Jackson Lekan Ojo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and golden member, International security Association (IWA), Switzerland, in this interview with ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU, urges President Muhammdu Buhari to call a national security summit and set targets for all his appointees.
With the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, which aspects of governance will you advise him to focus on?
Well, a former American president said he has sympathy for African countries; that is the third world because they like to build economy and forget about security. And without security, the economy you build over a year can crumble within a minute. So, in my own opinion the first thing Mr President should work on in the second tenure, that is Next Level, is to tackle the issue of security. He must make sure Nigerians are sleeping with their two eyes closed; he must make sure the issue of kidnapping is totally eradicated – the issue of killings, insurgency and cultism are completely eradicated. Without this, there is no other thing that he can do that will make the country grow. This is because insecurity will kill many things, economy will not grow and even religious activities will be affected. So, the issue of security is a multifaceted issue that will affect every facet of life. So, I think Mr President should take the issue of security very seriously. He can declare state of emergency in states that have security challenges; once peace is restored the governor can be returned.
As a security expert, how would you advise President Buhari to tackle some of these security challenges?
I will advise Mr President to call for national security summit. This will enable the people, private security experts, security scholars, top criminologists, military, paramilitary, and traditional rulers to come together to discuss some of these issues and suggest ways out. This is very important, but by the time somebody begins to advise Mr President in public, on radio, on TV and on the pages of newspapers and with some these perpetrators reading newspapers, and monitoring the radios, it is like you want to fight an enemy and you are revealing the strategy you are going to use.
So, any advice on security that anyone might want to offer Mr President is not supposed to be in the public domain. Advice on security most be discretely given, it must be a secret, confidential material, but is only in Nigeria that people advise Mr President ways to fight insurgency on TV and radio. So once again I suggest that Mr President should call security summit and the stakeholders should be given term of reference for them to come out with template within 2 or 3 months.
Also, the present service chiefs have done enough and they have over stayed their welcome. Mr President should retire them and appoint strategists, fresh brains, and we have a lot of them in our security architecture. These current service chiefs have tried; let me tell you one thing, it is impossible for someone to go beyond what his capacity can take, these people cannot improve. There are more intelligent people, well-trained, and educated people under them that can take charge that are more intellectually inclined. Let Mr President bring them on board. These current ones should be retired with all their benefits because if these people continue the law of diminishing returns will set in.
Considering where these service chiefs hail from, do you think this should be an issue of appointing competent hands?
In this part of the world we trivialise issues; the issue of security chiefs should not be regionalised or become a zoning thing. It has nothing to do with region, religion, and ethnicity; look, if the best brains in the Army, Navy and Air Force are from Lagos state, the three of them can be appointed. If they are from Rivers state, they can as well be appointed. The issue is, are they not Nigerians? We are all Nigerians; forget about where this one or that one comes from. No, it does not matter, if we begin to look at it zone by zone, ethnicity or religion, we will not have the best brains that we need to tackle these security challenges. We trivialise issues unnecessarily in this country and that is why security-wise we are not growing.
In couple of weeks, the president will appoint new ministers; what do you think he should do differently?
Ambassadorial appointments, board chairmen and members should be given to politicians, but technocrats should be appointed as ministers. The ministerial appointments should be given to technocrats because they are successful professionals in their fields. By the time you begin to give somebody that read history to go and be minister of defence, then we will go nowhere as a nation. Somebody that read mathematics to go and be minister of aviation, an archeologist to go and minister of external affairs, those are round pegs in square holes. So, my suggestion is that the politicians should be compensated with ambassadorial, board chairmen and membership appointments. The technocrats will do better. Some of these governors that ran their states aground, senators who could not move a motion in four years or eight years are now appointed as ministers, what do you expect from someone like that?
Don’t you think if the president appoints technocrats as ministers there could be rancor within your party?
Mr President should do it well; see, when you are afraid of internal rancor within the party just because of political patronage as a president, then it will be detrimental to the entire country. The issue is how many of them are card- carrying members of a particular political party? The most important thing is that will the president appoint people that will make electricity improve, create employment for your youth, build the economy and enhance security? It is only if all these people are there that one can know what is happening and everything will fall into place. The party members that want to be ministers; what is their level of capacity to bring about this meaningful development when you compare them with the technocrats.
As a supporter of President Buhari and the APC, how would assess the performance of these ministers?
Some of the ministers, in all fairness, did what they could. Some of them that have performed well in this last four years of APC are the former minister of environment, Amina Muhammed; then the minister of justice and attorney- general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, and another that would have performed well as the former governor of Lagos state, the minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, but was overwhelmed with the three ministries given to him. I will rate these ministers 50%.
When appointed, what do you expect the ministers?
The executive should work in synergy with the legislative arm to enable seamless flow of governance. The Press should also read the riot act by the time the president is appointing these ministers, such that every six months there must be a milestone assessment system. So, within six months each minister must be given a target and the whole world will get to know about it. So, anyone who fails to meet these targets in the first six months, second six months which will make it a year in office should be sacked and replaced. But by the time you keep a minister, good or bad, performing or not and you keep him for four years without any assessment, they will begin to deceive Nigerians.
Are you optimistic that President Buhari will perform better than he did in his first four years?
Well, for President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance during his second term largely depends on his team. It depends on the people he appoints into his cabinet as ministers, special advisers, and even board chairmen. If he appoints unqualified set of people as ministers, he will not perform well; this is because Mr President cannot and will not be everywhere. So, he needs competent people to take charge of things on his behalf. If Mr President appoints technocrats that are experts in their respective ministries, he will have less work to do and they will make meaningful progress because those people have already excelled in their respective fields. So, let him appoint the best with an assessment system.
There appears to be debate on where power should go after President Buhari’s administration; what is your take on this?
The politics of 2019 has come and gone, the politics of 2023 is what you are seeing. Some people in Lagos state, maybe the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have intentions to run for president and the governor of Kaduna state too wants to run for president. So, they all begin to battle themselves. But at the end of the day, all these if care is not taken will boomerang on the APC, because the party will be divided across zones. I want to tell you clearly that Mr President is the unifying factor of the APC; so, without him in 2019 and with all these regional political agitations it will not be good for the party. There is need for all party leaders, stakeholders and supporters to come together and work as a team. But if the game for 2023 starts now, then it will threaten the party’s unity.
However, Nigeria runs a democratic system and zoning is not recognised in our constitution. Whatever the constitution did not pronounce is not abiding by the law. Let me tell you one thing, there is something I am proposing which is Contratocracy. This is a government in which the leadership contracts citizens of other countries. If a Ghanaian is coming to take charge of leadership of Nigeria as president and he will stabilise power, economy will bounce back and there will be effective security system, won’t you prefer it as far as there is peace, economic growth, development; what are you looking for” If my father is running for president and I know there is somebody in Maiduguri that can do better than my father, then I will vote for the man from Maiduguri. So, let us forget north, south, let Nigerians continue to vote for the best. We must do away with region and religion to achieve success as a nation.
As someone that hails from Osun state, what do you have to say about the tribunal and appeal court judgements on the governorship elections in the state?
For me, Senator Ademola Adeleke shouldn’t have stood for any election in Osun state. But out of the desperation of some persons he became a senator and he oversteps to run for governor. The party did that because they saw a lot of money around him. If the judiciary is still what it should be everywhere around the world, I think they should disqualify Adeleke first. I want to tell you that just the way he lost at the appeal court, Adeleke will also lose at the Supreme Court.
Considering how indebted Osun state is and their low IGR rate, how do you think Governor Isiaka Oyetola Adegboyega can increase the IGR and bring about meaningful development?
To be candid, the former governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola tried a lot when you look at schools, roads, hospitals and infrastructure. Sometimes I ask where did he get all these monies from? But he also made a mistake, I rate him as a very good administrator, but he is an autocratic leader who believes only in himself and nobody can advise him. This contributed to some of the problems the state witnessed under his leadership. Why would Aregbesola form new LCDS to copy Lagos state? Now, with the new directive from the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the federal government will only fund the constitutionally recognised LCDAs, then how are they going to be funded?
However, for the incumbent governor make an impact, he should try and call for economic summit in Osun state and advise the indigenes to come home and improve the economy of the state. People should come and invest in the state because when the economy of the state improves, the IGR will also increase if not he will have to borrow more money and the state will continue to be indebted.