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EXCLUSIVE: Why I’m Controversial – Pastor Tobi Adegboyega

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By Michael Effiong

No preacher in recent times has attracted as much attention as Pastor Tobi Adegboyega, the leader of the NXTION Family, which until June 2020 was better known as Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church, SPAC Nation or SPAC Nation Ministries.
The debonair man of God who heads the evangelical pentecostal Christian organisation that prides itself as feeding its flock more than mere gospel and turning them from the nadir to the zenith of life has been enmeshed in all manner of rumour-fueles controversies.
Interestingly, apart from the the fact that he has come out at all times smelling like a bouquet of roses, on account of his integrity and commitment to process, the attacks have actually propelled him and his organisation to great heights.

In this exclusive interview with The Boss, the stylish Pastor who is at home with street kids and ex convicts as he is with showbiz stars and board room titans, revealed why he believes he has been trailed by controversies and went on to make a startling revelation about the exotic cars and designer apparels that have become his signature. Excerpts

Why did you you step down as head of SPAC Nation?

I did that because, I did not want to be like those elders or black politicians who in their lifetimes do not hand over but allow death to take them away. I felt it was right and I knew that those who have been with me have come of age. I believed they had to be given the chance to be leaders.

That is number 1. Number two, we have expanded so much that I needed them to take up leadership that is closer to their age. So, we needed the family circle to continue. Those where the major reasons.

So what is your new role in the church now?

I oversee the work of the church globally. I am in charge of the expansion of the work. We are presently in 168 locations worldwide so it is difficult for me to continue to pastor just one church in London city, especially since I have done it for sixteen years, day in, day out.

I pastor the church globally and also train the leaders. We have over 300 leaders just in London alone. My job is to gather those 300 and give them constant training, an overview of their duties and the building of families in a church setting.

A lot of people do not understand how SPAC Nation works. What is the format? You know it is not a regular church and people quarrel with what they don’t understand?

Before I explain the format, people must understand that we are a response to something. SPAC Nation birthed as a response to something that affected young people.

There were so many young people who were going astray; who were getting into all kinds of fraud and things like that.

I grew up in the church and I know what it was like as a youth to be disconnected from the church because most young people will say church was boring.

It does not create jobs for them, it doesn’t give them any hope in the future, other than just spirituality and the hope that God will do something in their lives in the future, which may not be.

Our format in a nutshell is that we are consistently responding to the situation of these youths and we have created a path for their prosperity.

Therefore, we responded to that situation first from Queen’s Road, Peckham. Queen’s Road at the time was very notorious, police couldn’t deal with it. I started to gather young people in that area until the crime rate reduced.

The efficient way we reduced crime led us to the structure. It was the same way we reduced crime in Peckham, that we reduced crime in Benton and Croydon.
I knew that if young people can find hope, practical hope, then crime will reduce in those areas. Our format in a nutshell is that we are consistently responding to the situation of these youths, and we have created a path for their prosperity.

You bring few young people together, some of them had just come out of jail, the reoffending rate in London is the highest in the entire western world. So, it means that when they come out of jail, they would keep going back again and again, so we had to find a way to break that circle.

We had to reduce or break that by giving them businesses by coming together as a community.

I started by borrowing money for the top three business ideas of our people here. I gave it to them, and they invested in business, when they did that, they did not go back into crime.

We got those people out of crime, and we repeated that template over and over again in the past sixteen years.

In the beginning, I borrowed 1,000 pounds or 2000 pounds but now, they have grown it to millions of pounds. The pastor I handed over to; I started his business; it is called Zuriel UK; it is a recruitment business, he built that from whatever amount we started with at the time, now it is worth millions. The company was featured by Financial Times in 2017.

They did a piece titled, “Streetwise Approach For young people” or something like that. The three people who started with me as part of the SPAC Nation family then included one politician that we raised, the Zuriel founder and another major gang leader that had a Chauffeuring company.

The format is that we have many Senior Pastors, we have many houses in the UK, the houses are Economic Development Centres.

I give you an example, we have a house called the House of Medics. It is led by a lady Surgeon who graduated First Class in the UK. That House is to encourage young people that are interested in the medical field to get mentored.

Like I said, we came as a response to something. We have girls who got pregnant at 14, 15; their boyfriends would have been or is in jail. So we found out that instead of just preaching to these kinds of people alone, which is what the regular churches do, we create alternatives for them.

The efficient way we reduced crime led us to the structure. It was the same way we reduced crime in Peckham, that we reduced crime in Benton and Croydon

If they say they want to be medical doctors or any part of the medical field, we lead them to the House of Medics. There, they see people who look like them, they are black, the are Africans; Nigerians, Congolese, they see them active, working in the church and also studying. They will realize that if these people’s lives can change, theirs can too.

Essentially, what you do is give hope to people who are in a state of hopelessness?

Absolutely. In practical terms that is what we do. Churches too move people from hopelessness to hope, they preach and pray. But what we do is apart from the praying and preaching, we have created systems that can practically launch and lead them to a different path.

I also have to add that the Home Office has asked us for our format and we have given them, they seem willing to adopt it. I have spoken at Number 10. From the Prime Minister, to senior officials, I have discussed what we do.

A whole documentary was done about our strategy on Sky TV and it is online, it is public. I was educating them about the House Structure. The Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, have led delegations to our church to learn the format for many many weeks.

So ours is a format that is tested and trusted and it has been on for sixteen years and counting.

From what you have said, SPAC Nation has indeed achieved laudable feats. How come, Pastor Tobi Adegboyega is trailed by so much controversies?

What I have done in this city, there is no single black person that has ever done it. All the offices here, they would always say there is no one person that is able to gather all these youths like I have done. The police used to say that everybody we want to talk to are with you.

I will say that I am black in a very difficult country. I am not naïve to think that good works will always lead to good accolades. There were over 1000 youths in Chelsea yesterday (November 11, 2021) for my birthday. All the major people in this country were there. But I also understand that every movement has controversies.

Everything that is unusual is controversial. We have been doing our work for years but it was 2016 that we grew very exponentially and the work became very obvious with all the barrage of accusations and rumours.

BBC came and did 5 to 6 positive documentaries on SPAC Nation, then they decided to do one negative one.

All those who took part in the first five wrote to the BBC when they discovered their motive that they were not going to part of this one, but BBC decided to do it all the same.

And of course, as humans, we then had some people from the church who said this and that happened. We have been very open, we have been investigated many times and since that 2017 not one charge, not one allegation proven. Not one.

And I am sure you know how the British media operates, not one person has been charged for any wrongdoing. So these are just rumours, we are not perfect but if it was a white person’s charity, gathering thousands of youths and turning their lives around, they would not be treated this way.

Are you saying there is a tinge of racism in the allegations and accusations that has been levelled against you and SPAC Nation? That you are being hounded because you are black?

Oh yes! Definitely. There is no question about that. We have saved the British government 210 million Pounds since 2019. We have given the government ammunitions and weapons, knives, guns etc (160). We have situations where people will not surrender their guns unless I am there.

The Police would have to call me before they will surrender. That is a lot of power. I have announced at a rally where we had thousands of young people that things will come against us.

I study movements, I have studied movements all my life, there is no way in the world that you are going to do what we are doing in a strange country that is not your country of birth and not have things come up against or thrown at you.

There was a lady who used to live with me and she got pregnant at the age of 15, you can imagine how heartbroken she was. She was able to overcome that situation, and in 2019, we encouraged her to take to politics and she later decided to stand for an election.

When she went for the office in Croydon. I went with her to the Conservative Party Convention, and I was sitting right behind Boris Johnson, the video is online. The Labour Party then believed that I was Conservative and they started all the rumours.

The Labour politician put it clearly, that he felt I wanted to expand our evangelical zeal in Croydon. Many people from his party did not support his position and I told him.

Look, Labour Party members have been to the SPAC Nation, Conservative Party members have been to the SPAC Nation and other parties too, apart from the current one, there is no serious candidate aspiring for Mayor of London that has not been to the SPAC Nation.

We usually give the opportunity to everybody but he is the one that led the charge against me and against the Nation as we call ourselves because he thinks I want to get involved in politics.

Is it the MP Steve Reed that you are referring to?

Yes.

Ok, what of the stories that you Pastor Tobi are hypnotizing these youths? What medicine are you using on them?

I am not using any medicine. It looks strange to them and they are all surprised at how far we have come because they just cannot connect with these young people.

And I can tell you why they can’t. I will start with our churches. They cannot connect with them because they do not care. When you have a church filled with young people there is no money.

So what church will spend its time on young people that can’t bring money, young people that look like they have no future.

Secondly, I went to Number 10 and we had a talk about helping young people and reducing crime. When I walked out of the door of Number 10, I was with three Special Advisers for Theresa May and one Adviser of Boris Johnson, this again is online, I realized in the course of that talk that many do not understand that before you can change a person’s life you have to connect with that person.

What I have is that I can connect with the youths. If you can connect with someone, he or she will love you. I have just been plain.

All my life in the UK, even when I was a kitchen porter here in London, washing plates and sleeping on the floor, young people have always flocked around me because of how I relate with them.

These same young people who were on the floor, some of them have graduated First Class in Computer Engineering, some of them have become millionaires, so why would they not love me?

I live my life with them. If you can be open and plain with people, especially young people, they will love you.

At the moment I live in my house with about 20 people. If you are with them you will understand them, you will connect. That is what we have done, young people figure things out quickly, they are rebels naturally.

I love young people and I know how to connect with them. Maybe that is my medicine.

People say your lifestyle is ostentatious, that you are lavish and flashy, you ride expensive sports cars etc. How did you go from washing plates to riding a Lamborghini and living like a super star?

Let me first explain to you the philosophy behind it all. Rappers rap about all kinds of things, especially in UK and US. There is a genre of music here called Drill, which talks about killing people, doing all kinds of terrible things and a lot of crime is incited through the music.

These guys drive the best cars, they are flashy and people follow them because of these things, so we thought we should do what they do and even be better, while also spreading the right message. So instead of people trooping to them, they will come to us.

Have you seen the marlian movement in Nigeria?

It is huge

Exactly, they have their own lifestyle. But the church, we lock our selves in the room, we would not reckon with them. I know many Pastor-friends in Nigeria, who have Bentleys and Rolls Royces, but hide them. I cannot do that.

We were lucky early enough to understand the language of these youths, whatever people criticize, I do not care, I go for it if it fits my purpose.

I am not naïve to think that good works will always lead to good accolades. There were over 1000 youths in Chelsea yesterday (November 11, 2021) for my birthday. All the major people in this country were there. But I also understand that every movement has controversies.

Let me tell you, before 2016, we started investing in Crypto currency, again as a result of my association with these youths, everybody was laughing at us. I said guys lets focus, at the end, we ended up taking so many people off the streets, and set them up in business with what was made from that investment. Now we have our own internal loan system that I launched yesterday.

Anyone that wants to start a business, we would give a loan without any interest. We are doing this with Knightshield which is one of the businesses started by one of the Pastors.

The ostentatious lifestyle like you call it is all about me, but trust me, I am not materialistic. I have never cared about material things.

There are people around me that we have raised over the years, I promote stuff for people, all the luxury items for example. I have never bought a car.

Really, this is shocking to hear?

That is the truth. I have never bought a car and I have never owned a car, I don’t have a car, that should be on record. But people will see you with cars and speculate. There are people in the Nation family who own these things.

Cuts: So all those Porsche, Lamborghini, and others that you cruise around town are gifts?

No they are not gifts. They are owned by businesses or people in the church. If I drive them, I speak about them or their businesses and people will patronize them, that is what has been happening.

For example, the guy who designs for Louis Vuitton, he sends me stuff all the time and say “just wear it” and talk about it.

Earlier you said you don’t have a car, how does a man of your status move around?

Like I said earlier, I have got people. I want to prove it to the world that when you have done things for people, helped people, you will have no problem. I don’t have a house anywhere else in the world except the UK. And that is the house I said I live with about 20 people, but when I get to anywhere in the world, I have people who are ready to offer all kinds of things to make me comfortable.

I don’t leave my house and go all about. If I wake up today and say I want 10 Louis Vuitton shoes, I will get 150, but I don’t need it because I have more than enough. That is my formula.

I know you have stated that there have been investigations by various agencies but no one has been charged, but there is the one about the Charity Commission that occurred in 2020, what is the update?

Charity Commission keeps asking us the same question. They are confused.

Is SPAC Nation in charge of its financials or that responsibility is handled by Charity Commission?

We are in charge of our financials 100 per cent. Charity Commission has not done anything and I can assure that they cannot do anything because they rushed in because of some rumours in the public space and they underestimated us because we are young and black.

They saw receipts of ten years, and not one thing missing and I will challenge them publicly anytime, anywhere. We had 10-year records all in tact, they assumed they will definitely find something, but we surprised them with our efficiency.

They don’t even talk to us, they will write every now and then and ask us for details, and the Board will write back that we have sent you these same details months ago, then they will say sorry. Public embarrassment is why they have not come out to apologize to us.

How have the harassments, because you are young and black, as you have termed it, and the controversies affected you?

I will be sincere, these things have affected us positively. 2017 was when all these started at a time we had one base in London, now we are in 168 around the world, finances have more than tripled. In 2019 we started with 6 houses as we call it, now we have close to 50.

SPAC Nation now cannot hold a service in London City any longer and the reason is, there is no place big enough to contain us.

So it has made us grow more. If you follow me to the street in London City, you will see the welcome. From the rappers, to the showbiz people, until the harassment started, these people did not even know us, those who like us, have liked us passionately. There is no Pastor who will be on Drill music but rappers put me on their songs, they invite me for video shoots, and I usually oblige them after they will agree that they will not sing what they used to sing.

So you have entered the pop culture and influenced even their messaging?

Yes sir. Santan Dave, and many of them, there is another group called MSG, and even Nigerian musicians too, they were all still with me yesterday. They are all able to flow with me.

So, the persecutions have been a blessing for us. Look, I love the media; BBC, MTV Base and many more have done documentaries on us. MTV for instance – when they did theirs, they set up camera in our houses for days. We gave them unrestricted access.

When BBC wanted to do the negative one, they did not come to us once, you cannot call that journalism, that is not fair. You have to hear the other side.

Reggie was the MTV guy when they came, everybody thought he would come out of SPAC and expose them and destabilize them, but he came himself to say he was impressed.

Yes, we are in the pop culture, we are in the fashion, those are the things I wanted church and pastors to get into. I was moved by many young people who were losing there lives and I felt there has to be an icon they can look up to, that they can access to that is why I do what I do to be in their space.

I am available for them. When I finish service, there are 1000 people, 2000 people there, I stand at the back door and everybody who wishes comes around and we talk. I take pictures and everybody can talk to me about everything and anything. Everybody has my phone number, the whole of London city has my phone number.

Wow, so you are that accessible?

110 per cent. People DM me and I reply them, people ask me to come for their birthdays, the ones that I can, I oblige them. So we did not create a demi-god structure.

What would you say have been the impact of SPAC Nation on London, and indeed the world?

We have raised leaders. Young people that many have termed useless, the forgotten people that many felt would not amount to anything have become something in the community.

We have changed their lives, and they are now doing exceptionally well. When I tell the story of Zuriel UK, when I tell the story of Knightshield, the payment platform. When I tell the story of many other platforms, I say that these are people that had no chance, they had no hope but someone believed in them and turned their lives around and they are doing same for others.

What has been the impact from London city to the world is that there is now a place that believes in youths, a place that believes that young people can lead, that they can be prosperous, that they can also impact their own community no matter the circumstances.

We have through our work showed that even if you run into hard times, it should not be the end of your life. No matter how low you have fallen, you can rise again.

You have painted a very rosy picture of SPAC NATION, but have you had cases were this formula did not work and what lessons did you learn?

Many cases. Like I said we only got popular in 2016. Before then, we have been working and sometimes it looked like our format is not working. The lessons learnt is that if you keep doing what is your own conviction rather than what is popular, then you will get there. Because almost everybody was telling me, you see this format you have adopted, your church will not have money, etc, but I was determined that we will keep going even if it is not a popular way of doing it.

My conviction was what I followed, we started many businesses that did not work out, people came and said all manner of things, but I just told them guys, let us keep moving.

In 2016 we grew from about 200 to more than 2000 within a year because of our philosophy. Our time came and of course, the persecution came, but we have learnt to keep our focus.

Ok what of the issue of blood for seeds, where it was alleged that you asked your members to donate blood, get paid and donate the cash to your church?

Honestly, I don’t know where that came from. I have asked people, please present the prove that we said so, show me where I gave such a directive.
I even told myself maybe I said it but I had forgotten and told them to bring evidence. All our services are online, we have over 3000 messages on sound cloud, it is a young people’s church so we are very tech savvy.

I have never said anything like that, we are very blessed. We do not take tithe or offering. We have never passed around basket at our services never.

So how do you make money to run the church and accomplish so much?

Like I said we have been blessed by those whose lives we have touched. Let me just say that over the years, we have made wise investments.

You launched a waste to wealth project in Nigeria in 2019, how far have you gone with it?

We have many projects and that was one of it. We were really pushing it but we hit road blocks because of the Nigerian factor. We were not prepared to bribe anybody to get things done, so it stalled.

As we speak, we have a centre we are building in the Lekki Phase One area of Lagos, I think it is going to be the biggest hub for young people there. We are hoping to complete it in January by God’s grace.

It will be a tech and finance hub. What we tend to do is we would employ about 100-150 people, and it will be powered by major companies in the UK. We want to develop new finance leaders.

We just want to take people off the streets and make an example of them. That is a major project we are doing in Nigeria at moment.

On Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, we have some acres of land that we intend to build studios, a major media centre. That will take us about a year to build. In Nigeria, we can help close to 100,000 youths in the next four years.

This Tech and finance hub you are building in Nigeria, will it follow the same SPAC Nation template of reforming gang leaders, ex convicts and the like?

To start with, we have to lay the foundation which is why we would have to first employ people, have some kind of stability, so we can have the system in place first. They would form the backbone of the whole concept.

Like I said, since we are starting with a fintech centre, it has to be occupied by people who have gone to the university and people like that. But we would still come round to those people you mentioned. I love people who are from deprived background, it is natural to me. I like people who have been cast away and who people dismiss as cannot amount to anything in life.

I like to work with these kinds of people until they become something, but the structure of the project are the ones that will kick start the process before we begin helping people.

Tell us about your 41st birthday, what was all that show of lining up exotic sports cars about?

I did not want to do anything for my birthday, but my sons and daughters came out. Like I do every year, I have done the widows, the homeless, sent money to Africa and everywhere. And we also fed the people. By the way we have the biggest food bank in London, the young people’s food bank, so we have done all that and I was just going for church service.

So they said ok, you would have your church service but we would just drive with you to church. Imagine, I was in my hotel room having fun, when the hotel came to inform me that downstairs was chaotic that there were many people lined up with cars, and people from everywhere were coming to take pictures and all that.

So I said sorry to the hotel staff, and when I came downstairs, I saw all the church leaders and some our friends who have come just to drag me out to go to the church service with me.

How did that make you feel? Were you embarrassed by all that attention?

I felt really proud. I knew the people with all these cars, I knew where there were coming from. At first, I felt embarrassed, but I then said you know what, let us have fun, these people have come to honour me and that was when I said let us give those people who talk, a little tension, and decided to video it.

Since we cannot go to the night club and pop champagne, we can go to the church to worship the Lord, so I said let us go in style and we all went. I was really proud of the show of love that day. I was honestly proud because I know many of the people who own those cars that you all saw, I know where we are all coming from.

Tell us about the internal loan scheme that you launched on your birthday?

One day, I had just finished service and they brought a guy to see me. This guy is one of the most brilliant young men I have ever met in UK because of his academic records. He was an A stars student. He got admission into Harvard, and he could not go because there was no money.

He went to Prince’s Trust, they could not help. So I said, lets help him. He thought I had the money, I did not have but we raised it and gave him the money to go to Harvard. He is in Harvard at the moment.
So we began to think, that there would be many people like this, and so we needed a structure.

You know at the beginning, I borrowed money, gave to the guys for business, eventually, if the businesses do not fly, it was a problem for me, but we got a business started, it is called Knightshield, as the business grew. We had some influential people in the country, so the profit from that business is what I thought let us keep something internally for people within our system.

We have given money in the past and it was in a structured way, especially since the country is loan based, people use mortgages, buy cars at higher purchase etc, I do not want us to be going outside; let us be giving ourselves loan.

If someone has an idea, Knightshield will loan the person the money instead of going to Barclays and the rest, they do not even give young black people loans anyway, and they can use it to develop their businesses and then return it so it would revolve and also others can benefit. It is an interest free loan.

Like I said yesterday, ensure your feasibility study is right, your business plan is right instead of going to the bank, we would look at your proposal. I put the first money there, 100,000 pounds yesterday. And I know others will show interest. I am sure if we do this, crime will further reduce.

You have spoken so glowing about your integrity and credibility in a subtle manner while discussing the way and manner you have sourced loans for your members over the years, how come many people are not out there defending you or people don’t see this side of you?

I am not sure people see any side of me (Laughs ). Some people just believe what they tell them. The people we have worked with over the years have trusted us and they are not necessarily people who can go on social media.

Not many people can come on the social media and start talking. For example, you do not expect someone like the Chairman of HSBC to go on the internet and start talking.

I understand that dynamic and I feel proud and happy that we have worked with people and have kept our integrity intact. Yes, there are people who may not be happy with certain things, but there are people that I know personally that I have made money for. I have made money for big companies and made money for many banks too.

Imagine sir, I can mention five to six companies when they are looking for staff to recruit, they come to SPAC Nation because we have the best of people.

One of our Pastors is the Chief Strategy Officer of the second largest insurance company in the world, this kind of person cannot jump on social media and start talking about me or SPAC Nation. She holds that position because they know she is smart. We have very smart people at SPAC NATION, When they read some of these things; those who trust us just dismiss them.

God has brought you this far, what else do you want from God, what else are you aspiring to achieve?

I want God to make Africa the pride of the world. I want us to have great leaders. I know that it may sound patronizing, but the sum total of my 16-17 year journey in this town is to raise leaders for Africa. I know that this cannot be done without money. If we are to raise money, we have to invest in businesses, we are looking at political and business leaders.

At the moment, some of them are in Oxford, and other schools, I am asking God that when the time comes, can you help me mold these young people, hold their hands and put them in positions of financial and political influence, that is all I am asking from God.

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How Ozekhome Took on FG over Fuel Subsidy Removal 37 Years Ago

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Constitutional Lawyer and human rights advocate, Prof Mike Ozekhome SAN,  has narrated how, 37 years ago, he took on the Federal Government of Nigeria over the removal of fuel subsidy in his continuous and sustained efforts to advocate the interest of every Nigerian and the good of the country.

The narration is presented in the eye of the learned silk as presented below:

MIKE OZEKHOME, A NIGERIAN WHO ALWAYS PEERS INTO THE FUTURE FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY

As far back as December 29, 1987 (37 years ago), Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, had already taken on the Federal Government of Nigeria on behalf of the Nigerian masses regarding the issue of subsidy removal on petroleum products.

Ozekhome had sued the then military dictator, President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, joining the then Ahmed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) and the Attorney General of the Federation, against removal of petroleum subsidy. This is a matter that is still generating ripples across Nigeria till date, as it is the likewire, heart and soul of the Nigerian economy.

Ozekhome had argued that it was a misnomer for government to talk about removing oil or petroleum subsidy since no one can subsidize his God-given natural product. He had posited that the government did not take cognisance of the fact that oil was produced in Nigeria as against the countries copiously cited by the government where oil was supposedly cheaper.

He had also argued that government’s position was akin to a farmer measuring his piece of yam before eating it by comparing its worth or price with what it is sold to people who do not themselves produce yams. He further argued that government’s argument as put forth in the media was not enough to warrant any sudden or gradual withdrawal of petroleum subsidy. The Honourable Justice Idowu Agoro, then of the High Court of Lagos State, disagreed with Ozekhome in his ruling on the preliminary objection filed by late Moshood Adio, the then Director of Civil litigation (later Chief Judge of Oyo State and Justice of the Supreme Court of the Gambia). He struck out the suit on 29th December, 1987. The government through Adio had argued that Ozekhome lacked the locus standi to institute the action; that the action was speculative; and that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case. The court agreed with him and held that no citizen could question or prevent “the merit, desirability or expediency” of anything done or planned to be by the country’s president or the Ahmed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC).

The court also ruled that the decision “whether or not to to remove subsidy on petroleum is a matter within the absolute power of the AFRC which no court could dabble into”. He however, ended by assuring the plaintiff (Ozekhome) that all hope was not lost “since the record of the present military regime showed that it was a listening government”, and that he believed “all shades of opinion would be considered and evaluated before taking a decision on whether or not to remove the subsidy on petroleum”.

That optimism was apparently not shared by the IBB regime as the government went ahead anyway to remove the subsidy and hike prices of petroleum products on four different consecutive occasions -1986- from 20k to 39.5k per litre; 1988, from 39.5k to 42k); 1989, from 42k to 60k; and 1991, from 60k to 70k). These increases in the fuel price per litre triggered mass protests across the streets by Nigerians who kicked against the IMF-dictated economic policy. A littre today sells anything between N620 and N850. Had the then government up to the present one listened, Nigeria would not be in her dire straits today.

Thus, what Prof Ozekhome saw and fought for in 1987 (37 years ago) has come to hunt us ever since and even till date. This is like the case of a motion for return to the old more meaningful and aggregative National Anthem which he had also championed and won by the consensus of the 492 delegates on the 2nd of July, 2014, at the 2014 National Confab. This eventually came to pass ten years later on 28th May, 2024, when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assented to a bill that returned the old National anthem.

Surely, some patriots sit down, think and plan ahead for the good of the Nigerian nation. Following is the National Concord newspaper report of the story as published on December 30, 1987.

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Democracy Day: Full Text of President Tinubu’s Speech

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President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday addressed Nigerians on Democracy Day for the second time since he assumed office on May 29, 2024.

In his speech, the President honoured heroes of democracy, rallied Nigerians to support his administration’s efforts to strengthen the economy and informed citizens that a bill for a new minimum wage will be sent to the National Assembly soon, among other things.

Read his full speech below:

TEXT OF PRESIDENT BOLA TINUBU’S NATIONAL BROADCAST ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF UNBROKEN DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA,

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DEMOCRACY DAY, 12TH JUNE, 2024
ABUJA

My fellow Nigerians, let me begin by congratulating all of us for witnessing the celebration of another Democracy Day today, the twelfth day of June 2024. This year also marks our nation’s 25 years of uninterrupted democratic governance.

On this day, 31 years ago, we entered our rites of passage to becoming a true and enduring democratic society.

Going through this passage was hard and dangerous. During the fateful six years that followed, we fought and struggled for our natural rights as human beings put on this earth by the divine hand of our Creator.

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We lost great heroes and heroines along the way. In this struggle, the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, the most significant symbol of our democratic struggle, his wife, Kudirat, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, and Pa Alfred Rewane amongst other sacrificed their very lives.

They bravely surrendered their futures, so that our nation might have a better one.

Let us honour the memories of Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Frank Kokori, Chief Bola Ige, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani, and others who have transited to the higher realm.

The sacrifices of General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Professor Wole Soyinka, Chief Ralph Obioha, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, among many others, should never be forgotten. For at least six years, they bore the pains and difficulties of life in exile.

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While the exiled pro-democracy activists kept the fire burning, their comrades at home sustained the pressure on the military leadership. Among the latter are Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana, Abdul Oroh, Senator Shehu Sani, Governor Uba Sani, Chief Olu Falae, and other National Democratic Coalition leaders such as Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Ayo Opadokun.

The sacrifices they made, and the precious gift brought about by their selfless devotion can neither be repaid nor forgotten.

We could not have won the battle against dictatorship without the irrepressible Nigerian journalists who mounted the barricades along with the pro-democracy activists. We celebrate them today, along with their media establishments such as The Punch, Guardian, National Concord, Tribune, The News/Tempo, and TELL Magazines. The undemocratic government of the day proscribed these media establishments and jailed their journalists for standing for free speech and civil liberties and the sanctity of the June 12 elections.

Despite the lethal might of the authoritarian government, what appeared to be high and unyielding walls of dictatorship came tumbling down. The dismal fortress exists no longer.

The power of an idea, the power of the people proved more potent than all the guns, the munitions, and the threats of the strongmen.

The nation exited the yoke of dictatorship in 1999 to become the most populous democracy on African soil, the beacon of democratic self-determination for the black race and one of the largest democracies in the world.

This change stands as a pivotal moment in human history. From this change, we shall never turn, nor shall the annals of mankind’s progress forget the sublime meaning of this great moment.

Today, 25 years later. we celebrate the silver anniversary of our journey in democracy.

We have steadied the course. Democracy is neither a foreign nor abstract concept devoid of real-life meaning for us. Neither can we afford to reduce or minimalize it to being nothing but the mere holding of periodic elections where one candidate and party outdo another.

While elections attract dramatic attention, they are but one aspect of democracy. Democracy is a way of life that encompasses a broad outlook of which elections are but a part. As such, a nation can have elections without being democratic. But a nation cannot be truly democratic without holding elections.

That we have established a tradition of holding transparent, open, and fair elections gives credence to our democratic standing. That we have experienced peaceful transitions of government affirms our democratic temperament.

Fellow Nigerians, true democracy shines its light into the daily lives of the people who live under its nurturing wings. It affords us the freedom and liberty to think as we want, live where we want and pursue whatever legitimate endeavour that suits us.

Democracy does not assume some false or forced unity of opinion. In fact, democracy assumes that conflicting ideas and differing opinions shall be the order of the day. Given the diversity and variety of the human experience, there must be diverse perspectives and viewpoints.

What democracy demands is that we do not resolve differences through force and repression. But we make allowance for the legitimacy of views that differ from our own.

The other forms of government impose against the will of the people, democracy aims to make leaders who conduct themselves as servants of the common good, not as viceroys of the narrow interests of the mighty.

My dear compatriots, Nigeria faced a decision of untold gravity twenty-five years ago: Whether to veer toward a better destination or continue aimlessly in the fog of dictatorship.

We made the right choice then. We must continue with that choice now.

As Nigerians, we must remind ourselves that no matter how complicated democracy may be, it is the best form of governance in the long run. We must also be aware that there are those among us who will try to exploit current challenges to undermine, if not destroy, this democracy for which so much has already been given.

This is the great battle of our day and the major reason we specially celebrate this day as Democracy Day.

The true meaning of this day is not to focus solely on the great deeds of the past that have brought us to this point.

Yes, we pay eternal honour to those who laid down their lives, sacrificing everything to pave the way for the nation.

I stand uniquely placed in this regard. I was among those who took the risk to midwife the birth of our democracy. I am now a direct and obvious beneficiary of the fruits of those historic efforts.

As president of this nation, I am morally and constitutionally bound to preserve this precious form of governance. I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria.

Even more than that, I pledge to do what is necessary to cement democracy as our way of life.

Although the challenges are steep and multiple, I am grateful to lead Nigeria at this moment in her history and point in her democratic journey.

I come before you also to declare that our most important work remains before us. This real test has never been whether we would rise to challenge the slings of misfortune and grievous pain of dictatorship.

The real test is whether we shall lower our guards and fail to defend democracy as the shadow of despotism and its evident physical danger fade.

I say to you here and now that as we celebrate the enshrinement of our political democracy, let us commit ourselves to the fulfilment of its equally important counterpart, the realization of our economic democracy.

I understand the economic difficulties we face as a nation.

Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundations and over-reliance on revenues from exploitation of oil.

The reforms we have initiated are intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth. There is no doubt the reforms have occasioned hardship. I feel your pains. Yet, they are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour.

As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.

In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an Executive Bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government of the past would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

Nobody was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themselves shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.

I take on this vital task without fear or favour and I commit myself to this work until we have built a Nigeria where no man is oppressed.

In the end, our national greatness will not be achieved by travelling the easy road. It can only be achieved by taking the right one.

The words of the American President Franklin Roosevelt certainly ring true:

“There are many ways of going forward. But only one way of standing still”!

We dare not slumber lest the good things awaiting our immediate future pass us by. We dare not plant our feet in idle standstill in the middle of the intersection of hope and despair.

We know the proper way forward and we shall take it!

The initial rays of a brighter tomorrow now appear on the horizon. An abundant future and our capacity to achieve that future lies within our reach. Democracy and the institutions it begets offer to take us to our profound destination.

Let us board this progressive train together. Together, let us move Nigeria forward.

Let’s continue to keep the fire of democracy burning. Let’s keep the torch lit for generations to come.

May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and preserve our democracy.

I wish us all Happy Democracy Day.

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Dangote Refinery: Akpabio Pledges NASS Protection, Says Dangote Silenced Detractors by Completing Project

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The Senate leadership yesterday described the 650,000bpd Dangote Petroleum Refinery as the 9th wonder of the world but came hard on those who are skeptical of the completion of Dangote Petroleum Refinery describing them as dream killers.

Indeed, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who led the leadership of the 10th Senate on a tour of the Refinery in Lagos said detractors of the refinery have all been silenced and that indeed, previous governments have been put to shame with the completion of the project.

He assured that the National Assembly will give it what it takes to protect the project because its one project that Nigeria and indeed Africa should take the ownership and must be protected jealously.

Commending Alhaji Aliko Dangote for completing the construction of the largest single train refinery in the world in a record time, the Senate President said Dangote deserved all the accolades for this feat noting that ordinary residence of Nigeria’s Vice-President could not be completed until after 14 years.

Said he: “They told us in Abuja that Dangote Refinery is farce but we have come here and see for ourselves that the refinery is alive and running. Dangote has put to shame a lot of people. They are wondering how it will be possible for a single individual to accomplish what a whole nation could not accomplish; what 240 million people could not maintain; what a continent could not do and then one person will build 650,000bpd project.

“They keep wondering how one person can succeed where nations have failed; where continent has failed. But Dangote has done it. It is highly commendable. We came to see the refinery because we in the current senate believe in the Nigerian dream. We didn’t come as a doubting Thomas but we came because we believe the project, we came to rekindle the hope of Nigerians and the Nigerian’s can do spirit.”

Senator Akpabio stated that the whole Nigeria couldn’t make refineries function in Kaduna, Pot Harcourt, Warri, but that Dangote and his team have proven that it is possible to dream and achieve it in Nigeria.”
Akpabio said the shame that came with the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1958 has been removed by Dangote alluding to a report that India does not have oil but his refineries from where the country exports refined products. The inability of the nation to refine its oil has brought untold hardship on Nigerians so much so that Belgian government recently ban the exportation of dirty and condemned fuel to the country to West African country just because we can’t refine our own products.

Describing the refinery as quite unbelievable, Senator Akpabio who was sandwiched by other senators comprising of the Deputy Senate President, Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele and a host of others said the Senate and the entire National Assembly would come up with a robust legislation that would protect the project and others like it.

He stated: “Mr. Dangote, I pity you a lot because even your friends will envy you simply because they will keep wondering how can you succeed when nations, and continents have failed? Now that we have seen for ourselves, we are here to announce our own endorsement of this major project. It is also shocking to see that we produce sufficient fertilisers for Nigeria and enough to be exported.

“As I said we will do our report and we will speak to Mr President to put a stop to fertisliser import to Nigeria. You will hear from us soon.”

Also speaking, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, enthused that it is a privilege that the refinery happened in “our time, our state and our country. People talk about dreams, but only few can make it happen. Dangote has put Lagos State and the whole of Nigeria on the world map of excellence.

“I am happy the senate came to see for themselves; Dangote was not ready to rest after successfully building the largest cement factory chain in Africa, second largest sugar refinery in the world. With investment like this, I can assure you that we are on the right path to meet the projected GDP of $1trn by 2030.

“You have the key to city, I have given you long time ago and I am happy you are using it very well,” Governor Sanwo-Olu stated.
In his remark, Mr. Dangote explained that the “visit could not have come at a more auspicious time than now just as the organization is in the process of bringing the various units of this complex integrated refining processes on stream, an eagerly awaited move.”

He stated further that the Dangote Refinery “produces a wide range of high-quality petroleum products, including premium motor spirit (petrol), diesel, kerosene, and jet fuel, all meeting the highest international standards (Euro V Grade). The Refinery apart from adding value to our crude oil, will yield 900,000 KTPA of Polypropylene and 36,000 KTPA of Sulphur and carbon black as by products.

“The Refinery will help boost Nigeria’s economic growth, with the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs. During the construction stage, it supported over 150,000 jobs, made up of mostly Nigerians. These Nigerians in the process acquired various skills that are still useful in other construction projects.

“The capacity of the refinery is enough to satisfy domestic demands for refined products. The Refinery will export about 50 per cent of its production thereby generating foreign exchange for the country. It will lead to growth in adjacent sectors such as logistics, shipping, engineering, and servicing.

“The Refinery has the requisite capacity to provide energy security both by providing a ready home for our crude and in ensuring steady availability of petroleum products for all. Nigerians will also get to partake in the financial returns once we list the Refinery on the NGX.

“We are thus making an important contribution to this administration’s plan to grow our GDP to $1 trillion.

“Our Group is at the vanguard of job creation and employment generation in Nigeria. We are the biggest employer of labour after the Federal Government. Dangote Cement sustains about 70,000 (Seventy thousand) direct and indirect jobs across Africa, while the Refinery, Petroleum Chemical Complex and Fertiliser will be able to create over 150,000 (One hundred and fifty thousand) direct and indirect jobs.
“We have remained one of the biggest contributors to government coffers as our three subsidiaries, Dangote Cement, Dangote Sugar Refinery and NASCON Allied Industries paid a total of N788.98 billion as tax and N276 billion in VAT in three years.
“We envision in Nigeria the equivalent of Jamnagar in India where crude oil refining is the backbone of specialised industrial zones, transportation networks, and ancillary industries, contributing to the overall industrialisation of the region. Or Saudi Arabia’s Jubail Industrial City, which is also undergirded by large scale petrochemical complexes.

“The Legislature has a great role to play in this. Globally, the Legislature plays a great role in protecting and supporting domestic industry. I am sure that the members of the 10th National Assembly are more than equal to the task. Supporting the Refinery secures the benefits. It will ensure energy security. As co-creators of value, we appreciate and acknowledge your consistent efforts in ensuring the enactment of vital laws promoting a conducive business environment in the nation,” he said.

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