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All Nigerian politicians sponsor thugs — Olofa of Offa

All Nigerian politicians sponsor thugs — Olofa of Offa

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The Olofa of Offa in the Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State, Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, in this interview with SUCCESS NWOGU, speaks on the April 5 bank robberies in the ancient town and the police investigation into the raids

How do you feel about the killings during the bank robberies of April 5 in your kingdom?

Nobody feels good or is happy about it. We are all not happy about it. Life is very precious and sacred. Even if it was one person that was killed, nobody would be happy and we are not happy about it.

Government at the federal and state levels made promises to address some of the concerns raised. What is the latest on the promises?

Construction is ongoing on the new police station which they promised to build. The mobile police barrack they promised is also being constructed. There are about two mobile police units in the town; the UTC area manned, by 12 riot policemen, is also in the town.

Are you satisfied with the efforts of the police in relation to the investigation being carried out into the bank robberies so far?

To some extent, the investigation was going on perfectly but later, it took another dimension that was not clear to all of us because it was politicised and we are praying to the almighty Allah that such should not affect the dispensation of justice or jeopardise justice.

How do you mean that it was getting politicised?

Security agents made some arrests and investigation was going on but we later heard that names of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and others were being mentioned and linked to the incident and we do not believe (their involvement in the incident). We believe that is politics. We believe that it is political persecution and nothing more than that.

Why did you say it is political persecution?

Do you expect somebody like Bukola to ask someone to carry a gun and kill the people he is ruling or steal their wealth? He has been giving us; we do not expect that he would go and rob Offa or ask some people to go and rob us. What will he gain from that?

But some of the suspects arrested were allegedly seen at the wedding of Saraki’s daughter suggesting that they are close friends of his family.

You can see them at (social) venues. It is just like you sending someone with your car to go and get something from the market and he decides to use the car for another thing. Would that mean that you are the one that sent him to go and do that? If I give you my car to pick a friend from Ilorin, and on your way, you decide to branch to Omu-Aran to go and do another thing, does that mean I am the one that sent you to Omu-Aran? That is it! If it is a question of thugs, all the politicians have thugs. You would not know what they are doing. I listened to the confessions of the suspected robbers. They never said he (Saraki) sent them to go and rob. They said they were his political thugs and that he was not aware of their robbery (operations).

Some people argue that Saraki, by empowering them and giving them vehicles, emboldened them to commit crimes and they felt protected or shielded by the number three citizen of Nigeria.

He gave vehicles to a lot of people. He gave many people all over the country. Many people received vehicles from him. Even in Offa, any time politicians are doing their empowerment programme, they give out cars, motorcycles and other items to people. Did they give them such things to them so that they can commit crime? It is to empower them. If they are sensible enough, they use it for commercial purposes. Empowerment is not an encouragement to go and steal.

What is your view on the protest and counter protests that took place in Offa on the issue when you went for the lesser Hajj?

The protesters are politicians. Those who protested in favour of Saraki and those who protested against him are politicians who are not saying the truth.

What is your advice to parents because some Offa indigenes were allegedly involved in the incident?

Parents have great roles and responsibility to play towards the upbringing of their children. Parents must ensure that their children have sound moral training and must ensure that they avoid crimes. When you see your son or daughter, with some kinds of people that appear not to be noble, you are supposed to ask questions. You must demand to know the identities of his friends and what they do for a living. Unfortunately, some people do not care. However, we know that there are many children who usually deviate from the sound moral, social and African training their parents give them. Some parents have tried their best to provide everything necessary for their children to become useful citizens and even become self-reliant, but sometimes, some of them would deviate and engage in anti-social conducts, vices and crimes. Parents should not be held accountable for the conduct of children who deviate from the good paths introduced to them by their parents.

So, what is your advice to the youths?

The youths must refrain from the get-rich-quick syndrome. There is dignity in labour, patience and hard work to become wealthy. Youths must learn to embrace dignity of labour. Many of them do not want to work and make money. They want quick money through quick fixes. Such money may not last. The government has been encouraging them to go into farming or get themselves engaged in some productive and useful ventures but some of them do not listen to such advice and words of wisdom. The youths must refrain from crime which ultimately may cut short their lives or put them and their families in bad reputation and even in suffering. They must avoid crime. They should also know the friends they make and keep. They must not make friends with ungodly and evil-minded youths.

The police report appears to have also indicted the Kwara State Government on its empowerment programme. Do you think the programme should continue or be stopped?

Is it bad for a government that swears to ensure the welfare of the citizens to renege on empowering the people it has promised to alleviate their poverty and ensure their well-being and development?

It is not bad. One of the cardinal responsibilities of the government, even as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is to ensure the welfare and well-being of the citizen. It is a primary responsibility of the government. So, that is what the Kwara State Government and other state governments that embark on the empowerment programme have done. They are just being alive to their statutory and constitutional responsibilities. It is not the fault of the state government. The government is doing the empowerment for the boys to have something doing. It is now the fault of the boys, who, instead of using the empowerment items and gifts to do something productive and useful to themselves, used them for crime.

We will still continue to encourage government to continue with its empowerment. We will not say because these few boys misused their empowerment, government should stop. No! Out of 100 per cent that the state government empowered, the arrested suspects are not up to five per cent. So, it is better for the government to continue the empowerment programme in order to reduce employment and thuggery in town.

There is unemployment in the country. Many youths graduate from tertiary institutions and have no jobs.  Even those who could not attend tertiary institutions cannot find something meaningful to do. So, any reasonable person will not discourage the government from implementing programmes geared towards reducing unemployment, which could lead to crime reduction and wealth creation. When youths are meaningfully engaged, they use their energies for productive ventures rather than dissipating their energies on crimes and other anti-social ventures as the saying goes, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’. So, we must encourage government and even individuals and organisations, groups and bodies; that empower the youth and other people, to continue. They are doing great things, they should rather be encouraged.

Getting people employed or usefully and gainfully engaged is another strategy to address crime and boost the welfare of the people. When some youths are employed or gainfully engaged in the African society, he or she will take care of many dependants who could have been languishing in poverty, penury and suffering. So, the multiplier effects of empowering somebody are so great and positive. We must encourage such noble commitment for societal development and well-being.

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