Comrade Linus Ezeala Okoroji, is an active member of the civil society community. At some point, he was the director of Logistics and Security in PRONACO. He is also a member of the June 12 coalition of democratic formations. He recently celebrated his 71 birthday in Lagos state. In a chat with The Claver Magazine, he speaks of the justice system in Nigeria, the 2023 general election and the presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu whom he describes as the real change that should be supported.
You are 71 years old today, how do you feel?
I feel great. I thank God for his grace and mercy over my life. One of the challenges I had in life was that I lost my first wife about 21 years ago. It was a serious challenge for my family, though I remarried, I have been trying to cope with life. But God has been faithful to me.
Would you say that’s your major regret in life?
No. My major regret is that I lost my mentor, my leader, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu. He was my best friend, he attended every birthday programme I organised, from when I started organising birthday programmes, he attended all except this year that he’s late.
Can you shed more light on the unveiling of the CDs?
The CD is a collection of the performance of governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos state since inception. I love that young man even before he came into power. My first interaction with him was a clear indication that he knows Lagos very well and he has been performing.
What do you hope to achieve with that?
It’s just to promote him and get people to appreciate his efforts because here in Nigeria, we hardly appreciate people. Part of my philosophy in life is that I must appreciate everybody who contributes to better the society. Like Fashola, he is also doing very well.
Generally speaking what is your impression about the state of affairs in Nigeria today?
I’m most concerned about our youths who are the leaders of tomorrow. The youths are derailing, they are chasing after the get-rich-quick syndrome and that was why I did not like the #EndSars protest last year because the people who sponsored it provided food and drinks; they were eating and drinking Hennessey. All through the various protests we had even during the dark days of the military dictatorship, we never had food to eat.
Do you not think that the issues they raised were also germane?
What made them to protest can be genuine but the organisers were not with us here and do not understand the Nigerian struggle because they wanted the police authorities to disband SARs because they were challenging and arresting them because of the rituals, 419, “Yahoo..Yahoo” and other criminal acts they were doing to make money. These youths are not concerned about Nigeria like you and I. I worked in the bank and now my pension is only N13,000.00 per month. They cannot manage that. It cannot take care of my drugs, if not for my children and some of my friends who are returning the favours I did for them in the past, they are taking care of me, otherwise I could not have been able to pay house rent in Nigeria today with N13,000. However, my only advise is that our youths should be focused, productive and positive. We have vibrant youths, they should be focused and pursue genuine businesses and they will make good money.
But do you think the Nigerian government has created the enabling environment for the youths to thrive?
Well, the government has not contributed fairly for the youths to thrive because education should be the first line. How much do they contribute to education? Look at the decay in public schools today in Nigeria, which is affecting the youth, including my children while the children of the rich who go through private school excel. So, you can see.
What is your assessment of the fight against corruption by this government?
The government is parochial, very parochial. Part of the problems we have in this country is injustice. Few years ago, a little boy who stole garri in the market was caught and set ablaze while a man who stole billions of naira is given just 8years sentence. This is unfortunate. This is injustice, very bad. That we have different measures of punishing people is not the best. There should be justice for all and people should be treated equally. If you commit a serious offence, you should be punished with whatever the law stipulates but which must be commensurate with the offence.
As 2023 general election draws near, what are your expectations?
There is one thing I continue to tell people and that is to support some of those who have genuine love for the country to come into power and make the difference. There’s one man, my friend though he may not recognise me if he sees me. He came into Nigerian politics in 1992, became a senator and he joined us in our NADECO struggle and later became the governor of Lagos state. He is trying to tell us that he has a mission but because of hatred, a lot of people do not want to give him a chance to rule Nigeria in 2023. I’m talking about Dr. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. My prayer is that God should grant him full recovery and give him the opportunity to showcase what he has to offer to Nigerians.
In other words, are you asking Nigerians to support Tinubu’s presidential ambition in 2023?
You see, one of the problems we have in Nigeria is that we don’t look at people who are ready to do something. In 1992 when he was in the senate, he was able to reconvene the senate when the then military President, Ibrahim Babangida disbanded the senate. They reconvened the senate in Lagos, there were only six of them including Emeh Ebute who was the senate president then. They were arrested and imprisoned somehow at the end of the day. But eventually they were released before he went on exile. A person who is interested in the course of our country should be given opportunity, that’s all I’m saying. As far as I’m concerned, I believe he knows Nigeria inside out. He will do better. Like I always say, he is the real change, Buhari is a front liner. He helped Buhari to come in but he is the real change.