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The Battle Not Yet Over, Says Governor Tinubu

[no specific attribution], Vanguard (Lagos), 10 June 2001

Reflecting on June 12 1993, what is the essence of that day in today's politics?

Well, the essence of that day even though we did not and we have not accomplished what we set out to accomplish, June 12 brought about a true democracy which would have translated into true federation because the constitution that was then prepared was a participatory constitution where we had a conference and we had a well segregated and a more reliable items even though they might not be perfect, it is not as bad as the present constitution, that is one aspect. We lost a great deal in the person of MKO Abiola, the candidate we really voted for and who paid the supreme sacrifice. That is what we did not anticipate that June 12 would cause. We lost Pa Alfred Rewane, we lost Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, we lost so many souls. Their death, their sacrifice has still not realised in fruitful and fulfilling manner. It's been too long since then in the history of this country and we have not achieved as much as we would have loved to achieve. Since June 12, 1993 election, Nigeria is not better off for it.

Many people believe that June 12 is as good as what we have now and that a South-Westerner replaced the symbol of that struggle two years ago. Does that really mean the same thing?

It doesn't really matter. The race was not a replacement or succession item, it was what Nigerians said democratically that day and we didn't realise it just because of the personal interest of one man. So it is not the same even though we have democracy now in the last two years, at what cost? We lost a true Nigerian and many patriotic Nigerians. But what have we done in their memory. The democracy we have today too is a transitional one, the constitution is unitary in nature, it does not allow for true federalism both in its spirit and political system, it is still not a fulfilment of our dream.

Immortalising the memories of those who lost their lives in the June 12 struggle seems to be more of Lagos affairs. Why is it so?

As for me, I have to do my own bit first before I can rally other people round to do certain things that we must do collectively. I know the South-West states are very committed to the idea of Immortalising those who paid the supreme sacrifice. We just have to co-ordinate and put our efforts together. But the one that we could do in Lagos, we've been doing that and we will continue to do whatever is necessary. But to co-ordinate across the nation, we're yet to do that because some people are a little bit emotive about our intention, whereas those who sacrificed their lives did so for the entire nation and some people are yet to realise that.

What would you say we've been able to achieve actually in terms of re-engineering politically, and in terms of the people's freedom, as the fulcrum of June 12 struggle. Would June 12 have made things better?

Well, you see, in the last two years we have been enjoying a high degree of freedom, we have freedom of the press, freedom of speech, but we don't have freedom of choice because we don't have (true) federalism, we don't have freedom of (controlling) resources because the resources of the nation are centrally placed. People are not allowed to keep their God-given resources and contribute to the centre in the spirit of a federation. The component states are still not as free asthey should be, we are not fully democratised in that sense, we equally have not been able to shake-off completely the military syndrome we have for various self-interest actions that you would see on the ground on housing, on various constitutional issues, you have people being denied their resources that is still very bad for the country. You have state assemblies that have no coercive authority to make law which must be obeyed like the issue of state police. For example, any law made on environment that is unique to my state, I need to go to the federal police for the enforcement. Any traffic law that is unique to my state I have to go to federal police for it to be enforced. Even in area of crime, a state chief executive has no coercive authority on matters of security of the state. What we have is a skewed federal system. That is not working in the interest of the public because if you have a great degree of autonomy and move resources for the states, the dividends of democracy would reach the general public quick. You will see more transparency, more accountability and positive competition among the states. You will have a better flow of inter state commerce, you will have a better degree of competition that is so positive for the nation among various states. We have not accomplished that. Our level of employment, our level of poverty cannot be blamed alone on the present government, we have to look at the inadequacies of the past because of the mismanagement of resources in the past and when you are trying to refix or repair those damages, there is bound to be some degree of hardship.

People were talking of power shift during the last elections; has power really shifted?

Well, it depends; power shift from one generation to the other or power shift because of ethnic nationality? If it is power shift from one generation to the other, we don't have it, we still have the military version of it in the country. Is that not a way of perpetuating military regime in Nigeria? You still have a constitution that favours the military. You prohibit civilians not to contest second time if they had contested previously and you allow those who had served by force and fraud to continue to contest. What sort of constitution is that?

So, I'm not an advocate of power shift from civilian to military and I don't believe much has been accomplished in the area of ethnic nationality interest that will bring stability, rather we have given opportunities to opportunists, to spoilers. We are even encouraging abuse of power and abuse of position, we are destabilising the democratic process. We are taking away from the value of our democracy when we encourage people to cross carpet after they have received the mandate of one party.

We are already interpreting the constitution to suit the interest rather than adhere to democratic norms and constitutional requirements. We have all of that problem. We have the problem of everybody shouting marginalisation in other to blackmail the centre to be able to get more. The game of political blackmail is clear. You have those who are denied even being castigated in the true sense of it. Let's take for example Lagos, in every nation where the capital is changed expectations are created, but immediately the federal government moved out of Lagos, it created problems, it neglected all the infrastructures of the federal government in the state. You moved and you're still more or less operating, you still have some people interfering in the housing, in the land, in the property of Lagos State. We are not even paid to continue to service the infrastructures left behind. It's not done in any nation.

When Germany moved from Bonn to Berlin, they paid substantially and they are still paying monthly lump sum to service the infrastructures left behind. Ditto Brazil, when they moved from Rio to Brazillia, you still have that. Here we have high degree of neglect, high degree of denial, we have not had better opportunity that we should have had. We are just concentrating in bringing direct investments that is necessary to stimulate the economy and provide jobs for the millions of our people.

In reflecting on June 12, would you say these are the things you regret so far because they have not been achieved and that if June 12 had been, it may not have been so.?

I do feel sad. I'm not happy. I asked for the people's votes, they voted for me to be governor and I'm pushing for their interests. I'm pushing for Lagos State to have its dues and rights in order to use the resources of Lagos State for the general interest of the people of Lagos State, that's what the constitution should have guaranteed to be able to serve. And I'm serving the state that I love with passion. I want to be able to face the job and harness the resources. But you have an imbalance in the system that is very, very very frustrating and annoying. Then June 12, it spoke for several sectors of Nigeria, it spoke for interest of Nigeria populace, but what do we see?

We see a military contrived agenda and the situation seems to be creating heroes out of the people who destroyed the nation, those who destroyed humanity, those who created the problem are even being encouraged to return as politicians. When you are creating heroes out of those who destroyed the country, you are now pretending they have committed no crime against humanity. Let's forget, let's forgive maybe, yes, but to continue to promote them as politicians who should take over the affairs of the nation in the future, what kind of a nation are we saying we are? Is it that we don't have credible people who can rule the nation again? Is this thing a family chieftaincy title? It's a shame. If we need a former military man to lead the country, what about people like Col. Abubakar Umar, Let's bring them out, let's have a generational change.

A few days ago while marking your second year in office, you talked about security. What plans do you have in the pipeline to make Lagos safe for everybody? When are we to have enough policemen in Lagos?

We have to ask the federal government that question. I don't have the security apparatus to even investigate crime, though I can give them orders, I requested for them. Your frustration is as much as mine. Your anger is as great as mine. By now we would have all gone underground with the intelligence information at our disposal to unearth the whereabouts of some of these armed robbers. We have not paid the soldiers from taking over Alexander Avenue in Ikoyi, we have not paid their retirement benefits and we left them on the streets for months. We have people crying that they were robbed by people in police uniform.

We don't have state apparatus to control crime except the federal apparatus. It's very frustrating.