Adejare Adegbenro, an Abeokuta, Ogun State-born from the two clans of renowned politicians Adegbenro and Rewane, is a politician and political analyst. He is a director with a formidable security outfit, the Taskforce on the Prohibition of Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms, Ammunition and Light Weapons (NATFORCE). In this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, the grandson of the late first Premier of the defunct Western Region, Dauda Soroye Adegbenro, spoke on the state of the nation; his expectation from the President; 2023 race, the nation’s security agencies, among other issues. Excerpts:
How may you access the current government and what are your expectations from the President Muhammadu Buhari administration this 2022?
As we all know, the first thing in the front burner in the country today is the security challenges. And to be fair to President Muhammadu Buhari, he has given his best in the sense that he has funded the security outfits adequately. In my own assessment also, I think the Service Chiefs are also doing their best; the Police, the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Department of Secrete Service (DSS) as well as the DIA and the NIA. I think we must support them just as I am of the belief that we must in addition have a community-based policing for intelligent reports.
Can you suggest some qualities expected of the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
I expect this question and thank God you posed it. Here is where the youth come in. the next president must be energetic, young, intelligent, God fearing, competent, well exposed and patriotic. I mean someone who has the love of the country at heart, who would not discriminate against any tribe, religion and who would not have ethnic agenda.
The country needs someone who has answers to the security challenges, economic problems and political malaise. So, I urge the youth to come out to vote and be voted for. If the aforementioned are achieved, we are already at the Eldorado.
What do you expect President Buhari to do between now and 2023 General Election?
As far as I am concerned, election this time around will not be based on the whims and caprices of political parties. It will be individual based. People are tired of voting forpolitical parties and I want to use this medium to appeal to the President to ensure that people’s vote counts. As far as I am concerned, the President has done very well for himself and there is need for the people to vet the next president that would be coming in.
At this juncture, I hereby advise the youth to ensure they come out and vote for credible leaders. I want to leave my children to a safe Nigeria, a Nigeria we all can call ours. We don’t want the kind of thing that is going on in Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and the rest of them. Nigerians are prayerful and hardworking and I think that is a good thing for us if we can put our hands together to move this country forward..
Like I always say in one of my slogans, I am a Nigerian and my tribe comes second. That is exactly what we are. We are not talking about breaking up but unity in diversity. We need to put our hands together and stop being selfish for our own personal gains. We shouldn’t personalize Nigeria for we are all Nigerians for whichever way we go, it will affect every single Nigerian. So, I am advising the President to take this seriously and if anyone in his cabinet is not doing well, he should sack him/her and let him/her go, leadership is a call to serve and not to be served.
What’s your take on the efforts of the nation’s security agencies and are you comfortable with the welfare of the security agencies?
Well, even if I am comfortable with it, there is always room for improvement. On that, I strongly believe that there is absolute need to review the welfare scheme of all the security agencies in the country. There is the need to increase their salaries. There is the need to get more vehicles and equipment for their operational mobility. There is the need for more sensitization in the outfit. Proper personnel insurance scheme also needs to be put in place in case of death, accident and other unforeseen circumstances. You can never have good and motivated security outfits without catering for their welfare and the well-being of their families. These two things work hand-in-hand. A motivated man is a proactive man!
What is your advice on how security equipment should be bought?
Thank you very much. The purchase of critical security equipment we use in fighting security challenges should be strict and done by the presidency. I am completely against the idea of buying and showcasing our critical security equipment or weapons to the public. How can you defeat an enemy who already knows what you have in terms of equipment and weapons? Security involves a collective effort by everyone to stay safe.
In terms of borrowing money to purchase weapons and other critical equipment, I think that can be curbed if the Nigerian populace becomes more economically independent because we depend too much on the government in this country. So, we need to promote our GDP. We need to work on our exports to correct the problem of exchange rate we are currently facing. Until all these are checked, borrowing would be inevitable.
Is there a way out?
Yes, of course. All assets that are seized by the government on which the court has given judgements should be sold immediately, especially the houses and the cars. The EFCC, the Customs, the ICPC and all other law enforcement agencies that are in charge should sell them and remit the funds to the government cover to be used for the development of the country. Vehicles seized by the Nigerian Customs are depreciating every single day. You see them in the bush, you see them along the road, you see them everywhere in their offices occupying space unnecessarily and the values are depreciating.
For instance, customs have well over 50,000 vehicles in their custody as on my last count and they have done nothing about it. The Comptroller General should be asked the question ‘why haven’t you disposed the vehicles to raise funds for the government?’ If they don’t want to sell to the common man on the street, let the parastatals or the government officials buy them. The fund generated will help us reduce borrowing from outside. I strongly believe in that.
What do you think about COVID-19 Vaccines that were recently reported to have expired in our custody?
Well, the question is to be directed to the people and experts handling the COVID-19 matter. However, I was shocked that such vaccines could be expired and not used. Its either they are not marketing it well or they are not giving it to people or they are storing it out of stupidity. It is so silly that our vaccines are ‘finished ’while we have millions of people who have not taken it. I am highly disappointed at that and I will like the president to look into that because we are talking about lives here.
Lest I forget. It is very important we look into feeding of the people as well as into employment for the masses. Many are hopeless. Some don’t even know where their next meal would come from. Some have only one meal a day. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop and I feel all these should be done for every Nigerian to be able to afford a three square meal a day.
What do you think of the Bill of the National Taskforce on the Prohibition of Illegal Importation/Smuggling of Arms, Ammunition and Light Weapons (NATFORCE), currently before the National Assembly?
As far as I am concerned, NATFORCE is a good thing that is long overdue in the country. Considering the current security challenges facing the nation, NATFORCE is highly needed to aide us curb the security challenges and the illegal inflow of light weapons into the country. With the recent declaration of bandits as terrorist group by the president, it has become imperative to implement the National Taskforce (NATFORCE) on arms proliferation at all the government levels and in the society (federal, state, local government and ward level) in order to effectively curb insecurity and the flow of illegal arms into the country.
Truly, the NATFORCE Bill is at the National Assembly as we speak. It has passed the first and second reading. Now, we are waiting for the third reading for the president’s accent. With the leadership of NATFORCE under Dr Baba Mohammed, who was voted in, in January for tenure, has come with a big change in the organization and professional way of doing things. He wants the NATFORCE to be a force to reckon with and to fill the gap with all security agencies.
However, it is worrisome that, Nigeria is the only West African country that has not signed the treaty with ECOWAS sister countries on Smuggling of Arms and where its coming from, which the DG has engaged with the body to ensure that Nigeria is part of the treaty.
Which area can the NATFORCE handle in terms of job provision for the Nigerian youth?
We are encouraging all Nigerians that security and employment will be of help to complement all security agencies and to fulfil the president’s mandate on security and employment of the youth. In terms of employment, NATFORCE proposes to employ over 270,000 youths and that will go a long way in reducing unemployment rate and poverty in the nation.
These are things that I believe will help Nigeria move forward. I sincerely want us to rethink, re-orientate and teach our children the right value. What we teach them is what they will take on board. We need to go back to our traditional institution. Go back to how we were raised. It’s a collective effort and I wish the president and all the handlers will look into this and steer the country into a transparent and peaceful election come 2023. I wish the president long and healthy life and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.