Fake men of God causing havoc in Nigeria –Prophet Abiara
Former General Evangelist of Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide, Prophet Samuel Kayode Abiara in this interview with Effects chides men of God who prophesy doom to the nation, talked about his retirement after 10 years as World Evangelist of the CAC, his late wife and others.
What message do you have for the nation this new year?
This year is a year of blessings, a year of grace, a year of happiness and a year that will enrich those who are poor; it is a year that they will have victory over what has been afflicting them. It is a year of joy for those who move closer to God and the promise for those who move closer to God will be their lot this year. Secondly, this year is a terrible year for wicked people. I’m referring to hired killers, kidnappers, ritualists this year, God will deal with them thoroughly. God will empower the security agencies to deal with them if they don’t change; armed robbers, wicked people in government in any society or organizations. Also, the witches and wizards, God will deal with them this year if they don’t change.
Thirdly, people must not listen to the prophecy of doom; such prophecies that heaven is going to fall, about earthquakes and all those calamities. All these problems, and challenges are in the bible; what concerns us as servants of the most high is that when we get such revelations, we must not allow the heart of the people or the government to be troubled. I want to advise all my colleagues, prophets, bishops, evangelists, pastors, that if they see anything terrible, they must put it in prayers and pray against it. They should not put fear and panic into any nation or people. There’s no prophesy you give to the nation which is not in the bible, Matthew 24 tells us that nations will rise against nations, there will be war, problems and challenges. So, why are we embarrassing governments and nations, that a country will collapse? If they see something they must organize prayers.
You are retired but still on the field preaching, why?
I retired from the CAC as General Evangelist but in the service of God, I’m not tired. On 2nd September 1967, God called me; ‘my Son, Samuel Abiara today, 2/9/67, I appoint you a prophet and evangelist to the whole world.’ That was before the Authority of CAC called me in 2007 to be the General Evangelist of the mission. Now, I’m a prophet and evangelist to the whole world, not to any church but to all the churches. All churches all over the world have the authority to invite me if they want. I don’t discriminate; I’m a prophet to churches all over the world. Any church that needs my service I will obey them and go there to minister. An office is different from service. I retired from the service of CAC according to their constitution, once you clock 75 years, you retire and give way to another person. The service and the work of God is for life. I’m free to attend any church all over the world now as a retiree.
At what point in your ministry did you become popular?
God called me in 1963 when I was a clerk with J.A. Agoro. My salary then was 150 kobo. That is 15 shillings per year. My boss was a good man. He took care of me as if I was his child, I attended church services with him. As a young man, I registered my company to start my business but God said, ‘my son Kayode, you are not doing this business’; that he wants me to be His Minister and preach His word. Back then, it’s popular seeing Aladura ringing bell on the streets and looking scruffy. Due to that, I said I’m not interested. But God said No, I will make you great, just obey me. I listened to that voice and today, God has made me what I am not worth. What you are seeing about me is by the grace of God. It’s not by my fasting. People call me ‘Wooli Alagbon’ (Coconut prophet,) because I eat coconut whenever it’s time to break my fast. Be it seven days, 21 days and 40 days fast but that was not the reason for my uncommon favour all over the world. Who am I? My education is nothing to write home about but today, I thank God Almighty. In my dream, an angel came down, spit on my tongue and said I release you to communicate all over the world. I thank God almighty for what God has done for me, I don’t deserve it at all. It’s not because of my holiness or fasting but God just decided to give me an uncommon favour.
What lessons about life have you learnt?
To move closer to God; when you move closer to God, you will be great. When you move closer to God, you will see the blessings of God almighty, you will see wonders and the hand of God almighty. Just try it. When you move closer to God and obey him, things will go well with you.
So many fake prophets, pastors using that title as a cover-up. It’s in the bible, that in the last days there shall be fake prophets, fake pastors, etc. It’s all in the bible. Those who are seeking and going after prophets here and there, they must be very careful. They must find the true gospel church to attend. There are fake prophets, fake pastors, and fake bishops, they are all over. It’s in the bible, I’m not a judge. But the bible warned that we should be careful. So, readers of this interview should be careful of men of God who deceive people all over. They continue to tell lies.
At 75, you are still strong, what is the secret sir?
That is what I’m telling you, God gave me an uncommon favour. I eat the same food everyone eats but it’s the glory of God. People tell me I look younger and I reply it’s the glory of God. When someone keeps herself or himself and moves closer to God, you will see the glory of God. I move closer to God, I try to obey him, I’m not half as holy as God but God just favours me. When you have a son or daughter, you can never have the same love for all your children; there’s special love for one of them. Most men of God confess they were bad boys before their journey into ministry, they smoked, drank, womanized. I was not holy when God called me too. I just saw grace from God almighty. But when God called me, I heeded his call.
In your family, do you have other prophets before you?
No, we don’t have any man of God in my family, my father was a catholic and my mum was an Anglican. So we don’t have any pastor or any prophet in my family until God called me in 1963.
How do you relax?
Since I lost my wife last year, I pray more, read my bible and I’m starting a program, Abiara Divine Foundation Outreach to help and empower people, give them scholarship, take the senior citizens, go to rural areas to empower them. That is what I want to do together with the evangelistic ministry.
What did you miss about your late wife?
I miss my wife so much, there’s no lady in this world that is more beautiful than my wife. I miss her. She knows my ways, she’s obedient, she takes care of me, and she knows what I want and what I don’t want. So, I miss her a lot. I thank God almighty for sustaining me since the day she passed on last year.
Most men of God remarry fast when they lose their wife, are we expecting another mummy soon?
Yes, by the grace of God. The bible did not put us in darkness. The bible says men and women are permitted to marry whosoever they want to marry when they lose their loving one. By the grace of God, when God gives me my choice, you will hear.
Series of socio-economic challenges facing the country including problems of insecurity and other social vices have been traced to lack of visionary leaders in the country.
Making this submission in an interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Colonel Tony Nyiam (retd) lamented that Nigeria has not been blessed with visionary leaders either in the years past or at present.
“Except for late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and to some extent, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Nigeria since independence has not been blessed with visionary leaders, and this is why Nigeria has not made much progress in her 57 years of nationhood. Sadly, some of the people who emerged as leaders are not only parochial, they are weak, ineffectual and lack focus,” the former military chief involved in the Gideon Orkar’s attempted take over of power in 1989 declared.
Nyiam also spoke on other national issues including the Fulani herdsmen attack in Benue State, which led to loss of several lives, the controversial 1 billion dollars deduction by the Federal Government from the Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram, President Buhari’s leadership style and restructuring of the polity. Excerpts:
Some Nigerians have expressed concern about the recent killings in Rivers and Benue states, especially that of Benue where suspected Fulani herdsmen were on rampage attacking and killing innocent villagers. Do you see this as a good way for the nation, pining under so many challenges to start the New Year?
To me, what is responsible for all these crises all over the country can be traced to lack of visionary leadership. Except for late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and to some extent Sir Ahmadu Bello, Nigeria has not had visionary leaders, and our government is not hinged on vision, it is like having or taking action without reasoning. Reasoning controls actions. Nigerian leaders both past and present who are still alive should seek forgiveness from God for bringing the nation to this sorry state. Again in the case of Nigeria, we also need to seek spiritual rejuvenation because these things happening to us or taking place are not ordinary, they are not physical. To get things right in Nigeria, we have to restore the principles of justice, fairness, truth, equity, liberty, compassion and also our leaders should see to the general well being of citizens so that the objective of governance can achieve the desired goal. The objective of governance in Nigeria should reflect the thinking of the popular French philosopher which says greatest happiness to greatest number of people. Today, can we say that greatest number of Nigerians are happy? Obviously no, and this is why there is a need for our leaders to be visionary. Governance should be about greatest happiness to a greater number of citizens. Once a government or leaders lacks vision, anything such government or leader does will not work.
The New Year speech by President Buhari was a disappointment. First, his speechwriters were insensitive to the yearnings of majority of Nigerians. His speechwriters were also arrogant to mislead the President to think that he can lecture Nigerians on what they want by saying that the problems with Nigeria are processes and not structures. That statement lacked intellectual depth in the sense that Buhari’s speech writers should have told him that processes are pre-determined by the system in which processes work.
Processes or actions doesn’t operate in isolation, they are always context- bound. It is the structures that determine the processes, and effectiveness of processes, but processes do not exist on their own, they are always determined by the system in which the processes are being conducted. To that extent, Buhari’s speechwriters didn’t do Buhari a good job.
Secondly, Buhari needs to do what General Ibrahim Babangida used to do when we used to work with him. When you write a speech for Gen. Babangida, he would now engage the speechwriters in a discussion in order for him to have a good knowledge of the speech he wanted to read. It is wrong for Buhari to just take any speech they gave him to read without he, himself, having knowledge of what he was reading or about to read. I also believe that it was wrong for Buhari to say that it is ethnicity that is dividing us. But I believe that is wrong, rather our diverse ethnicity should have been an advantage to make Nigeria a very strong nation.
Are you saying that ethnicity …
(Cuts in) … I know that Nigeria is made up of different ethnic nationalities, but what I’m saying is that, that diversity should have been turned into an advantage. The President should not have been emphasizing the ethnic diversity issue as a problem for the nation in his address. We should have been able to transform our diversity into a source of strength. Again it is wrong for President Buhari to have dismissed calls for restructuring. For Buhari to have made such dismissal, it means that Buhari has been grossly misinformed about what restructuring is all about. The problems we are having all over the country now are a consequence of lack of appropriate governance. That’s why we have these recurring clashes between the Fulani and host communities.
Buhari also appeared to have been misinformed about the clashes between Fulani herdsmen and host communities or Buhari and his aides are deliberately twisting the whole thing to be as if the clashes are between Fulani and host communities. This is wrong. Fulani herdsmen are the aggressors. They are invaders. They are the ones unleashing violence on host communities, killing and maiming innocent citizens.
But the impression Buhari and fellow Fulani apologists want to create is that there are clashes between two parties. No. Clearly, it is the Fulani herdsmen that are the aggressors. They are the invaders. We should be able to call a spade a spade.
We are talking about invasion by Fulani herdsmen, and here our Inspector-General of Police is saying that it is a communal clash. What a shame. This mischievous and dubious talks by government officials like the Inspector-General of Police will not help matters. When there is an assault on an individual, then the person who assaulted the other party can’t now turn around to say that it is a fight between two parties.
To pretend that invasion of Benue communities by Fulani herdsmen is a communal clash is very unfortunate. In fact there was a prior warning about the invasion, and the state governors, Samuel Ortom cried out and the irony of it is that the governor of Benue State and the President belong to the same party, yet the President couldn’t do anything to forestall the attack by the herdsmen.
Why should Buhari order the Inspector-General of Police to go and fight well -armed herdsmen, whereas in minor cases involving militants and even demonstrators in the Southeast soldiers were deployed by the Federal Government? This amounts to double standards. Why this double standards? I think Buhari should help himself. Buhari through his own actions is undermining his own government, through his utterances, actions and inactions.
Where non-state actors like Fulani herdsmen are defying government, even defying Buhari himself is very sad. It’s been said that Buhari is even the Grand Patron of Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body for Fulani herdsmen, but, be that as it may, another leader of Miyetti Allah group has come out to condemn the invasion by Fulani herdsmen. What this means is that some people in the Miyetti Allah Association also believe that ultimately what some of these herdsmen are doing is not good in their own interests in the long run. Buhari’s frequent reduction of clear cases of the violent and sophisticated armed Fulani herdsmen invasion of other people’s lands, farms and communities to a case of two communities or two parties fighting is grossly unfair to the Middle Belt communities who have always been the victims.
Like I said in an earlier interview, Nigeria is cracking already and if we failed to do the needful now, it is a matter of time before the nation suffers implosion which may have terrible consequences. The only way to avert looming danger is for us to carry out restructuring. Things have never been this terrible. Nigeria is being turned into a killing field, and yet they tell us that we have a government in place, but what kind of government is that, that can’t protect lives of citizens, or what kind of government is that, that values lives of some citizens more than the others? Buhari should not pretend that he doesn’t know what restructuring is all about or believe that he can run away from restructuring. It is either we restructure or we suffer an implosion.
There is a lot of boiled up anger and tension in the land. Our leaders should not think that all is well – No. Buhari should not deceive himself or allow himself to be deceived that all is well. He should not allow a group of servile advisers to keep on deceiving him that all is well. Millions of Nigerians are hungry and angry.
Calls and agitations for restructuring should be taken serious by Buhari, otherwise when the looming implosion eventually happens, nobody can predict its consequences, but definitely it will have a devastating effect on the nation.
Let me define again what restructuring means for the benefit of those who don’t know what it means or pretending not to know what it means, Restructuring, simply put, means an appeal for the restoration, or for the enthronement of timeless and universal principles of justice, truth, fairness, equality and engendering of a sense of belonging in all the people and nations that make up Nigeria. The issue of restructuring is an issue of correcting injustice in the land – lack of fairness, and inequality has resulted in people not having a sense of belonging in the nation. We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder, which can explode at any moment.
The sum of one billion dollars was recently ordered to be withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, by the Governors Forum to tackle Boko Haram insurgency, but the issue has polarized the Forum with two governors, Ayodele Fayose and Nyesom Wike kicking against it. Fayose had even gone to court to challenge the withdrawal while Wike demanded that a similar amount should be withdrawn to tackle environmental challenges in Rivers State, what’s your view on this?
Both Wike and Fayose are right. That withdrawal of 1 billion dollars to tackle insurgency is illegal, more so since it didn’t go through National Assembly for approval and neither was it appropriated for. I fully support their action in challenging the illegality. Wike is also right in demanding that 1 billion dollars should also be released from the Excess Crude Account to tackle environmental challenges in the Niger-Delta because while Niger-Delta has been suffering over the years from environmental oil degradation as a result of oil exploration, such a measure has never been taken like it is being done in the case of the Northeast where 1 billion dollars is being withdrawn to tackle Boko Haram insurgency. In the case of Boko Haram attacks, we are talking of human lives being affected, but I also want to ask our hypocritical leaders this question, is it not human lives that is involved in Niger-Delta where the zone has been suffering from ecological disaster over the years. What is even more annoying is the fact that this money being withdrawn to tackle crisis in the Northeast is got from Niger-Delta, while Niger-Delta where the money is got or which owns the money is neglected and abandoned. This is another case of double standard by the Buhari government. Buhari’s government is a government of double standards.
Again, that 1 billion dollars being withdrawn to tackle insurgency in the Northeast as they claim will provide another opportunity for looters. To me, it is a misplaced priority for government to be talking of using the 1 billion dollars to buy new equipment in order to contain the Boko Haram war. For me, this is a wrong approach.
Buying armoured tanks, and fighter jets is a waste of time because the Boko Haram war is not a conventional warfare where two armies faced one another directly in battle. What Boko Haram used mostly now is guerilla tactics, hit and run approach. Not only that, they also used suicide bombers. Do you now fight a suicide bomber with fighter jets or armoured tanks? What kind of battle tactic or strategy do you call that? That’s very defective. This is why I said earlier that the 1 billion dollars will be looted. It will provide easy money for some contractors and arms manufacturing firms. If at all 1 billion dollars is to be released to contain the Boko Haram insurgency, that money should be used to recruit more intelligence officers because what the Boko Haram situation now require is intelligence gathering, which will make it easier for Boko Haram suicide bombers to be detected through intelligence gathering. More personnel can also be recruited for armed forces, police and other security agencies. But like I said earlier, the double standard approach of Buhari’s government will create more problem for Nigeria. Ogoni, an oil producing community has been suffering serious neglect, and has been abandoned as a result of oil exploration, and the excuse the Federal Government has always been giving is lack of funds to start the clean up project, but when it now concerns the North, they find it easy to withdraw 1 billion US dollars to tackle the problem – what a double standard? The impression our leaders are giving is that some citizens are special more than others, but this should not be so. Buhari is showing too much bias for the Northeast and Northwest to the detriment of other geo-political zones in the country. But even in the Northeast, some areas are also marginalized by this administration. Non-Kanuri areas and Chibok areas in the Northeast are being marginalized by Buhari and this is not good for our nation. Buhari should behave like a visionary leader, a visionary leader is the one that not only sees all parts of the country as his own constituency, but also ensures that he doesn’t show preference or bias towards any section.
It is indeed a very big shame that 1 billion dollars oil money is being taken from Niger-Delta that produces oil to solve a problem in the Northeast, a non-oil producing community, whereas Ogoni, an oil producing community has been suffering from oil pollution that requires a massive clean up for several years now, but that community has been abandoned by the government citing lack of funds as an excuse for delaying the clean up project, so where is justice in all these? Most of these people who parade themselves as national leaders are deceitful. They are parochial, very partial and biased. We need visionary leaders to take Nigeria to greater heights.
It is very sad that Nigeria has been bereft of visionary leaders, and the nation is paying dearly for it. With all these crises here and there, what are your fears for Nigeria?
My fears for Nigeria is that we may suffer the consequences of lack of courage or failure to take right actions by our leaders. The present state of insecurity is very worrisome. Violence and bloodshed are on the ascendancy, and agitations for justice and equality are on the rise. Our leaders should not pretend that all is well. We are in a very explosive situation. This is not the Nigeria of the dreams of the nation’s founding fathers. The situation in Nigeria today is not only pathetic but also very worrisome – the only way out, the only way to save or prevent the looming implosion is restructuring. There is no alternative to restructuring. It must also be emphasized that as a matter of urgency, we need to have a group or platform that will comprise eminent, principled and people of integrity who are apolitical that will be saddled with the task of grooming visionary Nigerians that will later emerge as the nation’s leaders.
Nigeria’s growth and development has been stunted over the years as lack of visionary leaders. Without visionary leadership, Nigeria’s quest to attain greatness or desire to be in the league of great and powerful nations will only be a mirage.
What is happening in Nigeria today calls for sober reflections. All stakeholders should rise above partisan interests and think first of Nigeria as a nation. We should all strive to build a nation where fairness, equity and justice reign supreme.
Why Fuji can never produce another Barrister – Odeyemi, late singer’s publicist
Dayo Odeyemi is publicist to the late Fuji star, Sikiru Ayinde (Barrister or Barry Wonder), who died on December 16, 2010. In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ Oladeinde Olawoyin, he speaks on the state of Fuji music seven years after Barrister’s death, how the artiste could be well celebrated, why Fuji can never produce an artiste of Barrister’s pedigree, among other issues.
PT: What’s your most memorable engagement with the late Sikiru Ayinde as his lieutenant and publicist?
Odeyemi: I don’t know what you mean by memorable engagement with Barry because he was always in the midst of controversies. He was the most sought after musician in his time. He was always blackmailed by those who felt he was larger than life. At every attack on him, l was always kept on my toes to defend him. This l did not minding the adverse effect this would have on me. But if you want me to tell you, my greatest moment with him was when we both travelled to Abuja to receive the national honour of MFR. The excitement started from the Murtala Airport from where we took off at the Abuja airport. We received an unprecedented reception organised by Alhaji lssa Onilu. We attended two musical practice with some other bandboys ahead of the day proper. However what makes the event memorable to me was that l was made to play a role l never dreamt of: removing money being sprayed on Barry’s forehead. Oooh, it was awesome as l almost fell while attempting to salvage the crisp naira notes flying all over.
PT: Seven years on, do you think Fuji music has grown beyond what Barrister left behind?
Odeyemi: It has not gone beyond the level Barrister left it.
PT: Why? And what’s your perception about the place of Fuji in the face of stiff competition with contemporary hip-hop in Nigeria?
Odeyemi: Seven years after, no new artiste has emerged from Fuji music. The big names too could not release any master piece. Instead, they are drifting towards hip-hop.
PT: Wasiu Ayinde stirred controversies earlier this year, again, when he insinuated that Barrister never created Fuji, what’s your take on this sir?
Odeyemi: On the issue of Wasiu Ayinde’s comment, he was only being mischievous. Fuji music was in existence years before he was brought to Barry as a packer. He wanted to make an impression and thank God he met a tough resistance. It takes a person with a low thinking faculty to think that he could rewrite history and go unchallenged. He should tell his cooked up stories to people of little minds like him.
PT: Don’t you think Barrister is grossly under-celebrated by the Nigerian state and even the Fuji music stakeholders.
Odeyemi: Yes, he is being under-celebrated; but kudos must be given to his various fans club on Facebook who have been spending their money and time to promote his legacy. Hopefully, things would improve. It is important to make Fuji chamber his place of lasting rest should be turned to museum.
PT: In terms of lyrical composition and depth of knowledge, can Fuji ever produce another SIkiru Ayinde Barrister?
Odeyemi: Fuji can never produce any artiste of Barry’s status. Barry was an institution. His talent transcends human comprehension.
PT: Since his death, little has been heard about the late Barrister’s family…
Odeyemi: His family is intact and committed to his ideals.
PT: How would you rather want Barrister to be celebrated?
Odeyemi: Barry needs to be celebrated far beyond the level of Facebook. Governments of Lagos and Oyo should come in to give him a befitting honour. He was and is still leader of a music genre.
Atiku no threat to Buhari–Ajomale
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been advised not to hope for taking over power from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019. Giving the advice in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, the Chairman, Conference of APC States’ Chairmen, and Lagos State APC Chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale, said the PDP leaders are only day dreaming if they ever think that the party can bounce back into reckoning at the national level.
Ajomale also spoke on some other national issues including the recent defection of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to the PDP, Tinubu’s visit to Afenifere leader in Akure, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro’s defection from PDP to APC.
As the Chairman of the Conference of APC States Chairmen, what is your reaction to the defection of the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, to the PDP?
Atiku is a political chameleon, he is ever unpredictable. It becomes a tradition for him to be jumping from one political party to another. Atiku is not a principled politician. Nobody should take Atiku’s defection serious. It is good riddance to bad rubbish. This is about the third time Atiku would be leaving PDP and going back again to the party. He is not a serious politician.
Atiku should not be deceived by political hangers-on; he must have realised the bitter truth, and the truth is that, he is politically finished. Even in his home state of Adamawa, Atiku has become a laughing stock. His defection to PDP, to us in APC, is good riddance to bad rubbish. Atiku has no political value again. He has nothing to offer again. I even pity Atiku for going back to PDP, because PDP as of today has become a divided house. By going back to PDP, Atiku is going to cause more crisis for the party. PDP is going to become more polarised with Atiku’s return to the party. Atiku has become a spent-force. I don’t think he has anything to offer anymore.
Some people have accused the former VP of not being a principled politician …
Of course, yes. To be saying that, they are absolutely correct. Atiku from all intents now is being driven by personal political ambition. His being in politics from all indications and his own personal actions have shown that what is paramount to him is how to realise his personal political ambition; he has shown that he is not keen on or being driven by the urge to serve the nation, but rather it is the realisation of his own personal interests that matters to him.
But the danger about the way he is playing his politics is that nobody would trust and believe him again. By going back to the PDP, Atiku has simply returned to eat his vomit. For us in APC, we don’t miss anything by Atiku’s defection to PDP. APC doesn’t feel threatened at all, it is Atiku that has become a threat only to himself. APC is not losing any sleep over Atiku’s action. We wish him good luck back in his former political party to which he has now returned.
But some people have described the former VP as a political heavyweight whose departure from the APC is going to be felt, what’s your take on that?
Atiku as a political heavyweight? May be before, but to describe him as a political heavyweight today is to dress Atiku in borrowed robes. Maybe around 1999 and the following years, he was a political asset, but the reality today is that Atiku has become a spent force. He is gradually going into political oblivion.
With a man like President Muhammadu Buhari in the saddle, there is no way Atiku can have political relevance again. To me, Atiku is a political chameleon, he is so desperate for political power; you must be wary of such a man. I will support what former President Goodluck Jonathan said recently that if Atiku wants to realise or secure presidential ticket of PDP, that he should go and beg Obasanjo. However Obasanjo is not the only obstacle to Atiku’s ambition; if Atiku knows that his hands are clean, let him undertake a trip to the United States of America like Obasanjo has been challenging him. Atiku so far has not been able to take up the challenge. So far, so good, Buhari has been performing up to expectation, and not only that, being a man of integrity who is incorruptible, Buhari’s image and personality has been rubbing off positively on Nigeria. How can anybody think of Atiku being Nigeria’s president, a man with so many political baggages? If Atiku wants to prove to us that he is a clean man worthy of leading this nation, let him today undertake a trip to the United States.
This challenge has been thrown at him on several occasions, but since he has skeletons in his cupboard, Atiku has not been able to take up the challenge.
There have been fears of mass defection hitting APC following Atiku’s departure from the party …
Which mass defection? Which mass defection have you seen so far? It is unfortunate that Atiku is being overrated, but sincerely speaking, I hope Atiku should know his own limits. Atiku is already politically finished; nobody is going to follow him into PDP, maybe a handful of supporters if anything at all. Do you know what is referred to as mass defection?
However, let me state this clearly, because Atiku has money and what he usually does is to rent crowd, and most of these people will pretend to be his supporters after collecting money from him. Atiku has so much money that he doesn’t even know what to do with the money, and so what he usually does is this, he rents crowd to give impression that these people are his supporters, but Atiku can’t deceive anybody again, except only himself. Don’t ever judge the crowd you see with Atiku with his political popularity; the crowd you see with him are rented.
By going back to PDP, some Nigerians have described Atiku as being confused, and also lacking political discipline, do you agree with that?
Those saying that are absolutely correct. They are right. There was a time Atiku was quoted as saying that APC would be his last political bus stop, but what happened now? Atiku has proved that he is not a man of his words. That time he condemned the PDP, and there was no name he didn’t give PDP, but has he not eaten his own words by going back to the PDP. Honestly, I don’t understand such a man. For a man like that, I don’t have respect for him again. There was a time, that was sometime in 2011, Atiku was talking with the ACN led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the CPC led then by General Muhammadu Buhari. The basis of these parties and their leaders talking was to form an alliance in order to face the PDP during the 2011 general elections, but to our shock, Atiku abandoned that alliance talks and returned to the PDP where he boasted to match former President Jonathan money for money in order to clinch the presidential ticket of the PDP, but in the end, Jonathan defeated him.
Some people who have sympathy for Atiku have said the former VP should not be blamed for taking that decision, especially having a feeling that this may be his last time to have the opportunity to contest the presidential election. The argument is that age is not on his side anymore, what’s your take on that?
Does Atiku feel he can beat Buhari if Buhari decides to seek re-election? That would be a mere wishful thinking. But let Buhari declare his intention first. If Buhari wants to seek a second term, how can Atiku of all people think of defeating Buhari? That is nothing but day-dreaming. Atiku would be committing political suicide if he ever thinks of running against Buhari.
All over the world, Buhari is widely respected. But can you say that about Atiku? Buhari can travel to any part of the world, but can Atiku do same?
Nigeria is making steady progress, and also being viewed with respect in the comity of nations. But to have somebody like Atiku to be in charge of the leadership of this country will be a great setback for Nigeria. Atiku’s political coffin will be nailed if he ever tries to run against Buhari.
The recent visit of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti in Akure has been eliciting mixed reactions. As a close associate of Tinubu, why did the APC leader embark on that trip, because the general impression everybody has is that the relationship between Tinubu and Afenifere leaders has not been cordial. Is this trip the beginning of a good rapport between Tinubu and Afenifere leaders?
Tinubu has no problem with Afenifere leaders. He regards them as his fathers. He respects them a lot. There was a time Baba Ayo Adebanjo, late Baba Olaniwun Ajayi also visited Tinubu. Tinubu is showing respect as somebody who believes in the Yoruba tradition by showing respect for leaders. Pa Fasoranti is a highly respected Yoruba leader. People should not insinuate anything extraordinary or unusual to Tinubu’s visit. It is like a son paying visit to his father.
I saw Tinubu and others off at the airport when they were going, and we all collectively agreed that Tinubu should embark on the trip, which we also believe will strengthen unity among the Yoruba.
With Tinubu’s visit to Pa Fasoranti, should the Yoruba now expect closer rapport between Tinubu and Afenifere leaders?
Afenifere leaders are getting old, and it is obvious that they will need to groom some younger elements that will take over the baton from them. Nobody is contesting the leadership of the Yoruba with them, but they need to groom a natural leader of Tinubu’s caliber to step into their shoes, so that there won’t be a vacuum.
I believe that it is time for Afenifere leaders to bring Asiwaju Tinubu close to them. The Yoruba should not experience leadership vacuum, and that’s why it is very important for Tinubu and Afenifere leaders to work closely together.
Tinubu is a younger man who the Afenifere leaders need to be very close to them in order to learn from them what the future holds in stock for the Yoruba race. A closer rapport between Tinubu and Afenifere will be the interest of Yoruba race.
Asiwaju Tinubu perfectly fits into the shoes of a Yoruba leader who will continue to fight for the Yoruba interests within the larger Nigeria.
Who initiated the visit, Tinubu or Afenifere leaders?
There is nothing like who took the initiative or not; if Asiwaju Tinubu decides to visit his fathers, is there anything wrong with that? No. There was a time we all used to converge at Owo, the birthplace of late Papa Adekunle Ajasin. Our convergence there didn’t have any political coloration as what we usually discussed had to do with the Yoruba interests. Tinubu’s visit to Pa Fasoranti is a sign of good things to come for the Yoruba nation. Tinubu is still going to visit other prominent Yoruba leaders including traditional rulers.
What’s your reaction to the recent formal defection of former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro back to theAPC?
Obanikoro has always been one of us until he took that decision to join the PDP. But all along, I knew that Obanikoro is a prodigal son who will one day return to the fold.
We started AD together. We were also together in the cabinet of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He was also elected into the Senate on the platform of AD. With Obanikoro’s defection, the PDP is finally dead in Lagos. Nobody is going to hear anything about PDP again in Lagos.
My good friend that I’m now waiting to receive in APC is Chief Bode George. I’m very optimistic that George will soon be part of us in APC. PDP has nothing to offer Bode George. By now, Bode George ,with the way PDP is treating him, should have realised that the PDP is not a party he can trust.
See how the PDP members are sabotaging his efforts to become the party’s new national chairman.
PDP is a party you can’t trust and that’s why we thank God that APC was able to bring to an end the PDP’s 16 years of bad leadership at the national level.
Initially, PDP ceded the position of national chairman to the Southwest, but suddenly they have changed the rule, and what the party is now saying is that the position has been zoned to the entire South. But the game plan by some leaders of PDP was to ensure that Uche Secondus emerged as the new national chairman of the party. I’m very sure that Bode George’s eyes would have been opened now. My advice to him is that being a Lagosian, he should join APC, he should team up with us in APC so that he can also be part of the success story that APC has been in Lagos State. I’m waiting to hand over APC flag to Bode George. There is nothing again in PDP for him. PDP is a party of manipulators and deceitful men. Bode George has been betrayed by the PDP. If he continues to remain as a PDP member, he will become politically irrelevant.
How would you react to the claims by some Nigerians that APC and PDP are the same, that you can hardly differentiate between the two?
That’s an insult. A very big insult. How can you compare APC with PDP. It is like comparing light with darkness. APC is light while PDP is darkness, and that’s why Nigerians use their voting power to get rid of the party in 2015.
By the time PDP was voted out of office, the party has become a big burden on Nigerians. In actual fact, Nigeria would have become a failed state under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Now look at the transformations that have been steadily taking place under the APC leadership. It is no longer business as usual. The era of impunity, which was one of the hallmarks of PDP’s government is also over.
Unlike the ‘ungolden’ era of PDP when looters were having a field day, now it is no longer business as usual. Although some may be complaining about some hardship, APC is trying its best to overcome this challenge. Some of the steps being taken may be gradual, but surely the positive impacts of APC government is being felt all over the place. PDP has gone into political oblivion. The party will never rise again. PDP brought pains, misery and poverty upon Nigerians but, APC is taking steps to ensure that things are getting better as soon as possible. As for 2019 general elections, I have been reading some PDP chieftains boasting that PDP will bounce back into power. What a dream. What wishful thinking. These PDP leaders are suffering from political hallucination. Nigerians will never vote PDP into office again.
On the issue of President Muhammadu Buhari seeking reelection in 2019, the issue has become controversial …
I don’t see any reason for any controversy. So far, Mr President has not come out to make a categorical statement on the issue. The ball is in Buhari’s court, let’s wait for the President to speak on the issue. If Buhari decides to seek reelection, it is his constitutional right to do so, but like I said earlier, let Buhari make his intention known first instead of people speculating.
WHY I STILL KEEP 3 WIVES AS A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN – OBA TEJUOSO
•Being a polygamist can’t hamper my calling as an evangelist
The Federal Government has been advised to declare a day of national prayer and fasting as part of efforts to ensure that unity and peace of the nation is not threatened by series of crises and agitations taking place in different parts of the country.
Making the appeal in an interview with SATURDAY SUN, His Royal Majesty, the Osile Oke Ona, Egba, Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and members of his cabinet to call out all Nigerians irrespective of religious affiliation or ethnic background to a day of national prayer and fasting.
A renowned evangelist and first class traditional ruler, Oba Tejuoso who is also a medical doctor, led the Southwest delegation to the 1994 National Conference organized by late Gen. Sani Abacha’s government. Fielding questions from TUNDE THOMAS, the respected monarch talked at length about the Abacha’s conference, the late M.K.O Abiola, Gen. Oladipo Diya’s role in Abiola’s trial and the conditional bail offered him by Abacha’s government and other national issues. He also made a shocking revelation on why he has to keep his three wives despite being a born again Christian.
What is your assessment of Nigeria at 57, would you say that Nigeria of today is the one envisioned by the nation’s founding fathers?
I will say yes and no. The dream of our founding fathers I believe was that Nigeria would be one and remain one forever. Thank God that as far as that is concerned, Nigeria is still one. But those of us presently running Nigeria whether as leaders or as followers, it is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to make sure that there is unity in Nigeria. Some people are talking about restructuring Nigeria, yes, restructuring is good, but you can only restructure a building whose foundation is still solid. The foundation of Nigeria as envisioned by the founding fathers is faulty, and the Bible says that what can a righteous do when the foundation is faulty.
The only thing you can do is to call upon God, if the foundation is faulty and you start restructuring, you are just wasting your time, money and everything. But if you call upon God to come and help He will do so. But God will not interfere in your affairs, unless you call on Him. But if we call on God and say sorry we have missed it, I believe God will then come and do it Himself. If we can do this by calling upon God, you will be surprised about what will become of Nigeria.
Nigeria in the sight of God is a precious child. God has a purpose for Nigeria. God is taking Nigeria places and if that is the plan of God, how can anybody then break Nigeria. God doesn’t want Nigeria to break, and Nigeria will not break. I know this because before I went to the national conference organized by late General Sani Abacha in 1994, God told me about six months before that I was to be called upon for a national duty.
God told me that whenever I would be called upon for this national assignment, that I would face a lot of difficulties and antagonism. But God said I should go in spite of all the opposition that I would face because He was the one sending me. So when the call came, I had no doubt in mind that that was what God was talking about. I tell you, and I mean what I’m saying, if I and other Southwest delegates didn’t go to that conference, Nigeria would have broken up.
If you remember, there was a lot of pressure and calls by some Nigerians especially in the Southwest that the Southwest should boycott that conference organised by General Abacha because many people saw Abacha as a usurper who instead of handing over power to MKO Abiola who many believed won the June 12, 1993 presidential elections held on to power after sacking the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan.
Some insisted that Southwest should boycott that conference. Others described those of us representing the Southwest at the conference as the second team and not the best from the geopolitical zone. But to me the important thing is that the Southwest was represented at that conference.
What was the crux of the matter, a Yoruba man, late Chief MKO Abiola was expected to take over the presidency of Nigeria, but that election was annulled by the military. Going to that conference like I said earlier for me was divine. I went to that Abacha conference on divine instruction. God in His own wisdom made us realize that probably those who annulled that election would not restore MKO Abiola’s mandate.
Therefore on getting to that conference, the Southwest delegation, which I led insisted that even if the military would not restore Abiola’s mandate, we then insisted that the next president of the country must be a Yoruba man. This is why General Abdusalami Abubakar, and other military leaders that took over after Abacha’s death were forced to shop for a Yoruba man to take over in 1999.
So it was the Southwest delegation that forced that decision on the military?
Yes. We insisted that a Yoruba man should be the next president if they would not restore Abiola’s mandate. Although, I was the leader of the Southwest delegation but to me it was God that led us. The military in their own wisdom then met, and agreed. But the problem that immediately faced them was which Yoruba man can they trust, Obasanjo who was part of them then came to their mind. That was how Obasanjo was released from the prison to contest the election. That to my own mind was the greatest achievement of the Southwest delegates to that Abacha’s confab.
I strongly believe that God has a purpose for Nigeria to be one, and I believe that purpose will soon manifest. Nigeria is not going to break.
But of recent, following series of crises here and there, and agitations in some parts of the country, some prophets have come out to declare that Nigeria is going to break …
Cuts in … Nigeria is not going to break. Forget all those prophets and their so-called prophecies. God doesn’t want Nigeria to break. God has not revealed to me that Nigeria is going to break. God has a purpose for Nigeria. God told me that Nigeria is going to become a world power. The time is what we don’t know but by the grace of God, it will be in our own time. There are prophets and there are prophets. But I want to say categorically that those prophets saying Nigeria would break up are not hearing from God.
Some Nigerians are believing all these prophecies about break up of Nigeria
Nigerians should remain calm. They should not be afraid. This country is not going to break up. What we need is to move closer to God. As a royal father and also a servant of the Most High, I want to assure Nigerians that Nigeria is not going to break, but we should move closer to God, do His will and not our own will.
What is happening to us today following series of agitations and crises here and there is happening because we are doing our own will and not the will of God. We are trusting in our own wisdom and not the wisdom of God. We are not allowing God to take control of our affairs. We are not putting God first in what we are doing.
In those days, when we put God first, we were progressing, but today we have neglected God, and left undone those things we are supposed to have done. Let’s get back to the beginning and that’s why I said earlier that our foundation is faulty. What has helped United States of America today? God first, then the country next, and then individuals follow. But here it is self, self, self and corruption. We are self-centred. Without seeking righteousness, it will be difficult for us to progress.
Are you saying Kabiyesi that it is spiritual restructuring that Nigeria needs first?
That’s right. We need to get our spiritual foundation right. Although I agree that we may need to call a conference to address all those issues that are leading to agitations here and there, but discussing them we have to start everything with God.
The Bible says build your house on the rock, because a house built on the rock will endure whereas the one built on sand will collapse when there is a storm. A house built on sand refers to us human beings – human beings, we are dust. But God is the rock, and that’s why anything you do with God will always endure whereas any venture undertaken with human wisdom is never reliable. We must put God first in whatever we are doing.
Are you then in support of calls by some Nigerians that the federal government should declare a national day of prayer and fasting for us to seek the face of God so that things can be alright with our nation?
I once organized a day of national fasting and prayer for Nigeria. The year before (2016) – last year was 20th year of my mother’s death. During the advertorial I placed in a national daily commemorating her death. I advised federal government that if possible that the president should call all Nigerians out irrespective of religions, to call us out for a day of fasting, prayer and praising God.
If we can repent, God will heal us and heal our land. But God wants us to repent first, and that sign of repentance through fasting and prayers has to come through a directive from the country’s leader. If we can organize a day of fasting, prayer and thanksgiving it will go a long way in appeasing God. It must be a day all of us will show remorse before God. Thank God, President Muhammadu Buhari is trying his best but he alone can’t do it. He and his cabinet can’t do it alone, they have to invite God.
Some Nigerians have described the presidential system of government which we run as being expensive, and that a return to parliamentary system of government which we practised before would help reduce cost of governance, what’s your take on that?
I also agree that presidential system of government is expensive, and it is one of the reasons why I said earlier that we may need to organize another conference to address some of these issues.
The constitutional conference of 1994 of which I was a delegate was tagged Sovereign National Conference, that was the pronouncement that was made when it was inaugurated, but unfortunately at the end of it because it didn’t go the way some people expected it to go to favour them, they jettisoned that confab’s reports and recommendations by setting up another committee and series of other confabs have been organized after. But one thing I want to say is this, Nigeria has paid dearly for jettisoning that 1994 confab organized by Abacha because some of the recommendations by the confab if implemented would have enabled us to move forward as a nation.
For instance, some of the prices we have paid for jettisoning Abacha’s confab was when late President Umar Yar’Adua died, there was almost a crisis over whether Jonathan who was the Vice President should take over or not because some people especially in the North were not happy that Jonathan, a Southerner would take over, and not allow the North represented by the late Yar’Adua to complete its four year tenure and possibly another four years to make up two terms.
Whereas we made provisions in that 1994 Abacha conference that if a northerner dies in office, another northerner should occupy his position until that term is finished, vice-versa for a Southerner. This would have helped to douse tension.
Unfortunately those who were not at the conference who did not understand the enormous work we did at the conference formed the bulk of those who drafted the 1999 Constitution, and so all those checks and balances that we made provisions for in the 1994 Conference were not included in the 1999 constitution.
During the 1994 confab we made provision for rotational presidency, and this would have helped to stabilize Nigeria. We recommended that rotational presidency should start with the Southwest who were aggrieved over injustice meted out to Abiola through that annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential elections. We also made a lot of recommendations on fiscal revenue and devolution of power.
We removed a lot of things from exclusive list, and we got things moving. One of our recommendations again is that membership of National Assembly should be on a part time basis. Implementing all these would have saved a lot of cost. We also recommended a single term presidency. One term presidency of five year term would have saved us the pains of do-or-die politics, and also help us save cost.
We also recommended that 30 percent of ministers in the cabinet should be taken from the National Assembly or the Parliament, this would also help us save cost. All these duplication of political offices and appointees that is costing us a lot of money would not have arisen.
But do you believe that it is because Abacha organized the conference that made subsequent governments to jettison the confab’s reports and recommendations?
I strongly believe so. That 1994 confab organized by Abacha contained a lot of recommendations that if implemented would have helped move Nigeria forward as a nation but because of one man, Abacha, because some Nigerians despised the man they jettisoned the confab thereby throwing away the baby with the bath water, and we are all paying the price for it today.
Recently when you were outside the country on vacation, former chief security officer to late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Al Mustapha was reported as saying that you were one of those eminent Nigerians who tried to persuade late MKO Abiola to take the conditional bail offered him by the Abacha government but some Nigerians doubted Al Mustapha’s claims, what’s the true position of things on this issue?
Those days were a bit turbulent in Nigeria’s history. Let me start by saying that it is very unfortunate that a lot of people misunderstood General Oladipo Diya who was then Gen. Sani Abacha’s second-in-command, his deputy, Diya really tried a lot for Yoruba at that time. Diya was the one that ensured that it was arranged that Abiola should be given that bail that would have secured his freedom. They chartered a plane in my name and the arrangement was that as soon as the judgment was given that Abiola would be put on the plane and that six people including myself would fly with him to his house in Ikeja, Lagos. Our mission was to get to Ikeja and return to Abuja to continue attending the constitutional conference because the constitutional conference was still going on that time. Everything was supposed to be an overnight issue.
I was about going to the church that day when Gen. Diya called me that the case would be coming up that day and that they have arranged that when they finished the case at the court that Abiola would be taken to my house to stay there and rest, and that at night, we would all fly to Lagos.
But it was when the issue of conditional bail came up that problem arose. Abiola refused to sign the conditional bail offered him. He was later told to follow them to come and see me, and sign the conditional bail in my presence. But Abiola was reported to have claimed that if he followed them to my house that I would try to convince him to sign, and he thereafter refused to follow them to see me. But to me all these things have to do with destiny. I believe that God has destined it that that was the way Abiola would go.
Everything was done to free him. Gen. Diya tried his best and I believe we should give him that credit. One of the conditions given to Abiola was that he should not travel outside the country but Abiola was the key communications man in Nigeria in those days. From his room, he could control and communicate with any part of the world.
It is unfortunate that some people just hardened him, some people hardened Abiola’s heart and from then, Abiola started listening to man instead of God, and man eventually misled him.
Is it actually true that at a point you met Abiola one-on-one?
Yes, I met Abiola. Abacha arranged for me to meet him twice. One of my meetings with Abiola took place at a police station, and the second one took place at Gen. Diya office or lodge. Thank God for His mercies, one lesson we must learn from Abiola’s death is that never trust a man but God. It was men that misled Abiola.
But some Nigerians were saying that Abiola was right in rejecting that conditional bail, that taking it would have amounted to compromising his principle …
Cuts in … Compromising which principle? Which principle are you compromising? If Abiola had been alive today, he probably would have been president of Nigeria. If he had taken that bail, I believe that if Abiola had recontested the election, he would have become president of Nigeria. If God had not destined it that that was the way Abiola would go, I bet he would have become president of Nigeria by now.
As a royal father, with very tight schedule, how do you find time to organize crusades, and carry out evangelism work?
I find time for evangelism because I love God, and if you love God, the only way to show Him that you love Him is to obey Him.
Jesus Christ says go into the world and preach the gospel. That was his last injunction to us. Anybody who now says he believes in Christ and refuses evangelism is not doing the will of God, and your own will is nothing if you are not doing the will of God.
You have to abandon your own will completely and then embrace God’s own will completely. That’s when you now become a perfect human being. Everything to do to control your world is in the Bible.
Can you recall the beginning of your journey into evangelism?
I became a born-again on 5th August 1992. I was already a king by then. I received the altar call when Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the G.O of Redeemed Christian Church of God was preaching at Saint Peter’s Church, Ake in Abeokuta when the then Alake, Oba Oyebade Lipede was celebrating the 20th anniversary of his coronation.
It was Pastor Adeboye that even reminded me a year or two later that he was surprised that when he made an altar call that day that I was the only king who gave his life to Christ. That’s why I remember that day vividly, and since then I have been fully immersed in Christ with members of my family. Since 25 years ago, I have been fully involved in evangelism. God has been my strength. It is God who has been doing it for me. Anything I do is not me, but it is Christ in me that is doing it. Without Christ, I can’t do anything.
Can you recall any occasion, or has there been any occasion when your faith has brought you in conflict with traditionalists in your domain?
There have been countless occasions but Christ has always prevailed. The work of evangelism is not a tea affair – it is a serious business but when Christ is in you, you will always prevail. I remember my encounter with Obatala worshippers. When God gave me divine revelation and instruction that I should destroy all forms of idolatory shrines in my domain.
I was given divine instruction to start in my own compound, Karunwi compound at Ago-Oko in Abeokuta. The instruction was that the Obatala idol, which is dreaded, feared and worshipped by many people should be destroyed in full public glare.
When I told chiefs and others about the divine instruction, many were afraid, some even told me to my face that anybody that messes up with Obatala idol would not live for up to seven days. But I was not afraid, I was determined to do the will of God, and not the will of man.
With Jesus Christ in me, and in the full glare of members of the public and my chiefs, I went to Obatala shrine and destroyed it. Many were afraid, many were even weeping saying that I have attracted the wrath of the gods to myself by destroying Obatala’s shrine. But when Christ is in you, you can do all things. To God be all the glory, I destroyed Obatala’s shrine, and seven days after I was still alive, and that incident took place on 19th February 2005, and up till today, I’m still alive preaching the gospel.
My evangelical outreach, Oba Karunwi III Evangelical Movement (OKTEM) has been moving round the country from time to time to win souls for Christ. We also organize the annual Kings Day of Praise where traditional rulers from different parts of the country are assembled to give praises to God 24 hours of the day on a particular day for that purpose in October of every year.
But some people have been asking the question, how does Kabyiyesi reconcile being an evangelist with also being a polygamist, that this is in conflict with the gospel work …
Cuts in … Polygamy? First and foremost, polygamy is in the Bible. If there was no polygamy in the Bible, the apostles would not say for you to become a Bishop you must only have one wife. There were so many people in the church who had more than one wife, and that’s why the apostles said that anybody contesting for the office of Bishop must not have more than one wife.
Again let me ask you this, where is King David now? Is he in hell or heaven? He is in heaven. Was he not a polygamist or not? What about Abraham, the father of faith, was he a polygamist or not? I don’t believe that God ever said don’t be a polygamist in the Bible.
Take my own position, these three women with me who are my wives, I had them before I became king. As at that time, I was not born-again. I became born-again in 1992, the three of them as at 1992 had bore children for me. So if now I have accepted Christ into my life and said I want to be a monogamist, and that they should go away, what about the children, am I showing them love that way?
The Bible says whosoever send his wife away will make such a woman to commit adultery and that would amount to sin before God, and I would be held responsible for that. Then talking about restitution, which some people talk about, how do you restitute, should I send my wife and children away? So in all these things one must apply wisdom and reality.
But the most important thing is that if you are a polygamist before accepting Christ, the key thing is that for you to make sure you don’t marry more wives because you have given your life to Christ.
Then secondly, you have admitted Christ into your life, the three wives should also admit Christ into their lives, and which they have done in my own case, I don’t believe there is any problem, I go to crusades with my three wives, we evangelise and preach Christ together. My three wives, children and myself are all immersed in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is in us, and we are all in Christ. We are not leading our own lives again but leading the life of Jesus Christ. We have all become Jesus family. We are now a family fortified by Jesus Christ.
How do you manage competition that is usually associated with a polygamous family setting?
Since we are all in Christ, there is no competition, or unhealthy rivalry. Everybody is happy. If there is any competition at all, it is competition among us on the gospel of Jesus Christ, I mean who will outclass or outshine the other in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In a family where Christ reigns supreme like mine, there is no grumbling, discontentment or sorrow, we are always happy in Christ Jesus. Christ is our role model.
Source: The Sun
Visiting my daughter in Aso Villa is like going to jail –Soyode, father of Vice-President’s wife
Adeola Balogun and Tunde Ajaja
The father of the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Elder Olutayo Soyode, says in spite of his daughter’s position and the exalted office of her husband, he dreads going to Aso Rock for a visit. He said going to the villa was like going to jail, given the way his movement would be monitored and he would need to sign various forms before he could go out, for security reasons.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, the 74-year-old said he loved to be free and he wasn’t the type to sit in one place and be watching television under heavy security.
Soyode, who was a close associate and son-in-law to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, explained that it was the will of God that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo rose from being a university lecturer to become the Vice-President, and that all her daughter wanted to be was a confectioner despite being a qualified lawyer.
He recalled that by the time his late wife, (Dolapo’s mother) was delivered of Dolapo in the United Kingdom where they met, he was believing God to have a male child, as it was customary in his family to have a male as their first child. However, he said if she had been a male, he might not be as close to her as they are today.
When asked how often he visits the villa to see his daughter’s family, he said, “I don’t go there often. Going there is like going to jail, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like locking me up. The way you see me, do I look like someone that can be kept in one place and before I could go out, I have to sign papers and there would be plenty phone calls? I would just run mad, because I’m not used to such.
“I’m a free man. That place (Aso Rock), is a very good place but I’m not the type to live there, so I don’t go there often. Anytime I go, I do give them time, like telling them I was coming for two days. I don’t even live with them. Let us say we are in Abuja now, you possibly can’t visit me for this interview. They won’t allow you to come in, and if you have to, you would have to sign different papers.
“If I go there, I would be there alone, watching television. I can’t do that. I would rather stay where they can visit me and anybody can see me.”
In the interview, Soyode also spoke about his relationship with the late Chief MKO Abiola, the trick he deployed to get late Chief Awolowo to allow him marry his daughter, and what had changed about him as the father of the wife of the Vice-President, among other issues.
Read the full interview bellow:
In this interview with ADEOLA BALOGUN and TUNDE AJAJA, the father of the wife of Nigeria’s Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Elder Olutayo Soyode, speaks on life as a son-in-law to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, her daughter, what he knew about late Chief MKO Abiola’s travails among other issues
How does it feel to be the father of the wife of the Vice President?
I don’t have any special feeling because I have been in politics for a long time. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was my father-in-law, who is the President Nigeria never had, as far as I’m concerned. I was by his side and I worked with him full time. I have been in the limelight for a long time and so all these are just icing on the cake.
How did you meet your wife, Chief Awolowo’s daughter?
I met her in London where we were both studying and we fell in love. It was basically about students meeting each other in the UK during studies. I felt that before Chief Awolowo would say his daughter must not marry me, I needed to adopt what we used to call two-in-one, meaning marriage and pregnancy, so that by the time he would know, his daughter would have been pregnant and stopping us from getting married would be difficult. You know in that atmosphere, people tend to be more reckless. So, I did the two-in-one and both of us had to tell our parents what happened. When I told my father, he screamed, saying I had put him in trouble. When she told her mother, I didn’t know how she too screamed, but I remember one afternoon, at about 2:30pm, a call came in from Lagos. When I picked it, the person said, ‘is that Tayo Soyode?’ I said yes. The person said ‘this is Obafemi Awolowo.’ I started trembling and knelt down, till the phone almost fell in my hand. I had to put the phone down. I couldn’t pick his call again. Later, my dad called and instructed me to pick his call. About one hour later, Chief Awolowo called back and I picked. He said he had met my father and my people in Lagos.
Let me quote him. He said, ‘what I have done is that, you’re going to do certain arrangements. I have made sure that your marriage is going to hold on March 27, 1967.’ He made that call around January. He said he had booked the flight for us to come home because we had to do engagement and other things. Immediately, I dropped the call, I told my father and he told me he would give me money because he wouldn’t like the whole family to be disgraced. I made a lot of money that period; Chief Awolowo would send me money, I would tell my father and he would still send me money, and my dad would always say even if he had to sell his house he would, so he could send me money too. I didn’t return the money (laughs).
You must have expected Chief Awolowo to scold you when he first called, but he called you to give you a date. Would you know what appealed to him?
People say things that they don’t know about Awolowo. He was very humane; he could understand the situation then. After he made some findings, he found out that this man too had a perfect family and he was not just an upstart. He was educated like the daughter, so no problem. The man just adjusted. If he had not adjusted to me, papa would not ask me to come and be in politics with him. He had a son, he had people around him. Why me? He decided to do so and I found it comfortable working with Papa and his wife. He knew that I would do well and he didn’t regret it.
Looking at Chief Awolowo’s clout, how conservative was the wedding?
We came back to Lagos and we had a good wedding. My wife had 90 bridesmaids. The whole of Ibadan was closed for us. Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo was the governor (of the now defunct Western Region) at that time. It was a glorious wedding. And Wole (Awolowo’s late son) was the one who took his sister to the altar, Papa did not do that. An elderly father could tell the son to do it. Tokunbo (Awolowo’s youngest daughter) was the chief bridesmaid. My brother was the best man. I got the money for suit for the best man from the money I saved at that time. In fact, I became so rich at that time. It was about nine years into our marriage that Baba told me to resign my appointment where I was working in the maritime sector. He must have seen something in me. He told me to resign and join him politically. That was my first time in politics and I was with him till the very end. I imbibed what he taught me till today. I had been with him as far back as 1975.
Maritime has always been a lucrative sector and some people would rather not work for their father-in-law. Did you have any reservation about leaving your work to join him?
It was my father who told me to say yes immediately. He said many people would be dreaming of working with Awolowo. In fact, before I agreed, my father had said yes on my behalf. I have never regretted that decision. He made me to know everybody, including people like Chief Lateef Jakande and late Chief Bola Ige. I was among those who formed the Unity Party of Nigeria and we went to all the states. During Abiola’s electioneering, I was in charge of his campaign in the eastern states. He won the election but General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election. When Abacha came on board, we expected him to install Abiola as President, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. All the ministerial nominees in that military government were hand-written by Abiola himself. Ask anybody, the best friends of Abiola were mostly military people. All our people were made ministers.
Are you saying that Abiola wrote the names of ministers for Abacha?
Yes, he did, when the man said he would not give Abiola the presidency. Where trouble came in was when Abiola went to declare himself President. Those who told him to declare were not even part of us. We were the ones who worked for Abiola to win the primary. We even voted against our former chairman, Baba Gana Kingibe. Mama HID Awolowo told us to work for Abiola, who was never one of us. He was in another party before but many of the people who took the credit were never there. We were surprised that the Abiola we supported started drifting towards other people. When Abacha had to pick his cabinet, Abiola was given the option of listing members of the cabinet. Ebenezer Babatope was our minister of transport and Alex Ibru was the minister of Internal Affairs, who was in charge of prisons. Initially, Abiola was not locked up in a cell but was given comfortable places to live outside the prison. Abacha left Abiola to enjoy himself, but something happened that changed all these. The so-called people who misled Abiola told him to continue to claim his mandate and reject the bail conditions. Ibrahim Coomasie was the Inspector General of Police and he was given the bail paper. Abacha said people should ask Abiola if there was any bail on earth that did not have any condition. We wanted Abiola to be flown to Lagos by an Air-Force man. There was another suggestion that he should be driven to Lagos but he was afraid he might be kidnapped. We were making another arrangement when we learnt that Abiola had rejected that bail in writing insisting he must be declared President. We were weeping when we got back. That was the first time Abiola was put in a proper prison. If you noticed, within three weeks, Abiola’s health had started deteriorating. That was the end of Abiola. We lost contact with him.
People believed that if he had taken that bail offer, he would forfeit his mandate?
Well, did he have the mandate now? In such a thing, you accept anything. It is when you are free that you could claim a mandate. He was misled and it always annoys me. However, Abiola remains a hero. If he accepted the bail condition, he could have found his way out of Nigeria and maybe declare government in exile; that was our own thinking.
Some people have always said that Abacha, rather than Babangida, was behind the annulment of the 1993 election. Would you know if Abacha was truly the architect of it all?
I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t in the military, but it was IBB who was in power then. I don’t know how they took the decision among themselves, but he was the one who pronounced the annulment. He was the president then and he announced it with his own mouth. And with his own mouth, he talked about stepping aside.
Some people believe that there would be reprieve for Abiola once General Abdulsalami Abubakar got into power…
After Yasser Arafat who had come to visit Abacha left for his country, I woke up Saturday morning and I was told Abacha had died. I saw people dancing on the street that he was dead. I couldn’t believe and I wondered why people were dancing, when our own hero was in his custody and it was Abacha’s people who were guarding him. I then thought, if Abacha had died, who were the people that would be giving Abiola food? I told myself that if Abiola would survive that prison custody, it would be by the grace of God. If Abiola was in another custody, I would dance too. It didn’t take more than three weeks after when he died. It didn’t surprise me too much because he was among enemies. Abiola’s death was not natural.
Don’t you think Abdulsalami had a moral burden to free Abiola before he died?
It must have been difficult for him to do anything because if he messed up, he would have been dealt with. Al-Mustapha was totally loyal to Abacha. He was the one who called the meeting. He could have become Head of State if he wanted; he could just have killed all of them with a machine gun. He called a meeting and they didn’t know yet that Abacha was dead. That was when they installed Abubakar, who couldn’t have been his own man at that time. He’s an experienced military man too.
Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo looks so reserved, but you look so energetic. Does it mean she took after her mother?
I must be energetic because I was a seaman. The mother was very reserved and she’s like that too. I call her Dolly Baby. She is very tactical, like Papa. Don’t look at her meekness as weakness. She’s light-hearted and she has always been quiet.
Did you ever have to spank her?
I wasn’t the type to spank; but I know how I dealt with all of them. Tell me any child that does not like ice cream, biscuits and sweets or going to amusement park. The person would not go, and I was an expert in that. The mother had more money than myself but I must do something that my children must remember me for. Papa too was giving me his car once a month to take them to the amusement park.
Since your party couldn’t get to Aso Rock as Abiola and Kingibe never made it, now that you have the opportunity, what has changed about you?
You are correct. Now, I can always go there anytime I like, but it has its headache too. Maybe if I had not been a politician from time and she happened to be where she is now, I can get away with it, but people already knew me, and there is nothing I can do. A lot has changed now. In those days, I was able to talk to anybody, but now I cannot. At this level, if I have any observation, I have to make it private. And I really miss being very vocal about my views.
How often do you go to Aso Rock to visit your daughter and her family?
I don’t go there often. Going there is like going to jail, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like locking me up. The way you see me, do I look like someone that can be kept in one place? Before I could go out, I would have to sign papers and there would be plenty phone calls; I would just run mad because I wasn’t used to such. I’m a free man. I cherish my freedom and I’m not used to having security aides around me. I love to be free. That place is a very good place but I’m not the type to live there, so I don’t go there often. Anytime I go, I give them time, like telling them I was coming for two days. I don’t even live with them. Let us say we are in Abuja now, you possibly can’t visit me for this interview. They won’t allow you to come in, and if you have to, you would have to sign different papers. I would be there alone, watching television. I remember when her husband and Buhari had been elected but not sworn in. In their church, I was trying to call her but she didn’t hear, so I stretched my hand to tap her, but I just found that my feet were no longer on the floor. Those security people carried me, I had to be screaming her name, then she looked back and shouted that he’s my father. I don’t know where they would have thrown me to. I even told her I would be referring to her as Her Excellency.
What if your son-in-law offers you an appointment, would you take it?
I can’t take any appointment from government now. We (Nigerians) are not mature up to that level. There are lots of things I can offer this government from my experience, but I would rather do that privately. Else, somebody would come and make noise about it.
Since your wife died, you might have been alone. Why didn’t you remarry?
I have not even thought about it. What more do I want; my children are grown up and they are doing fine, so what am I bothering myself about? Remarrying would just be like committing suicide, and such a lady would be coming to suffer. I’m not lonely and I can never remarry.
When your daughter brought the Vice-President, who was quite older than her…
…No, she didn’t bring Vice-President, she brought her fiancé. Yes, he was 10 years older than her, and to me that was a plain answer to my prayer. I used to wonder how it would be if she married someone of her age. I look at her as too simple and I used to wonder how she could manage herself. So, when she brought a teacher, I said thank God, he would be able to guide her. So, I was very happy about it and I was never disappointed.
What was your perception of the vice president when your daughter brought him?
You see, you are looking at the attention now. But let me tell you a story. In our family, we were always having males as first child. But in the UK then, they had a system, such that three months to your wife’s delivery day, both you and the wife must be going for exercise. They used to teach us how to handle emergencies. We, men, used to frown and so we knew ourselves. In her ward, there were three of them and by the time I got there after she was delivered of her baby, I heard she had a girl and I wasn’t so happy. When I stepped out, I met the husband of one of the women and he said his wife gave birth to a set of male twins, after having two boys at home previously. I then felt better. When I left him, I saw the husband of the other one and he told me his wife just had another boy.
So, I felt let me go back and even see the baby girl. Then I saw the way people were giving flowers to their wives, and my own wife’s bed space was like Sahara Desert. At that time, I had so much money, so I went to Interflora to buy flowers. When I went back, Ayo was awake. When she saw the flowers, she was shocked, mocking me for buying flowers because she knew I wasn’t the type. That moment, Mama HID came in from Lagos and saw the flowers, she was full of gratitude and she embraced me. Till date, Dolapo never forgets my birthday, from day one. As I’m here now, she would be asking, ‘where is papa. At any opportunity, she would ask of me. I see myself as a very lucky man. If she had been a boy, my punishment would have been hard! If you look at my son who took to politics, he was always asking me about the latest in politics. But Dolly Baby would look at my face and ask how I’m feeling. So, I tell myself that I could have suffered heavily if I didn’t have her. From the beginning, God would have seen my needs. Look at what Dolly has done.
Have you ever had any premonition that she would rise to such a level?
I never saw it coming. What I thought was that she would have been a very good confectioner, because she told us clearly that she would not practise as a lawyer but she would please us. That was what she told her mother, Mama HID and myself. Her mother and Papa were so keen for her to be a lawyer. She said she would be and immediately she was called to bar, she called and said she wanted to go into cake making. I had to open a cake shop for her and she started and she was doing that very well. She never practised for one day as a lawyer. If she had continued on that confectionery line, she would have gone really far. That was her natural passion. And many people don’t know she’s a very good artist. As you are sitting, if she takes a pen, it would be your copy. She loves gardening too and it’s part of her love for arts.
How do you manage missing your late wife?
I miss her a lot. I was able to adjust a bit because of political activities I was involved in. After Papa’s demise, I’ve been very busy because we took over. Papa died in 1987 and from that moment, we were in charge of Awo’s movement. I was the National Director of the organisation, travelling all over the country, keeping everybody together. When my wife (Ayo) died, I used political activities to keep myself busy. That was what saved me.
When working with Chief Awolowo, what was your specific role or office?
Papa gave me the National Liaison Officer, whether that one is in any constitution, I don’t know (laughs). I was going with him anywhere he went.
You were close to Awolowo, what is your reaction to the statue built in his honour by Lagos State government?
I saw it but I didn’t talk. What would I say when the two daughters were there. I saw it but I didn’t condemn it. What is important was for him to be remembered and that is why I appreciate it. I know Papa didn’t wear boots. He was always wearing nice shoes and all of us would remember that because every two years, Papa would always distribute his shoes to all his sons-in-law. He used to buy shoes a lot. If he saw a pair of shoes that he loved, he would buy three pairs. It was a must. He would put one pair in Apapa, one pair in Ibadan and one pair in Ikenne. So, shoes were always many and wherever he went, we didn’t have to carry shoes around. After two years, the house would be full and he would have to distribute them to us. So, I got many, and thankfully, we were of the same size. But even if Papa gave you shoes and you were not of the same size, you would put paper inside. Papa’s shoes? That was like a blessing.
You really don’t look 74, what is the secret?
That is the work of God. By the grace of God, I would be 75 in January. My kind of work was so physical. We didn’t sit down in the office growing big stomach, no way. Sea men could come and start beating you up, so we were always on the alert. The last thing I did was being a fisherman. When I went out, I would be on the sea for 40 days, fishing. When we came back, for eight hours, you could not step on the shore, because the ground would feel like it was moving. So, the standard was to sit for eight hours. You can’t have pot belly when you do that kind of job.
What fond memories of your growing up do you still have?
My father was a very tough and strong man. He was very popular. And my family too has its own pride. If my father could marry a Miss Caulcrick, one of the biggest families in Lagos, he must be tough too. He was in UAC, he was one of the founders of Nigeria National Shipping Guard. My father too was in that line of business which I took over. I grew up like every other person and I later went to the United Kingdom. It was natural for me to do Maritime Studies because that was what my father was doing. So, I followed in his footsteps and I don’t regret it because it gave me experience. If you are working on the sea, you meet all sorts of characters.
How did you receive the news that your-in-law was nominated as the Vice-President?
I was in Jerusalem then. People called me to congratulate me. On the third day, I got a call from my daughter, and knowing what she wanted to talk about, I went to the toilet. She asked if I had heard and I said heard what. She said they had picked Yemi as the Vice President, and she sounded positive about it. I knew that the country was lucky to pick him as the Vice-President. The man is very brilliant. When Nigeria was in turmoil and the President was sick for a long time, and he was the Acting President, it didn’t change him and it didn’t change his wife. They are just wonderful people. God used Tinubu to pick somebody from Ikenne. When did Yemi start politics? I started politics in 1976, yet they might not even know me in my local government, but look at a man that just started. That is what God can do.
Culled From The Punch
Kanu is in London, he went through Malaysia — Orji Kalu
Businessman and prominent politician, Orji Uzor Kalu, tells SUNDAY ABORISADE why the Federal Government outlawed the activities of the Independent People of Biafra because its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, ignored the elders’ advice
Why did you say that the agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra cannot succeed and that what the Igbo should aim at now is to produce the president of Nigeria?
The Igbo should strive towards producing a president in the Federal Republic of Nigeria instead of agitating for the sovereign state of Biafra. I was the governor (of Abia State) for eight years and the issue of Biafra came up then. It even became a serious issue at a time that I decided to lead (Ralph) Uwazurike to see (former) President (Olusegun) Obasanjo but the former president refused to receive him. I was then surprised that the same Obasanjo was advising President Muhammadu Buhari to dialogue with (Nnamdi) Kanu. That sounds very funny to my ears and I don’t believe that such statement could come from the respected elder statesman who once told me at the Villa that he will never engage in a dialogue with somebody who wanted Nigeria to break up. There are so many federal roads in the eastern part of the country that are in serious dilapidated conditions but President Buhari has been fixing some of them now. If the immediate past government led by my brother and friend, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, had paid a little attention to the terrible infrastructure decay in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones, there won’t be any form of agitation in the first instance. Some of these people involved in the Biafran agitation are doing so out of frustration. Climate change had really dealt with most communities in the South-East leading to flooding and massive erosion. So, the Igbo should produce a leader that will fix the economic and infrastructural challenges affecting not only the Igbo but the entire Nigeria.
But do you think that the agitation for Biafra will stop even with an Igbo man as president?
Biafra as a concept can never die but I want a situation whereby it will exist in the minds of everybody as an ideological issue and not as a geographical expression. The real Biafra should be a concept for development, and economic growth through planting of more agricultural trees for commercial purposes. The concept of Biafra should be on how to achieve an empowerment strategy for our people. We need a Biafran agitation that will strengthen our industrial base and bring prosperity to Nigerians. It is difficult to talk about Biafra as a republic when the Igbo are living and have investments everywhere in Nigeria. If you go to Birnin Kebbi now, the Igbo are in the majority there after the aborigines; the same is the situation in Ogbomoso, Osogbo, Kafanchan and other major towns across Nigeria. So why are we agitating for a republic? God decided to create us as Nigerians so that we can derive strength from our diversity. The young men who are championing the Biafran republic have never heard the sound of a gun before.
But you met with Nnamdi Kanu in the prison, did you explain all these things to him?
I spoke with Nnamdi Kanu in the prison and gave him quality advice. I counselled him to embrace peace and agree with whatever terms that will set him free. I also warned him against allowing his boys to be displaying Biafra flags, coat of arms, organising parades, establishing secret security service, and mounting a guard of honour. I told him that by doing all these, his group had subdued the sovereignty of Nigeria and are therefore looking for trouble. No government on earth including the United States will allow any group to be championing the cause of dividing their country. I believe most sincerely that with the situation on ground today, majority of the Igbo do not agree on the issue of Biafra as a separate country. I have heard some elite, including professors who are saying that they want Biafra but they should know that there is no way such agitation can be achieved under the law. There is no section of the Nigerian constitution where you have restructuring. There is no section that spells out the process for dividing the country. All those things are alien to the constitution. If willingly, we want to talk about constitutional amendment, then people can bring up various issues. Today, the creation of Biafra Republic is not feasible. The (Indigenous People of Biafra) boys have the right to express themselves but they do not have any right to engage in destruction of property, raping women or setting up a Biafran intelligence service. No country will allow that to happen. I am an Igbo man before being a Nigerian and I have no regrets being an Igbo man. I have lived outside Igbo land so I understand Nigeria. I sincerely want to say and maintain what I have said earlier that Biafra as a country is not an issue now. The issue is for the Nigerian government to give us justice and fairness. When some Igbo people cry of marginalisation, I tell them that if they go to other parts of the country, the people there are also crying because the story is the same. There is a wall between the rich and the poor. We don’t have any war of dialect or language. The rich people should start having a human face so that we can move the nation forward.
What was the response of Nnamdi Kanu to your explanations after your discussion with him in prison?
I will not tell you a lie. Nnamdi Kanu did not agree with me at all on my views about his activities. I did most of the talking throughout the two hours and ten minutes that I stayed with him. I told him many stories about life especially some of the stories that the Ikemba Nnewi (Odimegwu Ojukwu) told me when he was alive and also explained lot of things to him based on my experience in life but didn’t agree with me. I had to cut short my journey when I heard what was happening between his boys and the military. I returned to the country on September 14 and came straight to Abia State on the 15th to make sure that we talked to the IPOB boys so that they would stop what they were doing and allow peace to reign.
But people are saying that the Army aggravated the tension by launching the ‘Operation Python Dance.’
Nobody can say that the Army has no power to do training. Such argument is out of order. The army has the power to do training in any part of the country.
You said that majority of the Igbo do not agree with the agitation for Biafra as being championed by IPOB. Do you think that your position is justified based on the alleged foreign support that the group is receiving?
There is no foreign government that is supporting IPOB. I have consulted all the intelligence agencies in Germany, France, US, UK, China and I have discovered that there is no foreign government that is supporting Biafra. If foreign governments are supporting them, you would have seen the change in their approach and strategies. They are just using that as propaganda to deceive people. It is a lie.
There was apprehension and tension in the South-East following the military show of might in Abia State, and you offered to talk to the federal authorities to see ways of bringing about normalcy, how far have you gone in this regard?
Based on our timely intervention, the federal authorities have replaced the soldiers with the police on roads. The military are back to their barracks. Some of these things about tension are mere propaganda. Immediately I returned from the United States, I embarked on consultations. From September 15 to today, I have consulted fully with all institutions of the Federal Government involved and they all responded to my enquiries. I have since discovered that people are blackmailing the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the propaganda cannot stand. We are a nation and we must continue to live in harmony and do things the proper way. All these things are annoying.
But proponents of a Biafran nation have argued that the sovereignty of an Igbo country will bring rapid development to the people better than what they are getting under the Nigerian government.
No, no, no, nobody is talking about that. We are not talking about having a nation as the Igbo people any longer. We are talking about one nation that is one Nigeria. I know that after the war and in the process of punishing those who took active part in it, a lot of injustices have been perpetrated but we have also had opportunities as southerners to correct some of these things when our people were in power at the federal level but they failed to do anything. For example, since 1999 that Nigeria returned to democracy, there is no northern leader that has really ruled this country up to one term. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo did two terms totalling eight years, while Goodluck Jonathan did six years. One would have expected these two leaders to turn the South-East to paradise if truly the problem is between the North and the South. Roads like the Enugu-Umuahia-Okigwe-Aba-Port Harcourt expressway, Enugu-Awka-Onitsha Expressway, Owerri to Port Harcourt, Aba, Ikot Ekpene-Calabar, Imo-Mbadon-Umuahia-Bende-Ohafia-Arochukwu-Cross River and the Okigwe-Nnewi highways. These are the roads that people are complaining about. At the moment, you can see construction work going on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, while work is also ongoing on the Awka-Onitsha Expressway. There is also work going on now on the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene Road. These are being done by the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Buhari. He once challenged me when I complained about the poor state of our roads. He said, “But we once had the secretary to the government of the federation, the minister of finance, minister of aviation, deputy senate president, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and many others in powerful positions but that they did nothing about the roads.” Now the minister of works has given marching orders to the contractors handling the road projects to start the jobs. If our sons and daughters who had held influential positions in the recent past had improved on the development of our area, we would not be where we are today. Sometimes, our people are fed with wrong information. We also have governors in the South-East, who didn’t really perform. If Jonathan had done these Roads, nobody would be talking about marginalisation today. If Jonathan had done the East-West road, nobody would be complaining. The problem of Nigeria is that most people who found themselves in the position of leadership were not prepared for it. You must be able to manage yourself before you manage others.
IPOB members are saying that the soldiers took Nnamdi Kanu and his parents away while the military authorities are denying it. As an Igbo leader, what is the position of things?
Kanu was not taken away by the military. Kanu went to Malaysia from where he travelled to the United Kingdom. Nnamdi Kanu is in London right now as we speak. He was not arrested by anybody. He left the country on his own. One of his relations has spoken to me and explained everything because I wanted to see him and talk to him wherever he was and see how I could meet some Federal Government officials on his issue. I also wanted to see ways of talking to the President about him, and find common ground but his family told me that he has left the country, unless they are lying to me. I believe, whether he had left the country or not, he is not with the military because I asked the Commander of the 14 Brigade, Brig.-Gen. A.K Ibrahim, who is a very fine and good soldier, well educated and dedicated, and he told me that they don’t know his whereabouts and I am sure, the Department of State Services have the same information. I also visited the commissioner of police and he said he didn’t know his whereabouts and that they are also looking for him.
What of his parents, where are they?
I don’t know. I visited them in December last year and I was not impressed with the discussion I had with the father and the mother because I expected them to have acted better. Since then, I have not visited them. I feel that they have not impressed me because they ignored my advice to them to talk to their son on the need to stay at home and avoid public outings. I said his people can continue to carry their flags around but that they should not disturb anybody again. They have a right to express themselves but that such rights should be within the limits of our constitution. They have the right to carry Biafran flags but they should do so within the limits of the constitution. Once your activities are within the limits of the law, you are in order. You cannot carry Biafra flags and be stopping vehicles and smashing their windscreens. You cannot carry Biafra (flags) and be raping young girls, you also cannot carry Biafra (flags) and be assembling young men every day. These are people who have no job and after doing that, they will go and engage in kidnapping or they will go and do armed robbery while some will go and do other things to make money. Hunger is a very terrible thing. The traders in the market have warned them to stop the nonsense they are doing. Why should you be extorting money from people in the name of Biafra agitation? They are extorting money from people in the market against their will. If the federal and state governments continue to watch and allow all these things to continue, there will be chaos in the state. If Kanu had not proved stubborn but listened to advice and kept to the rules of the court, we won’t be where we are now.
But some Igbo intellectuals and leaders have argued that Kanu has the fundamental human rights to…
Which fundamental human rights? When a court of law had given an order? It was not Justice Nyako speaking, it was the law of Nigeria speaking. If Kanu was dissatisfied with that ruling, the day he came out, he should have approached the appellate court where five justices would decide on his case. He is destroying business in Igbo land. The GDP of this area is going down every day. The people who used to come to Aba to buy shoes, dresses and all kinds of products and materials are no longer coming. There is no government that will leave a section of his country to be mismanaged this way.
Don’t you think that the decision to proscribe IPOB and tag its members as terrorists will further aggravate the tension in the land?
I really don’t understand why someone should sew uniforms for a group of boys under his control and start to make statements which he is not expected to say claiming that he disagrees with the law of the land. Disobedience to the law of the land itself can make you to be tagged as a terrorist because we have a law, the constitution. I am an Igbo man to the heart, I don’t care what anybody says, I don’t pretend and I have never asked any president to give me a job. Since I left office as governor, two presidents have approached me and offered to give me federal appointments but I rejected their offers. I even told one of them that I have a (court) case with you (your government) and he said, “Oh yes, I know about the case. It is political because I have read every file about the case.” The former president is the late Umaru Yar’Adua, may his soul rest in peace. I don’t want to go into further details because the case is still in court.
The argument of IPOB members is that tagging them as terrorists is a declaration of war against the Igbo because some armed herdsmen who are unleashing terror on innocent farmers were not tagged terrorists…..
Who tagged IPOB members as terrorists? Was it Buhari who tagged them as terrorists? The answer is no! Was it Buhari who proscribed them? The answer is no! It is only the people who live within the same enclave and area with them that said no, we will no longer collectively tolerate this (activities of IPOB members). The president has not said anything on this issue. The people are fond of attributing everything to Buhari. The governors went to Enugu for a meeting where the group was proscribed. In the first place, some of the governors mismanaged this issue. Go and ask Nwazurike, he is still alive; when he was doing this (Biafran agitation), there was a way we treated him. We gave him guidelines and warned him not do certain things. We told him (as governors then) that his group had the right to carry the (Biafran) flag but anytime they wanted to carry it, I usually invoked the law of the land and made it binding on them because that was the right thing expected of me as governor. You cannot be going to the market women to carry their foods and be eating. You cannot go to a woman selling akara with the little money on her, and carry her akara and eat. The boys would sometimes see a woman selling food by the roadside and decide to eat all her food without paying her. When I was governor, whenever such incident was brought to my attention, I usually applied the law instantly. The law is very clear. People should stop the sentiment, this is about saving this nation, it is about saving our people, it is about bringing back economic prosperity to the South-East.
What is your advice to President Buhari on the issue of the herdsmen attacks?
President Buhari has to come up fully with strong pronouncements on how the herdsmen should manage their cattle. He has scored high points in Boko Haram insurgency, and IPOB crisis. He should also address the herdsmen issue because these are some of the things that are causing dissatisfaction in the land. As the president, he should come out and put up a strategy on how the herdsmen could be put under check
When do you think the Igbo should produce the president of Nigeria, 2019 or 2023?
We have a sitting president in the All Progressives Congress and if he is not running again in 2019, the North should complete their eight-year tenure but I would advise President Buhari to run because he is entitled to a second term under the constitution.
Despite his state of health?
Are you his doctor? The man is very healthy. I told you then that he will come back healthier, you can see him now. He is back and healthy. People should stop spreading rumours about the president’s health. It is only at his will that he can decide not to run. If I was in Buhari’s position, I would contest again for a second term because other presidents before him did so as a right. There is nothing wrong with the man.
So, the Igbo should wait till 2023 to produce a president of Nigeria?
Yes. The Igbo will produce the president in 2023. If Buhari is not running in 2019, another Hausa man should be allowed to complete his second term. When Yar’Adua died, Jonathan came but if he had listened to the people’s advice, this situation will not be there because if I were Jonathan, I would have ruled for six years and allowed other people to run.
How do you think that the Igbo will be able to produce a president when the leaders are not speaking with one voice?
Other tribes have produced a president, so it is the turn of the Igbo too. Obasanjo was elected president in 1999 despite the fact that the Yoruba did not vote for him. He lost in his ward; I was there on the Election Day. So, any Igbo man that is widely accepted can be president of Nigeria. How did Obasanjo and Buhari become president? Are they better than any Igbo man? The answer is no! The issue is that if they know how they made Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari president, they should also make an Igbo man president so that there can be complete unity and we would forget about the civil war because not making an Igbo president will still remind our people that the marginalisation which started after the civil war has not ended.
Do you think that the Igbo presidency will bring about the desired development to the South-East?
There will be massive development in every part of Nigeria not only in Igbo land. The economy will change. The development will be channelled towards the entire country and we will appeal to the Igbo to make personal contributions to the development of their areas too. Make an Igbo man president today, I can assure you that the agitation will go down but first of all, let the Federal Government immediately implement the recommendations contained in the 2014 confab report. If the decisions are implemented and the Igbo have one more state like other regions, even before they produce the president, we will be moving. I call on the federal government to be magnanimous enough to present the 2014 confab report to the National Assembly for immediate implementation.
But is your appeal in line with what your party is doing with the Governor el-Rufai committee on true federalism?
What the el-Rufai committee is doing is very good by trying to get the views of Nigerians but they should also carry along the 2014 confab report. That constitutional conference was chaired by the retired Hon. Justice Kutigi, a very reputable jurist, so they should consider the recommendations in the report.
You were once quoted to have said that the Lagos IGR will drop by 70 per cent if the Igbo should withdraw their investment from the state but some people have faulted your position claiming that Lagos ports actually accounts for its prosperity. Can you clarify your position again?
No, I never said so. I quoted what somebody said when I delivered a lecture in one of the universities. I actually quoted an authority who was a special adviser to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu when he was governor. The special adviser, in a memo he sent to Tinubu said if Igbo should withdraw their investment from the state, the IGR will drop by the figure you quoted. There is no way I can say that the Igbo will withdraw their investment from Lagos. Every component of this country is very important. It is painful when I hear some people saying that they are more important than others. It is also painful to me when I hear people saying that the Hausa have nothing to contribute to the nation’s economy. It is not true. Agriculture is the most important thing that can serve as alternative to the revenue we are getting from oil. Before the oil discovery, the regions were making use of proceeds from the sale of agricultural trees which they produced to finance the Federal Government. So every tribe should see other people as important contributors to the economy too. Some people think that they are superior to others but it is not true. We should love ourselves as a nation without any impediments, respect each other’s religion and everyone should strive to say the truth. Let me tell you that international agencies operating within and outside the country were very happy with the emergence of President Buhari because they knew that the economy of Nigeria would have collapsed if he had not intervened. Look at the people we trusted with power in the past, they opened the Central Bank and looted all the money there. I keep telling the people that I will always stand on the side of truth even at the risk of my life because I am not afraid of death.
Majority of the states are not paying salaries again and Buhari has said that the governors should be held responsible for this. Do you agree with him?
In good conscience, if you are a governor collecting N1bn as security vote, without paying salary, you are a criminal. If you are a governor and you collect security vote before you pay salary, then you are not doing what is expected of you. They should pay the workers first and take the security vote later. As governor, my last security vote was N200m; it was ranging between N120m and N150m before then. So governors should make payments of salaries a priority.
Source : The Punch