Nigerians are just experimenting with us – APC
lawmaker Jimoh speaks on 2019
– Honourable Olumuyiwa Jimoh says the federal government was very slow in handling the herdsmen, farmers’ crises in parts of the country
– Jimoh argues that even though the crises escalated, the people of middle-belt would still vote for the APC in 2019
– The lawmaker advises the APC to consolidate on the areas it has so far won before spreading its tentacles to the south-eastern part of the country
Honourable Olumuyiwa Jimoh, the deputy majority leader of the Lagos state House of Assembly and representative of Apapa constituency 1, says though the federal government’s response to the herdsmen/farmers’ clash in some parts of the country was very slow, the people of the middle-belt would still vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. He speaks with Eromosele Ebhomele:
Benue and Taraba have been two major states hit by herdsmen in the country. What do you think can be done about this menace?
It is quite unfortunate that we have to look at incidents like this to determine our political consciousness and this is dangerous for our development as a people. The herdsmen historically are from the Fouta Djallon. They are Nomads. They move and do not have a specific place. But in the modern world, but in the modern world, cattle are not moved from one place to another. There is and should always be a ranch. I don’t think the entire Nigeria produced the number of cattle produced by Texas as a state but they have so many ranches and curtail what could have become some excesses. Comparing with the western world is even too distant. Let us look at our neighboring African countries. Many of them have succeeded in managing what has become crisis in Nigeria. Imagine as a farmer, I labor to produce my crops, maybe perennial or whatever as the case may be, and under two to three hours, they are destroyed by the movement of cattle. It is very painful and nonsensical. Imagine how it has led to killings.
I think in my own opinion, the federal government reacted very late. The government has decided on measures which might be good but it came out very late. Unfortunately now, people are linking it with political developments. Political sensibility tells us to see our neighbors as ourselves. I think as a student of dialectics that the most turbulent century was the last in which we had series of Civil Wars, the two world wars and some ethnic and some ethnic issues. I mean the century that ended in the year 2000. It should have been a new leaf instead of these carry over that we still see.
With the government’s current action, can you assure of a possible end in sight?
A minus that will take us to zero is still a good step. I still commend the effort. From minus, we are going to zero.
But don’t you think can injure the possibility of the success of APC at the centre in 2019?
I don’t think so. I don’t want to be political about this though. I am speaking in parables now… There is a generation in Israel who don’t know Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If you want to look at it from that angle, we will say the middle-belt will still vote for the APC because of the action the presidency is taking now. But I must admit as a human being that the government came out too late. If we look back to history, what happened in Kosovo, the socialist-oriented Yugoslavia or perhaps what happened in other countries leading to ethnic cleansing and finally, self-determination. Hitherto, Sweden and Norway were one country. The question of change in dialect was what separated them. But back here, since measures are being taken and the government has zeroed down that the unity of the country is not negotiable, there would be a solution.
With the 2019 election timetable out, how confident are you in the leadership of INEC?
I don’t want to condemn or approve, but I want to watch in line with the due process. If you want to look back, you would realize that this is not where we were before now. That is a good development. They may be sluggish or too fast in some areas, but there is mechanism that is helping to overhaul the system. We are not going back to what we experienced in 1999.
Now, the electoral act has been amended by the National Assembly. Card readers had been the main issue. The issue of ghost voters has also been reduced. Even with this, elections would still be put to questioning.
Election does not involve voting and going inside. Monitoring is also part of elections.
Your party’s national chairman recently talked about the need for the APC to win the southeast. What are some of the ways you think this can be achieved?
I don’t know what Oyegun sees about that. In the areas where we have strength, what have we done in concrete terms to even show that we are in control? What are the issues within the party that needs to be resolved but which have not been resolved? If you are extending your tentacles, those you are extending it to would want to know what you are doing. These are some of the issues.
But do you still think the APC has a chance?
Very well. The President has reputation and this is going for him. Recently, he went to the north, precisely Kano, and you could see the crowd. The people may not be pleased with the economic hardship but they are still okay with Buhari. That is my finding. They complain about the economy but they still love Buhari.
As a principal officer at the House, let’s look at your relationship with the executive…
It is cordial. There is always a meeting between the principal officers of this House and the governor and everything is going fine and well.
Of course, the cordiality has played very great roles in the success of this administration, I must confess. On a very strong note, we are interrelated and interdependent, not only with the executive but with the judiciary.
I can also tell you that this will help the fortunes of our party in the state in 2019, coupled with the performance of the governor. In the presidency too, Nigerians have this attitude of trying to more than once. They tried the Peoples Democratic Party severally and discovered they failed. Currently, they are just experimenting with us. So we will get a second term. I have no doubt about that.