Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Olaolu Ali is one of the most successful lawyers in Nigeria. He is very blunt when it comes to issues affecting his country. A great philanthropist who is not loud about his humanitarian services, the lawyer bares his mind on some challenges facing his country
President Muhammadu Buhari was accused of making appointments based on ethnic and religious sentiments. Now that he is on medical vacation, the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo is being accused of thesame thing, what is your position on this ?
Nigeria is an interesting country. We read politics, religion and ethnicity to everything we do whether in public or our private capacities. This is not good enough. We have allowed politics, religion and ethnicity to block our sense of equity, we are too suspicious of ourselves. This must stop. The best thing is to address every issue on merit and not because Mr. A is a Christian or Muslim or whether Mr. B is Yoruba, Hausa or Ibo. I don’t buy into religious or ethnicity sentiments.
I see myself first as a Nigerian before anything. You dont have control over where you are born or who born you. For instance, I was born a Yoruba man not by my own making but by accident, same applies to everybody. I could have been born Hausa,Ibo, Ijaw or any other tribe. No one has any control over his place of birth. As Nigerians, we should respect ourselves irrespective of where we come from or our religious practice. Personally, I dont ask people where they come from or their faith. Those things dont matter to me.
Would you say government is winning the war on corruption?
The war on corruption is much more than how many Nigerians view it. Corruption is not all about money, unfortunately , many people only view corruption in terms of money. Yes embezzlement and other forms of stealing are part of corruption, but many things people do on daily basis without looking at the consequences are also corruption
For the anti-corruption war to succeed, all Nigerians have to be involved. Despite the efforts of President Buhari to fight corruption, what has changed about our attitudes as individuals, what has changed about our orientation? These are the questions. Tribalism, name dropping and other vices are also corruption. Bribery is just an aspect of corruption. For the war on corruption to be effective, we have to fight tribalism, nepotism and other negative aspects of our lives as Nigerians.
The way out is to make an average Nigerian know that corruption in any form is bad. There should be less emphasis on materialism and a good reward system put in place. People should not be recognised based on the size of their pockets, but their integrity and service delivery.
The security situation of Nigeria is worrisome, what is the way out?
The bulk of the security challenges we face in Nigeria today are fallouts of corruption. Corruption disrupts national life. Most of the agitations we have in the country is because people think that they are being cheated. If everyone is satisfied with the system, there will be less agitations. We must enlist professionals as a nation to fight insecurity because there can not be any meaningful development without adequate security.
What is your take about Nigeria’s foreign missions?
First, we must revamp our Embassies abroad. Secondly, there must be proper reorientation of the staff . They have to treat Nigerians with respect and dignity. That is why they are there.
The Bar and the Bench have come under heavy criticisms in recent times over allegations of corruption. That is your constituncy, what advice do you have for your colleagues?
The Bar and the Bench should act in accordance with their ethics. We should leave politics for politicians ,maintain high ethical standard and also shun any form of corrupt practices because the common man looks unto us.
Midway into this administration,politicians are already talking about 2019 election,is that healthy enough?
What I will say is that they should discharge the mandate given them first. They should do those things that will improve the standard of living of Nigerians. Most Nigerians are interested in what will bring food on their tables before they start hinking about 2019. Service delivery should be uppermost in the hearts of our politicians.