— Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, former Commissioner, former member Kwara State House of Assembly and Chairman, Kwara Freedom Network
You wrote petitions against the government of Bukola Saraki’s regime to the EFCC. What informed this decision?
I wrote more than petitions in this state. I have always condemned Bukola Saraki’s presence in Kwara politics. I maintained regular column in some newspapers criticizing the mis-governance of the Sarakis. And I still believe that the present government in the state is not doing enough to the state and there is the need for more active and dissent voice in Kwara politics.
How would you assess the current administration in the state?
I don’t really want to assess Ahmed’s government because I believe Ahmed is facing a formidable problem which is fundamental to Kwara state. That is the hegemony rule of the Sarakis on the people of Kwara. The Governor is also a victim of undemocratic governance against the people of Kwara state. He is held captive like all of us in Kwara state. He is not strictly an independent minded Chief Executive. He is there because someone wants him to be there. He is not designed to achieve anything. Just to be there. And you don’t have to blame Fatah Ahmed but blame the circumstance that brought him to power. If we are to blame anybody, it is Bukola Saraki who has opportunity to make a difference and misused it. We have to blame the people of Kwara who have over the years submitted to the passivity in the face of this outright oppression. We are blessed with numerous human resources. You can hear of retired Judges, Generals, and so on who failed to voice out against oppression. We can also blame the structure of Kwara state. We are in a mess. We have been polarized. The Igbomina people will think they are the best. The Offa people will say they are more important. The Ilorin people will say they are the masters and that other people are slaves. There is no vision. Kwara is a place where you can have the worst of talent at the helm of affairs.
But many people believe that the death of Olusola Saraki will put an end to the Saraki hegemony (cuts in).
It will and the state will soon be free. Look around you, there is no political leader in Nigeria who has been succeeded by his son. It is very strange and will not happen in Kwara state. When a king is derobed, it takes some times for people to know. Bukola has been derobed and the Kwarans will soon know. Even where he purportedly come from . They are not for him .. And even before now, Sarakis have not been winning. They have been manipulating the elections. That is why the elder Saraki will never support the opposition party.
Bukola almost lost out in 2011 but he perfected the rigging in the suburb of Asa Local government.
Is the local government administration living up to their constitutional role in the state?
Local governments are bleeding. For the past ten years, the 16 local government councils in Kwara state made nothing less than N56billion Naira from allocation. That is between 2003 to 2013. Go to all the local councils today you will see evidence of outright neglect. No form of meaningful development. The only money given to council administration is to pay salaries.
What is your view on the Songhai farm initiated by the state government?
I made an earlier prediction on the project and I described it as a fraud. I queried the collaborative agreement between Kwara state and the Zimbabwe farmers. Two years ago, a magazine also did a report on the farm and concluded that the whole project is a fraud. Just last month, I went to the farm and discovered that the farm is in a sorry state. About five of the Zimbabwe farmers have left. The farm now operates epileptically. As at the time of my visit, the poultry section is empty. I asked one of the farmers what went wrong and he told me they are being starved of money.
Are stakeholders not interested in the farm and who will repay the loan taken from the banks?
In 2006, they took N650 million from Bank of Industry. The loan was guaranteed by Kwara state government. And when the farm cannot pay the loan, the money was to be deducted from Kwara allocation. By then, the money has appreciated to almost a billion Naira. Kwara people paid this money. Let them contest this with me. I have my document to back it up. Kwara benefits nothing from that project. The community whose land was seized benefits nothing. In anyway, why do we have to bring foreign farmers to Nigeria despite the huge human resources who can work on the farm? If you ask them who owns the farm, they will not give you a clear answer. It started like government project but they now operate under their own separate names as Limited Liability Company owned by the Zimbabweans. There is need to tidy up ownership of that farm.
What in your view is militating against opposition struggle in the state?
Nigerians don’t like long term investment. People come from far and near when election is approaching to vie for political office. And politics is a long term undertaking. But watch out for something new in the next general election. Especially now that the man with the so -called magic wand is gone. Kwara will be in the news again. Just watch out