An activist and former member of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Senator Femi Okurounmu, is currently the General Secretary of the pan Yoruba socio political group, Afenifere.
In this interview with RAZAQ BAMIDELE, he said Nigeria was overripe for massive protest to effect the required change, adding that no country got good governance on a platter of gold.
State of the nation
I am not only unhappy. I am disillusioned, disappointed, frustrated, in fact, almost hopeless about this country. One is getting to a point when he is losing every hope in Nigeria.
Nigerians should stand up now and let their voices be heard. Nigerians should not just be hiding inside their houses and sitting rooms. They must come out and speak with their legs and their mouths so that their voices would be heard that they are not happy with the way things are going. Every country in the world, that is the way they brought about the change. People should not hide in their houses and say they are not happy. They should come out when they discover that things are wrong. They should speak and speak to let the government know that they are not happy. That is the only way forward for Nigeria.
Yes. Mass protest on a heavy scale. Nigeria is overripe for it. That is not revolution. That is democracy in practice. Democracy means the people’s voice must be heard. Their voices must count. The government must listen to what the people want. The people must let the government know that they are not happy. That is what would show the government that the people are not happy. That is democracy in action.
Position of SNC
If we say Sovereign National Conference (SNC), this government will not agree to do it. If they say no to Sovereign National Conference, ok, we are now pressing for National Dialogue for the various nationalities, groups, peer groups and so on. They are to meet and talk about our problems and how to make Nigeria better. But the powers that be, the government and the legislature would not even allow it to hold.
They are just busy looting the nation’s treasury. They are just cornering to themselves all the resources that could be used to better the lot of the ordinary man. So, they don’t want a dialogue? And that is why the only way to effect a change in the system is for the people to make the government hear their voices by coming to the streets and be shouting on the top of their voice. They should hit the street with their feet-the rich, the poor to effect the required change. Nigeria is overripe for it.
The issues to be discussed at the National Dialogue if there is restructuring of the country. The present structure of the country is not conducive for good governance. That is one of the fundamental things to be discussed. Another fundamental issue to be discussed is the type of democratic system we are to practise? Are we to continue with this wasteful presidential system of government? Or we go back to the parliamentary system of government? How accountable has this government been under a presidential system? We will be more accountable to the people under parliamentary system of government. These are some of the fundamental questions to be raised and to be answered.
Then the whole issue of federalism. Which power is the Federal government going to retain? Which power should it surrender to the federating units? It is part of fundamental issues that would be addressed at the conference.
We are not yet united enough. But we do not need to be united enough before we know that what we have at the centre is bad. As disunited as we are, all of us agree that this country, right now, is going nowhere. There is unity on that one. There is unity on the fact that the government has no direction. It lacks focus. There is unity on that. So, on that, all agree that the government should hear our voices.
Insecurity in Nigeria
There can never be security until people are happy. If the people are disgruntled and there is nothing they can do, there will be more and more insecurity. We started with insecurity in the Niger Delta. They were more or less bought over and paid off. They are still paying them off today through amnesty and all what not. They will soon have to pay off Boko Haram. The lesson is there that the only way to let the government listen to the voice of the people is to cause trouble. The moment you start doing that and the government feels uncomfortable, that is when they will recognise you and have a dialogue with you. Government is just ready to dialogue with trouble makers. And that is very unhealthy for the nation. Let us have a healthy dialogue among all of us and all these forms of insecurity would be wiped out immediately and at the same time.
If people are happy, they don’t need to take up arms. So, the cause of all this insecurity is that there is bad governance everywhere.
We are not expecting dialogue because Jonathan is not ready for it. The National Assembly is not ready for it. They are doing everything possible to scuttle it. So, I wouldn’t say we are expecting it.
S’West regional integration agenda
Yorubas as disunited as we are, there are some certain things that we agree on. We agree on regional form of governance. We think we should go back to regional system based on the present six zonal arrangements. The South-west should have regional government. And the federating units should be the six regions. Let’s recognise all the six zones as our federating units. So, anything that will integrate the South-west, we are all for it. There is nobody against that irrespective of which party is controlling which state.