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Senator Nicholas Tofowomo
The Peoples Democratic Party’s Senator, Ondo South Senatorial District, Nicholas Tofowomo, discusses the state of the country and the upcoming general elections in 2023 with PETER DADA in this interview
Your party’s primaries have come and gone, but they have raised dust. When will this be resolved?
The primary has not yet concluded. We’re still working on it. The primary is still in place because the Electoral Act states that if the Independent National Electoral Commission pastes anyone’s name and you are dissatisfied, you can go to court. The process is still ongoing, and court is still in session. However, by the end of September, everything will be in order and everyone will know where he is going.
You were defeated in the primary. This indicates that you will not return to the Senate. We’ve learned that you’re taking the process to court. What exactly is the issue?

After we had a primary, I congratulated the person that won. However, a lot of things started surfacing because of some anomalies discovered. Then I went back to the drawing board to look at those anomalies and to protect the interest of my party.
If I don’t go to court, my party will lose and the party leaders will call me a stupid man because I came second. So it is good for me to go to court so we don’t lose that platform. If your instrument to run has a k-leg, the other party can take advantage of that. I won’t say more than that because the matter is already in court.
The general elections are coming in a few months time. Is your party ready to turn the table?

I’m not happy with the presidential system of government but with what is on the ground, the PDP is far better than the All Progressive Congress. The PDP has never changed its name.  There is consistency.
Now, we have realised that we have messed up and have sat down together to plan on how to do it. Compare the exchange rate when the PDP government was leaving to what we have now.  Things have gone so bad. There are a lot of things you have to look into when choosing a leader. The PDP will do things differently even if it involves us to bring other countries to come and assist us.
What, as a sitting Senator, do you believe is wrong with the current state of the country?
It is beyond leadership. At every opportunity to choose a leader, we choose wrong people. When it comes to the election, it is ‘see and buy.’ It is not goats that are casting the votes, it is human beings, it is we.
If you do not have money and if you do not have a name, you cannot win anything. The problem of Nigeria, if you look at it, is waxing stronger by the day.
There are things that will make a country grow – for example, electricity. You can imagine, in my house here, I have not used government electricity in the last four months and I’m in Akure because the transformers we were using here is about three miles from my house. When I got here, I bought the cables to that transformer and I installed poles as well. How many megawatts do we have in this country? We cannot boast of 4000 megawatts as of today.
In Egypt, they have more than 60,000 megawatts. In South Africa, they have more than 58,000 megawatts. Why won’t there be development?

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Despite the exposure of many of you in the position of authority, things are going from bad to worse. What do you think is the problem?
At times, it is not one’s fault. For instance when you become a senator, your first term is just to go and watch. You cannot influence anything other than your constituency allowance.
For instance now, I’m the Vice Chairman of the Land Transport Committee. As part of our responsibility in the Senate under transport, mass transit is part of it. The Chairman of the committee does not know anything about mass transit which I know.
When I was a commissioner, I put a lot of things in place. We can multiply that experience to cover the whole country and it will work and as well stop thuggery on the roads.

For instance, if you go to a meaningful bus-stop in a developed clime, it will have a petrol station, hostels, mechanics, canteen and hotels. If anybody should go to Victoria Park in London, he will understand what I’m saying. Their, buses run throughout the night – 24 hours.
From Akure here, we should have buses that will run from Akure to Lagos and to neighbouring countries. When there is light, the entire road will be lit. When your car breaks down, you can walk down and pick an emergency phone. All these things are attached to electricity, yet we don’t have a development plan, which is a terrible thing.
If we get our electricity right, it will develop transport, which is not just about driving cars. Aeroplane is part of it and so is the seaport. I moved a bill on the seaport. It has passed the first and second reading. It has been referred to public enquiry more than a year now and it seems dead, unless I start fighting again. Even if they take it to the President, he will just throw it on the table. In South Africa, there are about 96 seaports servicing about 80 million people. In Nigeria we have six seaports managing over 200 million people.

As a Senator, you should be able to influence things in the Chamber.
Like I said, when you go through the Senate as a first timer, and you raise your hand, they won’t call you because they have their own agenda. The northerners are more than us.
Ondo South has enough resources in this country. When you look at natural resources in the South-West, Ondo State is number one. We have crude oil and our bitumen is the largest deposit in the whole of Africa. There is oil palm, rubber, cassava and cocoa. What efforts are we putting in place to take advantage of them?  If we have a seaport in Araromi, that seaport will decongest the Apapa port. It will even take care of some neighbouring states and create employment opportunities.
There was a time they invited the Inspector-General of Police to the National Assembly to come and address the Senate. I raised my hand and when it got to a stage I raised my two hands, they did not call me. If they don’t call you, will you go and fight? My intention was to tell the whole country that we didn’t have police , until we have police, we can’t be talking of internal security.  If you go to Idanre, there are two police stations there, not well protected, no electricity, no computer, no vehicle and communication cannot be established with the other one in Odode.
So, until we sit down to have a development plan, nothing would work. We shouldn’t pretend about it.
Some Nigerians sat down in 2014 and came up with certain recommendations that seem to have been thrown into the trash can by the present administration
Sincerely, let us have a confederation, Nigeria will still remain as one but let us have a confederation. We have six geopolitical zones. Those six regions should manage themselves and be putting money in the centre. Life will be very easy.

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What makes it so difficult to do so?
For instance, let the western part be called the Oduduwa region and it should be regionally managed, the policing, seaports among others. Watch how it will grow.
Look at the Igbo, they are the most industrious people in Africa but because of that civil war, the relics of that civil war are still on the ground, that is why they have been caged. We don’t have to cage them. The South-East have a name, they manage things, produce shoes, clothes and do all sorts of things.
If you look at Nigeria we have 400,000 police officers. That is, one police officer will look after 500 people. How will it work? It will not work because our policing system is so horrible.
Let us send people to the UK, to America, let them study them for six months and come back home and let us start afresh. When I got to England in 1984, when a police officer stopped you, he didn’t know who owned your vehicle, he didn’t know whether you had a licence or not, he didn’t know whether you had insurance. However, they developed their system gradually.
Now they have put technology into play because they have electricity. They are using their computer to drive things and so on. After 20 years, if a police officer should stop you in Britain, he knows virtually all he needs to know about the car and the driver, which has reduced crime.
There is also an argument that there is no solution in sight with the process of electing our leaders. What is your take?

We are only deceiving ourselves in this country. The presidential system of government is a failure. Although I’m part of it and I’m saying it. We should have gone back to the parliamentary system of government. When you do parliamentary system of government, it is very meaningful, not expensive. Imagine someone who wants to be the President of Nigeria going around the country, spending about N50bn and you want to make him President. As soon as he gets to that office, he would want to recover that N50bn.
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