Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Ondo state Governor, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday regretted that there is no virile opposition in the country again, saying every other person who was in opposition in 2015 has now crossed over to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He also opposed the proposed death penalty for hate speech offenders in the country.
Akeredolu stated this in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, at the opening ceremony of the sixth biennial international conference of the University of Ilorin Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies department.
The theme of the conference is ‘Domesticating sustainable development goal 16 in Nigeria: Peace, justice and strong institutions’.
He said: “It is disheartening that there is no virile opposition in Nigeria today because all the people in opposition in 2015 have now crossed over to the ruling APC. I am amused if I see them decamping in droves to the APC.”
Akeredolu, who is a former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), added that injustice, real or imagined, has been responsible for the absence of peace in Nigeria.
According to him, “Any discussion on justice which leaves out the deplorable conditions of the people is self-serving; it is patently unjust to have the mass of the people depending on handouts from the political class having lost the capacity to contribute to the development of the polity.
“Until and unless the identifiable geo-political zones are encouraged to realise their potential with a view to participating actively in the economic activities for growth and prosperity, there will be no end to crises.
“Current measures put in place seem insufficient to rescue the country from socio-economic doldrums. Therefore, the preponderance of conflicts in virtually all parts of the country seems to suggest failure of the system. However, working at these manifest lapses will assist greatly.
“Institutions of state must be self-regulating. The basic law of the land-the constitution-and relevant subsidiary legislations must be the instruments which determine the life and functions of any institution created to take care of the welfare of the people.”
On the issue of planned death penalty for hate speech offenders in the country, Akeredolu said: “I am not in support of such action.”
He, however, likened the penalty to sentencing someone who steals N10,000 to death and freeing another that steals N1 million.
The governor added that “when I was the president of the NBA, I vehemently opposed capital punishment for condemned criminals. I will be a turncoat as governor to now support death penalty for hate speech offenders.
“As the governor of Ondo State, I will not commit to death those condemned criminals, instead, I will look into how to commute their sentences to life imprisonment. Or I will transfer them to other administrations.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof Sulyman Abdulkareem, lamented that the world, particularly developing countries, are caught up in the ensnaring web of ceaseless and needless conflicts as well as tangling miseries of ineffective governance that sustain structural tensions and retard sustainable development.
Abdulkareem added that “by 2017, 68.5 million people, mostly from developing nations of the world, were estimated to have been forcibly displaced as a result of conflicts, violence or human right violations.
“Corruption, bribery and theft are said to have caused developing countries $1.26 trillion per year, thereby retarding their sustainable growth. It is saddening that our continent (Africa) is suffering more than any other parts of the world from these centrifugal forces against sustainable development.
“Sadly too, Africa has become the centre of conflicts. Various intra and inter conflicts, uprising and violence spread across the continent. Boko Haram in the north eastern part of Nigeria has become seemingly insurmountable. Kidnapping has become a common menace that threatens the security and human rights of citizens in most parts of the developing world,” he said.