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I advised Ajimobi to pay more attention to education — Shittu

Mr. Abdulraheem Adebayo Shittu, is one of the ministerial nominees undergoing screening at the Senate. His humility, uprightness, anti-corruption stance and ardent belief in youth empowerment and other virtues embedded in him have endeared him to several people in Oyo State and beyond. He is a legal icon, an author, and also an astute politician whose foray into politics dates back to 1950’s. In this interview with Vanguard, he speaks on many topical national issues.
As Oyo State’s Attorney General under ex-Gov Rashidi Ladoja, why did you part ways ?

Honestly, Ladoja is still my friend and a father to me. We didn’t have any dispute but we have disagreements about perceptions.
Remember in 2006-2007 he was unjustly impeached, I was in the forefront of the fight to restore his mandate and thank God people of this state could bear me witness to the role I played.

But when the 2007 election was to take place we were convinced that PDP was not going to give him the opportunity for a second term election particularly because they were not happy that he succeeded in the court.

Gov Ajimobi
So, it will be naïve to think the people you defeated in court will now be willing to give you another opportunity, but he never believed, he was saying confidently that he would get it, he went for it and he lost it.

Having lost out, the 2011 elections was coming again and we expected that he would have seen the handwriting on the wall as the PDP was dominated by his political enemies who would not wish him well and give him the opportunity and we kept on discussing this issue with him and when I discovered that he would still continue to remain in PDP, as somebody who has been in politics since 1979, I became a lawyer in 1979 this was before I became a member of the House, consistently I have also been in politics, and I didn’t want to tie my future with somebody who will not take the right decision with regard to looking for another political platform. I am particularly encouraged by my supporters and having been convinced that I have acquired political experience.
To show that there was no bitterness between us, I went to his house and informed him that I had found greener pastures and I gave him the reason and I want to assure you that till today we are best of friends.
Recently, he said misplaced priority led to unpaid salaries of Oyo workers. Your views?

I don’t know what he meant by Ajimobi engaging in misplacement of priorities. I don’t belong to the Ajimobi Government even though we belong to the same political party. But to be fair to Ajimobi, he has done projects that will last for a generation.
In the area of road construction, I rate his achievements as excellent,

I am not totally convinced that the Mokola flyover was a necessity and also the construction of a lot of these gigantic projects are unrealistic but that is not to say that building very good high quality roads is wasted expenditure.

Again, I agree that the current governor has not done enough in the area of education which to me is the most important single factor that citizens of Oyo State who voted for our party would be gaining.

If I was the governor I would have done things differently in the area of education. If you look across the state, the state of educational infrastructure is a shame in the South-West because Yorubas have always been at the forefront of educational advancement and if we cannot provide a decent environment for our pupils and teachers, then I don’t think we will have good conscience that we have done enough. But, I want to believe that the governor has another opportunity of a four year period.

I expect that he would diversify his focus away from things considered as elephant projects by many and really concentrate on areas where the masses would benefit.

I am aware that there are number of projects, for instance, the Agodi Gardens; it is a good thing to have a garden for relaxation but for anyone to convince me that N1 billion is justifiably spent on that will be very difficult. There is also a housing project somewhere in Idi Ishin. A lot of people are also raising eyebrows about that project. Generally, there is an extent to which you can blame Governor Ajimobi.

We are supposed to have a state House of Assembly which ought to provide the necessary supervision for governmental projects but my conscience is telling me that perhaps if we didn’t have a House of Assembly, things could not have been any worse. These are the areas I want the people of Oyo State to challenge our House of Assembly on because at the end of the day they can do things and get away with it but God is there.

I don’t need the EFCC and ICPC to be supervising me before I do things that are right because I know if the Police, EFCC,ICPC do not catch me, God is there to do justice.

Is President Buhari’s anti corruption drive turning to a witch hunt or what?
Remember as regards the cry of the opposition leveling all sorts of allegations against Mr President in his anti corruption crusade.

Remember members of the opposition were those who immediately left government after a 16-year stint. They are the ones who are more guilty because they had access to government resources and they compromised the interest of Nigerians.

So they must make noise to shield themselves from the inquisition the anti corruption agencies. Why would a thief use as a defence to his thievery the fact that some people who had equally stolen were not charged or prosecuted.

For once, in this country we have a leader and he is perhaps the only Nigerian leader in history who has identified corruption as a cancer which if not killed will kill Nigeria.

He know that the resources of Nigeria must belong to everybody not to a few people who are privileged to be in public offices and who steal in violation of their trust.

Take note of one thing. It is not Mr President who is running after supposed corrupt people. The anti-corruption agencies act on the petition and information provided for them. So, for anybody raising dust perhaps because of some supposed sacred individuals. They should generate their own petition against these people if they have information against them to the EFCC and send copies to Mr President and see whether these other people would be prosecuted or not.
Crusade against corruption

The most important thing is that we as Nigerians ought to support Mr President in his crusade against corruption.
On issues around Senate president Bukola Saraki’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal

That is rubbish if people start reading meanings to straight forward issues. You will remember President Buhari has always said that he will not shield anybody in his anti corruption crusade.
He said he will not intervene if anybody is accosted and he said whether you are a member of his party or not it is irrelevant or whether you are his brother, sister, kinsman is not relevant as far as he is concerned.

I think the issue about Saraki is unnecessarily being politicised and if we are not careful every similar suspicious dealing and every similar trial will equally be politicised and at the end of the day Nigeria will get to nowhere. We all owe ourselves a duty.

Enough of us politicising every issue, it does not do Nigeria any good. What is important for us is to approach issues on merit and insist that the merit of the case should be what is exhibited.

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Posted By Bobricky On 09:20 Sun, 18 Oct 2015

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