A Lot Has Changed Since Buhari Took Over – Dele Momodu

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Source: Naij.com

In this interview with Michael Abimboye, journalist, social critic and former presidential candidate, Dele Momodu, speaks on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other sundry issues. Excerpts:

Dele Momodu

Naij.com: You campaigned for the election of President Buhari. Three months into the administration, what has changed?

Dele Momodu: I think a lot have changed I will say even if I think three month is still a very short time for the new government, certainly electricity have improved maybe not the way we want it but people that carried the rumour that maybe the fear of Buhari is making a lot of people to sit up. The refineries are beginning to work and yet they have not appointed ministers yet things are beginning to happen.

He is definitely reforming the NNPC that government department have been in practical shamble and something needed to be done urgently so definitely lot of thing lots of activities are going on. The war against corruption has started earnestly. We all know how the world sees Nigeria when it comes to issues of corruption.

Naij.com: Some people have said Buhari’s anti-corruption war is targeted against Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members only, do you think this is true?

Dele Momodu: That is not true. Timipre Sylva’s case is still on, he is an APC man. People just carry rumour. The truth is, naturally, there would be more PDP people been called because they were the dominant party so what do you expect?  And I personally have even written that they should not witch hunt anybody. I don’t support kangarooism.

I believe that war against corruption should be done across board and should not also too loud because sometimes if the noise becomes too much like it was pre-2007 and at that time I wrote against it. People said are you defending corruption, but the thing is, you don’t set fire to a whole village because you want to catch a few rats.

We have to manage it well otherwise it becomes totally chaotic and if care is not taken, that will be the only thing he will be battling with and there are different methodologies for fighting corruption everywhere in the world.

There are people you don’t try on the pages of newspaper. Maybe you know where the money is, you call them and say I know you have 1.2 billion somewhere, go and bring the 1 billion and maybe you let him go, that way, you save cost for litigation and there are also innocent people. Your enemy can write petition against you and the EFCC grabs you and the newspapers in Nigeria pounce on you, you have already been convicted. That system, that style definitely has to change.

Naij.com: If you had contested during the election and won, what would you have done differently in the three-months reign of President Buhari?

Dele Momodu: Well the only thing I would have done which have not been done and only me can understand why the issue of appointment. apparently maybe what they expected from me is not what they have seen maybe the situation is far worse. Like a doctor, doctor might come in and say I have fever like symptoms and I think I have flu. And the doctor examine you and realise its cancer, the treatment of cancer is different from the treatment of malaria so am willing to give him the benefit of doubts and I have the privilege of speaking with him and I know he means well and I know it’s working very hard, you won’t go to Aso rock now you meet people hanging around the corridor like it used to be. Serious if only for that he has achieved something

Naij.com: People have asked the president to probe the former president, Goodluck Jonathan. What do you think?

Dele Momodu: I don’t know if Buhari has a case against him. I don’t know the deal the peace committee agreed to you know before the election they brought them together.

Usually the fear of most government why they don’t want to leave power is persecution outside power but if Hugh money have disappeared under the watch of the former president am sure even if they don’t want to embarrass or anything. If they can trace such money then the natural thing to do, for example we hear all types of rumours twenty billion dollars a times that is a lot of money anywhere in the world.

If any human being has that you are one of the richest people in the world. So it not a kind of money government want to loss especially government that need money desperately a lot of government can’t pay salary they can’t pay anything g. the need to bring out these money from where ever they are

Naij.com: There were rumours on social media that you made President Buhari’s ministerial list. Would you serve in his administration if eventually appointed?

Dele Momodu: I was indeed flattered by the rumours because I don’t know where they got it from, I met the president and he never and am serious and God is my witness we never discussed anything about appointment. I didn’t go there to seek for appointment.

I went there for a better Nigeria to offer my opinions and I told him am already a special adviser who is not paid by government and I advise them by chance every week. I did advice Jonathan but I was not in government.

The terms of this if I like to react to issues and situation when they arise or occur. Am not sure what will happen am not sure anybody is thinking of someone like me. Don’t forget that am not a member of APC, in fact some people don’t know me if not because I supported Buhari. And I know that a state can only produce maybe one especially now they are trying to reduce the cost governance so I don’t know if a Dele Momodu from Edo state will be qualified or recommended or endorse by my governor comrade Adams Oshomole but I think this thing should be done on merit.

I will support whoever he pick am not desperate. I know if the government need me they will find me.

Naij.com: Who would you like to see as ministers?

Dele Momodu: I have written about them many times. Some of them must be people who are tested, some of them have never been in government. You can take this down they must be people of accomplishments without any bias or favour the great fan and admirer of Donald Duke.

I believe Donald Duke he will work. We need someone who understands what infrastructure is about and he had shown that while he was governor of cross river. I love Rotimi Amaechi he is a man of a strong heart he was able to demonstrate . I visited some of his projects when he was governor of Rivers state. If all our schools in Nigeria could look like the Amaechi School in Rivers nobody will complain I will want my kids to go to government schools.

So the amount of money we are losing to foreign countries Benin republic, Ghana, Togo, Ukraine Malaysia where ever you turn you find Nigeria students. That money should be used in our country developing our economy but because we all believe that our education has gone bad if not dead.so everybody wants to run away.

Naij.com: You supported Senator Bukola Saraki’s emergence as Senate President. Don’t you think he should have obeyed the party’s directive?

Dele Momodu: I rather let sleeping dogs lied my support for Dr Saraki is not based on any friendship. I am a very big fan and admirer of Bola Tinubu. If you love someone one month before that crises started lets honour our heroes and what was the idea behind it I knew the roles played by Rotimi Amaechi, Bukuola Saraki and others and I believed that a business when you form a partnership you are supposed to consider everyone. So in the business of politic I thought there will be a level filled but what I saw was that some people were anchor some people were manner and were not to be allowed to aspire to greatness.

The dream of every human being is to aspire to greatness. I rarely defended the fundamental human right the Saraki or Dogara on principle. There is nothing to do with all the things I have being hearing because he is your friend you have been paid. When I write to support Buhari, I have been paid when I write to support Saraki, I have been paid people, when I write about Zahara, I have been paid.

People will not respect you if that is what you do go around collecting bribes. I have been writing now for over thirty years. When you see a man with a great interest people see you, people treat you, when you are paid for a job.

When I support Jonathan I never met Jonathan one on one like this yet I demonstrated on the street of Abuja for Jonathan when he was there was I paid then Jonathan is alive did I get an appointment Jonathan is alive . I have been in the struggle since 1978 I have never shy away. I got into trouble on June 12. I was among the first people arrested between July and august 1993. In 1995 I was sent on exile for years I didn’t step my foot in Nigeria people should try to be.

So when we say things we don’t mind when we were promoting Buhari they abused us the PDP boys abused us in different government levels. The APC boys also abused us we got one faction lost against the other I advise for people I don’t want to mention names, the day Saraki there was a particular governor I told congratulate Saraki, inmanainous people have to be amnainious they said they brought PDP in all that neither of them would have won without PDP.

People left PDP to APC and suddenly became angels and if you now speak to PDP you become Lucifer. We are all Nigerians, the president of the national assembly is the president of the whole assembly. So if you are the president of your party you must carry everybody along to take crucial decisions especially in an assembly where you don’t have an over whelming majority you must cooperate.

What happened was that there was a game of history and one was able to man over the other. There is no name they have not called me and I feel ashamed. Only a few months ago all of us including Saraki fought to make sure PDP left power now we are fighting ourselves we are abusing ourselves but am use to it. As long as am convinced that there is nothing am doing wrong I will stand by it. I am one of those that say Dr Saraki carry on

Naij.com: Do you think Buhari’s government can put an end to Boko Haram?

Dele Momodu: There is something we have to look at about this matter. Do you remember the time they said Buhari was sponsoring Boko Haram have now see that he is not. They called him an extremist and everything and eventually was because they Buhari will pursue them to the pit of hell or were ever but you see we always recommended and people abused us on that if we lack the capacity to fight Boko Haram then we must seek other measures because is not every war you can win at once people we want to go and negotiate with Boko Haram.

Are we happy that our fellow citizens are being killed. Whatever can bring Boko Haram to an end I will support. If they are Nigerian, we don’t know how they are able to penetrate our security but all I know is that people are dying. If there are people and I have ready an interview of one of the greatest presidents of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, were he said if they had listened to me on my advice so you know, he even went there and as soon as he left there they killed.

Maybe we should have followed and didn’t ignore. Is like you have that you wood for a long time it will scatter and that I what just happened now. The thing has gone so deep and the state of helplessness, the helplessness, joblessness.

Naij.com: You are a busy man, yet you maintain a regular column in This Day newspaper, what does it take to be a columnist like Dele Momodu?

Dele Momodu: Well I thank God for everything because I didn’t sell bags of lies to the press I step out of right to have that internally peace. Nothing is as good as being able to express you self. Every Friday where ever I am on the surface of the earth I must write.

Nobody can imagine how difficult it is to be a Dele Momodu. I have to do so many things. So am happy that people love what I do. On Saturday night a great photographer who called me the other day do you know your column is the most read in Nigeria I don’t know I haven’t seen the figures what I know is if I will judge by twitter.

Some people say am reading it with my breakfast I feel good about it, I mean it’s not easy to write 2,000 words every Friday. If I tell you a secret you will not believe it. Every article write 99% afer writing it that night I send it to my lawyer and who is my lawyer, Prince Adedamola Aderemi. He reads every article except am late or he is leaving London and I don’t send it to him before 12 even on the plane he is looking to make sure you don’t make any stupid mistake.

Of course I read comments on the This Day comment. People abuse me I go more for Twitter because it has more people, if there are two people abusing me on this day. You find comments on Twitter, Facebook and so on. Because I know every article I write is a work of art. I am very stylish in the way I use my choice of words even the headlines. People ask me, on Fridays my family don’t talk to me I sit on my own to write.

Watch the interview below:

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