Chief (Dr) Femi Majekodunmi, a renowned medical practitioner cum businessman and politician, is not a greenhorn in Nigeria politics. He, however, believes that a lot of things are wrong with the country, and could only be corrected by putting the round peg in the right hole, as he joins the senatorial race in Ogun Central on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 election. He speaks with YEMISI AOFOLAJU on varied issues:
What are your antecedents in active politicking?
When you say politics nowadays, people do not normally give special recognition to or respect whoever calls himself a politician. The reason is that Nigerians have never benefited from whatever the activities of politicians were. All we can think of in this country is bad governance, infrastructure decay, insecurity and, to top it all, the most terrible cankerworm — corruption. I am not a novice in the political arena; I have been in politics right from my days in the university; active students’ politics. I was the first medical student to be the president of University of Ibadan Students Union; I was chairman of the Alexandra Brown Hall, the Clinical Students Hostel. Both positions were attained through elective processes. I started my politicking in Ibadan, under the late Cicero of Esa-Oke and former governor of old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige, under the platform of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Though I was apolitical, I was still interested in what was going on in the political arena in those days. I got interested in the politics of Ogun State because of the acceptance I enjoyed from politicians then. The Ogun Chapter of UPN accepted me into the party, which culminated in the formation of the Peoples Solidarity Party (PSP). Within a year in party politics, I became the only member of the Steering Committee representing Egbaland in the PSP. A party of progressives, we had members from the East, like Jim Nwobodo, Sam Mbakwe and others; from the West, Chief Bola Ige, Bisi Onabanjo, Chief Michael Ajasin, and others, and from the North, Abubakar Barde and Mohammed Waziri who were former governors. There were three blocks then: Onabanjo represented Ijebu Remo Senatorial District, now East Senatorial District, Dr Bisi Otegbeye represented Yewa, now Ogun West Senatorial District, while I represented Egba, now Ogun Central Senatorial District.
Will it be right to say that you stepped aside for some time?
No, I never stepped aside. It was by my own design because of the way I saw and still see politics. I have never seen politics as a full-time job. I have always seen it as a part-time job, vocation and hobby. I was a gubernatorial aspirant about three times under SDP as a leading aspirant. But my aspiration never saw the light of the day due to the disruptions of military interregnum. I have always attempted to serve as a result of pressure from my people, coupled with the fact that I never wanted to leave my business for politics.
What is your assessment of the present political gladiators in view of the happenings in Nigeria?
Well, I think the unfortunate situation that the political class has found itself has got to do with the unfortunate situation in which the country itself has found itself. Let us flash back to what used to happen in those good old days; let us start with the colonial era till the late 70s: politicians were ideologically disposed, honest, the game was played the way it should be played, probably from the influence of the colonial masters. We were shown the right way to do things despite the fact that we had our own innovations, our ways of getting things done, be it cultural or religious. But as modern times evolved, the love for material things, the love for many things that should not be embraced crept in because of selfishness and the abundance of all sorts of ills, culminating in decayed infrastructure, insecurity, religious bigotry and many other problems and all these destroyed the very fabric of Nigeria. Today, politics is played without any ideology, politics is played without any love for the country. Gone are the days when politicians were patriotic, it is now whatever one can grab. It is like the NASS has seized power.
If the NASS has seized power, what are you going to do differently if you get to the NASS?
My main mission is to serve the people to the best of my ability. My mission in politics is to serve the people. As a student politician, service was always in my mind. I was the president of Rotary International, Ibadan, District Governor, among others. The only area where I believe I can serve is the Senate, considering my age and interest to serve. All I intend to do is to join people of like minds, Nigerians who share the same vision with me. The NASS needs to be restructured, the structure as it is now encourages illegalities, corruption, anti-people behaviour, anti-people goals and activities generally.
Will your dream be actualised from the ADC being a relatively new party?
My party is practically a new one, but it is the solution. This party was formed on the basis of all I have raised. It was formed for the purpose of making positive changes in the land. The originators, framers and builders of the party realised the rot in Nigeria and the need to find solutions. It is no use talking about these ills without giving solutions.
Now that you have said that ADC is the solution, what is your take on restructuring?
There has been a lot of noise about restructuring, many people and groups have said one thing or the other about it. What they have said, what they intend to do have never been the same. What I am talking about now is not general restructuring of the country because it does not make any sense. If you are talking of a situation, restructuring of NASS is where the ills, rots and wrongs are identified, and it should be the place where a template on how to chart a new course can be achieved to change the situation. The same thing can be said of the country as a whole, but then that is another kettle of fish which requires higher participation. I have never believed this will work because of the selfishness of our lawmakers whose constituencies, religion, among other considerations, becloud their roles. The problem is with the country and its people. Maybe there will be changes in piecemeal by way of political parties to start with. But with terribly bad political parties without ideology, what do you expect will come out of this? How do you restructure the whole country? The police is still where it is, Customs… name it. Corruption is everywhere.
Will becoming a senator change the narrative in the health sector?
The health sector is one of the sectors that have been badly affected. During the colonial days, though I was young then, virtually everything was working. The concept of tertiary health care delivery as exemplified by teaching hospitals worked optimally, the concept of the secondary health care as exemplified by general hospitals was fantastic. Primary health care, to a reasonable extent, was started then. Though the physical structures are still there, they are now decayed. The attitude of civil servants and health workers need to be worked on because it is now business as usual. The orientation is warped these days. I had to reduce the expansion of my personal clinics because I needed more time and attention for other business concerns and politics.
Your perception of the quality of service rendered at hospitals now…
It is very appalling. The bug of corruption has equally affected the quality of services now. Every worker is interested in what is in it for him/her.
In essence, health care is no longer service to humanity…
It was in the good old days, but we have lost this.
How are you going to bring back these good old days as a senator?
The rot, as I said earlier, is a systemic thing. We need people of like minds to get things right. I will speak loudly about it through activation of people of like minds. I have not seen any serious effort of Nigerians at solving all the problems; though there have been isolated cases, but the people championing the cause get tired midway. This advocacy for a change cannot be done singlehandedly: Nigerians, more than ever before, need a change from the business-as-usual status.
What is your assessment of the current administration?
The present administration came in with great hope from Nigerians, as it knew then that country needed a change. But what has happened since then? Those who did not deserve to be voted for were given votes. There is nothing in it! With all the noise, boast, nothing to show for it.
What is the way out?
The way out is ADC. The party is built on strong intention/belief, purposeful thinking to change the situation even at the cost of winning an election, because how do you win an election when you are pious, God-fearing in the midst of people who think otherwise?
Don’t forget that ADC members were once in PDP, APC and other parties, they still remain the same personalities…
That is a very good observation; any party including ADC whether you like it or not still has good people while the bad ones are there, those whose loyalty/status you cannot determine. All we need are strong-willed people. It is said that even a man can change the whole country. Remember Jerry Rawlings of Ghana. He embarked on a revolution and got Ghana in a better stead. There is the other side to revolution, though, as I will not support the idea of killing people.
What is the Nigeria of your dream?
My dream Nigeria is obvious. A country where there will be fairness, equity and justice; where everybody, no matter how poor they are, can have three square meals on a daily basis, can move from one state to the other be it in a bus, taxi or the popular Molue. In the 60s, no Nigerian was so poor that they could not afford three square meals. Even the so-called porter could afford to eat his meals, board taxis just like any other person. But now, there are Nigerians who cannot afford just one meal per day! I don’t know how Nigerians manage their affairs today. There is no family where you will not find at least three jobless graduates. There is youth under employment, unemployment all over, yet we keep turning out hundreds of thousands annually from universities. We have farmlands, but no workers because none of our children want to go to the farm, because there are no incentives.
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