Chief Mutalubi Adebayo Ojo read Mass Communication at the University of Lagos, he later proceeded to the University of Ibadan to study Law. He equally served as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice under late Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State. Last Tuesday, he appeared on Ayekooto On Radio, a magazine programme anchored by Olayinka Agboola live on Lagelu 96.7fm, Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State. Read some of his submissions:
On one of your Social Media profile pages, you wrote that laws must be used as tools of social engineering, for economic development and poverty eradication. Why did you think along this line sir?
Lawyers are called legal luminaries all over the world especially in a democracy to lighten paths and ways of their fellow citizens so that they can see through and will not fall or slip from their ways. Law is an object to develop the country and engineer development and tackle poverty.
Today, as we are speaking, do you consider yourself to be a full fledge politician?
I must not pretend about that. I am a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). I formally joined the party very recently during the revalidation exercise. When I was in government under our late leader, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, I was not a card-carrying member of the party.
What was it like when you were the Chief Lawmaker in Oyo State?
It was all about service to humanity, contributing your quotas to your community, state and society at large. All of us cannot be satisfied to remain in our comfort zones because if it is something we are going to eat together with our family and how to educate our children, we do not have such problems. Let us think of others who are less privileged and who do not have the same opportunity like us. In life there are basic amenities of life such as food, shelter and education and health. Let us strive to make life more meaningful to people, I believe that any aspiration to be in government and public service should be geared towards service. As a commissioner, I served to the best of my ability.
States are at war with Government on the issue of the Value Added Tax collection (VAT). What is your opinion?
I have a very different view and I have expressed it at different fora before. Value Added Tax (VAT) is not listed specifically in the exclusive list. We have already had in place a VAT act – since the era of the military. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has been collecting it from individuals, company without any level of protest from any level of government. It will be wrong for any state now to enact another VAT law like Lagos and Rivers have done. We already have a federal act which has covered the field and that will be inconsistent with any law that is happening now.
During the second republic, we had a similar case between Attorney General of Ogun State and Aberuaba which was litigated up to the Supreme court that it was stated that Ogun State could not enact sales tax.
Also, during Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State, there was this law that was enacted by Lagos state government on hospitality and consumption tax. It happened that Eko Hotel took the state government to court that they could not be paying the same tax when they were already paying same to the federal government and they won the case.
Now, as a lawyer and politician, you know the way things are in Nigeria today – insecurity and economic woes, where did we get it wrong?
Leadership is the major problem facing Nigeria. Our current president, Muhammadu Buhari has failed and has disappointed many people. He has failed woefully and the party, APC has lost its goodwill that brought it to power in 2015.
But some observers said Jugdes/Lawyers, Policemen and Journalists are mainly responsible for the situation Nigeria has found itself…
I do not agree with that assumptions that Lawyers, Judges, Police and Journalist are responsible for Nigeria’s problems today. We have all failed. We cannot have a better country if we do not have a good family unit. A good community cannot exist if there is a bad local government and state. We have lost it all and all sectors are affected. We are the problems and if people in the country agree to change and do the right things then Nigeria will be better.
What do you think is the difference between APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
There is no difference between the two parties. Our political parties are not ideology-based. They are just platformS through which one can get elected to serve. There is nothing like progressives’ party in my understanding. Both parties are bereft of ideologies.
So, what is the way forward sir?
We cannot keep complaining that because politics is a dirty game. It is dirty because majority of the people participating in it presently are dirty. We must not leave it to charlatans, we must all participate in it to improve the system.
What is your stake on the ongoing agitation for Yoruba nation?
Looking at the rate at which we are going in this country, unless Nigeria is restructured, we may disintegrate. Things are not at ease and we have never been divided like this before. The Hausas are seeing themselves as different from the Fulanis. There is nothing like one north again, even the Hausas and the Fulanis are even more divided than the south. We need to sit down and find solutions to the myriad of problems we are facing.
Independence of Yoruba Nation is just one of the valid options to be used to solve Nigeria’s problems.
Before you go, do you wish to send a message to fellow politicians?
Let us all resolve to do the right thing at the right time. Let us be selfless and put the interest of the country at heart first and let us love Nigeria above our personal interest.
I will also counsel Nigerians not to cut corners and to do the right things always.