Soccer star’s twice-abducted dad speaks: Kidnappers think Mikel sends millions to me – Chief Obi
by Lami Sadiq, Jos
Daily Trust: You recently regained your freedom from kidnappers. Can you share your experience?
Chief Michael Obi: I was travelling home for a family meeting, early evening, in Enugu. I’d just reminded my driver to stop at the Ninth Mile to buy Okpa in case I fall asleep. Not quite long after a checkpoint, we heard gunshots ahead of us, so we stopped. My driver reckoned it was armed robbers, and tried to reverse the car. But another car from nowhere blocked us from behind, and the people within came and dragged us out. The kidnappers were six, well-armed and masked. They assaulted us, and dragged us into the bush. We walked for many hours, and when I complained that I could not continue, they beat me again. Eventually, they told my driver to carry me on his back. But after a while, he also got tired and dropped me.
We walked into the bush for what seemed like the whole night, until the next morning. I asked them what they wanted from me, and that was when they told me they wanted N100 million. We communicated in Hausa, and some broken English. I told them I could not afford it, and they said they heard that my son sends me N50 million to me bi-weekly. We started to negotiate, and they threatened to kill me. I told them I only had N2 million in my bank account.
When I noticed they were serious, I told them I could give them N5 million. We agreed on that sum, but they later refused, insisting on N50 million. I finally pegged it at N10 million. Two days later, they brought out my phone to call my son Tony, and I told him what was happening, and asked him to go to my bank. But when they went there, the manager was not on seat, so my other son, Ebele, who is the goalkeeper for Heartlands of Owerri, contacted Mikel. That was how the ransom was made available.
DT: How was the exchange done?
Obi: I asked them how the money could be made available to them, and they suggested that the money be brought to Mile 9. On Friday, my sons tried to get the money, but it could only be made available on Monday, since banks didn’t operate at the weekend. When I told the kidnappers, they got mad and beat me.
So, in the early hours of Monday, they brought the phone and asked me to speak with my son, in English or Hausa only. My son told me they were on their way with the money, and the kidnappers warned that if we dare involve the police they would kill me. It was almost 12 noon when my son called to say they were at the agreed spot. God so kind, they used one of our transport buses, so they were able to cross the police checkpoint without any hitch.
The kidnappers warned that if they find that the money was short, they would kill me. But after almost two hours of the ransom arriving, the kidnappers still didn’t go to collect the money. I told them not to blame me if anything happens to the money. They ignored me, and their leader brought out marijuana and shared it round, and they smoked. When they finished, four of them left, leaving two to guard us. Almost two hours later, the two asked us to get up and move, then gave my driver one of my phones. A few minutes later, we heard gunshots. We fell to the ground, while the two ran off. As we lay there, we heard shouts saying the shooters were the police, come to rescue us. They did, and led us to the main road.
DT: What about your car, and the ransom money?
Obi: It was later that the DPO told us that my car was at the police station. My son Tony who carried the money told me they didn’t collect it at the Ninth Mile, but asked him to follow them with the money. He said they moved into the bush, where he saw more armed gang members. He gave them the money, and they examined it. They later asked him to leave, and he came back and we reunited at a relative’s filling station.
DT: How did they treat you when you were with them?
Obi: We slept on the ground, and for the five days we were with them, there was heavy rain for three. It drenched us under a tree. It was only once that they brought us Okpa and pure water. Miraculously, I was never hungry. My thoughts were on how to get home safe.
DT: How different was the experience from the one of 2011?
Obi: Those first kidnappers did not treat me as badly as these ones. Though I stayed in a bunker for 11 days during the first, they gave me food and the only time they beat me was when they captured me.
DT: Was any ransom paid then?
Obi: None was paid. It was the handwork of God
DT: Your son Mikel paid the recent ransom. What’s your relationship like?
Obi: It is an issue, but we don’t know what to do. It’s over five years now without a phone call from him to me. But he communicates with his mother.
There is nothing I have not done to fix it. God has told me that I should not feel hurt. When we start to talk about it, I say, ‘Well, as long as I see him on TV, doing great, no problem’.
DT: But some people say he called you recently…
Obi: During the just-concluded World Cup, one or two days to one of their matches, we spoke. He called his mum, and she told me that Nchekwube (Mikel) was on the phone and I told him that God will see him through. I prayed for him. That’sit.
When he first joined Chelsea, my people in Anambra were very happy that God has blessed their son, and when he came to Abuja, they prepared very well with the hope that he will come to our hometown. They even made some magazines. It was grand. But he didn’t come. It was a shameful thing to me, as a father. He once told his brother that sometimes he picks his phone to call me, but something tells him not to.
DT: Have you met your grandchildren, the twins, yet?
Obi: Sometime last year, he was to bring them so that I could name them, he said he would. But he didn’t. His other colleagues frequent home, so I don’t understand.
DT: Do you encourage him to invest at home?
Obi: Isn’t that why kidnappers are targeting me? Because they think the money he makes, he ships it to me to make investments.
EKITI ELECTION: Fayose’s White Paper is useless – Fayemi
By Wale Akinola
Immediate past Minister of Mines and Steel Development and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Kayode Fayemi, in the July election in Ekiti State, speaks, in this interview, on why his aspiration will succeed.
Following the rancour that characterised the APC primary, where you emerged as candidate, how far have you gone in your reconciliatory efforts with former aspirants?
APC has once again proved to bookmakers that common interest supersedes personal interest. It was easier to reconcile with my former co-contestants because we all have the same purpose, to restore our values by dislodging the PDP government. To the glory of God and massive synergy from the former aspirants, we are making progress. Ekiti APC is today larger and stronger than we were before the primary election. You can see that in the way people from the other side are crossing over. A tree doesn’t make a forest. I owe the success of the process so far to the cooperation, support and guidance of APC national and state leaders and the former aspirants. They are on the same page with me. They are all solidly behind me to restore the good governance that was cut short in Ekiti about four years ago.
Many people are asking, why do you want to be governor again having once served in that capacity?
My quest to be governor again is borne out of my commitment to the well-being of my people. Each time I go round Ekiti, I see the pains on the faces of the 25,000 elderly persons who benefited from our social security scheme, the 600 people who were employed into the peace corps; the 10,000 volunteers who took N10, 000 per month, among others, but have been cut off from these safety nets by the Fayose administration. The agonies of the beneficiaries of many abandoned physical projects and social welfare programs give me sleepless nights. For instance, hundreds of boreholes that we constructed in public schools are not functional today due to lack of maintenance, over 40,000 people benefitting from our various social investment schemes have been put out to hang and dry. Go to Ikogosi, you will be sorry. The most painful aspect is workers’ welfare. This is painful because workers’ welfare was one of their major campaign promises back then. Most of our tertiary institutions now run epileptic calendar because of strikes. No civil servant in Ekiti has received salary this year. Ditto for pensioners who have not been paid anything this year while gratuity has not been paid for years. Yet the government keeps lying to the public about the financial situation of the state. Things are tight generally in the country no doubt but the problem of Ekiti is simply misplacement of priority.
Are you not afraid that the Fayose government may use the White Paper to get you barred from contesting the election?
The White Paper cannot stop me or anybody for that matter. Yes, it used to be the case in this country that you can use an administrative panel report or a judicial commission report to orchestrate the ban of a political office holder, but that period has since gone because it became very clear that this was a witch-hunting tool. And this is a settled matter by the Supreme Court courtesy of the case between Atiku Abubakar and the Federal Government that you cannot use the report of a commission of inquiry or an administrative panel to ban anyone from public office. To the best of my knowledge, I have not even been asked to show up in any court over any allegation. Rabiu Kwankwaso also went through the same experience. He was governor in Kano, went to become a minister and, when he was about coming back as governor, then-governor brought a commission of inquiry report. Of course, it was rubbished and the man became governor. I am not the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but there is judicial precedence. Therefore I am sure that the so-called White Paper is of no effect. If anyone has any concrete/verifiable case against me, he/she should prove it in court. We admit that we borrowed N25 billion to be defrayed within three years and records are there at the DMO that Fayemi paid back N14.5 billion of the debt, leaving the balance of N10.5 billion before we left office on Oct. 16, 2014. If the official debt figure was N10.5 billion, how then did they come about the N35.34 billion they claimed to have used to service an outstanding debt of N10.5 billion? That means that Ekiti was servicing the debt at an average of N1.1 billion monthly for them to have arrived at N35.34 billion. They lie shamelessly about anything and everything. Unfortunately for them, the truth about our borrowing and outstanding as of the time we left are in public domain for people to see and make their own judgment. Ekitikete are no fools.
It is believed that you are planning to use federal might against the PDP in the July election, just like they did to you in 2014.
The events leading to the election of 2014 in Ekiti negate the principles of a free, fair and credible election. From the militarization of the election to the police attack on our supporters, arrest and detention of our leaders across the state and the use of huge funds to induce voters, the federal authorities skewed everything in favour of the PDP. While we believe that security agencies indeed had a role to play in providing security for the election, we do not see why the whole state should be locked down. There are many questions begging for answers: who ordered the clampdown on the opposition? Who gave the orders to stop then-Gov. Rotimi Amaechi from reaching Ado-Ekiti, as the army captain, who stopped and threatened to shoot him, said he was acting under orders from above?
Also worth mentioning is the flagrant abuse of national institutions that led to the aviation authorities shutting down airports in Akure and elsewhere on the day our party had its last campaign rally in Ado-Ekiti. This was targeted at the opposition. Same day, the helicopter flying then-Governor Adams Oshiomhole from Benin Airport to Akure en route to Ekiti for our final rally was prevented from taking off. Airports are never shut without the issuance of a NOTAM Notice to airmen. Again, who gave the orders for the closure of the airports? The current whining of the PDP this time didn’t surprise many of us. However that is where we are different from them. We are not cowards like them and we cannot play their dirty games. Therefore, on our part, there will be no intimidation, harassment or oppression of the opposition and every law abiding individual. We are set to win in a free, fair and credible process.
Should you come back as governor, what would be your areas of priority?
We are bringing on board this time a message of consolation, hope and restoration. Consolation for the tolerance and perseverance of the last four years and hope for speedy restoration of abandoned programs, infrastructures, industries, values, projects and all the good things we lost due to some actions or inactions of the incumbent administration.
The business of electing rests with the people of Ekiti and I believe they are intelligent people who can compare what the situation was when we left office and the way it is now and what the future holds for our children and people. When they look at what we did in office side by side with what is on ground now, they know the difference. This coming election is not about me or the APC but about what is good for Ekitikete. This election is therefore a referendum for Ekitikete to either support me to reactivate the good governance that was cut short about four years ago or to approve the continuity of the abysmal performance of the current administration.
Despite the electoral result of 2014, you appear very much confident. What gives you the confidence?
Our confidence is in the people. Our people have gone through a lot of pains in the last three and a half years of the PDP government in the state and have come to the conclusion that the PDP government is a product of fraud and it is a government that does not care about their welfare. The World Bank Ease of Doing Business study ranked Ekiti when I was governor as the number five place where you can do business easily in Nigeria, we moved from number 34 to number 5. The kids that entered secondary school when I was governor were the ones who took WASSCE and NECO exams and excelled. You do not get that in one year of being in government. Een though the Fayose administration is trying to claim credit for that, it is the cumulative effect of the work we did that resulted in what those kids achieved.
If you move from that to the DFID assessment of governance, Ekiti was ranked as the state with the most transparent budget when I was governor. Why was this possible? Because I focused on ensuring that budget is responsive to the yearnings of the people.
If you move to tourism, it is the same approach, People who visited Ikogosi when I was governor can attest to what we did and those are the kind of things that would draw people to our state. Ekiti became a kidnappers den when I left office because security was compromised, accountability was compromised; government was also compromised because what we had was a one-man show. These are the areas where I would make a difference.
Is it true that the APC government would ban Okada, sack teachers and local government workers?
There is no reason to sack local government workers or any worker for that matter. I believe downsizing is the only option available for the PDP government because they are short of ideas on how to get themselves out of the self-inflicted quagmire. I have said it repeatedly to the people of the state that the welfare of the people is what is paramount to us in APC and that is what the in-coming APC government will pursue. We never had any issue with Okada riders. What we insisted they must do was to comply with safety rule, that is, wear crash helmet so as to reduce the level of injury in case of an accident. Similarly we have no plan to sack any teacher or local government workers. We didn’t sack any worker or teacher during our four years in government and I believe we have very cordial relationship with different categories of workers in Ekiti. As a matter of fact, under my watch, the civil service will be strengthened, re-orientated and reequipped to do better. Where necessary, we are going to employ more hands to energize the service. All the youth empowerment and employment schemes that were cancelled by the current administration will be resuscitated to provide employment and succour to as many youths as possible. Can I be planning all these and be thinking of downsizing at the same time?
What are your plans for youth empowerment and employment?
We are going to restore, reorganize and repackage all the abandoned life-changing youth empowerment programs to be more effective and efficient for a much larger number of the youths. Peace Corps, Dagrin, YCAD, Youth Volunteers and others will be resuscitated. My vision is simply to make poverty history in Ekiti. In order to do that, I believe we need a combination of approaches. Therefore, apart from the aforementioned programs of our government, I feel very strongly that one critical sector that we can make poverty history is agribusiness. We are going to maximize our potentials in agriculture and mining while getting our youth empowered through various government interventions in these sectors.
Job creation and empowerment for the youths have always been a major concern for me and was a cardinal program of my administration. This is an area where we excelled back then. Ekiti youths are innovative and eager to earn legitimate living if rightly guided and motivated. Government is a continuum in an ideal clime but unfortunately that is not the case in Ekiti with the present administration. Just like they did with physical projects, all the life-changing programs for the youths were also jettisoned. The greatest disservice to the youths was the cancellation of the youth in agriculture, YCAD, scheme..
How do you rate the performance of the current PDP government in the state?
I will leave Ekitikete to be the judge of that. Every government has its own focus. I went into office with a clear manifesto and agenda, which guided our performance in office. The welfare and overall interest of the people was our guiding principle. However that cannot be said of the present administration. Everything about Fayose and his government is smokescreen. What we had then was governance at its best. We are coming back to build on that. Bridges are meant to provide solution and prevent havoc. What solution is the bridge on dry land providing for Ekitkete? What havoc is that bridge preventing in the history of motoring in Ado Ekiti? You need to critically look at the bridge from these two angles for you to understand how irrelevant the bridge of that magnitude is to its location. There are many roads within and around Ado Ekiti that are begging for attention. And the shrouded cost of that bridge is enough to pay three months’ salary of the entire workforce of Ekiti civil service. I will rather toe the path chosen by Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State who said he cannot jettison the welfare of his people for overhead bridge.
How do you react to the allegation that you plunged Ekiti into a debt that would take 25 years to service?
We took N25billion loan for infrastructural development not for salaries or frivolities. The bulk of that money was spent on roads and, when I was governor, some of the roads are not the way they were and there have been no maintenance. There were about 14 roads that we spent about 14 billion of that 25billion on across the state. We didn’t stop there. We revived the Ire Burnt Bricks project, it is still there. We brought back Ikogosi which became a tourist delight. We built the new Government House out of this money. We built The Pavilion, a 12, 000-seater-pavilion. We built a civic centre. In fact, if you calculate what we spent the N25billion on, you will discover that we spent more than N25 billion. So there is no basis but you have a governor who really cannot be accused of showing fidelity to the truth.
I have been gone for three years before he suddenly remembered that I took a bond, first year, no enquiry, second year, no enquiry, third year, you now brought your kangaroo enquiry in which five of the six people on the panel were actually serving officials of government, people who you paid salaries to and could not look you in the eye and tell you that what you were doing was absolute rubbish and then you brought a retired judge to chair the panel. But leaving aside all that, part of what you said I committed as an offence, the people you were citing came to the panel of enquiry, Access Bank for example came to the panel and told you categorically that there was no missing N835 Million from UBEC, that they took their money back because the state did not meet the obligation attached to the grant that was to be given to the state.
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