leaders that are justified by good things done by them for people to enjoy for ever. What happened to the National Bank, Society Generale Bank, Savannah Bank? Those who ran them aground could not be called leaders but damagers. You have to prove yourself a leader by identifying with your people.
How can the proposed ‘third force’ fix into the current political dispensation in the country?
This his third force, I would say there are many of that type in developed economies, particularly in Europe and USA where tempo of happenings in government are felt. I beg to say that the letter he wrote to PMB was disciplined, brazenly true and courageously spelt out. We must never forget that truth hurts, but a wise will take the best out of truthful placement for wisdom garnering. I see nothing wrong in the former President’s third force proposal.
The question still, is that in what way will it affect the nation’s choice of leadership which has been identified as the most critical aspect of the national life?
The ‘third force’ cannot be immediately seen and judged for its yet to be known mission, because, you cannot eat the egg in embryo. The egg has to be made before you can eat it. You can’t eat a yam newly planted, but, yet to be formed. The Chief Obasanjo’s proposed ‘third force’ is yet in the embryo, we can’t judge it. No one can tell, we know of only Chief Obasanjo, whom I will now call Olusegun Obasanjo of Africa, but, who are in the embryo of the formation, I don’t know, so, I can’t judge them. One thing is clear, not all who would be seen in the ‘third force’ will be colourful and acceptable like Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo.
How do you think the country’s leadership problem can be solved in view of the fact that the moment the country gets it right at that level, other things will fall in place?
Leadership can never be bought. It is an inate issue with an individual. Nigeria currently lacks strong leadership. A leader does not see things myopically. A leader sees things beyond himself. We had a leader recently in the US, a man with no known background with power, wealth and great name, Barack Obama. Nobody would have given him a chance of becoming US President, but, with conviction in himself, he rode to power against all forces of darkness against him. After eight years in power, not only was he so successful, he became the best number 12 of rankings among 53 that ever became US President. We had the type of Muritala Mohammed, whose regime was cut so short, but, within the shortest possible time, he created a benchmark name for himself. The Prophet Mohammed had no parents with known wealth, but, his name resonates far beyond the place of his birth into the global sphere. Jesus Christ, born in the manger by ‘poor earthly parents’ rode on the back of leadership to become a name greater than ordinary names and the names in the realm of angels, a name of respect universally. We had leaders like Mathama Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, leaders, who were focussed, determined and with mission beyond the ordinary. Nigeria is yet to have a leader that can be so called. When you talk of leadership, you will have to enumerate the rubbish we have on ground with the past that we gloriously had as aforementioned. A leader does not want his name known today alone, but, years ahead resonating for good mention.