Adewole Adebayo: We Don’t Examine Records in Nigeria, We Examine Titles

Prince Adewole Adebayo is a successful lawyer and businessman. He is on the ballot of the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Adebayo, in an interview on Arise News, states that Nigerians must check the records of all candidates in the coming elections, which he believes, would give the electorate a better perspective about the kind of person they want to vote for. Excerpts

Has your faith, in the midst of the discussion going on about the balance of both faiths for all political parties in the coming presidential elections, ever been questioned? 

The person who questions my faith the most is me, because I know the precept of what it takes to be a Christian. As Christians and Muslims, it is important that what we do in private and public life should speak for us. We should not use religion to claim employment and votes. Religion should be used as moral guidance. Former president of the United States said the presidency is a lonely place, and that sometimes your last recourse is to be on your knees.

Perhaps that’s why president Buhari said he was eager to leave the office?

We saw it before you guys saw it.

 Who is your vice-presidential candidate and his faith?

The faith of my vice-presidential candidate isn’t the reason. Let me tell you how the SDP behaves and our perspective on it. We do not question people’s religion but we are sensitive to the country, because we are a diverse community, so you have no shortage of good people, men and women and different faiths. In SDP, we believe that Nigeria is not only about Muslims and Christians. We also recognise other faiths. We respect everybody’s sensitivity, identity and beliefs and it is our hope that one day, we would not push this argument to a ridiculous point where people will begin to ask if you are the only two people here. I am happy to be a Christian because it is a religion I have serious faith in, and I grew up in an environment where half of my cousins are Muslims, so it is not an issue for us. As a lawyer, both here in Nigeria, America and other places, I have confronted very good Muslims and very good Christians. And I have prosecuted very terrible Muslims and very terrible Christians. My message to Nigerians on this issue is that we can raise this argument only for one reason, to judge the ability of that person who is going to hold the public office to have a sense of sensitivity, because that’s the only reason with which you can judge him. The first duty of a person who wants to be president is the choice of the vice- presidential candidate.

 That’s why I am asking who your vice-presidential candidate is and his or her faith?

We would announce that, because my party must be there when the announcement is made. What I want you to understand is that since we came in 1999 into civil rule, Christians have ruled, Muslims have ruled. In fact, both have ruined us. So, we should not use religion as a major criterion. All the evil that has been done in the last eight years was done by a nominal Christian; that government didn’t look like a government ruled by Christian, but history will judge that. Next was Yar’Adua who did a bit. Then we have the last seven years being ruled by a practicing Muslim. This is not how I know Muslims to behave. This government doesn’t look to me like a government under a good Muslim. Same with the first person ruling us then, a Christian, who even had a Chapel inside the Villa, but I can tell you that is not a good standard of a Christian, because when the righteous rule, the people rejoice, we haven’t rejoiced since 1999. Maybe 10%, or 15% parameters of choosing our leaders is to show whether this person has broad-based sensitivity to a diverse environment like ours.

 Why are we fixated about the politics of region such that it’s becoming one of the parameters before one can aspire to rule Nigeria? 

In politics, whatever argument you want, it’s available in abundance. What politicians do is first locate their interest, when the argument is found, it then helps their aim. But when you are working for the people as I am doing, I don’t have a permanent interest other than good governance, making sure we have an accountable government, and as Black people, Nigeria should not be the headquarters of shame in the world. I always ask myself, are we concerned about politics of region? I see that the fear could be because of marginalisation. Secondly, people have been wrongly educated or I should say miseducated into believing the presidency is a reward. It is a very difficult job. You could see president Buhari complaining the other day. It is not about the honorific aspect of it, that is, waving at children, going to Eagle Square and watching the army march past, that is just 1% of the job. It’s a very difficult job because he is carrying the burden of millions of people. So, if it’s about service, people won’t be too concerned about who is there, whether he is from my place, they would think more of the deliverables. So, it is my mission in politics to interact with people who have this kind of primordial perspective to say, yes it is important for identity sake, we have tried. President Buhari has been in power for the past seven years, I am from Ondo kingdom. We have had a better time than people from Katsina. 

 What exactly are you offering Nigerians because you said we should focus on job creation, National security, including food security. You just returned from a tour of the US, what exactly should we be focusing on. What are we doing wrong?

What we are doing wrong is that we don’t have a government. We are having incumbents who spend four years and go and be replaced by their friends. Just like you know, when you go to your hometown where the Local Government chairman there is not relevant to you, a counsellor in your street is not relevant to you, because your amenities within the environment isn’t working,  and when you talk to the counsellor or the Chairman, they say they don’t have money or say the governor has taken the money. These are the ones you could see with your naked eyes, so with that, you know that the local government has collapsed. Let me tell you, the federal government too has collapsed in Nigeria. But because the federal government is hiding inside the Villa, they blow sirens and make a lot of noise when they are passing. You think they are busy, it’s a lie, they are not busy. What I want to bring along is to replace these bunch politicians who are going to the villa to collect campaign rewards with a functioning government. 

 What do you mean by that?

A functioning government, first of all, will secure the people. And the parameter of keeping your job, whether you are Chief of Army, Chief of Air Force, Chief of Navy, head of police, head of DSS, that the first thing you are told is that if a single Nigerian is missing and unaccounted for, they will be held to account. Remember what IBB said to Etim Inyang, then IG of the police, “my friend where is Anini?” Because they were looking for Anini, the armed robber at that time. They were going to the council meeting when IBB saw him and asked him where the armed robber was. That is what you will say to your IG.

 If you were the president and the Kuje Correctional Facility was attacked, what would you do differently?

It would not be attacked if I were president. The first thing a government does is to have intelligence. Secondly is to have the ability to process intelligence. They are doing all sorts of things in the Villa. They are even holding weddings in the Villa now. They don’t have time to pursue intelligence, process intelligence because their recruitment is faulty. They are not even complying with the Terrorism Act 2011. When I was overseas, people were giving me intelligence. Why is it that they appear careless about the problems? Because everything to them is an opportunity to make more money. 

 As per the military generally, would you be tinkering with the security architecture if you were the president? 

When you elect me, you have made the greatest change because you have elected a Commander-in-Chief. With utmost respect, President Buhari isn’t doing 2% of Commander-in-Chief.

You mean even being a former general?

You know in this country, we don’t  examine records very well, we examine titles. When you examine records very well, you will see that what is happening now was bound to happen.

 His party men said he is not the one to go to the field,  he only gives the order? 

He doesn’t give the order because he is not aware. If you read his lamentations on twitter, that’s a confessional  statement of an absent minded Commander-in-Chief.

That’s because you in the opposition have refused to put him on his toes?

But he doesn’t have feet. The problem is that you voted for someone who has no feet at all. So, you can’t put him on his toes. We are even trying to put him on his back, facing up. You have to respect the office, at the same time, you have to tell the truth. He is not on the ballot now, so I can just sympathise with him that he has some few months to go. But we need to be alive while he is still there. But the problems you need to face is that the same deafness which the electorate had in 2015 is about to happen again. Let us be clear about what the president is. The president isn’t judged by his religion or the amount of money he can share around, or how many people are endorsing him. You judge him by ability to do three functions. He must be able to be a Commander-in-Chief and keep you safe. You are seeing the example of lack of it now. He must be Head of State, father of all. He must not put in the mind of anybody, however minute the size is, however diverse, and status is that this country doesn’t want them. Thirdly, he must be an effective chief executive. 

This government, at the inception, came up with the Treasury Single Account, TSA. What would you say about it in terms of the economy? What would you prefer as an alternative in terms of revamping the economy?

I have already started job creation. When I was in Washington,  for many years, I helped the National Chambers of Commerce in America. I go all over the world, fixing problems for them.  I am an investment lawyer. When I was doing this investment law services, I couldn’t take investment to my country. I brought companies to this country, many of them ran away because they will go to jail Immediately, because right from the word go, people would want to use them for money laundering, people want to pack money into their contract, so they said they can’t come here. A well-run American company came here to build an airport. I was their lawyer. They came to me and said we forfeit the contract because the new governor came and said we should pack the contract 10 times over again. They just gave it to a Nigerian company and left. So, when I started running for president, I knew that the first thing I needed to do is to first of all create 30 million jobs.

How do you want to create these 30 million jobs?

At the moment, there are 2,000 companies that have signed up to this. When you look at the companies, from just their auxiliary services, they can generate up to 60 million jobs and many of these are willing to come over immediately. As the campaign progresses, they are coming over here. I met them in Washington. So they will be coming over here in person to outline how the jobs would be done. They are not interested in our politics, but interested in showing you that Nigeria has the capacity to employ the entire West Africa. The only thing you need to do in Nigeria is allow agriculture to run which means you need to have security so that farmers don’t get killed.

Some people would say what you are reeling out is not different from what the APC did in 2015 and we are all seeing the results now. What makes you special?

The first thing the people must be suspicious of is to be suspicious of their own sense of judgement. In 2015, these people should not have succeeded in fooling anybody at all. The person they presented as their candidate had been in government before. He didn’t succeed in doing anything major. People surrounding him were the people causing the problem he claims he is coming to solve. He was flying jets that they paid for. The APC  and Buhari were spending money and in competition with  PDP who was printing their own dollars, don’t know where from. You realise that this gentleman is talking, first is not saying what he knows how to say, they are just putting words in his mouth. These people are also the cause of the problems he says he wants to solve and they have held him hostage. What we need to do now is that we must run away from being deceived again with another hashtag. Luckily for us, these people who are part of various parties, are one people. Whether you are APC, PDP or Labour.

You mean the Labour Party inclusive? Are you saying that because Peter Obi was once the party’s vice presidential candidate?

Yes, but not only that. They were not there for a day, they also had prominent roles they played. Labour is an extension of PDP. Labour borrowed the PDP body. What I am saying is that don’t be deceived by labelling. 

Your party isn’t in control of any state, besides, it is not really popular like others. So, what are your chances of emerging president in 2023?

Our chances are quite bright. Let me tell you why we are not making noise. We have refused to become a refugee camp for the decampees. Even the people who went to Labour came to us first. Peter Obi came to SDP first. We set exams for all of them but they all failed the exams. Peter Obi failed our exams. Bola Tinubu failed the exams.

What were the questions?

Tell us about your past? Why are you different now? Why should you commit the crime on your own and stain our body with it?

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