By Monsuru Olowoopejo
CHIEF Tola Adeniyi, a former Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria, Plc, in this interview with Vanguard, bares his mind on the challenges confronting the nation and possible solutions. Adeniyi, who is set to launch a book referencing some of his media works gave reasons for making the publication at this time. Excerpts:
Why did you publish this book at this time, considering the state of the country?
I am bowing to pressure from friends, colleagues and the younger generation, who want to know about Tola Adeniyi and other details about the country and wish to have it in a permanent form. Journalism is history written in hurry but once they have it in a book form, they can always refer to it.
In over 50 years of writing, I wrote over 20, 000 articles. The first edition is ‘Nigeria in the belly of Vultures’. The second edition is titled: ‘Nigeria in the belly of Vampires’ and the last edition is ‘’Nigeria in the belly of the Military: 1966 to 1999’.
With the topic of your book, Nigeria in the belly of Vultures, what does ‘vulture’ symbolise?
It means those that have killed Nigeria. This is because vultures do not eat fresh food but dead animals. Some people saw that Nigeria was dying and they began to feed on it. They have gone beyond vulture and that was why I titled the second series of my book, ‘Nigeria in the belly of Vampires’. They have started sucking the blood of the country and commenced their activities before President Muhammadu Buhari came to power.
And rather than the president ending their activities completely, they became emboldened. We have vultures everywhere. Aside the local vultures, the British and the Americans are on the throats of Nigeria and they are ready to suck the blood of the country. I think Britain and the United States of America, USA, are among the vultures sucking the nation.
What should Nigeria do to get out of the grip of the foreign vultures? Should it align with China?
That was what affected many of the first generation of African leaders because they shifted alignment to Russia. Nigeria isn’t stable enough to align with anyone. The leadership that we have seems not to understand international politics. And to buttress this, in the current government, we have former Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is a leading expect in international politics; rather than make him the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Buhari administration asked him to oversee mining. It is a misplacement of priority.
At this stage of our democracy, why are we still battling with such challenges?
Nigeria is a building that has been cracking over the years. And it is a building that is about to collapse. What everyone is doing, specifically, is to patch it to prevent it from caving in; except for few years when it was learning how best to seat and crawl.
It has been a tale of woes. But when the Obafemi Awolowos, Nnamdi Azikiwes and Ahmadu Bellos were tending it to sit down, it had some stability. This is because it was experiencing regionalism, self determination and healthy competition, allowing the component parts filled with people who were selfless, genuine and focussed than those who took over from them.
Nigeria is a country that had good beginning, specifically in the hands of those who ruled it from independence to 1966.
Even before then, we all knew that it was a house built on a mirage because the amalgamation was a fraudulent document. And we all knew that sooner or later, the country will go the way other amalgamations like India, Sudan and others went. That is unless leaders of thought quickly join hands together to rescue this building before it finally collapsed.
Can the Buhari administration rescue Nigeria before it collapses?
The present administration has failed woefully. It is unfortunately headed by someone who doesn’t believe in Nigeria but a cabal. He can’t claim to love the country by his antecedents. What he has done in the last two years, he cannot claim to love Nigerians that are slaughtered daily by the herdsmen under his watch. I believe he isn’t doing anything about it. But if he claims to be working tirelessly to address the issue, it is all pretence and pretentiousness. He cannot claim to love the country if he parades the degree of nepotism, the like that had never been seen in Nigeria’s history, which is the worst form of corruption.
This government parades corruption, insensitivity, impunity and shows unconcern about to the sufferings of Nigerians. It cannot claim to be working in the interest of the citizens. Buhari has failed Nigerians and it has no business seeking for re-election in 2019, considering the insecurity that had enveloped the country in the last two years.
What do you think Buhari can do to end the mirage of challenges facing Nigeria after 57 years of existence?
The best solution is that governments; both federal and state, must stop to exist. We need to restructure before anything. If we go ahead to conduct the 2019 election, we will be electing public office holders who will be unable to pay salaries, improve security and parade impunity.
They will continue the same insensitivity. So it is continuity into oblivion. Thus, there is no way any reasonable Nigerian should support the call for continuity for an administration that does not care about security of lives and property of its citizens.
So we should we not go ahead with the 2019 election?
What I will advocate for is a national government where each ethnic group will be represented. Buhari could still be retained to complete his term while the national government takes charge of the country’s affairs and restructure the country. It will not be affected by religion and nepotism because the government will include everyone from different backgrounds. But if that fails, I believe that Buhari isn’t the only candidate that can represent the North.
They should present another candidate and not Buhari. The candidate should be someone who is well travelled and broadminded. He must also be someone who understands the arithmetic of Nigeria’s politics.
If you are asked to suggest any candidate, which one would you recommend for the north?
I cannot suggest anyone for them, though I know quite a number of leaders from the north but I am not in the position to do that for them.
When do we start the national government and how many years do we experiment with it?
This administration cannot continue to lead the country. It is wobbling. So, we must start the national government now. If he dissolves his cabinet today and asks every group to send their representatives, it would be done.
And the national government could last for another one and half years. It is easy for any country that wants to arrest its challenges. We don’t need 20 years to plan to have a national government. And I don’t think Buhari is interested in doing so because his mind isn’t tilting towards that.
You were one of the die hard supporters of Buhari. Are you going to support him in 2019?
I had Buhari’s photograph on the screen of my telephones since 2003. I have never for once sat down with the president but I shook hands with him when he was the head of state at the instance of General Abisoye. But in 2014, I founded a group called Global Intelligential for Buhari. We were 19 in the executive. Among the team were Dr. Babatunde Segoe, Prof. Durotoye, who was the secretary-General of the group, Mrs. Ojikutu was the leader for United Kingdom. I was the chairman. Our head office was in Canada while we had branches in United Kingdom, France, Germany, Holland, Australia, China and United States of America, USA. We campaigned and sourced for funds for him. We held our meetings through tele-conferences. After raising the funds, we sent the money to director of his campaign team, former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, now minister for Power, Works and Housing. After receiving the funds, he wrote an acknowledgement letter thanking us for the service we rendered.
Asides, I wrote more articles than anyone on the immediate past administration. It was on how it failed to address the challenges facing the country and why Nigerians should change the ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan. Looking at the present administration. I have told the administrator of that platform that he should change the name to Global Intelligential against Buhari.
So, why the change of name?
The reason is that he has disappointed us. What we had hoped for was not what we are experiencing now.
If your group is persuaded by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to sheath sword, what will your team do?
I will thank Tinubu because I respect him; he is a wonderful aburo (brother). But I will remind him of the nepotism the present administration has committed especially in its kitchen cabinet.