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Dele Momodu: The Bridge Between the North and South

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By Eric Elezuo

As delegates troop out to decide who flies the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag in the 2023 presidential election, a few things, without a doubt, will be uppermost on their minds. The delegates, among many factors, will consider the aspirant whose pedigree transcends money politics; someone, who is not just thriving on grandiloquence, but has seasoned himself in personal development devoid of government funds. Someone who established stardom from scratch to bloom, someone who has international  connections, someone who is at home with the leading lights of entertainment and the corporate world without being a government official. Someone who has a second address, apologies to former Governor Donald Duke.

Without mincing, there are not two of such aspirants in the race. There is just one; he is the passionate journalist, and philanthropist par excellence, Aare Dele Momodu. He is one, who, if today’s votes are cast based on track record, he would sweep the stakes.

It is not hard to imagine the kind of person Aare Dele Momodu is. One needs not come close to him to feel the impact of his human nature and philanthropic open-handedness. His expressed love for the country Nigeria has been proven in many fora, not just in his regular write-ups but also in tangible situations, which has endeared him to the hearts of not a few countrymen across the six geo-political zones and the Diaspora.

Of course, he has travelled to over 60 countries of the world, and is equipped with experiences derived therein.

Once he was asked why he wants to be be president. He revealed among other things thus:

“The atmosphere in Nigeria now is so fouled up that nobody believes in Nigeria. The few people that have money would rather take it elsewhere to invest. For me, the first thing is to make sure that we have a star-studded cabinet of people of ideas. Everywhere in the world – even you will see that in America, they take their debates to one campus or another unlike Nigeria where you have to go to Transcorp building or the best hotel. No, the reason is because the intellectual pace of a country is what determines how serious you are. You must seek help from your brightest brains, and we have them everywhere. Go and get a good team. At Ovation, when we started in 1996, they told us it would not survive six months. But we made a promise that we would do it. What has sustained us is the fact that we were able to get a good team. We maintained a good team; we got the best filters; we got the best printers; the best cargo company. The next president of Nigeria must be the CEO of Nigeria, and must be a Brand manager. Nigeria needs rebranding. That’s what hope means. If you don’t have a leader who knows how to manage people and resources, then you just go and bring politicians. Then they will come and share all the portfolios. Then you cry for another three four years, and then they come again for the same process.”

Contesting the ticket to be president under the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Momodu, a celebrated journalist versed in both celebrity and general, has proven both in words and body language that he is the aspirant to beat across all party structures.

Beginning from the tail-end of 2021 when he threw his hat in the ring to contest the presidential election, Momodu has left no one in doubt that he has a lot of aces in his sleeves to make this country the better place.

He has showed that wrestling the ticket from some so-called political heavyweights and juggernauts in the party is a matter of sincerity, knowing that Nigerians are no longer interested in the old order, but are totally out for the real change.

In his statement declaring his intention to run for president, Momodu said

“Thanks for giving me the opportunity to present this epoch-making letter at very short notice. It is a palpable demonstration of your intellectual discipline, simplicity and cosmopolitan worldview, and our party is fortunate to have such a serious academic and patriot as our Chairman at this momentous period in the life of our troubled country. May God help you to lead us from glory to glory.

“In the last few days, there have been widespread speculations about my Presidential bid for second time. I have been greatly humbled by the excitement already generated which reminds me of how it was 29 years ago when your good friend and my own adopted father, Chief Moshood Abiola, threw his hat in the ring, it is very obvious that Nigerians are eager to restore that promise of hope and the accompanying peace and joy that we lost.

“The time has come for full reconciliation and forgiveness and a closure of our ugly past. Nigeria urgently requires a reset and a total redirection. With this letter. Sir, I wish to humbly put the speculations to rest by coming to you with every sense of purpose and responsibility

“After consultations with my family, friends and some stakeholders, I have arrived at the decision to contest the 2023 Presidential election on the platform of our great party. PDP, if selected as the Party’s candidate. 1 hasten to add that this is my personal decision, although I have received advice, encouragement and support from diverse quarters since I started my consultations.

“I therefore offer myself to the POP as the best aspirant to turn the fortunes of our esteemed party and our well endowed country around. In this regard, and with a deep sense of humility and profound respect, I urge the Party not to consider picking its candidate based on the usual considerations which had spectacularly failed our country in the past. The mood of the teeming youths, and indeed every patriotic Nigerian, who we need to come out en masse to vote for our party, aligns with this view.

“It is for this reason, that I invite our great party, PDP, to accept that it must search for a veritable flag bearer with the requisite leadership and visionary qualities that Nigerians now earnestly yearn for.

“I’m convinced that the time has come to seriously challenge and dislodge these politicians who have held our country to ransom by kidnapping, hijacking and destroying the future of our younger generation and generations yet unborn. I’m better prepared now than at the time of my first foray into the fray in 2011, and I am fully ready and certainly capable for the onerous tasks and responsibilities ahead.

“I wish to place on record my firm praise and commitment not to be harassed, bullied or intimidated by anyone who feels he or she can buy the whole of Nigeria with leads of cash fraudulently and illegally filched and taken from the Nigerian people.

“I’m proud to follow in the best traditions of my mentor, Chief Moshood Abiola, who had wanted to banish poverty in our land, but was disastrously disallowed from achieving this laudable objective. Nigeria has paid a heavy price and penalty in the last 29 years and suffered untold agony and indignity as a result of that tragic misadventure.

“Nigeria deserves much better than where we are now, and my appeal to fellow Nigerians is that we should collectively rescue our dear country from the suffocating claws of slave masters, overlords and tyrants. I vociferously and vehemently reject any suggestion that Nigerians should continue to tread this dangerous path The die is cast, and we mast regain and take back our country! I totally and unequivocally commit and dedicate myself to this cause.

“So help me God.”

Ever since this declaration, Momodu has demonstrated his capacity to handle the country’s numerous challenges by building bridges across various divides, which has always been his stock and trade. Since January till date, Momodu has transverse the length and breadth of the nation, renewing friendships and creating new ones. So far, his presence has been felt in every facet of human capacity development, communities and nooks and crannies including the traditional and political institutions in Edo State, his home state, Osun State, Kaduna State, where he met the controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi; Enugu State, Borno and Kwara among others.

His agility at 62, is amazing. He has youth on his side as well the much sought after international connection at his beck and call. Everyone agrees that Dele Momodu is the man that should be president noting that he has what it takes to take Nigeria out of its present quagmire.

Momodu has said that God himself specifically preserved him for the purpose of becoming Nigeria’s president at this time.

Born Ayòbámidélé Àbáyòmí Ojútelégàn Àjàní Momodu on May 16, 1960, exactly 62 years ago, Chief Dele Momodu as he is known in the business circle, and Bob Dee, in the social stage, is by every standard a man who is diligent in his business. And it is no wonder that he has not only stood before kings, he had and continues to dine with kings. There is practically no influential person that Dele Momodu does not know across the length and breadth of Nigeria, Africa and on the inter-continental stage. He is that large!

Dele Momodu with Tony Elumelu

Most men who had gone far in life are products of instructions well taken, and among such rare breeds is the man who has grown in leaps and bounds to become Chairman/CEO of Ovation Media Group, and creating a media company with arms  such as Ovation International, a magazine that has given publicity to people from all over the world, and reflected the best and brightest in Africa; Ovation TV and The Boss Newspaper online, which he officially launched in 2015.

By every standard a rare breed, Momodu is many things in one; journalist/publisher, businessman, philanthropist, actor, politician and motivational speaker. Among all these he considers himself simply as a reporter, and even with a retinue of seasoned staff still ventures into the field to scoop exclusives. Those who have referred to him as a workaholic are not far from the truth. Even he, himself has an oft quoted line thus “those who come from poor background cannot afford to sleep too much”.

A beacon of the Momodu family, Dele, the last of three siblings, was ‘privileged’ to lose his father at the age of 13, and was therefore sentenced to the complete tutelage of his mother, and sometimes relatives.

His mother became practically his mentor, teacher  and soulmate until she passed away on May 18, 2007, two days after Dele’s 47th birthday. According to him, one of the many morals his mother, whom he revered next to God, taught him, is never to despair even when times are tough. Even in her near poverty state, Dele maintained that ‘she didn’t give up on me.’

The accomplished journalist, whose first name was derived from Ayobamidele, meaning “my joy has followed me home”, is a proud 1982 graduate of the University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) where he obtained a degree in Yoruba Language, and followed it up in 1988 with a master’s degree in English Literature.

He kicked off his professional career as a lecturer at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science in Ile-Ife, between 1982 and 1983 while serving as a corps member. He went on to become the private secretary to the former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Chief Akin Omoboriowo, a position he held from 1983 till 1985. In 1986, he was elevated to serve the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, managing his Motel Royal Limited.

A genuine seeker of academic knowledge, Momodu resigned soonest and pursued a post-graduate degree in English Literature. It was during this time that his multi-tasking ability was brought to the fore as started contributing articles to popular brands likes The Guardian, Sunday Tribune and others.

Momodu is not a stranger to awards and honours as he has received hundreds for his work in the world of business, politics, literature, the music industry as well as the fashion industry. On July 30, 2016, Dele was awarded with an honorary doctorate degree (PhD) from the University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana, earning him the title “Doctor of Humane Letters”.

A fiery and fearless writer, Dele has for years been writing a weekly column, Pendulum, published every Saturday on the back page of Thisday newspaper, which he piloted as the founding editor, and TheBoss Newspaper. The articles have been compiled into two volumes of a must read books titled ‘Pendulum: The Writings of Dele Momodu’, and was launched in July 2018.

Momodu’s articles are noted for highlighting issues in Nigeria, as well as ‘discussing popular topics, current events and famous people, often in a polemic style’. He has used this means to bring about fundamental changes in national and world politics. His down to earth analysis in his write-ups has made it possible for him to remain neutral and factual at all times, thereby keeping no enemies. He gave Buhari his support through Pendulum and renounced his support through the same means when he realised the President has failed in steering the country to greatness as earlier envisaged.

In May 1988, Momodu’s journalism journey began when he was employed as Staff Writer with African Concord magazine, owned by late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. he did not just blend with the job, he blended with Chief Abiola, who became the epicentre of his new life philosophy. He highly highlighted this era when he celebrated his ’30 years of living and working in Lagos in 2018. The two part volumes were published in The Boss Newspapers.

A year later, he was transferred to Weekend Concord as a pioneer staff. He wrote the first cover story for the paper in March 1989. He also contributed to other publications such as the National Concord, Sunday Concord, Business Concord and the Yoruba newspaper Isokan. In May 1989, he became Literary Editor, and within six months, he became News Editor of the Weekend Concord. His rise was meteoritic. He held a promise of a class beater, and didn’t disappoint.

Among the many firsts Momodu later came to be known with is becoming the highest paid editor in Nigeria when between May 1990 and September 1991, he edited May Ellen Ezekiel’s celebrity magazine, Classique.

On resigning from Classique, he ventured into business, becoming Wonderloaf distributor, owned by his mentor, Chief Moshood Abiola. Afterwards, he started a public relations outfit, Celebrities-Goodwill Limited, which managed the accounts of Chief Moshood Abiola, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie and other distinguished Nigerians. Dele started from the beginning to snudge close to the best of citizens. It wasn’t therefore a surprise that even at his 30th birthday, the guest list was eye popping, and has kept improving ever since.

In 1993, Momodu came face to face with politics and its intrigues when he joined the Moshood Abiola Presidential Campaign Organization. After much efforts, Presidential election held on June 12, 1993 was annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida. There and then, he witnessed barefaced political persecution, enjoying the first bitter taste of a junta regime and its jackboot.

Much as he was severely punished by the reigning dictatorship for his pro-democratic views, he remained undeterred. He was to be arrested again in 1995 and charged with treason by the government of Sani Abacha. Momodu was accused of being one of the brains behind the pirate radio station, Radio Freedom (later Radio Kudirat), after the cold-blooded murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. Momodu managed to escape disguised as a farmer through the Seme border into Cotonou, in Benin Republic, from where he fled to Togo, Ghana and eventually to the United Kingdom. For three agonising years, he could not re-enter his homeland, Nigeria. This is one story he has told repeatedly.

In 2011, Momodu ventured deeper into the murky waters of politics when he contested for the presidency. The graphic details of that era of his life is captured in the book ‘Fighting Lions’ by Ohimai Amaize.

In the runoff to the primary election, Momodu has done practically what no aspirant has done yet, and remains the leader of the pack as far as the men and women who want to be president are concerned. We are talking about a Dele, who has related and interacted with presidents and leaders of opinion even as a regular citizen.

It is not hard to imagine what impact he will therefore, make with the instrumentality of the presidency.

 

 

Momodu: A Revelation of Sheer Doggedness and Intense Passion

Below is a full detail of the interview Momodu granted a team of Arise TV correspondents, comprising Reuben Abati, Oseni Rufai and Tundun Abiola, where he categorically declared his intention, and the reasons propelling his ambition. Enjoy:

ARISE: As Nigerian political parties and politicians prepare to go head to head in 2023 general elections, more and more aspirants are beginning to declare their intentions to contest for the presidency. One of such hopefuls is Chief Dele Momodu; veteran journalist, popular newspaper columnist, businessman turned politician and publisher of Ovation International and the online newspaper, The Boss. But this will not be Momodu’s first attempt at the presidency. In 2011, he made an unsuccessful bid for the post on the platform of the National Conscience Party (NCP). This time around, Momodu has joined the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party where he intends to participate in a hard fought contest to secure the ticket of the main opposition party. Now, he is joining us in the studio to tell us why he wants to become Nigeria’s president, and how he intends to secure victory during the PDP’s presidential primaries; Chief Dele Momodu, CEO/Publisher, Ovation International and The Boss Newspaper. Good morning Bob Dee, as he is popularly known.

MOMODU: Dr. Reuben Abati Ph.D. Thank you for declaring for me. You see Reuben has virtually made a declaration on my behalf. Thank you. And since you want me to declare so I might as well declare right here. Let me say that I am very ready. I always tell people that it is impossible for you to be the president of a country as big, as diverse, as complex and complicated as Nigeria if you did not prepare for it. Most of the people we have as politicians never prepared for anything. All they prepare for is the next election; what are we going to, how are we going to do it, how are we going to rig. But I can tell you that I have followed the template of my adopted father, Chief Moshood Abiola; I studied him as a book. I can do a Ph.D on it, and I can see that the reason we are in this mess is that you have leaders who are not accomplished. All over the world; it is not about your age; it is not about tribe or religion; it is about your personal accomplishment. And where you have leaders whose accomplishments you cannot understand; you cannot verify then you are going to have problems. So for me, I tired of just sitting down and lamenting which is what we know how best to do in Nigeria. Everybody laments. Everybody grumbles. Everybody groans. Everybody mourns. But to do what is needful? No. I can tell you that about 11 years ago, I decided to contest on the platform of NCP, and the only lesson I learnt from there is that I was contesting a national election from a fringe local party which had no capacity to win the election. I went back. The same thing happened to Chief Abiola in 1981 when NPN frustrated him out of their party. He wanted to be president; they saw it, and frustrated him out of the party. He left. He came back 12 years later, better prepared. In 2023, it will be 12 years since my last attempt; I am better prepared and I am ready.

ARISE: What are you likely to do differently this time. I know there is a book that has already documented your experience, and that is by your former assistant, Ohimai Amaize. In that book, you talked about how you didn’t even get the support of your constituency, the media. How money was such a big issue in Nigeria politics. Yes, over this period of 12 years, you said the big platform that is better so you joined the PDP. But how about the big details like money because you can’t even run the primaries in Nigeria if you don’t have cash. And you are a new comer to the PDP, what gives you the confidence that they will give the ticket to a newcomer.

MOMODU: Chief Abiola was a newcomer in 1993. He joined the SDP two months to go. The chairman of the party, Babagana Kingibe was interested/contesting, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was contesting; 29 years ago, and Chief Abiola joined. The first thing you have to prove to the party is that you can win them the ticket. Any serious party that wants to win election will not just go and pick someone who does not have that global appeal. If you do that, you know that you have already lost that election. So today, I don’t need to do any other thing other than to be scientific. the world has moved on except our politicians. It is important for you to prove to your party your capacity, and that is the job. The main job between now and whenever the primary will take place is for you to show clearly your ability to win them the election. And in my own case, I don’t have to travel far. From my telephone, I can show my party my foot soldiers across Nigeria, It’s scientific. Every major township and village; there are people that we have empowered. Even the government of today; if they talk about empowerment; ask them to come and show who has benefitted; they can’t. We have so much that we are doing, and it is not on television that we will reveal our strategy, but I can tell you that we are better prepared

ARISE: Well, joining the PDP and throwing your hat in the race, you are joining quite a crowded field. You have those agitating for president of Igbo extraction, have your political juggernauts like Atiku Abubakar, who has contested several times and come close. You have Bukola Saraki; those are two northern candidates I could mention. What are you going to use to convince people like that to support you.

MOMODU: Well, the first thing is that politics and elections are about elimination series. I call them elimination. People are going to sit down and say; between Dele and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who do we think stands a better chance. Between Dele and Rabiu Kawkwanso; who do we think is better; Between Dele and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who do I think is better; it is until you sit down and begin to ask questions. What are the youths of Nigeria saying today, ‘we are tired of the whole politicians’. So if you are tired of the old politicians and you now have somebody, who has built a global brand for over a quarter of a century. You are talking about a man who played a major role since 1983 in the affairs of Nigeria. You see, what happened in Nigeria…Nigeria is the only place that I know that it is how long you have contested that matters, it is not how well. So, when you talk about all my leaders that you have mentioned; they have all done their best as Buhari would say. They have all done their best. The time has come for them to give Nigeria a deep breathe of fresh air. And that has happened elsewhere. It happened in America where they brought Donald Trump who was not in politics. It happened even in South Africa where Nelson Mandela came out of prison. Ramaphosa, who is there now, who was not a hardcore politician though he was a member of their national party; he was a businessman, a billionaire, who came came out and threw his heart in the ring and did it. If you look at the Prime Minister of Canada; a young man, who was born in 1971. At 42, he was already the leader of his party, and at 44, he was already the prime minister. Nigerians must learn to do things differently, but I understand your concern. Your concern is captured in the book by the Brazilian author, Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed…that the oppressed people have one fear, and that is the fear of the oppressor. The oppressed people respect one person, and that is the oppressor. In Nigeria, people are so afraid that those who have amassed wealth will come to use the wealth to hang on to their necks, perpetually, and that is what we see today in terms of achievements, in terms of accomplishments, in terms of knowing what to do. You see, you cannot give what you don’t have. Politics is not about I have just been in power or where you come from or your religion. It is about managing people and resources. How many people in politics today have managed people and resources successfully?

ARISE: Great insight you shared from Ramaphosa to a lot of people, but a lot of people will argue that Ramaphosa was not necessarily a new comer in South Africa. He has been in the trenches since the Apartheid days since the 80s. In fact, he was the leader of the union. But it is good you talked about the oppression. I think it was Steven Biko that said that the most important tool in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. How are we going to change the mindset of Nigerians that have been constantly oppresses over the years. And secondly, based on your empirical stratification, what is the most important problem facing Nigeria as we speak today?

MOMODU: Fantastic! You just confirmed what Paulo Frere said about the oppressed. The best way to change the mindset of the oppressed is by bringing someone who is bold enough to challenge that status quo. There is no where in the world where things don’t change if one man is ready to make the necessary sacrifices . Chief Abiola made that sacrifice. That is that. The biggest problem facing Nigeria today is lack of unity. I tell people today that anybody can build roads, but if you have a leader who does not have the mindset of uniting the country; that is why everybody keeps saying I’m Biafra, I’m Yoruba Nation and so on. This is because you have leaders who does not believe in one Nigeria. I am a child of diversity; my father came from Edo State (south south), married my mother in Ile-Ife from Gbogan in Osun State (south west). Today, I am one of the closest people you will find in Igbo land. If you have been following me on social media, I am the only person ever mentioned by name by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu that this is a man who speaks the way a Nigerian should speak. That he says he would turn the south east into a technology hub, a Silicon Valley. If this is how the other leaders were speaking, we would not be agitating the way we are. So, you just need someone who can turn the depression and frustrations around – bring joy back to Nigeria. The country is a depressive mood. I have not seen any of the leaders you have mentioned who have that kind of diversity. My surname is Momodu. My grandparents were Muslims and my parents were Christians. So, I understand the dynamics of those sentiments because in Nigeria, it is always ethnicity, religion and of course loads of cash. On all three accounts, I may not have my own personal cash, but I have worked most of my live with those who control the economy of Nigeria, and that is important. If you are not in business, you may not even know how to manage resource. A man who never managed one million, you now give him 10 trillion to manage; he is going to find it difficult. A man, who has no knowledge about how to turn one naira to 10 naira; it is going to be difficult to hand over a country to such a person.

ARISE: Well, two quick ones. 1. Why the PDP and why not the APC because in 2015, you were pro-APC/Buhari. Shortly after the election, you were publicly seen visiting the president, presenting your books to him and all of that. What happened and how and why did you part ways with you friends in APC. And then on Saturday, you wrote on the back page of ThisDay on the ‘Owners of Nigeria’. We are running a democracy; is there any such thing as people who own Nigeria? Doesn’t Nigeria belong to all of us? I know you mentioned some names but they have just one vote just like the rest of us.

MOMODU: Reuben, you know better, but let me start from Buhari. When I supported Buhari, I was not a member of APC. In every election, there are usually two main contenders, and it was between Buhari and your former boss, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Our problem then was that we thought we have seen the worse from PDP, and I have since apologise for that mindset. We never knew it could get worse; that is one of the shortfalls of democracy; there are no guarantees that the next person will be better than the last. So, I supported Buhari just because he was the option given to us at that time. When things started going wrong, and I saw the danger signals early enough, I immediately started firing memos at him. That was when he invited me. I didn’t go there on my own to ‘jollificate’ (general laughter). I went there to talk serious. And mercifully, I was alone with him in the room, and I saw another danger signal. I could see that a lot of his aides, cause he had appointed a few, were afraid. They couldn’t go in with me. The book I was giving to him was not yet a book. I did a hurried compilation of my articles, and I told the president how for five years I was advising President Jonathan as a special adviser – free of charge. I appointed myself special adviser (I was doing doing your job for you by writing every Saturday). And I don’t just criticise government, I proffer solution. I was doing that for five years, and so I quickly did a compilation and presented President Buhari, and said I will be doing the same for you. So, for me, that is what every patriotic citizen does; talk to your leader, speak truth to power. I never quarreled with him till today, it is nothing personal. I can show you from my email that I am still the one in Nigeria in who is not in government, who receives his pictures directly from the presidency, and I post them free of charge again. I advise him free of charge. My biggest problem with him was the way Nigeria became divided. I didn’t expect him to know much about the economy; I thought he would rely on his team led by the Vice President and others. But what did they do? They emasculated the VP. They practically went on a dinge, on rampage and doing whatever they like. When I saw that his case has become irredeemable; you don’t just give up on a leader, then I looked for the next alternative, and that was Atiku Abubakar presented to us by PDP. Again, I was not a member of PDP – that is how you know principled people. If there are two candidates, and you have seen the worst of one, what other options do you have? You go to the next one. I wasn’t a member of PDP. Today, I can see the excuse that they can use in 2023 – ‘you people didn’t offer yourselves, so we used those who were available’. I can tell you confidently that there is nobody currently in Nigerian politics today who can say he was ahead of me in politics. By 1983, I was private secretary to Chief Omoboriwo, the then Deputy Governor of Ondo State, and from that moment, my trajectory is uncommon, and I think it was orchestrated by God Himself because it is uncommon to find someone at 23 to work for the Deputy Governor of Ondo State when it was a combination of Ondo and Ekiti. By 25/26, working for the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade in a palace where politicians converge whether you are NPN or UPN. You know how close Oba Sijuade was to the Awolowos. He taught me how to be tolerant. He was also close to the Shagari people. And we need that at this time in Nigeria. Nigeria is just hanging.

Dele Momodu with Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo

ARISE: What about those you described as the owners of Nigeria

You see, you have to know your history. In 1999 – I am one person Port Harcourt people call talk-na-do I don’t just talk, I act. In 1999, I was supporting Chief Olu Falae against Chief Obasanjo, a retired army general. I thought Chief Falae as a banker and economist would be able to handle Nigeria better. I then suggested to Chief that please, if you are picking your running mate, pick a cerebral northerner, and he asked me who I had in mind and I mention Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, who was at OPEC. I was 38 years old. I spent my own resources, traveled to Vienna to meet with Dr. Lukman, who then gave me that insight into the owners of Nigeria. He asked my mission, and I said ‘sir, we want you to be running mate to Chief Falae’. Then he laughed then said after he calmed down: ‘Dele, thank you so much but I can’t’. I said ‘why not? He said because the owners of Nigeria have decided they want Obasanjo. I asked if we were not going to have election, and he said no, it was not by elections. And he mentioned their names, and of all the names he mentioned, only one is not alive. I believe God has preserved them so they could see a change in Nigeria. That was why I appealed to them last Saturday. The only person that has departed; God bless his soul is General Wushishi, All the others – General Obasanjo, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliu Gusua, Lt General TY Danjuma – they are all around. And I am sure they too must be tired of what they are seeing. My appeal to them is very genuine, patriotic and sincere that please we know you have the power. I am sure you heard the story given in 2018/19 about how PDP was almost picking my brother, Tambuwal, and suddenly the owners of Nigeria intervened and said they preferred Atiku, and that was how Atiku emerged. So you have to understand. A lot of people walk the street shouting go and get PVC. I was at Sheraton sometime ago, and we were talking, and I said no, it’s not about getting PVC yet, it is about getting the right candidate. Let the young Nigerians fight for the two parties. What I am doing now is practicing what I preach.

ARISE: Let’s go back to the issue of unity. It is one of the tragedies that we have seen in the history of Nigeria – the complete collapse of that unity because of these agitations for secession, self determination and what have you. Look at what happened in America with Joe Biden. A lot of people were thinking that Biden was actually the messiah that would at least unify the nation but he has not been able to do that. What policies do you have in mind to unify the country

MOMODU: You see, most things I learnt (addressing Tundun), I learnt from your dad (Chief Abiola). It is very easy. What did Chief Abiola do? He employed people from everywhere. At Concord, you will think you are in a mini Nigeria. It didn’t matter where you come from. That’s one. Two – meritocracy – put merit above ethnic sentiment. If I want someone from Adamawa today, I’m sure I will find a qualified person from Adamawa. But most politicians don’t have the patience to search for competent people. That is the problem. The moment you are able to be fair to all – the moment you are able to have competent people, nobody will complain. Since I joined PDP, you don’t see all those people who use to shout Biafra, Biafra on my social media pages – now they are like maybe there is hope after all. Nigerians love Nigeria. How you know it when they are playing football. But the moment they come and say that somebody has just been shot somewhere – they arrested him – they made a phone call – they released him. That is not going to work. Trust me, I have the capacity. I have walked across Nigeria, and I have beyond Nigeria. Nigerians will begin to have renewed hope in their country. That’s why your dad’s (Abiola) mantra was hope. If you don’t give hope to the people, they will continue to agitate. It is clear; it is very important. You must give them hope; you must give them confidence that you are here for them. That every inch of Nigeria belongs to Nigerians.

ARISE: So two questions – you have been able to state that there are owners of Nigeria and you mentioned their names. You have been able to state your antecedents. Some other people will argue that that is exactly the problem as regards to your candidacy because you are friends to these owners of Nigeria and the thoughts of these owners of Nigeria are at variance with the common man that finds it difficult to eat on the streets of Nigeria. So a lot of people still see you as part of them. What is going to be your answer to that. Then secondly, you said give Nigerians hope – will hope reverse the 15% inflation rate? Will hope reverse close to 40% unemployment rate? Will hope reverse high debt of service ratio in Nigeria? What are doing specifically as regards the problem of the economy we have on ground?

MOMODU: Let me speak to you first about the question about friends. How many people criticise their friends when they are in power? When Dr. Reuben Abati’s party was in power, and I believe I was one of the closest people to him. He was not only in government. He was in power. In fact, in one instance (addressing Abati), you over reacted, and we have to settle it later. He overreacted – he couldn’t take it any longer – that is how you know a serious candidate. A candidate is that man who can look at anyone – be you Babangida or Obasanjo and say sir, what you are saying is wrong. Even my father – my royal father – you remember my part when Oba Sijuade said Babangida was making sense. I couldn’t sleep that night. I came out smoking. I had to go and prostrate later and apologise to the elder as a custodian of tradition. But the truth is, I said my mind. That is why I have been in opposition all my life. God preserved me for this role – trust me. There are not many Nigerians who can stand up and would not be afraid that the – you saw how Buhari was harassing journalists when he came. Abati was also harassed for just doing his job. Did you see my name anywhere? No! Because everything I do I do on principle. The last thing you lose before you die is hope. Nigeria needs hope first. There is no magician, no weapon can change Nigeria in two months. When Buhari came, people thought he was serious. Even my driver in London from Afghanistan told me ‘I hear you now have a good leader in Nigeria’. You see there is a way hope radiates across everywhere. When you give people hope, they are ready to make sacrifice, do what you want them to do, pay their taxes. The first thing is to get the right mood. The atmosphere in Nigeria now is so fouled up that nobody believes in Nigeria. The few people that have money would rather take it elsewhere to invest. For me, the first thing is to make sure that we have a star-studded cabinet of people of ideas. Everywhere in the world – even you will see that in America, they take their debates to one campus or another unlike Nigeria where you have to go to Transcorp building or the best hotel. No, the reason is because the intellectual pace of a country is what determines how serious you are. You must seek help from your brightest brains, and we have them everywhere. Go and get a good team. At Ovation, when we started in 1996, they told us it would not survive six months. But we made a promise that we would do it. What has sustained us is the fact that we were able to get a good team. We maintained a good team; we got the best filters; we got the best printers; the best cargo company. The next president of Nigeria must be the CEO of Nigeria, and must be a Brand manager. Nigeria needs rebranding. That’s what hope means. If you don’t have a leader who knows how to manage people and resources, then you just go and bring politicians. Then they will come and share all the portfolios. Then you cry for another three four years, and then they come again for the same process.

ARISE: There was a topic we discussed earlier; organised labour protesting the removal of fuel subsidy. Do you support the removal of fuel subsidy?

MOMODU: This has always been a delicate question which I have asked a lot of people in the industry. And it is one of the issues I am going to address going forward in the next couple of weeks. It becomes very difficult for me to understand what subsidy means when three to four governments have always said they want to remove subsidy. On the oil economy – All over the world, they look at the rates and the movement of the dollar reflects on the pump price. And because everything that goes up doesn’t come down in Nigeria as we work against the law of gravity, we need the experts to sit down and determine what it really costs to produce. And then this idea that we must continue to refine oil abroad. Why? Has it become a jinx? That’s one of the promises that we held Buhari to, thinking that Buhari being in the industry previously will understand how to manage it better, and he gave us hope that everything was going to stabilise. The only way we are going to know what is subsidy is when they give us the actual price abroad, and it reflects in the pump price. And also when we can finally settle everything at home because we love to import what we produce at home and it must not continue. Until a leader is ready to do that, we will continue to talk about subsidy, and most of them non-existent.

 

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Atiku Hails Judgment on Full Financial Autonomy for LGs, Says It’s a Win for Nigerian People

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, ordering that henceforth local government allocations be paid direct into various local government accounts, saying it is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The Waziri Adamawa made his views public via his social media handle, saying categorically that “I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.”

He wrote:

The judgment of the Supreme Court earlier today affirming fiscal autonomy to local government councils in the country is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction and a major corrective action in greasing the wheels of national development across the country.

The decision by the Federal Government to consolidate disbursements of local councils’ revenues into the state government accounts was a decision that was borne out of politics of hasty compromise.

I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.

I also share the belief that fiscal autonomy to the local governments should not be limited to revenues from the Federation Accounts, but indeed, should apply to Internally Generated Revenue from the respective local government authorities.

Many of our states, especially those in the ultra urban areas with high density economic activities, have become notorious in muscling local councils from generating revenue on items that border on motor parks, outdoor advertising, rents and many more.

The verdict of the court is in tandem with the core functions of the Supreme Court as an arbitration court between and among governments. -AA

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Supreme Court Grants LGAs Full Financial Autonomy

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the 774 local government areas (LGAs) be given a full financial autonomy across the federation.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal delivered the ruling on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

The apex Court initially heard the suit between the Federal and State government on the autonomy of local government on June 13 and reserved judgment.

The suit marked SC/CV/343/2024 was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and it sought full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

Fagbemi requested the Supreme Court to order that funds for LGAs managed by caretaker committees appointed by governors, rather than elected chairmen and councillors, be withheld.

However, the 36 state governors, represented by their attorneys general, oppose the suit on various grounds, including their argument that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its ruliing on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court ordered that full financial autonomy be granted to the LGAs, recognizing them as an independent segment of the federation.

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Wike vs Ireti Kingibe: Time to Stop the Bully

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By Eric Elezuo

It is an understatement to say that there’s no love lost between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe. Their relationship has turned more soured than the proverbial cat and rat. In fact, both cannot see eye to eye, in as much as they are saddled with the same responsibility of promoting and developing the FCT.

While Kingibe, one of the four female senators in the Senate, is operating on the mandate of the people, having been duly elected under the Labour Party in a well contested election in the 2023 General Elections, Wike is an appointee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

No one has been able to explain the origin of the beef between the two political figures, but source close to The Boss, has said that differences in political affiliation may have triggered the initial animosity before it blossomed into full time hatred and cross verbal attacks, leading to the bullying of the Senator.

Senator Kingibe had complained earlier in the life of the administration that the FCT has shun all her approaches to synergise for the benefit of the Abuja residents, since she’s a direct interface of the people as an elected representative. But Wike, in his response tackled the Abuja Senator, asking her to stay away from him that he does not wish to be friends with her.

Wike had lambasted the Senator, accusing her of blackmailing him instead of communicating her problems through the right channels or better still focusing on her oversight functions.

He stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, stating that the lawmaker is aggrieved because the Senate President snubbed her for the position of the Senate Committee on FCT.

“I don’t want to be personal…she’s the Senator for FCT. She went around saying ‘oh, oh Wike is busy scraping roads…I should leave the roads till when the potholes come?” Wike said.

“Somebody wants to be your friend and you say ‘I don’t want to be your friend. Is it by force?’ The problem is that she wanted to be Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and the Senate President said ‘I’m not giving you’.

‘What are you going to supervise me? You cannot supervise me. What is her interest, that I must see her? If I have a problem I’ll go and see her. I don’t have a problem. Nobody can intimidate me. Look, I was a Minister before. I became a governor of one of the most important states in Nigeria and she thinks that the only way you can bring me down is to go to Channels, TVC, saying the Minister is not carrying me along.

“I don’t have the back to carry. It’s not about blackmailing. Do the right thing. You know her problem? She ran election with my friend Philip Aduda and she sees me taking Philip everywhere instead of her being the Senator. Should I abandon my friend because he failed election?” Wike queried.

However, while the Senator has refused to stay bullied, Nigerians have said that time is now to tame the bully, and save the bullied from any further acts of disrespect.

Kingibe has made it clear however, that she is not in any interested in the friendship of Wike, who she only knows from a distance, but in working together to answer to the needs of the FCT residents, whom both of them have been mandated to serve at the moment.

Speaking on Arise News interview, the Senator reviewed as follows, taking into cognizance that Wike addresses her as one, who claims her senatorial role:

“That’s what he says. I am the senator, but he said in interviews that I claim that I am the senator of the FCT, and he is not obliged to deal with me. But I am saying that by sections 122 and 124 of the Evidence Act, he is bound by the judicial notice of the occupier of the seat of the senator of the FCT.

“I am also saying that section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, imbues on him a duty, that is, the honourable minister, (I am not calling any names because anybody who is the minister is bound by those same laws and duties) to abide by the constitution, to respect all its ideals, institutions and legitimate authorities entirely.

“So just the same way that some Nigerians would have voted for the president, and some would not have, but as soon as he is declared the president, he becomes the president for everybody, and nobody can pick and choose who would rather be the president. And therefore, same applies to all offices regardless of party or any other position.”

She added, “Please what constitutes friendship between two people who have never met each other? I have never sat in the same room with the minister except in the senate committee. So how does friendship arise? Why would I want to be the friend of somebody I do not know?

“The truth of the matter is that the minister refuses to speak or communicate in any way with the senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. So, how are the wishes and the needs of the people to be communicated to him? Please tell me if you know a way.”

Responding while inaugurating the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja, came hard on the senator for her remarks threatening to unseat her as a serving senator in the next election.

Referring to her as a nameless person, Wike asked her to go hug the transformer, in a most derogatory attempt to inform that she does not matter in the scheme of activities in the FCT.

Wike said: “I overheard somebody in Arise this morning. Unfortunately, I hear the person is a member of National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you.

“The Honorable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want to or you are angry about that, go and hand yourself in a transformer. If we have done well, we have done well. If we haven’t done well, we haven’t done well. I’m proud to say that in the short time that Mr. President has appointed us, we have done well.

“You said there are no hospitals and there are no hospitals. You, as a legislator, what have you done? How many bills have you sponsored for us to improve our education and health sector?

“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.

“So, People should be able to come out and be able to accept the truth. We are not begging for anybody to become our friend, we have so many friends that we cannot even carry along. So how can we go and beg people to become our friends? We are not interested in that.

“If you are angry that people are praising us, by next year your BP level will go very high because the praises you would see would be too much.”

Many legislators were at the event, and they clapped for the minister at the remarks.

In another commissioning activity, the Senate President was on hand to deliver a speech, but ended up talking down on his colleague.

“I saw one of the legislators on television talking about you (Wike) and mentioning the fact that she was not carried along.

“Well, she is a member of the Senate. Once a decision is taken, she is bound by the decision. So, please ignore every distraction (from her) and be rest assured that no matter what you do, not everyone will praise you. Others will still try to find faults,” Mr Akpabio told Mr Wike, who was beaming with smiles.

Many other Senators were present at the event.

But Nigerians have come hard on the FCT Minister for his unguided utterances against an elected public officer, who is also a septugenarian, accusing him of lacking respect and playing God in the affairs of men.

In their response, the Labour Party, FCT branch, accused Wike of falling out of line, saying that Kingibe did nothing  y calling his attention to main needs of the Abuja residents.

The FCT chairman of the party, Comrade Diugwu Chukwuemeka, said by Wike’s outburst, he showed that he is not at home with the peculiarities of the FCT, nothing that the area is a conglomeration of different persons from across the length and breadth of the country.

“Does he not know that he is a tenant in FCT merely appointed by  the president and  if Mr. President decides to remove him, he will be removed without any ceremony,” the LP chairman queried.

On his part, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Ajuji Ahmed, described Wike’s attack on Senator Kingibe as verbal violence.

He said that Wike does not have the power to stop other politicians’ re-election because he is not the one that brought such politicians to the office in the first instance.

“That (the attack) amounts to verbal violence because there is no reason why he (Wike) should do that. He is not in the LP. It was LP that elected her. He has nothing to do with LP and he is not the entire electorate of the FCT. There is no way somebody can stop someone from being re-elected in three years time. It’s not a savoury statement.”

Also speaking, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, also described the verbal exchange between Wike and the FCT as bad.

He appealed to the two public officers to sheathe swords and collaborate for the overall progress of the FCT.

“For me, it is all politics. But it is unfortunate that they allowed their political differences to affect their service to the people.

“The senator representing FCT represents all Abuja and the entire Abuja has one FCT minister.

“It is the National Assembly that presides over Abuja. One would have expected the two to work together. But it is bad that they are fighting each other,” he said.

However, in total condemnation of Wike’s bullish approach to the administration of the FCT and attacks on Kingibe, the women of Abuja have held a protest, asking that Wike be checkmate in his untoward utterances against Kingibe.

“We, the Concerned Women of FCT, Abuja, are therefore calling on all women in Abuja to rise against Wike’s antics,” the women noted.

While Nigerians expect the legislators to come to the rescue and support of their colleague, the contrary is playing out, encouraging Wike’s bullish attitude. But Nigerians are stepping out of their comfort zone to curb the menace.

Nigerians also understand that Wike’s bullish stance extends to his Rivera State primary constituency, where he is slugging it out with the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, over the control of the state. The state has,  in recent months, been a subject of political intrigues and violence as the parties fight for supremacy.

But time will tell.

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