Prince Adewole Adebayo, a lawyer and media owner, is the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. Adebayo, in this interview with journalists in Abuja, spoke on a wide range of national issues including what the masses can do to take Nigeria back from those who, he said, have held it down for years as well how the frittering of the resources of the nation can be stopped. Emmanuel OGBECHE was there for The Abuja Inquirer. Excerpts:
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the legacy he would like to leave for Nigeria would be that of a free, fair and credible election, and given the outcome of the recent governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States. You have been quoted as saying there is nothing worth celebrating?
I cannot say there is nothing to celebrate about this government. I will celebrate their departure and even double celebration if I win the election and they hand over to me. Until then, there is a lot to endure. Beyond the psychological satisfaction that we don’t have a coup, that we are not under foreign occupation, though we are partially under terrorist occupation, we can celebrate that the Nigerian people haven’t given up on the country.
When I go out and see the number of people receiving me, I get humbled that the ordinary people who are having a worst time than I am having, are still eager about the politics of this country.
Perhaps because of the enormity of the challenge of leadership, the elite which you belong to, is labelled as one of the reasons why we are in this sorry state…
Every Nigerian knows the truth, but very few are willing to pay the price of saying the truth. Every Nigerian knows that the present government is a fiasco in capital letter. Whether you want to say it or not, it’s a fiasco.
Can you throw more light on the fiasco aspect?
In an ideal situation as stated in our constitution, I tend to focus on the Chapter 2 of the constitution, and if compared with the present government, you will see that it is a total failure. Then if you try to be a little more sympathetic, you compare the government on what they said they would be and what they are now.
You can say, well, we have to have what we get. However, when a group of people led by the current president, on coming to power, on their volition, set objectives and standard for themselves and they are violating it every day there is nothing one can do. The people who are free are the common people.
Unfortunately for the common people, if they are not careful, they too will become collaborators because circumstances or condition is pushing them into collecting crumbs from those who are whining down the system. That doesn’t mean there are no good people in the country, but if you are doing analysis, you will see that a government doesn’t elect itself, it takes the people, collectively, to elect a government.
Given the various problems encountered by this government in terms of dwindling revenue, recession and the amount of work being put in place to mitigate it, shouldn’t we appreciate their efforts?
If you are telling me that everything that is there for you to make you work, isn’t working for you, then why are you there? We need to introduce honesty to our politics, especially honesty of analysis. You can argue viewpoint, but you cannot argue against the fact. People are out of jobs. People are insecure. I know all of these things when I decided to run for president. These are not intimidating to me. These are things if you look around, there are solutions.
What you are saying now was what this government was saying when they were outside.
It is not because I am outside. I am different. It is for the media and the people to listen. I don’t want to go into the fiasco we went through in 2015. That is why I am saying now and again that you can decide what you want to do.
Out of all the problems you are seeing in Nigeria today, we thank God, we are still alive. Majority of the people who want to live a good life but cannot. God could not have created Nigeria to be in perpetual darkness and suffering such that the national grid will be collapsing every two weeks and the issue of unemployment cannot be attended to.
It is why I am telling Nigerians that if you want something new, elect new people. You will see that in 2016, it was the New-PDP that started their trouble. It was the same PDP that joined to go and bring Buhari where he was and joined ACN.
So, they are not completely new. So, PDP became APC. Even the PDP has opened a new shop in Labour Party. I am giving you fact, I am not here to confront you, because you invited me to give my perspective. The people and audience can think and make up their minds if I am right or not.
In politics, politicians have ideology. Power at all cost is ideology and that ideology informs the performance in government. And these people change party from place to place. The fact that they change parties doesn’t mean there is a real change. I may and may not win the election, it’s all based on God and the people.
When in 2015, I was saying these people are not going to make any change, they didn’t believe me. Look at the man on the right, look at the man on the left, they are the people who caused the problem the man in the middle says he is going to solve. In 2019, I told Nigerians that there was no option between the two, that our only option was to go for a Third Force.
You talked about collapse of the national grid, infrastructural decay. Why are we not getting it right?
That’s because in 2001, I attended the National Council on Power when the late Olusegun Agagu was Minister of Power when Olusegun Obasanjo was in power, Danjuma Goje was the Minister of State, Power, he is alive, Makoju of blessed memory was managing director of NEPA, I gave them a blueprint on why they will never get power and, how they will get power in this country.
Because we didn’t change these people who have penchant for procurement, penchant for investing millions of dollars on dead horses. They award a lot dead horse contracts. Electricity obeys everybody. That woman in Wuse market or anywhere for that matter, once you have generator, fuel it, connect, you will have electricity. Electricity obeys everybody. Egbin power station was built by Marubeni. I told them in 2001 that Marubeni had stopped servicing this kind of station because I was a lawyer in the power sector. I saw that these people were more eager to award contract than to get the thing to work. For example, do you know that the money for ASUU is lying there in TETFUND? People are sitting on it.
How can we stop the haemorrhaging, lack of accountability, crude oil theft?
A. We have to go back to the original thing, black and white, that is, the truth. When I engage in public discourse and I realize that people are not interested in the truth, I leave them. This is something that is so obvious. We make ourselves a laughable community. These are thieves in government, with due respect.
Are you going to bring different people other than the same Nigerians?
What you are doing is what is called Fallacy of Moral Equivalence. You cannot tell me that honest people who have worked all their lives, who you can go through their records, that they are equal to those people who have been stealing for the past 40 years? You cannot say so.
That is Fallacy of Moral Equivalence. You cannot say I am equal to Atiku. I am not. Or I am equal to Obi, I not. Please let us make that distinction otherwise, you will be passing a wrong message that everyone in Nigeria is part of the system, we are not.