Ayom: Middle-belt Has Found Its Voice in Me

Ayom: Middle-belt Has Found Its  Voice in Me

Vanessa Obioha tackles the issues that have inspired a new wave of agitation from the Middle-belt; from r instance, the strong opinions of All Progressives Congress presidential hopeful, Moses Ayom

What are your feelings about the state of affairs in the country?

There is the problem of inequality and injustice meted to a region in this country and forgetting that people of this region are also the children of the almighty. God does not know tribe. But here, people feel that if you are not South West or North, you are not a Nigerian. We unfortunately do not have conscience in this country. Since democracy, it has become a ping pong game. The first president  Zik came from the South; the second president, Shagari came from the North; the third president, Obasanjo came from the South; the fourth president, Yar’Adua came from the North,; the fifth president, Jonathan, came from the South and the sixth president, Buhari came from the North. That is a ping pong game.

Anything that has a North and South must have middle. Because of geography, a Tiv or Idoma man cannot be and we are accepting it? They think we are a minority but these days, we are talking about the world as a global village. We are always going to borrow money and by the time you as an Igbo man, Yoruba or Fulani man goes to the World bank to borrow money, you are the minority of the minorities. So, why are you deceiving yourself? So, here we must correct what is wrong. Nigerians must collectively with the help of the media ask questions to correct all these mistakes that have kept us down as a nation. The wrong is becoming the right in Nigeria. I am saying that we still have a chance to correct the mistakes we have been making for the past decades. It is time for a middle Belter to be considered. It is very bad when they discriminate against you because of your geography. Some years ago, a Yoruba man ran for the presidency and the world agreed that it was the fairest election ever. I like what they did.

They made sure that the world supported them and not just supporting them but giving it back to a person from the same state. They went back again and got a vice president from the same state. Today, I hear again that some of them are still asking that they should be considered for presidency in 2023. I wonder because these are people who propose the doctrine of fairness, equity and justice. Everyday, that is what they preach; the land of fairness, equity and justice. They should not talk about the presidency but if they do, I would be surprised and know that there is something wrong with us. Ask them what happens to the region that has not produced a president of Nigeria. Why I did not start with that is that I do not want to be seen as a regional person, bigot or clannish person.

I have the qualities to do it more than any of them. You can fool the people sometimes but you can fool them all the time. If they have been doing that successfully, there would be a revolt one day. The beauty about the Middle Belt is that we are never going to be involved in anything violent. But I also want to say that when it comes to holding this country together, they come to the Middle Belt. During the civil war, it was the Middle Belt people they sent to get it sorted out. Benue is the food basket of the nation but when it comes to sharing of power, we are never part of it. God is watching. If you have money, you can keep on cheating people but you cannot cheat God. Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb but they can prevent it.

Are you sure you understand the dynamics of politics in the country?

I am conscious of the fact that I am a professional and private sector person but I know I am going into the field of politics. I am an entrepreneur and I am a go getter. But the people to do it would not be me; it is going to be a team work. I will still swim with 90 percent of politicians but I will do things that would be different. If I become the president, the first thing I would do is to create a Quantity Surveying ministry that would work next door to me. Most of all the contracts signed in Nigeria, there are people who collect certain percentages and the man who sits at the helm of affairs does not know.

If I become the president, the corruption from contracts would drop to zero percent because I am a business man. If I want to do it right, the first two, three ministers that compromise contracts, I will get them out of the cabinet and nobody would try it again. We see all these things where a contract is about N40 billion and they inflate it to N200 billion. I don’t think that as a president, they come to give you kickback. The way I would get government streamlined to the real costs would surprise you.

The roads, railway infrastructure that we are talking about, it would shock you that if you bring in professionals, KPMG, Arthur Anderson and sit with them for two weeks, they will give you a document, you would not be able to sleep at night. These things happen every day in Nigeria. I don’t want to go into oil subsidy scams going into trillions of naira. As a president, at the shortest possible time, we will never import any refined products. There is something wrong with us; Aliko Dangote, an individual, a trader, we are all clapping hands that he is building the biggest refinery in the world; today, the CBN and Ministry of Finance go there to supervise and we are so proud that an individual is building a refinery. Are we saying that an individual is more than a government? Do we have intelligence quotient at all? Can’t I go to Russia and say come let us do modular refinery as a business man. We should ask questions and the media should help us.

What makes you think you are qualified to take up this huge responsibility of being Nigeria’s President?

I have been lucky to be in the private sector all my life. I have never worked for any person since I was born. So, I understand the rudiments of getting things done at different levels as a business man. You want to build a house, you start with the foundation all the way to roofing and all of that. Now, having served myself and the community over the years, I want to serve humanity. I am saying this not as a politician but as a professional. Two weeks ago, I spoke before the vice president; we had what we called the APC Professionals Forum chaired by Yuguda.

The excitement I got from that day was the understanding that day that a politician is not a professional. Any person can jump into politics. But at this moment in Nigeria’s history, this is the right time for professionals to join politics and take over the reins of power. What spurred me more that day was that ab initio, I joined the race of helping humanity as a result of what God has done for me. He has given me good health, sound education, good family and enough resources that you cannot put a value on it. I want this to be crystal clear. But beyond everything that God has done, this government of APC has opened the way for me to see endless opportunities and I want to use these opportunities now to invest in humanity and give back to the society.

If you go to the Heritage Africa which is also my property, if you go there now, you will see that I am branding the APC. Nobody has ever done it. The ruling party should be an equivalent of the African National Congress(ANC) in South Africa. The APC should be an equivalent of Labour Party in the United Kingdom. APC should be an equivalent of the Communist Party in China. They have not branded the APC because a business man is not there; a professional is not there who is consciously thinking of these. I, Moses Ayom, an international business man, I have known what is called branding. If you look at my phone, just that logo apple is a million naira but if you turn any other one that does the same thing but does not have the same thing, it is N40 thousand. Why is it so? It is not technology but the promotion of that brand. Therefore, I want to promote the brand of APC because they have done so much for me.

What have they done for me? People are saying that the APC government is not good, so much insecurity, unemployment and so on but for I Moses Ayom, the APC has done so much for me. Let me come out and support this government by giving back to the society and vying for the number one position. I have granted several interviews on why I want to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari and I have good reasons for that because I know I can do it. But I do not want to put you under too much suspense. What did this government do for me that I am so much talking about it? In 2015 when the Buhari administration came, the biggest problem that time was to divert the economy from the oil to the non-oil sector. And what happened; in April 12, 2016 to be precise, the president embarked on one of his biggest trips ever. He went to China with the richest African, Aliko Dangote and iconic agreements were signed. As a Christian, I call them trinity. How was it a trinity? The Nigerian government signed an MOU of $6 billion. They called it currency swap. What that means is that you put less pressure on our foreign reserve by trading directly with China.

Ninety per cent of products round the world come from China; so why can’t we as well do currency swap between Nigeria and China so it makes it easy for us to trade; that was the first agreement that was signed. The second agreement that was signed was $2.6 billion which was to build the biggest refinery and fertilizer plant in Epe, Lagos which is being done by Dangote. The third agreement was signed by myself; if you are coming upstairs, you see my picture with the CBN governor Emefiele and the former minister of Trade and Investment, Enelamah there; he was a witness. The president was there. I signed a contract with SBN, the biggest manufacturers of mining equipment in the world. The contract I signed was to bring the SBN, those components to be assembling them. I also have one of the biggest quarries in Abuja here under the name granite and marble. It was on the basis of that that I went to China. I went to China with the president because of the pedigree that I have had. I understand China more than any Nigerian and that is where the world is going.

So, I have an advantage. When I was going to China 20 years ago, there were more bicycles in Beijin than vehicles. Then the Igbo boys in Guangzhou were very few. Then I was not even going to Guangzhou, I was going to Shenzhen, one of the most modern city in the world. So, I would dash into Guangzhou once in a while; I started doing international business over 30 years ago negotiating big transactions. I understand how it is done. As a professional joining the race, the agreement that I signed alone if well ignited, if the $6 billion is ignited, you will see a massive impact in the nation’s economy. So, talking about people coming to do consolidation on what the government has done, you cannot get a better person than me that was actively involved not as a government person but as a private person.

What kind of president should succeed President Buhari in 2023?
What this country needs now is a private sector person. They have tried all the politicians and like I told you, they are not professionals. I am not bringing a manifesto to the table. Any person bringing a manifesto, tell the person that he does not have a space this time around. Manifestoes have been coming from candidates and they are just a repetition in every circle of election; I don’t know why people listen to them. Moses Ayom is bringing a feasibility and business plan because I am a business man.

A business man goes into business knowing at which point in time he is going to exit with a particular dividend. It is only on the basis of feasibility and business plan that any bank in the world can give you money. It is part of the collateral. Nigeria cannot develop unless they have a blueprint or a tested business plan. What is a manifesto? It can fail but if I come out with my business plan, I can take it and go to any bank. I have the energy, contacts and exposure to turn Nigeria around. They are talking about infrastructure; it is very easy because I have been doing it as a private person. It is only a business man that can develop a business plan and raise money to carry out a project. It may interest you to know that Nigeria is a project and I can make her viable. There are places we can borrow money for projects.

If I was involved in this government, the railway project alone can take care of 15 or 20 per cent of unemployment in the country. But they did not get it right because they did not understand it. You cannot sign a contract of billions of dollars and then you go to the site and you would not see Nigerian workers. They did not just understand it. When they went to sign the agreement, they were more interested in trivial things. If I was involved in the signing, I would have been more interested in how I can get 20,000 to 100,000 unemployed youths into the project. Africa has become the only place on earth where projects are still going on. You cannot go to London or America now and be doing railway. Before, it was a struggle for the partition of colony but now, it is scramble for the partition of projects and business projects. 

Therefore, if you are giving a Chinese company a contract to come and do railway, he would not get it elsewhere apart from here. They are happy to do what you want if only you ask them. So, I am in a position to get this country back to its feet again. One of the things that you need from a leader is not so much about education, experience or knowledge. No, what you need from a leader to get it right is, are you patriotic. How passionate are you? Do you have the will? Those are the things you need. Nigeria is not bereft of professionals. You can get them hired anywhere in the world to help you get things right. If and when I buy a form, I will ask Nigerians to identify a Nigerian and vote for him.

I am being very serious with this. The voters should ask, who is a Nigerian among those who are contesting for the presidential position? My answer is that we do not have Nigerians there. How do I mean? Who is a Nigerian? A Nigerian is that person who drives or enters a car from Abuja here to Kaduna; he must be that person who would say let us go to Lokoja in the morning; let us go to Jalingo, Benue etc. While you are going, if you see anybody flagging you down, you would ask, are they kidnappers. If your tyre bursts, you would be afraid of stopping because you do not know what is going to happen. That is a Nigerian. Who is that Nigerian who has entered potholes and saw accidents and dead bodies on the road? Who is that Nigerian that when they take light he cannot sleep because of mosquitoes; who is that Nigerian that still go to general hospitals; who is that Nigerian that goes to roadside restaurants and eat? If you don’t get a candidate who understands the plight of an ordinary Nigerian, he does not genuinely know what you are talking about.

We know all these and I don’t know why we keep deceiving ourselves. I don’t want to mention names but those ones who say they want to go for the presidency, when last did they sleep in a room and they took light. Since 20 years ago, they had never seen blackout. If you say there is no light, they do not know what you are talking about. They have never driven from Lagos to Akure for the past 30 years. They have never entered any general hospital with their wife or their children and so on. So, they are not Nigerians. That is why I am saying that if I get there, they would have reason to rejoice and they would find out that a true Nigerian has become their president. But when you vote for all these people I am talking about, it is the same story.

IIf you become the president, how are you going to achieve national cohesion?

As you are asking the question, answers are coming. It all boils down to injustice, inequality and unfairness. When you stop the issue of injustice, everybody would be very happy to come back to the same table. It was not like this before. In terms of bringing Nigeria together, it is extremely easy. First and foremost, the South East has been so left out just like the people of the Middle Belt. Remember the day the Igbo elders came to ask for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the old former minister, Mbazulike Amaechi was sitting down and Buhari was standing up; the president said that in his lifetime, he has never imagined that he would take that kind of decision but he is doing it because of him. You see how easy it was to get the Igbo people. I would do more than that.

When I become the president, the South East particularly Aba would be a priority. I was the first person to say that if I become president, I would ride Innoson. Not only that, once I am riding Innoson, the official vehicle of every parastatal would be Innoson vehicle. As I am doing that, private companies that patronize Innoson would have the best. What it means is that Innoson cannot meet up with demand. When that happens, the Free Trade Zones that we have across Nigeria, Toyota, Suzuki and those other companies would come and start fabricating for Innoson. That is just one. When I become president, the South East would become the Guandong and Aba would become the Guanzhou of Nigeria.

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