For bad roads, I get hospitalized each time I travel home – Prof Asiwaju

* Tinubu should evolve policies that have bearing on ordinary citizens’ lives – Olawunmi

* ‘Open opulence, lifestyles of those in govt call for concern’

By Nudoiba Ojen

Guest speakers on BOILING POINT ARENA, on Sunday bemoaned the blind looting of the nation’s treasury, massive corruption, show of opulence by those in government and unequal distribution of amenities, calling for urgent amend.

The guest speakers, a former Deputy Chief of Defence Administration, Commodore Kunle Olawunmi (rtd) and elder statesman and Emeritus Professor of History and African Borderlands Studies, Prof. Anthony Asiwaju, called on President Bola Tinubu to prioritise giving attention to positively impacting the lives of ordinary citizens.

Asiwaju, who retired from the University of Lagos in 2011, said that the present level of impunity, massive corruption and the increasingly scandalous show of opulence by those in government, are breeding grounds for military interventions.

He said, “What confronts us today as a nation calls for worry especially in the face of economic austerity that has come upon us as a result of economic policies of the government occasioned by the removal of oil subsidy.

Asiwaju alongside Olawunmi, spoke on the topic, “Shielding Nigeria From the Coup Contagion”, in an interview session, which drew large global audience transmitted live on an Abeokuta-based radio station, Sweet 107.1FM and via Google Meet where a frontline traditional ruler, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba (Prof.) Saka Matemilola, delivered a keynote address.

The monthly BOILING POINT ARENA discourse, the 11th in the series, on governance and nation building, is the brainchild of the Initiator and Convener, Mr Ayo Arowojolu, a seasoned media professional with 33 years multi-varied career spanning the media, banking and education sectors.

The elder statesman said, “Up till now, we are still unable to implement the issue of minimum wage. I saw my governor on camera distributing rice to some people, but I keep wondering as to when those rice will reach my people at the border areas who are the grassroots people groaning under serious hardship.

Asiwaju also raised alarm at the inequalities and lack of equity in Nigeria particularly in the pay packages of employees and also in the distribution of amenities to communities. This issue of inequality has to be addressed. The road to my town in Ketu to the border is terrible. I get hospitalized each time I travel down home.

“Most people in the border areas prefer to patronize hospitals in Cotonou than here in Nigeria because they have the infrastructure and better facilities which are not existent here.

“The open opulence and lifestyles of those in government also call for concern. As we speak, the salaries and emoluments of those in government particularly at the federal level, senators and House of Representatives members are scandalous and the more
scandalous issue of constituency projects that are not evenly distributed and do not in any case have any bearing on the welfare and living conditions of the commoners.

“This is not acceptable and needs to be looked at by those in government. There is no way you can keep telling the people to bear hardship and suffering when the chairman of local government or other functionaries of government live in open affluence while others live in penury.

“The state of things in Nigeria currently has to be addressed even if morally and ethically. That aspect of governance has to be addressed with all the self-discipline it requires such that it is able to bridge the gap between emoluments and salaries of those in government,” he said.

Speaking, Olawunmi, however, said that the blind looting of the nation’s treasury and pervasive corruption by key political actors particularly during the last regime were breeding grounds that could have warranted coups.

The security expert, who is at present, an Associate Professor of Global Counter-Terrorism, however,
said that past restructuring and indoctrination of the military done by former President Olusegun Obasanjo had made staging a coup a no-go area for military in Nigeria.

Olawunmi said that the current wave of incursion of the military in governance across Africa notwithstanding, “a military coup is not just possible in Nigeria both now or for a very long time to come. Any idea of coup plotting in Nigeria today will be dead on arrival. Soldiers will think twice before embarking on any such dangerous adventure”.

The security expert, however, advised President Tinubu not to take the fact that military could not strike for granted, urging him to evolve policies that would have direct bearing on the lives of ordinary citizens of the country, given the biting hardship in the land.

He said, “I have been asked this question time and time again and I say affirmatively that coup cannot happen in Nigeria as of now. When Obasanjo became President, he addressed the issue of coups to a definitive conclusion.

“He brought in a lot of experts from Germany, the British, Americans and others to our military training institutions in Jaji, the National Defence College and others where they actually indoctrinated the military to know that there is this oversight function of the military and the need to subordinate themselves to civilian authority.

“They came in to restructure our curriculum and restructured our military operations. The soldiers already have it in their psyche that their place is in the barracks and nothing more.

I think the Nigerian military, in the entire west Africa, are the most educated and sophisticated. You cannot compare Nigerian military with any in the entire West Africa sub-region particularly in the Francophone or even Anglophone countries.The closest we have to Nigerian military is perhaps that of Ghana or Egypt in terms of sophistication and education,” Olawunmi said.

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