Adejare Adegbenro, an entrepreneur is an interesting personality who belongs to the clans of great politicians but he is not a politician. His late grandfather, Chief Dauda Soroye Adegbero was the Acting Leader of the defunct Action Group (AG), and at one point, the Premier of the Western Region who died 42 years ago.
Equally, his grandfather from maternal side was the late Pa Alfred Rewane who was a silent politician and financier of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). He fought for democracy but was unfortunately assassinated on October 6, 1995, 22 years ago for whatsoever reason best known to the assailants.
In this interview, the well-travelled businessman, who believes in Nigeria unity, says economy is piking up under President Muhammadu Buhari.
He spoke on other issues of national interest.
With your background as a descendant of great politicians, are you also a politician?
I am not a politician. I am a businessman. Though I was born into politics and I know politics. I believe I know politics. But I believe there are certain times you have to choose what you want whether you want to be a businessman or a politician. I believe I don’t have the right temperament to be a politician.
But I will always give assistance, I will always grant interviews and I will always say what I believe is right for humanity and the country especially in the political terrain that we are in today.
As a businessman, are you comfortable with President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of governance?
With the way President Muhammadu Buhari has started, I believe he is putting the country on course. Although he is old school so to say, his efforts at making Nigeria better are on the right track. The problem with us, the youth and middle-age people is that we think we know all. And so, we don’t want to be patient with the old people who have seen it all and who have garnered required experience to put things right. With Buhari, I believe he has the right temperament for the job because all the people that voted for him in a free and fair election believe in him and are satisfied with what he is doing. I am sure he tapped from his past antecedent as former Military Head of State, when he waged serious war against corruption and indiscipline to know that no country moves forward without discipline. So, we must imbibe discipline in ourselves.
Another problem with us is that we Nigerians are always quick to judge. In the situation we find ourselves now, we need to give support and offer useful advice rather than heat up the polity which will not do any of us any good. Many people may be in a hurry and may not like the way President Buhari is using old school method to mend Nigeria, but how many countries of the world did not spend many years to get to where they are today? We are only two years into the rescue mission. Let us understand that magic doesn’t happen overnight.
I believe we should come together as one to do what is right. And it is gratifying to note that the economy is growing under Buhari. Whether we like it or not, there are positive things happening in the economy but politicians, because of their grievances are just trivialising things and playing politics with serious matters of national importance. Whatever political points they might want to make, I will say it is not right.
Rice is being produced in Nigeria today and people are feeding on rice. Yes, the poverty level is quite high, but there is time for everything. We must look inward first before looking outward. When we first satisfy our food belief in Nigeria, we can then start to focus on income from abroad. This was an economy that was totally bad before Buhari came in. it was strictly based on importation. What are will producing?
Well, what I discover in Nigeria is that people like to talk much about what is not right rather than talk about what is right. President Buhari is old enough to be my father, but God has a reason to bring back Buhari to be our president. It is natural if age and health challenges are affecting his agility, but we have to be patient with that and give necessary support and assistance for the benefit of all. So, all of us, in addition to support and assistance should be prayerful for the man to achieve his set goal for the country. There is no doubt he means well for the country and he is doing his best for the country. We have to be prayerful so he can utilise well the mandate we freely gave him to serve us. We should therefore stop trivialising matters that concern our collective good. His health challenges should not be the subject of discussion but the corruption he is fight of which all of us are guilty. We all caused it and we should all fight it or else Nigeria will not move forward. It is not what the President alone can do.
The only way we can foster unity in Nigeria is to imbibe my slogan which is, “I am a Nigerian, my tribe comes 2nd.” I am half Yoruba and half Deltan.
It seems the youths are impatient with this administration. What will you tell them?
First and foremost we must be patient. Secondly, they need to go and educate themselves on the past, on the formation of Nigeria. How Nigeria was formed. Then, if they are not sure, they should ask the elders to know how the country was formed then. I think lack of such knowledge led to what Nigeria is today. The education is necessary because they are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. The youth should learn how to earn power. Power is not taken just like that, they must earn it. All the people that ruled Nigeria earned the power to do so. Go and check at what age they started ruling the country. But some of our youth today just sit in their room and start to condemn the government and those in government. How many of them have come out to do anything about what they are complaining about?
Do you believe in one Nigeria?
Yes I do. And that is why I said, Nigeria first, and my tribe comes second. And until all of us believe in that slogan, we cannot move forward. And it would be a shame if the country fails to move forward because of our selfishness. Let us hold that slogan as part of where Nigeria stands for.
Nigeria is not too big to be one. How is it too big to be one? How is it that we have been living together for so long? People just bring that up for whatever political gain they want.
So, this slogan, ‘Am a Nigerian first and my tribe comes second,’ is what I am going to take to primary and secondary schools and the universities with my own money. Let people start to know and key into that thing that will make us be proud of our green passport.
How then do you think the government could handle various agitations across the country?
We should all agree that all the stakeholders, traditional institutions, politicians, should sit down with President Buhari to iron things out and chat a way forward. It is not for me to say what the way forward should be because I am also limited to a lot of information that I do not have. So, it would be unfair for me to say things I do not know.
All I want is a secured country, a business enabled country and to leave a legacy as a Nigerian for the children and the generations to come. That is Nigeria I want to have. When we were growing up, we used to drive from Lagos to Warri, to Ibadan and come back. Today, we cannot do it because of different agitations.
My father is a Muslim, I am a Christian. Would that make me hate my father? My son is also a Muslim, does it make me to hate him? His mother is from Zaria, my wife is from Ikorodu, Lagos. It is all intertwined. If the agitators say we should split Nigeria, how am I going to go about it? Am I going to spilt myself into several pieces? It is so cumbersome as far as I am concerned.
As a businessman, how conducive is Nigeria’s environment for business now?
It is changing. Discipline is coming. It is not business as usual as it was before. I mean the period that we used to be briefcases businessmen. You have to do the job now. It is not business as usual when people would collect contract, sell it and go away without minding whether the buyer did the job or not. Nigeria cannot continue like that. It is country that is solely based on oil. But right now, Buhari has got other channels of revenue and we must nurture it if we want the country to move forward.
And I don’t think four years is enough to do it. I pray God for good health and long life for President Buhari. It is left to him to decide whether he wants to do eight years or four years and bring out a successor. There are a lot of people in Nigeria today that can equally pilot the affairs of the country successfully. Just let us start with what we have now before we jump the gun. We have not finished a race, yet we are starting another race. We are confusing the masses.
When people like you refuse to join active politics, how can we come about the change we are longing for?
The necessary change is first and foremost, all of us should come together and look for viable people, well educated, well-travelled, knowledgeable, incorruptible, to come out and be voted for. As I always said, corruption starts from every single of us. Corruption doesn’t mean spending or giving out money. Fighting corruption is to abide by law, to be discipline. Can a Nigerian go to other countries and slap their policemen? It is inside us. But we are just naturally wicked people who don’t want to use our good side. It doesn’t make any sense. Let us stop being selfish and let us make this country great by putting that discipline first before any other thing. It is then you will see the drastic change in Nigeria.