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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Momodu: Buhari, Ribadu not fit to rule Nigeria

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Chief Dele Momodu, the flamboyant publisher of Ovation International magazine is the presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), a party founded by radical Lagos lawyer, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN). Last week, he explained to Acting Political Editor, Victor Oriola why he is the candidate to beat in the April 9 presidential election. In spite of financial constraints, Momodu maintained that he has adopted a scientific method of campaign that will shock his challengers because, according to him, he is not controversial and have no grouse with anybody.

YOu have gone round the country, for now what do you considered as the topmost priority?

It is leadership, people say manifesto, manifesto is just a paper, the person who will enforce the manifesto is the manifesto itself, that is my argument. Everywhere I go, people usually ask for my three priorities, I have always told them; don’t straight jacket me. My priority is to provide new leadership and I will tell you what I mean. Without your economy, nothing can be done, you can build your castle in the air, to build it on the land, our finance must be in good shape. Presently, our finance is in terrible shape and it is being worsened now by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, they are spending money as if it is going out of vogue.

They are pouring money all over the place as if it is rainfall. So the leadership is keen and from day one you will have a leader in Dele Momodu who will be the man of the people. You will have a leader who will be in his jean and T-shirt, I am going to be like a labourer, my father was a labourer. I know the value of hard work. You are going to have a man who is like a labourer and who is in a hurry to fix the things that are bad. We will go round the country without the usual pomp and pageantry; closing down everywhere because the president is coming, that will not happen under my administration. Now, we are going to spend N18billion to buy Presidential Jet. I don’t see how that can be a priority; I have my favourite saying that you cannot practice capitalism without capital. What we are trying to practice in Nigeria is capitalism, we want to live like America, but you cannot do it without capital.

It will be stupid, irresponsible, it is reckless of a government in a nation where everything had collapsed; it is a miracle how the nation itself had remained standing. So it so irresponsible of our leadership to continue to spend money on a useless thing, no priority. These are scaring to me. How can a country as impoverish as Nigeria spend N18billion of her annual budget on presidential jet. You will spend about N60billion bringing in fertiliser, you will spend N1.4billion on renovating the house of Mr. President. You will spend over N500million on fixing a kitchen, the biggest kitchen in the world, whether in China, India or America would not gulp that kind of money. You are going to spend half a billion of feeding the household of Vice -President. You are going to spend over N800million to build two new houses for the Senate President and the Speaker of House of Representatives, for God sake! Are we crazy. You are going to give homes for the principal officers of National Assembly, do they have two heads? Did we beg them to come into politics? If you were making more money outside politics than you were making in politics, then go back to your business. These are issues that must be settled, that is the priority of my manifesto.

Unlike before,when we had the debate in 1993 between late Chief MKO Abiola and Bashir Othman Tofa, now we have 21 presidential candidates, and people are not talking about debate to truly presents them to the public, what is your take on this?

There are all kinds of debates being organised, but what I know is that that is about being manipulated. Everyone knows who the contenders are; in that debate, maybe you will have six people.

Who are the six people?

You will have President Goodluck Jonathan, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dele Momodu. Hopefully, for me that is the top four, you may have Pat Utomi and maybe Rev. Chris Okotie. But I have seen any evidence yet that they have done what the top four are doing, if you are talking of impact, if you are talking of how long people have been working because you can’t work for just two three, months, some people just came out the other day that they want to run. So we don’t even know who they are but if you are talking about consistent, I was the first to win primary election this year, President Jonathan was second and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau was the third person. I would suggest that since this is supposed to be democracy at work, those who went through primaries for their nominations, not those that were handpicked, be accorded priority and then others can join. If we have seven people maximum, that we be okay, you will select the three who went through primaries and other four that were selected based on their capacities to take on an electioneering campaign. The rest, to be quite honest with you apart from maybe Dr. John Darah, I don’t think I know any other person who is running. So, I was taken aback when I heard that about twenty something people are running.

The Nigerian political system is predicated on three things: money, muscle and mischief, how prepared are you to wade through the storm?

The way I described it is that Nigerian politics is predicated on money, ethnicity, religion and popularity before policy. It is supposed to be the other way round, but in Nigeria, it is not. So for me in the area of money, most of us are disqualified. In fact, if you look at it today, when people say I don’t have any structure, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is leading does not have any state at present, so we at par. Buhari has no structure. About money, personally, he does not has money but he has moneybags in his party like the Mohammed Abacha and all that. But if you are talking about credibility, I leave that to the judgment of the people. Because it means that money can come from anywhere in politics. If you look at Nuhu Ribadu, the only reasons, he had picked Fola Adeola is through funding because he did not get the support of the ACN the way he expected, so he had to go and look for those who have the money and they gave him a condition and that is why he would risk a Muslim- Muslim ticket. That again, I leave to the judgment of the electorate. Myself, I am not worried about money, the little I’ m getting from few friends, as low as N50,000,00 to N100,000,00 but I can tell you I have been able to manage the little and it tell you who can manage our economy better. It is like fighting lion with bare hands, I can tell you we have not spent N30million anywhere and yet the whole world is feeling our impact. It tells you that we need a leader who is very prudent. My Vice -presidential candidate, Yunisa Tanko is Chartered Accountant, is a man who has been in civil service and civil society. So, we are combined well and we are regular people, so I don’t need a lot of money, I don’t need a long entourage, I only go around with about two vehicles. You will not believe it, in my entire secretariat, I don’t have up to 10 people. I ‘m being very prudent and this is how we are going to run Nigeria. The people we have now are too wasteful, they are saying we must have an office in every ward in every state, I have an election in the next six weeks, if you are going to rent office now you have to pay between one to two years rent, what happen after the election? I can encourage my party to have all those things, so we will use the party offices for campaign. So we are very serious and the way the President is spending money, you would know that it is not his money. You will know that this money is coming from proceeds of either corruption or blatant whatever, I don’t want to mention it. There is nobody who work hard for his money who will spend it the way they are spending it now. Campaign is to make you visible, you are already the president of Nigeria, if you are not known by the people of Nigeria, then too bad. At my level, I am well known, my face is even more recognisable than the president of Nigeria. There is no person that the president of Nigeria can see today that I cannot see in my private capacity. So it depend how much you have developed yourself in your chosen career. For me, I can assure you that we are the game changer, we are the only fresh team among the top four right now. If you look at Nuhu Ribadu, he has been in government, Fola Adeola was in charge of pension and all that. Buhari and Jonathan have all been in power and they all ended up in one controversy or the other. So we are the only fresh team that can bring fresh ideas and fresh governance to the good people of Nigeria.

Your talked about alliance in one of your programmes, is it still feasible?

It is too late, I felt and I always feel insulted every time some Nigerians, especially our media friends assumed that only some people are qualified to rule Nigeria. I feel so insulted that with my level of achievements in life, by the grace of Almighty God, somebody would want me to play a second fiddle, to be a second class citizen in my country, I would not allow it. So the question of me working with other people, there was a time I toyed with it. Nuhu Ribadu came to me the day after he won his election and we spent some hours together; we shared dinner together and the main purpose of his coming was to extend the hand of fellowship to me. And I believe at that time for the sake of our country, this thing is not personal to me I was ready to do anything. But then, my own idea was that our two parties must meet. Either ACN will approach NCP or NCP will approach. But in that manner, it was can that needed to reach out to us because it was Nuhu who came to me. He didn’t tell me that he wanted me to step down for him and I didn’t tell him I wanted him to step down for me, my idea was that the two parties should come together, if he felt they needed the two of us to work together, then we can work out the nitygritty. And because the ACN, naturally will be the senior partner in such an alliance, I am not foolish, they controlled four states. If ACN , for example, had asked me to step down, it will not be Nuhu that I ‘m stepping down for, it will be a party thing and that is how a good politician must reasoned. So, I was ready to do that, it was not a question of Nuhu asking Dele to step down, it would be an alliance. That is why the alliance between CPC and ACN could not work. CPC came with a fixation that Buhari must be the presidential candidate, that is undemocratic. How can a party that has no state insist that they must have the presidential candidate, while the party that has four states, you are telling them that they are inferior to you, for me that was unreasonable. But that is the nature of some of the people we are dealing with, some of them were former dictator, so it is impossible for them to change their attitude to politics. They must have their way all the time, so in that situation, I supported the ACN, that there is no inferior party in an alliance. You must tell us what you are bringing to the table, and we will tell you what we are bringing to the table. So unfortunately, in the Nuhu Ribadu’s case he was not in control of ACN, most of the time when ACN was busy negotiating with CPC, it was without his knowledge and approval of Nuhu Ribadu. Because you already gave him the ticket,yet you were still negotiating for an alliance with another party. And there was no where I read that Nuhu was going to lead that alliance. Till this day Nuhu has never phoned to say thank you for hosting me yesterday, for me, a leader must be self discipline. For me, I am very worried that someone that I thought, we could join hands together could behave that way. So it is not my fault if the progressives refused to work together. I was ready to sacrifice myself just for Nigeria to move forward. Now, after going through that I have seen that the priority of most politicians is still the issue of money, they believe they cannot not survive without money. If there is one thing I was able to show in this election, is that without money, I had become one of the most dominant names in the election.

Would you say your background actually prepared you for this challenge?

Yes, I come from a family where nobody is rich; we are family of achievers but without money. My half brother, Prof Oladele Ajayi is a professor of Physics, same mother not same father. He went to Government College Ibadan and then traveled to America around 1965 and came back with a doctorate degree in Material Science. He is one of the most fertile mind you can find anywhere. Our mother was a stark illiterate, but she knew the value of education. I lost my father when I was only 13years, and I was left with a poor illiterate mother, you can imagined the level of suffering. So I have to struggled all the way to go to school. I struggled to do my first degree and after that I went to teach A/Level Yoruba and Literature -in-English at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science. I worked also as a Private Secretary to the then Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Chief Akin Omoboriowo. Thereafter, I worked for the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade and I went back for my masters degree. I wanted to be a teacher somewhere after my masters degree, maybe in a college of education, that was my ambition. Fortunately, I couldn’t get it because there was an embargo on appointment and promotion at the university at the time. But through Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi -Ojo who was at The Guardian, he was the one who encouraged me that with your background in Yoruba and Literature, you should be able to write well. And that was how I wrote my first article for African Guardian. And thereafter, I started writing on the opinion page of The Guardian newspapers. I was being paid N25 naira per article. And I would travel from Ile-Ife to Lagos to collect N100 naira when they published about four. I was also writing for the Sunday Tribune. And eventually, I got a jot with African Concord magazine. So my sporadic rise in journalism , I believe was as a result of my poor background. I was determined, that I must help my mother because anytime I was in crisis, it would affect her, it would affect her health. By the time I joined the African Concord, within a few months, I was probably the most popular person. And we had very brilliant guys, Sam Omatseye, Babafemi Ojudu, Bayo Onanuga. Lewis Obi was our Editor at the time. Then Weekend Concord was founded, I joined the Concord in May 1988, by March 1989, Weekend Concord was founded and I was transfered from African Concord. They also picked the best writers from different stables; we have National Concord, Sunday Concord. Now, they were starting Weekend Concord and I was a pioneer member. Within two months, I got double promotion, from Staff Writer I became Literary Editor. Within six months I got another promotion from Literary Editor to News Editor, I was invited by the Publisher of Classique magazine, May Ellen Ezikiel -Damijo to be her editor and I became the highest paid editor in Nigeria 21 years ago. So when people are saying I should step down for someone, I can’t understand the basis; I have been a household name in Nigeria since 1988, 23 years ago. 19 years ago, I was the Founding Editor of Leaders and Company, what is today known as Thisday. I recruited most of the staff that started the publication. Where were all these people? Whoever heard of Jonathan? The first time I heard the name of Atiku Abubakar in my life was in 1993 at the Jos Convention. The people I knew were Babagana Kingibe, Adisa Akinloye, Bola Ige and co. Since the 80s, I have been in corridor of politics, not being in power does not mean you are not in politics, that is the mistake a lot of people make. I have been in politics since early 80s rubbing shoulder with high and mighty, but my position was hoping that we would get a good leader like Chief MKO Abiola. And that is why when Abiola came out to contest in 1993, I left Thisday to join Abiola and I didn’t abandon him. I was put in detention by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, while I was in detention, they promised to release me on one condition ——— that I won’t go to Abiola and I said it is not possible. From prison, I went straight to Abiola’s house. Abiola was arrested in 1994, by 1995, Gen. Sani Abacha was going to pick me up, I got tipped off and I ran and after I went to exile. I still did not rest, I was running the Yoruba programme for Radio Kudirat, initially, Radio Freedom, my name was Saliu Elenugboro. I was in exile for three years and while in exile I thought of doing business and founded Ovation International, Ovation will be 16 years this April. Ovation now has many variants, every newspaper now has the lifestyle colour pages. People used to called Ovation, photo album. Today, everybody is taking picture, photographers who used to be looked down on as the dreg of society, today photographers are charging millions, people don’t know that it is due to the hardwork of some of us. The young tailors are making a lot of money from using Ovation as fashion catalogue. There are all kinds of fashion magazines now, now providing employment for the people. Today, we pay the highest commission to newspaper agents anywhere in the world. Each copy of Ovation attracts N700 naira commission. There is no publication that pays that , so we are keeping those boys on the streets happy nationwide. And yet people are telling me I am not qualified to lead Nigeria. We are changing the image of Africa. When I got into Ghana about 10 years ago nobody in Ghana would do business with Nigerians, they thought everybody in Nigeria was either a drug baron or a fraudsters. Today, we have been able to change that perception through consistent packaging of our entrepreneurs. We have about seven to eight Nigerian banks in Ghana. In fact, only yesterday, we opened Jimoh Ibrahim bank, Energy bank in Ghana. Those who would not appear on the pages of Ebony or Hello magazine, they have their own Hello magazine in Ovation. So we have done so much promoting the best of Nigeria, the best of Africa. The only thing remaining for me is to provide good leadership.

While talking on how you fix Nigeria, you said you are the only candidate from both the South South and South West and with the figure coming from INEC that South West is next to North West in the registration, how do you want to leverage on this?

In fact, while we were flying into Nigeria this morning, myself and my best friend, Damola Aderemi, we were analysing it. Just this morning we saw the figure and I said those who are underrating me don’t even know what they are doing. Right now, I am the most senior candidate from Yoruba land, there is no other presidential candidate who is a Yoruba man. Today, you have two vice presidential candidates from Abeokuta, so at the end of the day I towered above Pastor Tunde Bakare and my other brother, Fola Adeola, that is number one. Number two, in the South South, Jonathan, despite the fact that he is an Ijaw man, he must realise that the South South is not only an Ijaw nation. I am an Afemai from Edo State. Edo State is controlled by ACN, the entire Afemai worldwide just sent me a letter of congratulations last week. For the first time we have an Afemai as governor in Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is from my tribe. Twice we have addressed the Afemai world congress in America in the last two years and this year again by the grace of God, I will be there as the President of Nigeria. If you go to Delta State, we have the Urhobo, Ijaw, Kwale and so on. Are you saying because Jonathan is a South South man everyone in the region will be in PDP, because that is the implication? With all the non performance of PDP will you say because Jonathan is running everyone in Port Harcourt must vote for PDP? I was in Bayelsa in December, the road between Port Harcourt and Bayelsa must be the worst in Nigeria. Everyone know that I am not coming into government to steal money. If you are talking about the mood that South South produces the wealth of the nation and for the first time, let the South South person contest election and win, it is between me and Jonathan. In the next two three weeks we will be able to show clearly that Buhari cannot run a modern nation. Because what those who are promoting Buhari are telling us is that we should go back to 1983. When the world has already left us 50 years ahead, you are telling us that the man who failed an analogue examination should come and retake the examination in a digital age when the man has not gone through transformation, he has not gone through the transition of moving from analogue to digital. The man cannot speak the language of the world, the modern world. So, for me that is automatic disqualification. And for a man who did a coup against his father land, I don’t want to hear about it that a tyrant should come and rule us again. So the soldiers, they have done their best let others try. Babangida was there forever, Obasanjo was there forever, Buhari was there. Are telling us we don’t have other people in Nigeria? Because that is what it means, if you look from Gen. Yakubu Gowon till date apart from Alhaji Shehu Shagari, every other person probably has been a soldier.

Recently, Rev. Chris Okotie said Nigeria politics is being controlled by the elitism, satanism and mysticism, what is your perception about this?

I have always maintained that Nigeria is a Mafiadom. There are probably about 10 mafia groups: We the Ota Mafia, led by Obasanjo. We have the Langtang Mafia with the likes of Generals Theophilus Danjuma, Yakubu Gowon and Senate President, David Mark has joined them at that level. And of course, you have the Yoruba Mafia led by Bola Tinubu. You have the North West Mafia, they are also divided into four: You have the Sultanate, the Emirate and others. You have the North East Mafia, when you go there you will see Senator Jubril Aminu, Bamanga Tukur, Adamu Ciroma and others. For me, I believe, you must be accepted and acceptable to maybe seven out of the 10 groups. Fortunately, I am one of the few non controversial candidates today. I am a bridge builder. I have been able to reach every nook and cranny of Nigeria; I have been able to touched lives the way Abiola touched lives. If I go to Sultanate Mafia, they will never see me as an enemy. My name will not create panic in them. Politics is a game of interest. Why do you think everybody wants to put their person in power, they want the person that can protect their interest. But in my case, my decision is to protect the interest of Nigerians, not the interest of few people. I would provide an enabling environment, we will provide a level playing field for everybody, those days when few people would take what belong to millions are gone. But unlike a Buhari or a Nuhu Ribadu, I am not going to create panic or run people out of town, Buhari is already saying that, that those who want to run away should be prepared. To me, I feel that is reckless, that is unfortunate. My attitude is that we need a healer who can bind our wound our wound have festered enough, you need a man to bind those wound, you need a man who would create joy and jubilation. You need a leader that from day one will enjoy the confidence of the people. Most of the leaders we have now are leaders who will further create tension. Those who hate Jonathan hate him with a passion, those who hate Buhari hate him with a passion, those who hate Nuhu Ribadu hate him with a passion. Why? Because they have been in power, they either abused power or were corrupted by power. In my case, I am technocrat, not a politician, so I have no case to settle. A lot of the presidential candidates, they have a lot of course to settle with the people. People will do everything to prevent them. I will be a regular player who will deal with the people of Nigeria without fear or favour.

Read more here:
Momodu: Buhari, Ribadu not fit to rule Nigeria

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