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Thursday, 25 September 2014


Give it to Hon Rotimi Makinde!

Hon. Rotimi Makinde represents Ife Federal Constituency in the National Assembly. In this interview, the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Human Rights speaks on the August 9 gubernatorial election in Osun, human rights record and how to curb oil theft in the country. WALE ELEGBEDE reports

What is the story behind the attack on you on the eve of Osun gubernatorial election?

We have lots of reasons to thank God for the victory of Governor Rauf Aregbesola. I have said it severally that it is not by his or our making that he won that election. I think he happens to be a special person to God and the people of Osun State.

It was a victory not for Aregbesola alone but the people of Osun. Having said that, there were insinuations that Rotimi Makinde was not seen on election day, but I thank God that I am alive today to tell the story because it would have been a different tale. I was the target of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as far is Ile-Ife is concerned during that election.

They tried all within their disposal but God kept me and my supporters. Even before the election, they laid siege for me and I was part of those listed for attack. Don’t forget that I was kidnapped in 2007 and in 2011 my father’s house was attacked during which five innocent souls were gruesomely murdered on a church altar at Ile-Ife. The recent incident during the governorship election clearly shows that these people never regretted their action.

They came again at the wee hour of that election for my life but I thank God that I am alive to tell the story. For those who cooked up tales of betrayal due to their not seeing me on election day, I leave them to God. The Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola I know will not believe such story because he is aware of the series of threats and attacks against me. I thank God that I listened to his advice to be conscious and we were together all through the campaign. I leave them to God and I know Ogbeni Aregbesola knows those who are his true lieutenants.

Why are you being sought after?

When you talk about the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ile-Ife today, it is an open secret that I am a force to reckon with. If there is any greatest wish in the mind of Senator Iyiola Omisore is for that town to be a one-way traffic for him, politically. Unfortunately as well, his approach is that everybody must fall in but he found me to be someone that has a different approach and ideology; he knows I can’t be bought over so they decided to attack me.

But I am sure they know that God lives in me and no harm can touch me. For those who are cooking up a story without common sense, I think they are spotting some measures of potentiality in me and they think the only way to wind down my clock is to malign my character and damage me before God, Aregbesola and the good people of Osun State but God has shamed them. I don’t want to dignify them, I know where the salvo is coming from, they are people who wanted my job and the manner they are going about it is very barbaric.

Are you worried that the APC is losing some of its members to the PDP?

Let me tell you, some of these people that are cross-carpeting to the PDP are people who have skeleton in their cupboards and can’t survive in the APC. On the other hand, we are welcoming into our party men of integrity and weight who will bring positive influence into the party.

Every right thinking and principle person, as far as Nigeria is concerned today are in APC. If President Goodluck Jonathan himself is a realist, he should be writing his handover note by now. The stakes in the APC are high right now and people are jostling to fly the party’s flag and we know that we will take the country to the next level in 2015.

What is your view on the calls that the National Assembly should set up a commission of enquiry on the revelations by the supposed Boko Haram negotiator?

I read that as well and it is somehow ridiculous to be hearing names flying around on issues as sensitive as the Boko Haram and the government not doing anything concrete on it. We would develop interest in developing the scenario and where need be, we will investigate further. The issue of Boko Haram has become an embarrassment to us as a nation and as a member of the Human Rights Committee; we cannot shy away from such huge allegation.

What is the state of human rights in Nigeria?

Before now, this was not the state of our human rights. The House started a lot of re-engineering and transformation on our human rights policy. Human rights are now on the first charge of our national budget and the independence of these groups are guaranteed.

We have been working with the National Human Rights Commission as a committee and we are repositioning that commission to ensure that Nigeria abides by the various human rights related charter. To a certain extent, people can now seek redress where their rights have been violated compared to military era. However, we have observed some abuses of power and agencies especially against the press but we will tackle them with time.

Crude oil theft is becoming a major threat to the nation’s economy. As a member of the House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), what is your take on this menace?

As a member of the National Assembly, I have had course to say to members of the executive including the Minister of Finance that no economic policy can triumph in an unsecured environment. We can curtail oil theft but it is disheartening for us to be making a budget with provisions for oil theft. It is irresponsible for any government to say that oil theft will continue. When the Minister of Finance said we should make provision for oil theft in the budget, I laughed.

Being a member of the committee and a former staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), I know those who sat down and said this will be the pipeline that will link depots across the country. But today, only five is working because the pipelines cannot link them owing to vandalism. The way out is for you to use the security agencies within your ambit to secure these pipelines. God and the system have given the president of Nigeria power.

But the man seems not to have the liver to confront these vandals, and this is sabotage of the highest order. And if you can’t do it, the Federal Government should transfer the protection of pipelines to the states, which is easier. Nobody will come from Akwa Ibom to come and vandalise pipeline in Arepo; it’s not possible. You call someone the governor of a state but he doesn’t know what is happening in his backyard.

In a situation where a 65km pipeline from Bonny to Port Harcourt refinery cannot be protected by Rotimi Amaechi is a shame because the Federal Government did not give him any responsibility concerning pipeline. Give Amaechi the right to protect the pipeline in his state and if he knows that the protection of the pipeline would guarantee his own subvention and more money, he would protect it. If Lagos that has about 187km of pipeline is given responsibility, it will protect it.

For me, it is irresponsible of any government to say that they cannot curtail vandalism. See, Nigerians are not patriotic enough to see protection of the NNPC property as a collective responsibility. It is just like Boko Haram, I don’t believe it’s being politicised. I believe that the government of Jonathan is not bold enough to confront Boko Haram. He is not proactive enough especially when you see the way they are taking issues coming out from this crime against humanity.

Our economy will not grow until we learn to protect pipelines. Those who are living fat on vandalism of pipelines are very minimal but they are not insurmountable. Government must involve people that would see pipelines protection as their baby.

We must find a way of amending our constitution and the protection of the NNPC pipeline should be in the hands of the governors. These are some of the things I highlighted in the bill I sponsored which is a bill to amend the Pipeline Act. Let us have a template of all the pipelines in the country, fund them like you fund host communities and through that you will curtail oil theft in this country.

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