Prince Adewole Adebayo, the Social Democratic Party’s candidate in the February 25 Presidential election was this week a special guest on an online discussion programme with more 4000 viewers and panelists. During the question and answer session, Adebayo explained, among other issues, why Nigeria isn’t moving, what the Nigerians must do especially in the next election cycle if they truly desired change even as he criticised the hypocritical nature of both the leadership and the people. Excerpts:
Don’t you think coalition with other young parties and like minds would have changed the result of the last Presidential election?
Many of the people in politics are merely agents not principals. The reason why Buhari and Tinubu could form a coalition is because Buhari isn’t anybody’s boy. He was the leader of his own team. Tinubu isn’t a follower of anybody. He is not anybody’s boy. But some of these people you may be forming alliance with them while in actual fact they are working for some people. And once they call them into the room and tell them what to do that’s exactly what they will do.
The people you want to follow are also following and shadowing some people too. It’s like the war in Ukraine. If you negotiate with Ukraine without USA inputs it amounts to nothing. If you talk to Putin, he alone can decide for his country. So, whatever peace you are negotiating, you must put USA into account. You must be sure the people running are doing so on their own. If you look at Sowore, he doesn’t fear anybody. If he agrees with you, that is it. He doesn’t need to go and clear with somebody somewhere. If you look at Malik, it is the same. If he says yes, it is yes, if he says no, it is no. Kwankwaso is an independent person.
The disaffection arising from the election some say could lead to coup. How much of your personal money went into the election?
The only coup that can happen is if you join me to go and win election. The little I know about the military is that they don’t do coup except the political class ask them to do the coup because Nigerian military is part of the politics of Nigeria. The soldiers are not interested in power. They are just like any other tool used by politicians. If the political class wants to do a coup, they can use them to do it. But from what I can see and feelers I am getting, the political class is happy about what happened during the election because the power still went back to them, it didn’t go to Sowore, it didn’t come to me, so they are happy.
90 percent of the budget campaign came from my pocket. There is a former head of state who wants to remain anonymous he gave me some money. I am not anonymous about it but he wants to be anonymous about it. Towards the end of the campaign, he called me and he said he liked what I was doing and he said take. There are many people who paid for posters and bill boards on their own for me. I don’t know how much such would cost. We are well below the amount they said we should spend. Directly from me we didn’t spend more than N1.5 billion. So, we are still within the limits.
In order of priority, outside you, which among the contestants would you have voted for?
I will vote Malik Ado Ibrahim may be because I have listened to him severally. Kola Abiola is another person. I don’t know about his commitment but when it comes to issues, he is brilliant. Sowore will be my third in the sense that you cannot be in doubt that he loves the country, it’s just that I don’t know if he is sworn in today, whether half of Nigerians will not cross to the border to leave the country. Peter Obi is another, that is if he can remove some elements off him. Kwankwaso is another. There is another fellow, Dr. Pate who was minister of health during the Goodluck Jonathan government. However there a lot of people who are better than all of us who didn’t come out and not known yet.
There is so much controversy around the President-elect. What is your take on this?
They are all the same. Whether it is Atiku going to Dubai or Tinubu going to France or Peter Obi going to London to do surgery, they are all the same in that regard. The lesson to learn from it is that we must set standard. What is happening in the case of Tinubu and his son is that they are coming into office with issues on buying property abroad instead of talking about how they are going to strengthen the Naira, improve the economy and things like that. That was why I was making case during the campaign that all the contestants must declare their assets in public but the media suppressed it. So, standard must be set for people who want to lead us. They must not be people who already have certain habits that injurious to the welfare and of the people of this country. The entire first family must declare their assets so that we know whom we are dealing with.
Nigeria is bleeding due to corruption, how much of our revenue is outside the book?
We are a country of accomplices. We don’t like corruption, but we praise our leaders who are stupendously rich. Nigeria is losing 80% of its revenue outside the book. The oil being stolen and sold is more than the official being declared. If you judge what is in the budget, you have already missed your way because the majority of Nigerian money is spent outside the budget such that by the time the budget is brought, the money is already gone. The majority of the money collected in Customs isn’t accounted for except you want to tell me you haven’t brought in container into the country before. You pay more to the people than the government on many occasions. If you sell 100 barrels of oil, NNPC won’t collect more than 15 barrels because 85 barrels have disappeared. I have said this severally during the campaign, but nobody seems bothered. In Holland, there are tank farms storing Nigerian stolen oil, same with China. We have stolen oil there that were not paid for. It got to a point, especially during the election that some Chinese approached the Nigerian embassy official and told him that ‘we have your crude here with us let them know that we haven’t paid for the crude and it is here with us’. The person is still alive. He went to meet the late Abba Kyari (Buhari late Chief of Staff) and said, ‘Sir, I am your trade officer in China.’ The man’s name is Agboluaje. Kyari said he should bring all the documents. He brought the documents. That was the last time he entered villa.
The Vice President-elect is said to have kicked against the election of Muslims as heads of both chambers of National Aseembly as it could be seen as islamization of Nigeria
That smacks of hypocrisy if indeed he said that. If I see him, I will say ‘Otutuoma’ (Good morning in Igbo language). It’s too late in the day to realize that. If you thought about that, you shouldn’t have taken your own nomination when you were given. However, religion and ethnicity are not my problems. What I care about is poverty insecurity and accountability so that we can realise our potential as a country.
Is it true that some SDP agents did not work for you on election day?
Not all my agents worked for me. Some may look at my picture and say this didn’t have money and went to collect from other parties. In a particular state, our agents said INEC didn’t give them accreditation cards. We asked why. They said they didn’t know. We went to INEC. It said the state chairman of our party came together with PDP. Each of the chairmen collected for their parties, and then the SDP chairman gave the tags to the PDP chairman, shook hands, and drove away. On that election day, you would see someone wearing an SDP tag, but he is definitely working for Atiku. Some of them helped APC. Some worked for labour, I think in Delta Anambra and some parts of the South-east.