Nigeria at war with itself – Chief Olu Falae

bb olu falae e
bb olu falae e

By Daniel Kanu

Chief Olu Falae, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and a former finance minister ran for the presidential election in 1999 and remained one of the greatest promoters of national unity and the growth of democracy in the country.

He was the national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) before he retired from active politics in 2019.

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The consummate politician-cum-technocrat and today the Olu of Ilu-Abo in Ondo State, in this exclusive encounter with Sunday Sun speaks on the danger of the skyrocketing amount in picking ordinary nomination and expression of interest form in parties, the frightening security challenge, danger of the rising debt profile, his other fears,  among other critical issues. Excerpt:

What has been your view on the amount for the purchase of political party forms to run for the 2023 elections, especially that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?

It is frightening, N100 million to be paid to collect presidential form to run for an election in the APC, N40 million for the PDP. This is unimaginable, unthinkable and unbelievable that this could be happening in our country, Nigeria. It is obscene; it is to me a provocation to the masses of Nigeria. It means the leadership of the political parties have lost contact with the suffering of the ordinary people. It also means that they have now fully commercialized politics, in other words, it is only the super-rich who can now contest, the remaining 99.9 per cent of Nigerians, no matter how brilliant, no matter how committed to Nigerians they are, they cannot contest an election. So, it’s now for the highest bidder. I did not think I will live to see this kind of terrible thing happen in my country.

So far, how do you see or access the quality of presidential aspirants on the ground?

I have not got a comprehensive list of the aspirants from all parties, so let’s reserve that for the future to enable me to make a better analysis.

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Nigeria’s debt profile is still rising higher and higher …?

I have said again and again in my different few interviews and conversations that prudence and common sense urge us not to accumulate external debt, especially when this debt is not being acquired to create access that are directly productive that will enable us to earn income to service and repay it. It is worrisome because our ability to service debt, especially external debt is not increasing on the contrary, with the worldwide trend of de-emphasizing hydro-carbon fuel that is oil, which is our major export to pile up external debt now is frightening because our ability to service that debt which depends on how much oil we are able to produce and sell will be diminishing in future because most major economies who buy oil from us are diversifying away from oil to gas, to solar and other renewable sources of energy. 

In all, I will advise as I have always done is that government should adopt a cautious- anti-debt policy for managing its external resources.   

Some critics say that Nigeria as of today is at crossroads, do you share in the view?

You yourself before you ask this question, don’t you know that we are at crossroads?

You may have a contrary opinion to it because looking at your pedigree as a statesman, Nigerians will want to hear from you, exactly how you feel about it rather than accepting what others say or what critics think?

This is not the answer or view of critics; it is not the response of critics alone that Nigeria is at crossroads. Anybody who says or thinks otherwise is simply deceiving himself. It is absolutely unacceptable given what we are witnessing today. I read in the newspapers, a few days ago some leaders from the North saying that President Buhari should have resigned a long time ago. He is presiding over a government that cannot guarantee people being able to travel from Abuja to Kaduna by road, there are people waiting to kill them. They cannot go by train, there are people waiting to bomb them. They cannot go by Air, there are terrorists waiting to capture them at the airport. So, what kind of country is this? When this present government came to power, we were only battling Boko Haram and the expectation was that Buhari being a military person within a short time the mess will be over, but since then we know what has happened. As far as I am concerned, we are now at war, yes, Nigeria is at war with itself, you have to buy war theatre helicopters, and aircraft fighting, so from terrorism, we have graduated to warfare. There has been a dramatic and fundamental change in the security situation in Nigeria, so this is my fear, that unless you do something fundamentally the fear will continue. It is worrisome that the country is in a chaotic condition, we are in an economic mess, social instability, insecurity and massive unemployment. So in all the situation is very discouraging and what is happening is not good for the country. One of the most fundamental issues in society is the security of life and property, that is number one. The citizens must be secured and safe before any other thing can follow: education, health, etc that is because you are alive,  but if there is no security then the very fundamental issue in society is compromised.  I pray that the Almighty God himself will intervene and save us.