Chief Michael Adeniyi Akintola is a man of many parts; he is a legal practitioner, human rights activist, an international arbitrator and a political scientist. He also stands as one of Ibadan’s biggest legal practitioners.
He is a man who many respect because he is not given to frivolities, so when he talks people listen.
He was given a merit award by the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes on Saturday after which he took a few minutes to answer a few questions on topical issues including the creation of Ibadan State as well as the recent removal of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs Faridah Waziri.
You mentioned that you turned down the award last year, what could have been responsible for that?
They had wanted to give me the award four years ago, three years ago and even last year but I turned it down because of the political situation in the country as you know me, I believe there should be a level to which a human being should not descend, no matter what. And when I saw some characters that were to be honoured with me, I could not just possibly sit with such people. Don’t forget I am an Ige boy and Uncle Bola Ige had this philosophy that nkan téeyan o ba ni je, eeyan o ki nfi run ‘mu (what one would not eat should not be held close to one’s nose), there are certain people that one should not be seen with and I believe that it is not proper to bring myself to sit in the midst of some characters to collect an award. So I politely turned it down on the four occasions and that was why I came out today to tell them. It wasz not out of arrogance, it was based on principle. That is why this is coming today and I thank God for it.
How involved are you in the push for Ibadan State and what is the situation now?
If you look at the geographical entity called Nigeria, you will observe that the old Ibadan province has been the only one that has remained without being made a state. And when you look at the population, you don’t even need to go too far, over 4 million population of Oyo State, as credited to us in the 2006 census which we have not found agreeable. The voters register for this year’s elections showed that we have 2.78 million registered voters in Oyo State, of this figure, 1.7 million were from Ibadan alone. The number of voters registered in Ibadan alone is more than two or in some cases three states put together in this country.
And when you look at it, the fact is that most of our rulers don’t understand the political arithmetic of Nigeria and they don’t understand the political arithmetic of the area they govern. If they do, they will understand that as it is today, with its population, Ibadanland controls two senatorial districts of the three in Oyo State. Ibadanland alone controls 8 Federal constituencies of the 14, Ibadanland alone controls 16 state constituencies of the 32. For all intents and purposes, it deserves a state of its own.
You cannot be talking of viability when it comes to the issue of the creation of Ibadan State, because even now, 92 % of all the IGR accruable to Oyo State comes from Ibadanland. So from all factors, Ibadanland deserves a state of its own and we have been on it for quite some time. It is a struggle that has lasted over ten years. We will continue to pursue it. I have been involved and I am neck deep in it and by the grace of God, God will answer our prayers one day. We will have the entity called Ibadan State.
What is your take on the recent removal of the EFCC Chairman?
First and foremost, if the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says the occupant of an executive office is due for removal, he has the powers to do so. Even though Section 2, sub-section 2 of the EFCC Act says for certain reasons which he did not give, but one would have thought that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would oblige Nigerians the reasons why the amiable woman was removed.
In her own rights she has tried her best. She has done very much within the limits of her capability, within the limit of the resources available to her because when you look at Nigeria as an entity vis a vis the issue of fighting corruption, we are not there yet. We are just not ready to fight corruption. It is like trying to clap with one hand because to fight corruption, you need to bring all stakeholders on board. And as it is today, all the necessary stakeholders that should be instrumental to fighting corruption are just not there. You are fighting corruption without bringing in the Inland Revenue, you are fighting corruption without bringing in the Custom and Excise, you are fighting corruption without bringing in the Code of Conduct and the Corporate Affairs Commission. These are agencies of government that should have a kind of synergy among them in order to fight corruption.
I know a little bit about the internal workings of the place, the commission was not well funded during her time, the facilities are not just there, they don’t have enough staff. This is a country of 150 million and could you won’t believe it that EFCC has no presence in Oyo State and in so many other states and we have 774 local governments. For us to be able to fight corruption effectively we need the presence of all these agencies and we need to fund them. You need to give them vehicles.
All the instruments they need to work are just not there.
There has also been interference from the top, they cannot deny that.
The woman has tried within the amount of resources available and within the limit of her capability. They cannot give what they don’t have.
Do you look forward to seeing a retired judge being the Chairman of the EFCC?
For now, I think if we have a retired judge just like it happened in the ICPC, remember when Justice MM Akanbi was there and Justice Ayoola, we did not see the kind of abnormalities we are seeing in the EFCC, they were not there with the ICPC. They were arresting people before looking for evidence, those things were prevalent in the EFCC and maybe that is why people are saying a retired judge would be better as EFCC Chairman. But I would even prefer a serving Judge who would be ready to leave his or her position and be appointed. But the position must be secured, in order words, you will not lose seniority for having your place to be the Chair of EFCC.