In this interview with KINGSLEY JEREMIAH, the presidential candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adewole Adebayo spoke on key national issues, especially crude oil theft and the epileptic nature of the national grid.
What’s your take on the frequent collapse of the national grid and how the challenge could be decisively tackled?
In 2001, I attended the national council on power when the late Olusegun Agagu was Minister of Power, this was during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Danjuma Goje was Minister of State for Power, he is alive, Makoju of blessed memory was managing director of NEPA. I gave them a blueprint on why they will never get power and, how they will get power in this country. I have applied it to myself. All my establishments are off grid. But because we didn’t change this people who have penchant for procurement, penchant for investing millions of dollars on dead horse, that is why we are where we are today.
They know that a dead horse will never wake up, but at least they will make some money off it. They awarda lot dead horse contracts. Electricity obeys everybody. That woman in Wuse market or anywhere for that matter, once you have generator, fuel it, connect, you will have electricity. Electricity obeys everybody. Egbin power station was built by Marubeni. I told them in 2001 that Marubeni had stopped servicing this kind of station because I was a lawyer in the power sector. I saw that this people were more eager to award contracts than to get the thing to work. For example, do you know that the money for ASUU is lying there in TETFUND? People are sitting on it.
When people come to government, they have an ideology that brings them to government. Ideology of people who have come to government since 1999, without exception, is to capture power, capture institutions, capture national assets, commercialiseand privatise it to yourself. Capture procurement. They are like parasites, they have entered into the bloodstream of the economy. So, talking to them and giving advice is waste of time because they are committed to the notion that they want to take the last blood of the economy. What you can do to save your self, the masses and the future is to take away power from them, because once they are out of power, then they cannot touch your money. We say we are short of revenue, but do you know that this government,this current government, is colluding with thieves to steal 80 per cent of the crude. You are in the media, don’t close today without investigating why 80 per cent of our crude is being stolen and the government is rubbing hands as if they don’t know. Why would your economy not collapse?
How can we address the issue of lack of accountability, crude oil theft and corruption in the petroleum sector?
We have to go back to the original thing, black and white, that is, the truth. When I engage in public discourse and I realise that people are not interested in the truth, I leave them. This is something that is so obvious. We make ourselves a laughable community. These are thieves in government, with due respect. They are not moderate in the stealing. If you say a government official who has sworn to a public oath, has stolen billions, there is nothing moderate anymore. You cannot say when government accuses itself that we are losing 80 per cent of the revenue, we cannot help them deny it. They are the ones accusing themselves. When government says its own accountant general, the chief steward of our money, is now in custody, having being caught with N190b, it is not for me to be moderate. If the media, the politicians and the commentators don’t want to say the truth, let us shut down.
The first thing you do is to admit the truth that you cannot find solution to your problems. When it is mosquitoes who are discussing about how to eradicate malaria and the mosquitoes know that they are the cause of the malaria. The government that is telling you that they are looking for solution are the problems. Let me tell you what they are going to do with NNPC, now called NNPC Limited. They are going to have unlimited corruption, unlimited stealing, unlimited lack of accountability, unlimited looting. Why? NNPC as it was before, belongs to Nigerians. It was a corporation answerable to National Assembly. It couldn’t belong to us more than that. It belongs to us the way the Villa belongs to us. So if you say we should privatise the Villa, privatise what? We already own it. How can you privatise my father’s house to me and ask me to buy shares. It is a fraud.
There is noise about debt servicing surpassing government revenue in Nigeria. Don’t be fooled by such scaremongering cover-up. What has surpassed revenue is not debt. Stealing has surpassed disclosed revenue. Siphoning has surpassed disclosed revenue. They are hiding your money. This is why my leader, the late Aminu Kano talked and talked and the man died and we never learnt anything. If we don’t want to say the truth and allow this people to get away with it, then we allow this people to continue in power.
Do you think there’s something to celebrate about this current government?
I cannot say there is nothing to celebrate about this government. I will celebrate their departure, and even double celebration if I win the election and they hand over to me. Until then, there is a lot to endure. Beyond the psychological satisfaction that we don’t have a coup, that we are not under foreign occupation though we are partially under terrorist occupation, we can celebrate that the Nigerian people haven’t given up on the country. When I go out and see the number of people receiving me, I get humbled that the ordinary people who are having a worst time than I am having, are still eager about the politics of this country. When I see the number of people who came to visit and have had to wait because other people are there, it gives me hope that despite the problems, they have not given up on the country. Yes, we have problems, but if the idea is about celebration, then, you can see from the face of the president that if there is a way he could wind the clock forward, he would want to jump to May 29.
Given the various problems encountered by this government in terms of dwindling revenue, recessions and the amount of work being put in place to mitigate it, shouldn’t we appreciate their efforts?
If they are worried about all these routine things, then, they should hand over the government to me. If you are telling me that everything that is there for you to make you work, isn’t working for you, then why you are there? We need to introduce honesty to our politics, especially honesty of analysis. You can argue viewpoint, but you cannot argue against the fact. They have ruined the economy. People are out of jobs. People are insecure. I know all of these things when I decided to run for president. These are not intimidating to me. These are things that, if you look around, there are solutions to.
People like you are being seen as the reason Nigeria is in this situation. What do you have to say to that?
Every Nigerian knows the truth, but very few are willing to pay the price of saying the truth. Every Nigerian knows that the present government is a fiasco in capital letter. Whether you want to say it or not, it’s a fiasco.
Who is free now as everyone is culpable?
The people who are free are the common people. Unfortunately for the common people, if they are not careful, they too will become collaborators because circumstances or condition is pushing them now into collecting crumbs from those who are whining down the system. That doesn’t mean there are no good people in the country, but if you do analysis, a government doesn’t elect itself, it takes collective of people to elect a government.
The present government said more than you are currently saying. Are saying these because you are not in government yet?
Not because I am outside. I am different. It is for the media and the people to listen. I don’t want to go into the fiasco we went through in 2015. That is why I am saying now again that you can decide what you want to do. If you want something new, elect new people.