Chief Francis Ekemefuna Okafor was born in Ilorin in 1942 and started his elementary school at United Primary School Ilorin went to Onisha for his secondary education and later joined Biafran army in 1966 when the war was about to break and retired as army captain.
He later joined politics of late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki in 1977, Chief Okafor is a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, the octogenarian in this interview, spoke on the past, present political situation in the state among others sundry issues.
Sir, Kwara State had been one of the old states created in 1967, what is your assessment on its development?
Since the creation of kwara State in 1967, there was no much improvement on developmental project in kwara than the regime of late General David Bamgboye (Rtd) Kwara Hotels, State Secretariat, High Court complex and many others structures was built during his time.
We still have others good governors came after him, for instance, governor Mohammed Sha’ba Lafiagi did well within his short period of his administration, late Mohammed Lawal also did very well but due to political rivalry he was later voted out.
And such things is still happening in the state as some politicians waging war against the incumbent governor, Mallam Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq, even those who can not win election in their unit wishing Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq administration’s failure.
The regime of Mallam Abdulrahman is quite different from others past governments because the present governor didn’t believe in sharing public money meant to execute projects for kwaran with politicians.
There has been counter acquisition between the governor and Alhaji Lai Mohammed over elections money.
But the followers of the minister, who said they are loyal to Alhaji Lai Mohammed and estwhere party Chairman, Hon. Bolarinwa Omolaja Bashir, they were not able to tell the party the truth, if the governor made any allegation about the elections money, it shouldn’t go over radio houses and on the pages of newspapers.
If not because of crisis between them that exposed five million naira the governor gave Iyiola Oyedepo five million naira during his son wedding. Governor Abdulrasaq is not a father Christmas that would be sharing projects money to people just like that.
“I want to appeal to the people most especially the politicians to allow him face the governance for the benefit of all in the state”.
You are a leader in Kwara politics, how wiil you describe the political situation in the state?
I have been in politics with late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki in 1977, when we formed National Conversation which later transformed into National Party of Nigeria (NPN), so I have been in Kwara politics for over five decades now.
So far what has been your experience?
My experience is that there is no love between the aspirants, followers and elders in politics, for instance I when to Senator Oloriegbe’s house for an important issue to discuss with him but on getting to his house the securities at the gate asked to call him to seek for permission.
But when it is time for campaign, they can even tell you to come and sleep in their bed room, roll out their mobile number to the public but immidiately they emerged, they blocked the line of change the line.
This is what they should correct, for example, I don’t know the governor’s number and I voted for him to emerge and I want to personal see him on the matter that may affect him, party and the state, and on getting to the government house and I disallowed to see him and the securities who doesn’t know how he got government house would start interrogating you preventing to see the person you voted for, this is among the things that made them to fail.
As you rightly said, Governor Abdulrasaq doesn’t believe in sharing money with people, how would you assess him on capital projects in the state over last two years of his administration?
As far as am concerned, I have nerve come in contact with him and never collect five hundred naira from the him but still I like the way he appointed young female as commissioners in the state, he also reduces unemployment.
He remodeling school, focuses on health facilities, construction of roads, water, provision of ‘Owo Isowo’ to markers, awarding of scholarship to tertiary institutions students across the state among others basic needs of Kwara.
You have said that late Dr. Olusola Saraki was your intimate political friend when he was a life, how would you compare him with his son Bukola Saraki political style after the demise of his late father?
On may this year when I met with Bukola I discovered that the man was good but sounounded by sycophants and I told this to his face and he should allow people with genuine new ideology to move closer to him.
I warned him not sponsor any aspirants for any elective position and allow primary election to be free and fair for all aspirants like wise I gave same advised to Governor Abdulrasaq because they are the leaders of main opposition and ruling political parties in the state.
And Bukola should not support them with money because by giving them financial support, it is then the people will acusses him of collect oercentage from state allocation from them but if he stand aloof, no one will put accuse fingers on him.
Third party message is the dangerous for him, Bukola spent a lot during last general elections in the state but APC uprooted him and his party by ‘Otoge’ movement with less funds due to engagement of sycophants as intermidiaries.
Governor Abdulrasaq is a grassroots man, mix up with the people, he goes out on his own, he doesn’t go out with convoys, he knows what is doing, I appreciate him for running less cost administration in the state, he is not flamboyant in all his dealings and he will surely get second term in iffice.
I was impressed with Governor Abdulrahman for attended the Chief Imam of Son’s wedding, he was there as early as 10:am every one met him there and left by 5:pm, he always keeping time, he is a time conscious governor, if he continuation like this, there is nothing stop him of getting second term ambition.
What is your advice for some people who are creating confusion in the South East?
I am a retired army captain who knew what we call war, war is not like party where everyone will be dancing and wine, I urged them to allow our people go about their normal business and conduct governoship election.
They need to round table dialogue with the federal government as they did by Niger-Delta during late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua not through violent or war. I fought during the Nigeria/ Biafra war.
For those who participated and fought at the war will never pray for another war in this country as property worth several billions of naira and many Nigerian and Biafra army and civilians lost their lives to the war.
They just make people uncomfortable, some many things need to be considered before calling for war, there is no enough weapons, no water way to transport the amunitions and some others fighting equipment.