Interviews, People

Gani Adams explains why Olokun Festival was scaled down

gani adams

‘Buhari has done nothing on security’, he cries

The annual Olokun Festival, kicked off on Tuesday, October 4, with the grand finale on Thursday, October 20, 2016, in Badagry, Lagos.

However, according to Gani Adams, founder of Olokun Festival Foundation, the organizers of the annual cultural event, the programme for this year’s carnival like show was pruned down due to recession

He spoke on this and other issues when ENCOMIUM Weekly visited him in his Omole, Lagos residence…

 

The last time we had a chat, you said you wouldn’t comment on President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration until it is one year. Now, Buhari is more than one year in power, how would you assess his performance so far?

Basically, there are lots of issues on ground now. The main problem at the moment is hunger. A lot of people out there are hungry. The economy is biting harder and harder. Things are even worse than the era of military rule. One of the leading newspapers reported a few days ago that Nigeria’s debt profile has risen to several trillions of naira within one year to the

Gani Adams

Gani Adams

extent that we’re now considering selling our national assets. The assets that were acquired with our efforts since independence will now be sold to pay workers’ salaries and to stimulate the economy. Such has never happened in the history of this country. I will advise the government to work hard to put the country in the state of law and order so that everything can pick up. There’s no country that doesn’t have security challenges but the propaganda and deceit are greater than what the present government is doing to tackle the security problem of the country.

And the more lies the government is spinning, the harder the criminals in their atrocities all over the country. I thought the issue of security was one of the cardinal points of the party’s manifesto during the electioneering campaign. And the issue of inclusive government, the present administration is not attending to that unlike the previous administration. The function of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not to rule the country alone but to carry Nigerians along and tap from other people’s wealth, not from your ministers alone or your party members. Your ministers or party members can deceive you but when you accommodate those who matter, you will have more ideas, more information about what goes around the country and even more intelligence report, especially about the security situation of the country. Being in the Villa, you’re not likely to know what is happening to the entire state. So, in the light of this, I will appeal to the government to run an all inclusive government.

What’s your view about Niger Delta problem?

The Federal Government is not ready to manage that issue properly. Boko Haram insurgency wasn’t managed properly, that’s one of the reasons we are where we are now  on the issue because if the leader of Boko Haram wasn’t killed by the instruction of the former Police Inspector General, Onovo, we will not be in this problem. Now, we’re yet to get out of Boko Haram issue. The Nigerian Army has declared Shekau dead twice and the man still resurfaced.

And the issue of Fulani herdsmen is still very rampant. Even in the eastern parts of the country where we have few Hausa-Fulani, the herdsmen are still terrorizing the people there. The Middle Belt crisis is still unresolved. And the President is moving the Nigerian Army to the creeks. So, I think it’s more strategic to end the minor wars in every zone because any minor war can develop into full scale one if not urgently addressed, and the government won’t have the power to tackle it again. One thing that’s glaring is that all the Joint Task Force members, including the Navy, Army and Airforce officers being stationed to kill their people will soon realize they’re not fighting foreigners. So, psychologically, they may not have the will to carry out the order as the government may expect.

You don’t underrate Niger-Delta militants, they’re different from Boko Haram. Boko Haram insurgents don’t have any resources to fight with, they don’t have anything to negotiate their issue or fight the Federal Government, I won’t call it struggle. But Niger Delta people have a waterway and they have more oil wells to negotiate with external forces for support. And they’re fighting based on ideology. You can’t compare the Avengers with the other groups that surfaced in the Niger Delta.

If you have been monitoring what they have been doing from the beginning, you will realize that they have very many learned persons among them. So, the Federal Government should not take this issue of Niger Delta Avengers for granted. Then the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) should also be treated with caution. The leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu is still being detained by the Federal Government. The court has granted the man bail but the Federal Government refused to release him. a few days ago, a judge withdrew from the case. We know what it means for a judge to do that. It takes a courageous judge to do that. The man doesn’t want to compromise because he doesn’t want to offend his people.

The issue of Shittes, the Islamic group led by El-Zakky-Zakky. The leader of the group is still in detention dead or alive, nobody knows. About 300 of his followers were also massacred. By evaluating the security situation of this country, one will agree that the whole thing is compounded. They should not continue to deceive us that all is well. We have given them the solution to all these things.

The IPOB people are ready to play down their struggle if the country is going to be restructured. The Avengers are also ready to down their weapons if the country is to be restructured. Even the issue of Jukun, Tiv and Fulani can be resolved through the content of the report of the National Confab that recommended restructuring. The issue of Fulani herdsmen invading other people’s farm can be tackled and checkmated through restructuring. It’s just like the Nigerian government knows the solution to all these but it’s only shying away from them. A lot of international tourists we’re inviting to Nigeria are reluctant to come because of our security challenges.

The issue of kidnapping in Lagos, Ogun and environs, allegedly being perpetrated by Niger Delta militants is becoming very rampant now. What’s Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) doing on it?

There’s a limit to what we can do in that regard because we don’t have the support of the government. Kidnapping is different from robbery. Someone can be kidnapped even inside the car without passersby knowing what’s happening. So, you have to be extraordinarily vigilant for you to protect the people.

The government has to deploy more security agents to all the creeks to fish out the criminals for the safety of the people in the area. They started it in Ikorodu but they couldn’t finish it. We still have a lot of creeks in Lagos that have not been combed. A good example was the incident in Abule Ado area, Lagos, a few days ago where a pregnant woman was kidnapped alongside a small child, and the kidnappers demanded a ransom of N100,000 before they could release them. So, definitely the government has to comb all the creeks so that the criminals can be fished out once and for all. You don’t beat your enemies half way, it has to be total so that they won’t reinforce to become bigger problems which will now be very difficult to tackle. So, I think the issue of air raid that took place at Wawa and other Ogun communities should be extended to parts of Festac, Abule Ado and other areas. Let’s talk about Olokun Festival. How prepared were you for the event?

We have scaled down the event due to recession. So, instead of 14 events as usual, it’s just going to be 6. We have reduced everything.  There will be Festival Float on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. That same day, we will be having Olosa Gala Night. Thursday, October 20, 2016, is the grand finale of this year’s Olokun Festival.

Now that recession has forced you to cut down the budget for the festival, how much did you spend on it?

We’ have a budget of about N20 million this year as against last year when we spent about N32 million.

  • TADE ASIFAT

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