Adewole Adebayo: Why I’m in the Race for Nigeria’s Presidency
Prince Adewole Adebayo is the youngest presidential aspirant ahead of the 2023 general election. Adebayo, a lawyer, believes he is the sling in the hands of the Nigerian electorate to ‘kill all the corrupt Goliath politicians.” He is very passionate about Nigerians and that things can get better if the right leadership is in place. In his interview with THISDAY, Adebayo, who is aiming at the ticket of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, says insecurity will be history the moment he assumes office
There offices through which you can serve other than the presidency. Why the topmost office in the land?
I have been offered appointment 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 power of the federation is vested in one man, and that man is the president. I have waited all my adult life, looking for one president that I will serve under. I am yet to meet that president traveling 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. This is a country, in the beginning, the leaders in the first republic, knew the importance of justice. It meant that they understood that public office was a trust and that nothing inside it belonged to them. They knew that exercising public powers was to use it to serve the people. They started their journey by serving the less privileged in the society by establishing school systems that catered to the needs of those who had no opportunity. They fought and were eradicating childhood diseases with immunization for everyone and by living close to the people and in modest manner as well.
If I had been born at that time, perhaps there is an Awolowo (Chief Obafemi) I would serve under him as a minister or even a clerk, or even just to be carrying his bag, I would do so gladly because I would know that this is a man who has come to do justice. In politics, the leader that inspires me the most and whose work I follow is late Mallam Aminu Kano. He lived with the people, he lived for the people and he made sure that social justice was the centre point of his political life. He criticised the court system even though he was a son of an Alkali, sharia judge. He said the court system wasn’t bringing justice to the people and ensured the people formed their own political party, the Northern Element Progressive Union, NEPU and pushed common people to 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 take leaders of that time and compare to what we have now, you will see that we have self-serving leaders. If he is the president, he will be self-serving. Why would I go and serve him? I will just be part of his apparatus of self- service. If a political party is 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, injustice. It’s a system of ordinary people who were given free education, who were the children of nobody, who were picked up from the lowliest waters of Nigeria. Some were sent to the armed forces, some to the Civil service.
The expectation of the founding fathers was that these children of nobody that were sent to school, like president Buhari, who was an orphan, ordinarily, he should have been following cattle, but the systems set up by Sir Ahmadu Bello, who ensured that he was picked and put in boarding house, from primary education even up to the when he joined the army. He lived in boarding house all his life till he retired as head of state. As we speak, he still lives in boarding house in the Villa. All his life, Nigeria has catered for him. Will Ahmadu Bello be proud of him now? How many Nigerians has he lifted out of poverty? All those people who were picked up from cocoa farms by Awolowo and put in schools who became emeritus professor of medicine, professor of all disciplines, vice chancellors, are they not now living in plenty while the universities are on strike? So, where would I join in this?
You can have the same executive powers in the office of a state governor. They are not different in terms of performance.
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? If I am crying because of the injustice in Zamfara, how would the governorship of Lagos help me? The penury you find in Borno, Cross-River, Lagos and urban poverty you find in Ibadan, how would being governor of one state help me? Will I overlook the root cause, which is the collapsed federal government that we have now. My mandate is to make Nigeria a great country. Anybody suffering poverty in Malunfashi is as painful to me as someone who is suffering in my family. I have to solve the problem from the top and across the country.
You are contesting on the platform of Social Democratic Party, SDP. Why this party, and not APC or PDP?
You cannot say before you join the fire service, you will 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 before I join EFCC to fight economic crimes, I should first be a yahoo person. This country is where it is today because of PDP and APC. Why should I join them? They are deliberately impoverishing the people.
These two parties are well grounded in terms structure
Their victories are not from the people but from rigging and that’s why you see them struggling with the electoral act and all the manipulations. In any case, what is the essence of the power if you are not using it to help the people? Do you think president Jonathan is a happy man today? He is not. He tasted power but he made no difference in the life of anybody. Do you think President Buhari is happy man today, if he can reflect? He has gone from hero to zero. I am following the mantle of the late Chief MKO Abiola which is farewell to poverty. And now I say farewell to poverty and insecurity. If I am saying farewell to poverty, who is the author of poverty except PDP. If I am saying farewell to insecurity, who are the architects, custodians, profiteers of insecurity except APC? How can I go and join them to stop their business? You cannot join the wrong coalition in order to win at all cost. If you join the looters, the compromised, the riggers, the manipulators, you can travel fast, but you will not go far.
You speak so confidently as if you are sure of victory?
My confidence is coming from the place of justice. I believe that God didn’t create a country like this of 200 million people to be enslaved. That is not the believe I have. I believe God is showing us an experiment and in the fullness of time, this people will over reach themselves and an ordinary person will come and knock them down. This is the David/Goliath situation. I believe the David is the Nigerian collective people. I am not the David, the 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. All of these things are testimony to the conclusion of a wicked system. I am not competing with them in the area of bullion vans and I am not competing with them in the area of bogus consensus they are doing, manipulations and the breach of trust they are doing, I am just taking my message to the people that journey that began in 1993 which Abiola was killed and everything came to a halt has begun again. These people have asked power, they have been given, they did nothing with it. They rob crèches, primary school, hospitals and mortuaries. Everything that has money in it is stolen in this country. Enough is enough.
In the course of consultation round the country, what was the reception like, especially the power that you visited?
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 perspective and where things went wrong and what they want 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 that is compensated for by the fact that they have great hope in our generation.
What would you do differently in the area of insecurity if given the opportunity to run Nigeria?
Insecurity is the easiest problem to solve. The insecurity in the country is government-induced insecurity. Nigerian government is the source of the insecurity because it has become a business. Just like fuel scarcity, they have turned it into business. Lack of electricity is a problem they have turned into business. None of Nigerian problem is difficult to solve. The solutions to our problems are already there. The Nigerian army of today is better than the Nigerian army of ECOMOG time. But what is happening now is that they have turned insecurity into multi-billion businesses for the generals, permanent secretaries, contractors and politicians.
When you talk to some members of the armed forces, they would tell you that they are not lazy and that they can finish these rogue fighters within a short time. Even during the civil war, there were a few who saw the war as a business, majority of members of the armed forces took the war seriously and that was why we were able to fight the war without borrowing a Kobo. Awolowo was finance minister in the Gowon’s government. It was a policy of that government at that time that they would not borrow money to execute the war. Awolowo was auditing and editing almost every bullet used. Clement Using was governor of Central Bank. He protected the bank against the government. A government can continue to perpetuate insecurity as long they want to make money out of it. I will put an end to that.
The federal government often talks about cash crisis. How does it make you feel?
Honestly, we have more money today than we had yesterday. The government is awash with money. If anybody tells you there is no money, you should know that that person is your number one enemy.
But we are borrowing to execute our budget?
We are borrowing because their greed is so big. They don’t just want to steal the money of today, but they want to rob the children unborn. The Nigerian leadership quest for money is a special mental disease, particularly when they steal what they don’t need. We must remove the original curse of Nigeria which is bad governance. There is this unhealthy competition: If one governor is using state money to control a political party, spending millions of dollars to remove chairman and do whatever, the other governor wants to copy it too. So you now have a well-known criminal organisation called Governors Forum. Everyone there are supposed to, as a matter of patriotism, report themselves to the nearest police station. They corner substantial revenue of the federation and steal the money of the local government. So, some of the poverty people are ascribing to Buhari is not totally his; Buhari has become an angel of disappointment though.