interviewBy Gbenga Olarinoye
Comrade Rotimi Obadofin, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and former governorship aspirant of the party in Kogi State spoke with Vanguard on burning national issues including the merger talks between his party and some other prominent opposition parties in the country. Excerpts:
Why leading opposing parties are merging
That is the demand from the circumstance we find ourselves. The ruling party has done what it could do and we discovered that what it could do is not satisfactory. We are not satisfied with their performance. They themselves are not satisfied with their own performance and this is the era of development all over the world, countries are transforming, so we can't allow them to hold us behind, they have imprisoned our development and it is not acceptable.
Chances of the opposition beating ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in 2015
If there is no rigging, which is the characteristic of the ruling party, there is no how we won't win. Even when the opposition parties have not come together, they won many places, governorship, senate and others, so the presidency won't be a problem because by the time you add all the numbers of the followers and voters of the opposition, there is no how it won't outnumber that of the ruling party. So the chance of winning is very bright. Also PDP has become so unpopular apart from being riddled with internal crisis.
On whether the merger will work this time given past failures
I don't believe it has always been a failure because this ACN you are seeing is a merger of some organizations, AC, PPP, ACD and some other organizations that I cannot remember now. We used to be called AC, it was after the merger that we came with a new name called ACN, which survived and is waxing strong. So, the merger is a historical need, it is dictated by circumstance. It's like we don't have any option, it's not an optional thing, it's the only thing possible otherwise all the opposition parties will frizzle out, die and be buried.
Fear that sharing of positions will hurt the merger
I don't think so and that is why they set up a committee and that is where it's going to be worked out. It is not mechanical, it is going to take a process, so all the parties involved have set up a committee that will relate and work it out and we will observe the rules.
On fear that minority ethnic groups may never produce Kogi State governor
That is misinformation. We have 21 local governments; seven in West Senatorial District, five in Central Senatorial District, that is 12 already, we then have nine that came from Benue, because we were carved out of Benue and Kwara states. Those of us from Kwara have two senators. How do you now say that one senator is more than two senators?
On how cenus was manipulated to distort Kogi politics
You know the constituencies in Kogi, it is just that there was this bogus census in 1963 and the people in the eastern part of the state have been able to sustain that census which was worked out for them by the Sadauna because they were inclined towards Sadauna's party, Northern Peoples' Congress, while our people, the Okun Yoruba section and the Igbiras were inclined toward Action Group, which was the predominant party in the West. So, Sadauna having seen that we will never work for NPC deliberately manipulated the census of 1963, and they have successfully sustained and maintained that bogus figure.
You need to travel there and find out, where is that population? In the census of 2006, they went to stop the real result because the result that was conducted before the sampled census which was conducted by United Nations, you know it was proved beyond doubt that we have more population in our place, (the Okun Yoruba speaking) followed by the Ebira speaking and the two of us were formerly from the same state, that is Kwara State before we were brought to Kogi State.
The Igala then took Obasanjo to court and the Nigerian Population Commission to court that it should not be published but already we have got the result. So they have always been having the opportunity to produce the governor, and they have been able to sustain it luckily because they have been the one in power since 1991 when the state was created. It is irritating to hear majority, minority and that is why we have been trying to correct the anomalies because they will continue to believe that they have numerical strength. It is not numerical strength it is because they are in power.
Lagos bigger than Kano
For example, those who don't know will erroneously say that Kano is larger than Lagos but it is not correct. As at 1957, Lagos was having five divisions while Kano had two divisions and Lagos was the capital of Nigeria, almost every town, every village in Nigeria had representatives in Lagos.
Lagos is highly populated, acknowledged by the United Nations and all the people of the world, so how can you say that Kano that has no seaport is more populated than Lagos? Where is that economy in Kano? Because it is economy that attracts people and there was a time that Lagos was both the political and economic capital combined.
You can see the number of human beings these two factors must have attracted to Lagos, Lagos is the business headquarter, social headquarter, banking industry headquarter, seaport headquarter and has the largest population of armed forces, military, police. So how do you now compare it with Kano that doesn't even attract any international establishment?
It is the same thing in Kogi. The capital is in my Senatorial District, where is that population that we can equate with Lokoja the state capital where everybody is? We are demanding for the removal of our people from Kogi State, we don't belong to that state.
The state itself is a contradiction because it has three different ethnic groups that are not culturally similar in any sense. We have different cultures, there is nothing in agreement in life, we are saying that we are Yoruba, take us to the West, give us a state or merge us with the West. If that is not possible, merge us with Yorubas of Kwara.
Take Okun people out of Kogi
We don't want this North of a thing. We are not northerners, we are Yorubas, they discriminated against us in the North, and they don't recognize us because when they speak their language, we don't understand. We are Yorubas, 100 per cent, we are contiguous with the Yoruba, and our villages share boundaries with Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and Osun from Kwara down to Kabba, so there is no natural boundary.