Presidential aspirant on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prince Adewole Adebayo, a lawyer and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blueprint Global Group, Washington DC, U.S., in this interview with ONYEDIKA AGBEDO, says if given the mantle to lead Nigeria next year, insecurity and corruption would be wiped out completely.
You are doing well professionally. The question agitating the minds of many people is what exactly you are looking for in this murky water of Nigerian politics?
WHEN you are dealing with the public welfare, the more you are given, the more responsibility you have. If I were to look at basic life problems being solved, then I wouldn’t even grow up in society, because when I was born, my ancestors had already solved those problems. I realised that it is not everyone that has won the lottery that I won — to be born into the right country, at the right time and into the right family.
Everything has worked out for me in a way that suggests that God has a special place for me in His heart. I see these blessings that I don’t deserve as a call to duty; as a call that I should look after the lives of others who may not have won the lottery I won, which is being born into the right country, the right family, at the right time and having the right opportunities. It’s a burden that I need to discharge. I can press that advantage for the rest of my life and get richer and get more opportunities. But that’s not a worthy life. A worthy life is that in which you do more for others and less for yourself. I don’t think there is any other worthier course one can find than to serve.
While it’s good to serve, especially voluntary service like this, there are other offices to which you can serve like the governorship or National Assembly. Why are you gunning for the topmost office in the land?
I have been offered appointments many times in the past. I know there is a place called the Senate, but I don’t have any business there, because the problem of society is that of leadership.
The executive powers of the federation are vested in one man and that man is the president. I have waited all my adult life, looking for one president that I can serve. Since 1999, I am yet to meet a president who is traveling in the direction I want the country to go.
Which direction is this?
The direction of justice. This country has, unfortunately, been deformed to accommodate injustice. In the beginning, the leaders of this country, in the First Republic, knew the importance of justice. It meant that they understood that public office is a trust and that nothing inside it belonged to them. They knew that the only thing that could justify their being in government, exercising powers, was to use it to serve the people.
They served the least privileged in society by establishing school systems that catered to the needs of those who had no opportunity. They were eradicating childhood diseases by immunising everyone. They lived close to the people and in modest manners as well.
If I had been born at that time, perhaps I would have served under Chief Obafemi Awolowo as a minister, clerk or even just carrying his bag. I would have done so gladly because I would have known that he was a man who came to do justice.
In politics, the leader that inspires me the most and whose work I follow is the late Mallam Aminu Kano. He lived with the people; he lived for the people and made sure that social justice was the centre point of his political life. He built infrastructure in the mind of the people that participation in governance is the number one duty and that everyone is entitled to it.
He criticised the court system even though he was the son of an Alkali (sharia judge). He said the court system wasn’t bringing justice to the people. He ensured the people formed their own political party, the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and pushed common people to take positions of power. When he was made a minister of health and later communication in Gowon’s government, he stood on the side of the people.
When you compare leaders of that time to what we have now, where the president is self-serving, why would I go and serve under him? I will just be part of his apparatus of self-service.
If a political party were set up to confiscate and siphon the wealth of the society and perpetuate injustice, why would I go and serve there? I don’t believe in the system they are running now because it is a system of theft, unfairness and injustice.
But you can have executive powers as a state governor…
(Cuts in) But the jurisdiction is too narrow. Would I be a governor of a state and be able to take care of my brothers and sisters in other states? The penury you find in Borno, Cross River, Lagos and Oyo states because of the collapsed Federal Government that we have, how would being the governor of one state help me to address all that?
My mandate is to make Nigeria a great country. When I see someone suffering from poverty in Malunfashi, I feel pained as if the person is from my family. I have to solve the problem from the top and across the country.
You are contesting on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Why didn’t you pitch your tent with the dominant parties like the All Progressives Congress (APC) or Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
You cannot say that before you join the fire service, you must first of all be an arsonist. You cannot say I have to be a reckless driver before I can join Road Safety Corps. You cannot say I should be an armed robber before joining the police. You cannot say that before I join the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to fight economic crimes, I should first be a yahoo, yahoo person. This country is where it is today because of PDP and APC. Why would I join either of them? They are not making mistakes; they are deliberately impoverishing the people.
These two parties are well-grounded in terms of structure and grassroots penetration, which of course helps their candidates to win elections…
(Cuts in) Their victory is not from the people but from rigging and that is why you see them struggling with the Electoral Act; that’s why you see all the manipulations. In any case, what is the essence of power if you are not going to help the people? Do you think former President Jonathan is a happy man today? He tasted the power, but he made no difference in the life of anybody. Do you think President Buhari is a happy man today if he can reflect?
I am following the mantra of the late Chief MKO Abiola, which is farewell to poverty. I am saying farewell to poverty and insecurity. If I’m saying farewell to poverty, which party is the author of poverty except for the PDP? If I am saying farewell to insecurity, which party is the architect, custodian and profiteer of insecurity except for the APC? How can I go and join them to stop their business? You cannot join the wrong coalition in order to win at all costs. If you join the looters, the compromised, the riggers and the manipulators, you can travel fast, but you will not go far.
You speak so confidently as if you are sure of victory. Why?
My confidence is coming from the place of justice. I believe that God didn’t create a country of 200 million people to be enslaved. That is not the belief I have. I believe God is showing us an experiment and in the fullness of time, these people will overreach themselves and an ordinary person will come and knock them down. This is the David/Goliath situation. I believe David is the Nigerian collective people. I am not the David; Nigerians are. I am just the sling. That sling cannot direct itself. But David was divinely inspired to throw that sling. I am that sling that would hit the head of looters in this country.
I am not competing with them in the area of bullion vans. I am not competing with them in the area of manipulations and the breach of trust, that they are perpetrating. I am just taking my message to the people that the journey that began in 1993, which led to the death of Chief MKO Abiola, has begun again.
These people asked for power; they were given power, but they did nothing with it. They asked for billions, they were given, but they have done nothing with it. They have taken the centre stage of our political life, but they have done nothing with it. They have left the people impoverished and pauperised. They are deliberately withholding the benefits of the people of Nigeria. Electoral defeat should be enough for this set of people.
We learnt that you have consulted around the country. What was the reception like?
I have gone round the country. I am still touring. I have seen former heads of state, traditional rulers, former governors, politicians, religious leaders, market men and women. The response has been warm and the message is clear. The former rulers have given their perspectives on where things went wrong and what they wanted to see. None of them, I can tell you, is happy. Whether you contributed one way or another to where the country is today, none of them thought things would go this bad. They have become victims themselves. They have equally lost hope in the generation that is ruling now. But they are comforted in the fact that they have great hope in our generation.
What would you do differently to fight insecurity if given the opportunity to govern Nigeria?
Insecurity is the easiest problem to solve. The insecurity in the country is government-induced. Nigerian government is the source of the insecurity because it has become a business. Just like fuel scarcity, they have turned it into a business. Lack of electricity is a problem because they have turned it into a business. None of Nigeria’s problems is difficult to solve. The solutions to our problems are already there.
The Nigerian Army of today is better than the Nigerian Army of the ECOMOG era. But what is happening now is that they have turned insecurity into a multi-billion business for Generals, permanent secretaries, contractors and politicians. When you talk to some members of the Armed Forces, they will tell you that they are not lazy and that they can finish these rogue fighters within a short time. But even during the civil war, there were a few who saw the war as a business. A government can continue to perpetuate insecurity, as long they want to make money out of it. I will put an end to that.