I Won’t Stop Telling Buhari The Truth – Dele Momodu #Beekhaybee

Former Presidential candidate of the National
Commission Party (NCP) in the 2011 general
elections and a friend to the ruling All
Progressive Congress, Dele Momodu in an
interview with Vanguard newspaper has said
he would continue to offer constructive criticism to the Buhari led administration. Dele Momodu Dele Momodu He also explained why he backed former Kwara
state governor, Bukola Saraki for Senate
Presidency against the wish of a national leader
of the party, Bola Tinubu. READ ALSO: Dele Momodu Writes An Open Letter To President Buhari Read the full interview below. You were, before the general elections, one
of the unofficial spokespersons for President
Muhammadu Buhari, who was then the APC
presidential candidate. But of recent, your
thoughts about the president appears to be
changing? I am surprised at your comment because I have
never changed. I am the biggest supporter of
President Muhammadu Buhari today. All I have
done is to tell the president what people are
saying outside, that is my job. We don’t tell our
leaders the truth. I told former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the truth throughout his
tenure. This is detailed in my forthcoming book,
titled, ‘’Pendulum, a book of prophesy’’.
Everything I told President Jonathan happened.
I owe that to our president too today. Once you become the president in Nigeria,
people stop telling you the truth. They only tell
you what you want to hear. I am a stakeholder
in this government. I wonder what would have
happened to me if the PDP had returned to
power. I was already under constant threat. I received threat messages. I had to name all the
numbers anonymous because they were all
attacking me for supporting Buhari. I didn’t
support the president because I wanted
anything from him. I supported him because I
believed at this time of our lives, we need a father-figure, what I called the Mandela- option
in Nigeria. And I thought Buhari, as a man of
integrity, of impeccable character, fits that bill. But, three months after the election, Nigerians
are getting impatient because most of them
cannot wait for even one second. I was the first
to write an article titled, ‘’In Search Of Patience’’,
telling the people to exercise patience with the
man. But being patient does not mean we should fold our arms indefinitely. There are
things that can still be done. I found a proverb
some where which says ‘’the meat of antelope
tastes very good, but while it is cooking, we can
still make do with groundnut’’. While we are
waiting for that big action, some things must keep us going, whether pop corn, ice cream or
something. If the National Assembly, within
some minutes, approved about 15 Special
Advisers; so, what is stopping us from picking
our National Security Adviser, if we have to
change the one there now. How about the Chief of Staff, the Principal
Secretary, the Secretary to the Federal
Government. The longer it takes, the longer the
tension, and also the longer the pressure on Mr
President. I want the president to know that if
they begin to put pressure on him, things may begin to fall apart. Had it been some things are
already in place, I am sure the tension would
have reduced. But things have rotten so much so that many
people support the president taking his time
before making any appointments. No. I was once a presidential candidate. Before a
man says he wants to be president, he must
have his plans and blue print of things that he
saw not working properly. As such, he thought
he had solution to them. Yes, you might not have
100% solution to the problems, but you have a fair idea of what needed to be done urgently.
And you said you have the answer to them
before you offered yourself to serve. And there
is nobody more experienced than President
Muhammadu Buhari. He was there over 30 years
ago. He also acted in other capacities before now. So, I expect him to be able to know what he
wants to do. Your principal staff, you will know
who they are, and you will appoint them. Even
the ministers, by now, there is no law that says
all the ministers must be ready at the same time.
The problems we have in Nigeria are so big that one second is like eternity. I pleaded with people
few weeks back to be patient, but I am telling
you that the public outcry is no longer
favourable to our cause. And I don’t want us to
lose that moment to the concerns of the people.
It is like a plane that is about to take off. The outcry, some have said, is genuine but
that people are not well informed about the
enormity of the problems at hand? No one is crying foul. Don’t let us misuse
language. They are only asking for action. They
have the right to that. Their expectation was that
of a magician. That was what I wrote in my
article. What the Nigerians expect of you is like
that of Jesus Christ turning water into wine, raising Lazarus from the dead. I wrote another
article, ‘’Buhari and the burden of expectations’’.
To whom is given, much is expected. Nigerians
saw him as magician. They believe he has
talismanic powers to transform Nigeria from
penury to prosperity. You can’t blame them. Nobody is blaming Buhari, we are just saying
‘please sir, time is not on your side’. I am not one
of those who will rush him. I am just reflecting the mood of the nation. I am a
journalist. I gave him hints of what people
expect him to do. I am not one of those who
write abstract nonsense. I write constructively as
a patriotic citizen. I joined the struggle since my
days at University of Ife in 1978. I have never stopped since then. I also a country my children
can live in and live in peace. I want a country
where no girl would vanish into thin air for two
years without any trace. I want a country where
young school leavers would get jobs. I want a
country where I will not spend all my money to generate electricity. I want a country where the
infrastructure meets international standard like
other oil producing countries. I want a country
where our people will not be too distant from
their leaders. Talking about sudden change, you were
known to be a friend and admirer of the APC
National Leader, Ashiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, but
suddenly you started supporting the Senate
President, Senator Bukola Saraki, against his
party? There is nothing sudden in that. From day one, I supported Saraki for various reasons. I will say
that, boldly, any where. And I stand by it. I
supported him based on empirical facts of what I
know. One of it….. READ ALSO: Senate Presidency: Saraki Camp Accuses APC Leadership Of Interference (Cuts in)But you are not a member of the
party? Yes, that is the beauty of it all. So how come you are saying authoritatively
that ‘’from what I know’’? I interact with people. At my level, a 55-year-old
man, I have friends everywhere. I have contacts.
I say this with every sense of responsibility. I
don’t know of anybody who worked harder
than Saraki, Amaechi and the rest of them for
Buhari. Yes, so many people worked for Buhari, but I am telling you that from my own stand
point, from my interactions, these people
mentioned almost worked themselves to death
for Buhari. As a matter of fact, at a time, some
people were saying it was better to have
consensus candidate for the party so that there won’t be rancour after the primaries; but some
people refused, saying they were not ready to
step down for Buhari. Saraki was one of the first people who declared
total and unflinching support for Buhari.
Amaechi adores Kwankwaso. I know that for a
fact. Ameachi loves Kwankwaso to death. But
because of Buhari, Amaechi refused to support
Kwankwaso. I don’t know if Kwankwaso will forgive him for that. But, he was honest enough
to tell Kwankwaso that ‘’I have given my word to
Buhari, I cannot turn back’’. Same thing with
Saraki. I know for a fact that Saraki worships
Tinubu. Quote me. Maybe our Oga (Tinubu)does
not know it. You know, sometimes, you don’t know those who love you if you have a lot of
crowd around you. But I am saying it to you that
Saraki, the Senate President, worships Tinubu. Then or till now? I am sure till today. Saraki was one of Tinubu
disciples. In fact, when some people were saying
Tinubu wanted to hijack the party by installing
his men, Saraki and Amaechi were among those
who said ‘no, we must give our leader whatever
he wants; we must not humiliate our leader’, because they(new PDP) had the power at that
time to install their own candidate and they
would have won, because the new PDP that
joined APC at that time was formidable enough.
But, they insisted they must defer to Tinubu. It is
what I know, not that they told me. There are people who may go behind and tell
the leaders lies, but I love Tinubu to the extent
that I will never tell him a lie. I will tell him only
what I know. So, among those who worked so
hard day and night, gathered those who could
support the campaign, Saraki was one of them. Amaeachi risked his entire life for that campaign.
In an association of five or more political parties,
I expected that immediately after victory, all of
you would have come together to decide which
of the parties in the association takes what. That
was not the case. My advice to those of us who are close to
Ashiwaju Tinubu is that people should prevail on
him not to oppose Saraki because he is one of
his men. If you have children and you show one
that he is the preferred child above other ones,
they will be angry. I think Saraki felt betrayed. If I were Ashiwaju, I would have done what the
president did. I can almost bet my life that the
President Buhari had a preferred candidate even
though we didn’t know who the person was,
but he said he would not interfere. It will get to a stage in life where two of your
children are fighting for something, you stand
back and let them go to the field and whoever
wins, you support him, not that you tie the arms
of one against the other. You have not even told
us why you are supporting one against the other. I have not read it anywhere. The only
thing I have so far read was that Senator Lawan
is a ranking member, beyond that, what else?
Beyond that, nobody sold Lawan to us. But the elections in both chambers appear to
be polarising the party? Yes. That is what it will come to if you supported
one child against the other. I predicted it. Go and
read my article, titled, ‘’Let’s honour our heroes’’,
in which I canvassed that we must honour those
people who worked for the party. I saw this
coming because whoever knew a little bit of the rudiment of politics would have predicted same.
Don’t forget that the generation of today is
different, the temperament is different. The man’s
(Saraki) life ambition was to be Senate President,
to, at least, go beyond what his father achieved
of being the Senate Leader. That is the dream of everybody in life, to surpass your father’s glory.
That is why you had a W. Bush, and then, a
George Bush Jr. and then a Jeb Bush coming, if it
happens. You must know that a Saraki who had that kind
of ambition, you could not discourage him. If
you are not going to support him, don’t
discourage him. That was my position. I am not
saying Tinubu had no right to support Lawan or
anybody for that matter. But I know from my interactions with the senators particularly from
South- West, many of them were secretly
supporting Saraki but for the fear of Tinubu and
the backlash, they didn’t come out in the open.
And when this was about to happen, I sent
people close to Ashiwaju to tell him that this was what was happening. Whenever I met those South-West senators, they
would say, E ba ore yin soro(please talk to your
friend), but I can no longer do that, those days
are gone. Today, if you go to Ashiwaju’s house,
it is like a market place. And in a market place, all
human beings will be there, and, most of them, for one purpose or the other. The reality is that
has Tinubu accepted Saraki as one of his
children and did not show any open bias against
him? I am speaking facts, I am not taking sides. I
am one million times closer to Tinubu than
Saraki. But I will always support the under dog. That is me. When General Buhari was going to speak at
Chatham House in London, contrary to what the
Fayose and co were saying that it never took
place and that the man was in air ambulance…. I
was in contact with Amaechi and Saraki. He was
going to speak on Thursday, I left London via Madrid on a Tuesday for Ghana. I got to Accra in
the evening. On Wednesday, Saraki contacted me
and said Buhari was going to speak at Chatham
House. I told him that I just got to Accra last
night. He pleaded that whatever I could do,
media wise, to make the day successful, I should do. So, I contacted an international photographer
and asked him to meet up with Amaechi while I
took the next available flight back to London.
Saraki was shocked and excited that I could
return to London the following day for the event.
So, I knew the efforts of Saraki and Amaechi. And when you talk about party supremacy, yes,
the party is always supreme but not party
dictatorship. Yes, the party will advise you, but
you too will have a say. The party is made up of
human beings. Even a father cannot be absolute.
This is democracy. Why did the Senate South-East caucus reject
Lawan? Was it Saraki that rejected him? The party
can make recommendation but everybody must
be carried along. It would have been impossible
to win that (Senate) election without carrying
PDP along. What I expected from our leaders from the South-West was to have accepted the
voice of God, whether it was controversial or not.
Aminu Tambuwal emerged as Speaker from the
PDP, it was controversial. And he remained
Speaker till May 29, PDP didn’t kill him for that,
neither was he called names. Tinubu is a father- figure to all of them, I think that is the role he
should be playing. READ ALSO: Have You Seen These Heart-Melting Photos From Dele Momodu’s Birthday Gig? Are you Tinubu’s boy? Tinubu is my mentor. And I won’t join those
who mislead our master. There is nothing wrong
in being anybody’s boy. If you humble yourself,
God will lift you up. I will always respect Tinubu.
He is older than me, minimum of 10 years. So, if I
cannot call him my father, anybody who wants to disrespect his own father can go ahead, he is
free. You said the late Abiola has more than 70%
influence on you, it is like you are fanatical
about this man? Yes. I worked briefly in one of his companies,
Concord, from 1988 to 1990. Because of my
visibility in five of the titles on the Concord stable,
coupled with my assistance in getting Shina
Peters to play in his house for a party he hosted
for the Super Eagles at that time, I became known to him and, from there, we became
bonded. While a lot of people were following
him because of money, I was always going to
see him, mainly for mentorship. I was a disciple
of Abiola, I later became an apostle. I could
almost tell you how Abiola would react to any situation. There are two people today in my life
that affected me: Abiola and the other one who
I call a spirit you don’t see but you feel. That is
Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr. He is just incredible. I have
learnt a lot from these two men. You cannot be
great if you don’t recognise greatness in others. That is why I say that about 70% of what I have
learnt today is from the late Abiola. Ovation is 364 pages, from less than 100
pages. Is that not too voluminous? The idea is to make every issue of Ovation a
collector’s item. Something you cannot throw
away or use to sell groundnut. Ovation is a
lifestyle magazine. You have to aspire to be
there. There was a woman who called some
years back from Ilorin, Kwara State. She had been dreaming for 10 years about two things,
that is when her daughter is getting married,
Ovation to cover the wedding, and having Sikiru
Ayinde Barrister to perform, even if he was
going to come on wheel chair. She fulfilled the
two dreams. Barrister played for her before he passed away. It is not like any or every other
magazine. It is very spiritual in nature in its birth,
conception, sustainability. Some say you are trying to scare your
competitors away? There is nothing wrong with that. In anything
you do, if you are not strong enough, your
competitors will come and kick you away. I leant
that from Mike Adenuga who puts everything in
his business to make a difference. So, we have to
put everything we have back into the magazine and that was why we have the French version of
the magazine which has been running since
2006, because we do French covers. We have
done cover in Hausa language before. We are
experimental. That is why the fun has been on
for close to 20 years now. We will be 20 next year April. We are also presently having the
television version of it, now airing on Silverbird
and Ben TV in London. Which of these editions would you say is
most outstanding for you? Every copy of ovation, as I said, is a collector’s
item. Every copy of ovation is a work of art and
science. We go to the very extreme to give our
readers the best value for money. That is why it
is probably the most expensive magazine in the
whole of Africa. Even at that, you cannot cover the cost, because every copy is like a hand-
woven work of art. We have been with the same
printer in London for the past 15 years. I am
proud that in Africa, a company fully controlled
by an African can think about quality; that, I
think, is the greatest secret of ovation. Those who buy it do so because of its quality. When
President Jonathan’s daughter got married,
Ovation was the magazine of choice, it was the
official magazine, and that was despite my
opposition to the PDP. I am a professional to the
core. The magazine is for everybody. Whether you are
in PDP, APC, APGA, any party at all. When the
Queen of England was coming to Nigeria,
Ovation was chosen by Buckingham Palace as
the official magazine for Her Majesty’s visit. When
Dubai was going to be marketed to Africa, the British trade partners invited us to London to go
to Dubai to take pictures all over Dubai and
produced an edition which we called ‘See Dubai
and Die’. Of course, that changed how people
perceived Dubai because, before then, it used be
only traders who went to Dubai. So, I cannot say a particular edition is the best. I
can give you some of the memorable ones.
Dr.Dehinde Fernadez Island in New York, to me,
that is epic. Then going to Maiduguri, Borno
State, to photographe Alhaji Muhammed
Indimi’s house called House of Gold, I have never seen anything like it. It is an incredible
monument. I flew in Collin Ramsay, the father of
all photographers, in his late 70s, from London.
The man who had taken world celebrities
photographs including Imelda Marcos. That was
the level that we took photography to. Some said when we first started that within six
months, it was going to perish, but here we are,
19 years after, still standing. You said you are not rich, even with the
success of Ovation? Wealth, I believe, is relative. People in Africa,
especially in Nigeria, tend to assess achievement
in terms of money. I don’t. My biggest
achievement today is creating a global brand; a
brand that anywhere I am, and I have been on
all the continents in the world, I have both brand and name recognition. I have been able to
build a double brand. That is one of the most
difficult things to do as an entrepreneur. When
you mention Microsoft, your mind naturally goes
to Bill Gates. You mention Apple and your mind
goes to Steve Jobs. You mention Virgin and your mind goes to Richard Branson. You mention
Ovation, your mind must go to Dele Momodu.
that is my greatest achievement. Every other
thing, God will take care of it.

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2 Comments

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