Muiz Banire’s thought provoking interview about Nigerian politicians in The Punch newspaper

The quality of some of our politicians is worrisome, and I do not agree with the quality of some of the people they are putting forth. For that reason, in order not to continue to injure yourself, it’s better to look away from them.
How progressive-minded are they? If they are part of this government and they know what the government is going through, will they buy N2.4bn vehicles? I remember that for a long time when we first came into government during Asiwaju’s period, he refused to buy even official vehicles for us.
It also happened during Rauf Aregbesola’s tenure as the Governor of Osun State, when he didn’t appoint commissioners early, and he said the amount he would use to pay them, he could use it fix a few roads. That is the way progressive-minded people should be thinking. It’s not in the face of this hunger in the land that you would be parading fleet of cars all over the place.
The actors (the governor and his deputy) are people I have worked with and I will not say they are doing badly; there are quite a lot of challenges for them. I mean so many challenges. I even sympathise with them every day and I pray a lot for them.
Some of them who have access to them will continue to encourage them. Lagos is a different case when it comes to governance, because you would sleep with one thing and wake up with another thing entirely. Look at the explosion at Festac, when they were still battling coronavirus.
Also, so much had been left undone in recent past, like the number of roads that they have to contend with. Where they will get the money to sort them out, I don’t know. Beyond fixing the roads, there are other things that need attention too. So, I sympathise with them. There is need for what I will call radical cut in recurrent expenditure in favour of capital expenditure because there are too many challenges. When I read that the House of Assembly spent N2.4bn on vehicles, I felt that was irresponsible and reckless.
One of the fundamental flaws of Ambode was that he refused to consult with people, especially people who have experience. He isolated himself and for me, it was his isolation that was responsible for his fate. In Lagos, because of the magnitude of challenges, iconic projects are not easily funded without paying the price for the basics. If you want to do an iconic project, go and look for external funding for that; the funds you have are not enough for the basic things. If he had consulted, people would have advised him. At the end of the day, I became vindicated because I warned them.
The allure of office is part of the problems we have. Political offices are too attractive. That is why people don’t want to do anything than be a politician. That is why they want to die there. Somebody would serve as a councillor and for the rest of his life he wants to remain in the political arena. They (many politicians) don’t have jobs; that is why they are not performing because most of them are not even competent. Some have never run a business successfully, yet we are entrusting the affairs of all of us into their hands.
Yes, entirely. Our politics has made people to be very lazy. I have seen some of my contemporaries and friends who used to be extraordinary become jobless. This is because after public office, they can’t do anything again. They are so lazy, begging all over the place for public office.
When I was in office as a commissioner, people who knew me knew that once I left Alausa I would go back to my office. I don’t joke with my work because that is my permanent address. Many politicians don’t have a second address and that is why you have that degree of desperation in the system.
Except we want to pretend, where we are now is discomforting already. If I say we have a bleak future, I’m not even sure we have a future, not to talk of qualifying it as bleak. If we keep parading this quality of people and character, honestly, we will remain a nation of potential, except we get quality people to manage our affairs for us. We also need to educate the electorate because we have a sizeable number of them that are ignorant.
They don’t know the relationship between their life and their vote. They see their vote as a merchandise or product and until we are able to educate them on their rights and power, then, we are heading nowhere. INEC and National Orientation Agency have not done a good job. I have challenged the NGOs to wake up. The fourth estate of the realm (media) also has a major work to do on this continuously. I did an analysis that over 80 per cent of the people that determine our fate today are people that are largely not literate; people who don’t know what is right. The elite won’t go and vote. That is why the political gladiators continuously subject the voters to abject poverty so they cannot reason.
A philosopher said there is no way you can be principled and you will not suffer pain. Being principled comes with sacrifice and pain. You can’t say you want to be a person of integrity in our clime and expect that everything will be fine and dandy. It’s not possible. They will victimise, harass, intimidate and deprive you of certain things. So, you have to be resolute. Some of us were innately born with some virtues, which in those days were normal virtues of Omoluabi in Yorubaland. So, I have suffered a lot and I’m still suffering it but I remain undaunted because I knew the price before I engaged in it. I don’t mind because I’m driven by my conviction and conscience.
I have never had the intention of contesting any political position, because for me, the prerequisites for someone like me contesting are not there, they have never been there and I don’t know when they would ever be there. For example, I cannot start sharing my hard-earned money for people to vote for me. A lot of people believed at a point in time that I was the next governor of Lagos State. I was just laughing. Some people came to me on three different occasions that they were putting funds together for me to campaign. Even, some other political parties other than the one I belonged to at the time approached me to contest under their platform and that they would fund it, but I declined. Unfortunately, some people go there to make money. We have seen in this nation several people who have had so much money, where are their children today? “The money they steal in office is tainted. If you convert the money meant to provide schools, hospitals and drugs for the masses to go and train your own children in Harvard University and you think that child would be beneficial to you, you are joking. At our level, how many food can we eat, how many clothes can you wear and how many vehicles do you want to drive. My best vehicle is my Toyota Corolla. I enjoy it and I’m very comfortable in it.
The solution that I want, which I have always said but people are not doing, is that at every Friday Jumat service and every Sunday Church service, let us be praying against them. Every week, we should mention what we want God to do to them. I know God will answer.
That is my first and major antidote to it.
There are people who dare the consequences because they know they would not get more than 14 years and after that they would come back to enjoy their loot. So, let us invoke the wrath of God on them first. Secondly, those who have advocated death penalty for corruption are not out of place. I honestly believe that we might start considering death penalty

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