I am Tunde Lakoju, from Akoko Edo. By the 19th of May, l will be 74 years old, by the grace of God. I have formally retired from partisan politics. My reason is that l believe that we should give our youths the opportunity to lead. We tell them that they are the leaders of tomorrow.
That tomorrow is now and it is like my generation is reluctant to leave the stage for them. One reason is that we forgot to groom them to take over from us. Some of us are afraid to quit the stage also because we have not provided for our retirement. I am a victim of the last reason, but l am ready to pay the price.
Ms. Aneena Jemitola brought me on to this platform. She did not prepare my mind for what l met. What l met doesn’t seem pleasant, but l am grateful to her all the same. Those whose voices should lead debates seem to be silent. Maybe they want to be politically correct, or are afraid for their political future. The young ones who should listen more and learn seem to be dominating the debate exuberantly. They go personal most times, and no one seem to be calling them to order.
The Governor of the state is been insulted directly and people seem to be comfortable and even happy!! Sometimes jabs are thrown at the President and people are also happy. We are cutting our noses and there will be no faces to spite. Governor Obaseki read Classics for his first degree. He went ahead to read Finance and specialised in Investment Banking at the masters level. I was a member of the Edo State Economic Team for two years. He proved his worth as an Investment Banker. He was the pillar of Gov. Oshiomhole’s economic success. Oshiomhole acknowledged this before the whole world. His experience as a graduate of Classics showed in the beauty of his communication skills.l witnessed it. Any attempt to mock his credentials is very childish and misplaced. There are Governors and even Presidents in Nigerian history that are unable to prove that they truly possess the first leaving certificate they claimed. So l think it is grossly unfair to waste our time harping on Obaseki’s credentials.
He said that the Federal Government printed money to make up the FAAC they shared. The Finance Minister said it is a lie. I listened to Bismarck Rewane on Cannels TV. The poor man was stammering, not sure who to defend and how to defend the allegation. Has this Federal government owned up anything, even the testimonies of our own eyes? Rather than own up, have they not always fallen back on blaming the opposition? Oshiomhole told us that lamentation is not for a ruling government. They are to fix the problem because that is the reason they were voted into power.
Now, back to our forum. Experienced leaders should step out. English is not our mother tongue, and we MUST not be afraid of committing grammatical errors. Once we can convey the sense of what we have in mind, we are done. Those who want to laugh can go ahead and do so. This forum has a very important and historic task ahead of it and grammar should not hamper our dialogue. Let me now state my case.
Our youths are engaged in drugs, cultism and prostitution, like the youths elsewhere in Nigeria. We use them as thugs to win our elections and get our political offices. We abandon them after that. We arm them with guns that we cannot retrieve after the election battles. We turn round and irresponsibly blame them for the violence and crimes they commit. Armed robbery, kidnapping and prostitution are full blown industries in Nigeria today. We pretend not to know why. Fulani herdsmen are the convenient culprits, but is that truly the whole story? My people will tell you that it is the house rat that shows the Bush rat the way!!
Can we get our youths off the streets and minimise their tendencies for crime and violence? I am not implying that all our youths are into violence and crime. No one should get me wrong. But the truth is that both the Fulani and our youths engaged in this new industries are mainly under forty years of age.
Afenmai can save our youths. Let me start from Akoko Edo. We have AVA CEMENT FACTORY abandoned for over twenty years at over 60% completion, if not more! We have the Ferterlizer Company at Auchi, which is not operating at optimum capacity. Between IKPESHI and IGARRA, we have over 250 thriving mining companies, from which the State Government and Local Government Council get no dividends. Our mining Laws exclude them! Akoko Edo has four gold mines. There is one at Dangbala, one at Egbetua in Ososo, one at Imoga and one at Enwan. For over twenty years, the one at Dangbala has been mined illegally. As we talk, Fulanis have moved in in droves to take over the mining. Efforts are on to get them out, without much success. They combine their mining activities with armed robbery and kidnapping. As a member of the Federal House of Reps, with Chief Amune as LGA Chairman, we formed a Committee to do a baseline survey of the mining activities in Akoko Edo. It was headed by late Chief Jamgbadi. They submitted a terrific report, which we handed to the Igbinedion government through his Commissioner from Akoko Edo. Akoko Edo is blessed with wonderful arable land for agriculture. Our youths have no reason to roam the street or take to crime.
Etsako is blessed with land for agriculture. Ekperi/Anegbete belt can feed Nigeria with rice. Same as Ogbona/Agenebode belt. Agenebode, with its captive River Niger, offers immense opportunities that are totally untapped. We can put all our youths to work in Etsako and they will not have time for crime.
Owan is unique. There is an unused Farm settlement at Sobe. It can absorb all Owan youths. Awolowo established it in the sixties. Aside from that, Warrake and its environs has enough land to grow anything to feed Nigeria.
An Afenmai Forum should engage with these and other positive things and stop this infantile attacks on personalities. Comrade Philip Shaibu is our son. He is the Deputy Governor of the state, by the Grace of God. We should support him to assist Governor Obaseki, a Benin, to succeed. Dr. Pius Odubu, from Benin, helped Oshiomhole, our own son, to succeed. One good turn surely deserves another.
Nigeria is falling apart. Pretending otherwise cannot help us. What positive role can we play to avert the calamity? That should be our main mission. Dialogue should follow action. I was the Director-general of Prof Ihonvbere’s gubernatorial campaign. I am aware that he has research materials that can save Edo in general and Afenmai in particular. Our anti- intellectual leadership decided that square pegs must be pushed into round holes and vice versa. Otherwise people like Prof. Ihonvbere have no business in the House of Reps. I was the Commissioner of Agriculture for two years. When l talk about agriculture, l know what l am talking about.
Forgive this very long write up. I have pain in my heart, and l feel l should purge my heart. No anger against any one. I said that l have retired from partisan politics. A friend threw his political structures at my disposal when l ran for the Senate. If he ever comes out to run for anything, l will violate my retirement and help him. There is always a pay back day, if God spares life.