Jay Osi Samuels: I Single-handedly Built ANN to Where It is Today

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Dr. Jay Osi Samuels recently returned as the National Chairman of the Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN. With recent moves by some forces to hijack the party and the controversy surrounding the party’s presidential nomination, he speaks on how the party got to where it is today and moves by some people to reap where they did not sow.

There has been a lot of controversy regarding the formation of your party, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN). Please, can you tell us a little bit about how and who are those people who founded the party?
Well, ANN came about with the meeting of young and patriotic Nigerians, professionals, Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, etc, who were been concerned about the state of decadence of governance in Nigeria and we felt it was right for us to play our role, hitherto even though most of us have not been involved in politics. We felt that we can’t just sit on the side line and be complaining instead of being part of the process. So, a group of us started coming together. We were initially 10 in number, but with time, we expanded with the original founding members of ANN, we are 10 and we cut across all professions and age. I happen to be one of the oldest among our group at that time.

This 10 people who founded ANN, can you mention their names?
The 10 founding members of ANN are myself, Dr Jay Osi Samuels, Dr Dale Ogunbayo, Dr Nkatachukwu, Victor Odoeme, Aesosa Osaghae, Thompson Nsima, Sunny Famojuro, Adebola Adekoya, Amos Musa and Steven Odesomi.

I read the piece you published and a lot of people are asking questions about what led to the current crisis in the party, starting from the August convention. If you recall, it was since that August convention that we have been hearing a whole lot of complaints. Please, can you tell us what led to that controversy?
The crisis or the controversy that we are witnessing in the party right now actually predates the August convention. It actually started last year. The gentleman that I just mentioned his name, Adebola Adekoya sometime last year, without my knowledge have been making some underground moves, which actually came to the open in January this year. And it all boils down to the fact that, he has been laying claims to be the owner and founder of ANN, which was against the tenents and purpose of the party. There was never a time that we said ANN belongs to anybody and if at all, ANN was to belong to anybody, I should be the one to be laying claim to own ANN, but ANN belong to nobody and he has no right to claim ownership of ANN. Along the line, we found out that he was being pushed by some people in the background. They are sponsoring him and making him cause all those troubles. He tried to divide the party, but by the special grace of God, we manage to arrest that process at that time. However, some of these things were still lingering by the time we did our convention last August, but one thing that we didn’t reckon with is that the people, the powerful forces that were behind him were not relenting, because what became very obvious was that his own style or the way he went about executing the mission that he was sent was very crude and brash and maybe they decided to re-strategize and use a more subtle way. But without bragging, I have been responsible for 90% of the funding of ANN. Apart from the financial resources that have been put in place, my time, my everything was involved. I am like a one man battalion running ANN. So, in the lead up to the convention, I was tired, weary and I didn’t think I was ready to continue as chairman. That was why in the build up to the convention, when a certain gentleman called Emmanuel Dania came forward and said he wanted to be chairman, even though I had some misgivings in the back of my head, in terms of, are you sure this guy is not coming from that same source of the wahala that we have been having, I was kind of happy that at least somebody was coming on board to take over from me. That’s why I gladly stepped down. But subsequent events after that have come clear to me that he was actually planted in the party by those same forces with the aim of hijacking the party and that’s what led to the crisis, or controversial issues of whether or not we had our primaries, but by the special grace of God, we have intervened and those things have been arrested and we are moving forward as a party.

Those forces you are talking about, why do you think, right from the onset, they want to hijack or take control of the party?
Because they have their own agenda and even though I have an idea of what the agenda is, I don’t think I am ready to go public with it at this point.

Coming to the issue of Fela Durotoye, they have been laying claim to the party now and claiming to be the presidential candidate of the party. We also saw some press releases that they claim that some Board of Trustee (BOT) members are upholding their primary. Who are these BOT members and are they really BOT members?
Well, we have members of Board of Trustees (BOT), but why I don’t want to join issues is that these are my colleagues and friends, some of them are fellow founders that we started the party together, but why I don’t join issues with the board of trustees members that have been supporting or issuing press releases in support of Fela Durotoye is because, apart from the fact that some of them are supporting FD, some of them are acting in ignorance, half of the things I know, they don’t know. So, if they know, they won’t be acting that way.

So why don’t you put them in the know?
It’s happening gradually, In fact, as at now, the most among them that I have spoken with know, but they will not come out open because they know what is right and wrong for the party.

Some people had accused Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim of coming to hijack the party. What do you have to say on that?
Because they are acting on ignorance. There is so many false information out there. I think the problem a lot of people have with Hashim is because he was a founding member of PDP and that’s the sword they are dangling on his neck, but in terms of the ideological perception or believe in ANN, some of these people that are claiming to be ANN members, they don’t come anything as close to Hashim in the ideology and believe in the new Nigeria that we are championing in ANN. So, I hope Hashim can handle himself, but I just know that a lot of these complains are based on ignorance. What was our own mission as a political party was to provide a level plan ground for any aspirant on our platform, but we needed to build that platform, we needed everybody to play their role, you cannot want to benefit from that platform without doing anything to strengthen the platform.

In what way has Hashim Strengthen the Party?
One of the things that make a party strong is people, because they say politics is the game of number. You can have all the methodology but without having the numbers, you can’t win. Hashim came onboard with people from all across the country, strengthening the already existing platform and beyond that, he offers valuable advice because most of us are novices in this game. He comes with wealth of experience and knowledge and in that way, we have been able to benefit from his experience and knowledge but more importantly, he has contributed in his own way, financially to support the party. And that is the least that is expected from all our aspirants either governorship, State Assembly or Presidential aspirants. None has ever come to the party and we ask them to bring certain amount of money like other parties do, no, we welcome them with open hands, but we expect that they should know that the party need some support in one way or the other and Hashim is one person that understands that. But even at that, as much as I acknowledge that he has supported the party financially; his contribution to the party till date is not even 10% of what I as a person have spent to get the party to where it is today. So that’s why it’s so insulting, so annoying when I hear people say outside that Hashim bought the party, that I have been bought, that is because of ignorance, people just talk based on what they hear or rumor that they heard.

Hashim has supported the party very well, but he has not supported the party up to what I have spent in that party. I am actually spending my own money because I have come to realize that Nigerians, we can only talk and shout that we want a new Nigeria, but people are not ready to stand up and put their money where their mouth is, only a few of us are left to push, piloting and supporting this thing but me, I know my limit. When we started to set up the party, I knew I was up to that, but the moment ANN became registered as a party, I knew I don’t have the resources, the wherewithal to finance a political party with national outlook, so that was why I was ready to step down and not continue as chairman, at the national convention because I don’t go deceiving myself. I don’t need to be the chairman, I mean here I am today, all the resources I have spent on ANN, I am still who I am, I haven’t died. I don’t have hypertension, and am ready and willing to walk way this very minute because it doesn’t matter to me.