Honourable Saheed Ajadi Adegboyega was the gubernatorial candidate of Accord during the last general election in Oyo State. He spoke about how former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s alleged bad economic policies brought him into politics. Ajadi, a financial expert also explained why he parted way with former Governor Rashidi Ladoja. KUNLE GAZALI brings excerpts of the chat, enjoy!
Our readers will like to hear you speak directly about yourself?
My name is Ajadi Saheed Adegboyega, I am an indigene of Ibadan, born and bred in Ibadan. I had my primary school education in Ibadan, I went to Federal Government College, Minna, I furthered my education by going to the Polytechnic, Ibadan to study Accounting and I later proceeded to University of Ibadan where I obtained Masters in Managerial Psychology. I did my NYSC in Anambra State, Ogbunike to be précise. I see myself as a true Nigerian because I have lived in the three major regions of Nigeria; North, West, East I was born in the West where I also grew up, I later schooled in the North and served in the East. I am a Muslim and I am happily married with a wife and five kids. Before I ventured into politics, I had a couple of businesses that I run, they include; Sema Stores Limited; Saad Investment Limited, Green Biro Air Technology and Kukuchi Money Movement. I started managing a business since when I was fifteen years old. I used to assist my mum in running Sema Store; it was an wholesale outlet of Lever Brothers, Unilever and the likes of them, with this experience, I have been able to know the business’ technicality since when I was very young because I lost my parents at a very tender age of 13 and I have decided to be a man since then.
Out of all my siblings, I was the only one that went to a boarding school. My father was a banker so I can confidently say that I was born with a silver spoon. I used to fly airplanes to school then until I said no to my parents that I would rather prefer to travel to school using the train. The experience I garnered by traveling through train and at federal government college, Minna has really toughened me; I have been able to get the street life experience which has helped me a lot in my business and has really shaped my political perspective. Attending a federal government college made me to grow fast because I came in contact with different kinds of individuals and my decision making skills and leadership ability helped me to overcome all these challenges. Rather than being the one to be bullied by the tough guys in schools considering the kind of house I came from, they ended up doing my wishes. I have had to be responsible not only for myself but for others as well since then. During my sojourn in School, we won the Federal Government College Football Competition, the federal government pledged to give us scholarship to go to France, but we couldn’t go because we were not given eventually.
Were you also good in sports too?
I played every game for my school; basketball, volleyball, handball, football name it. I was very popular in school then. The girls were so crazy about me for my sporting talents and also for my commitment and dedication to my school cause.
Looking at what you have said so far, you are a very tough man. Will it be right to say that the experience you had while you were in secondary school and being a boarding student made you a tough person?
You are absolutely right.
Let talk about your sojourn in the political world, how did you get into politics?
I was a political appointee in Abuja between the year 2001 and 2005. I worked with a government organization called ICPC and I later resigned my appointment. My resignation was not unconnected with some of President Obasanjo’s economic policies as well as the needless fights he had with his then deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. I was angry because rather than moving the country forward, the duo were dragging the country backwards. I wasn’t happy with the presidency as well as the then Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo. I need not be a professor to know that some of their economic policies were not favourable to Nigerians. Having operated a Bureau De Change before, I knew that the foreign exchange policy Soludo introduced then was done for self-enrichment purposes.
Having tried to make my voice heard and nothing was done, I told myself that I couldn’t be part of that system and I resigned from ICPC.
Are you saying that during your time at ICPC you have direct contact with the like of CBN Governor and the President?
Not exactly, I read a lot, and by virtue of my position in ICPC I read a lot of newspapers and I also read a lot of books on economic. Besides, I studied Accounting and I manage a couple of businesses. A lot of economic policies introduced during Obasanjo regime were done in bad faith. The problem Obasanjo regime created is what the Buhari-led administration is dealing with now. It is a bandwagon effect. Okay, let me give you an instance on electricity; when President Obasanjo came in, he said NEPA was moribund, was not functional, why was he pumping money into NEPA when he knew it was moribund? Decentralization of NEPA would have been the best solution to our electricity woes then. If we have coal somewhere in the East that can generate electricity let’s use it. if it is hydro in another part, let’s use hydro. Federal government can then align all these powers generated in different parts and pack them in the national grid, that is the way Obasanjo ought to have taken. The grid that has been moribund since the sixty you need to rejig it.
I have tried to help our state via a friend during the time of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala. I decided to use a friend because of the bad experience I had with the leadership (Adedibu and his cronies) of the PDP then. Being a sensitive person, I chose to stay away from them but I wanted to help my state grow having privileged information that federal government was planning to do certain things for some states then. I called this my friend who was also Akala’s friend. I told him everything he needed to do and I also gave him a startup capital.
But to my dismay, this my friend rather used the money for what it was meant for they ended up sharing the money on frivolous and personal things.
The project -had it been it was executed it would have given our state an economic leap. But I wasn’t feeling completely dejected because all these projects can still be implemented in our state.
I was the one who engaged the white man to give us technology for almost five years to train our people on how to repair cars. And this was what led to the formation of NATA. This is because Nigerians love big cars but they don’t know how to repair them, they have to destroy one to repair another. That we should teach them to be able to use diagnosis tools and computer to detect faults and repair cars, eventually we succeeded. I led the team with the present Governor of Benue State, Ortom, who was a minister then to train people across the country; I trained all the mechanics on the use of diagnosis and computer to repair cars.
You brought the diagnosis machines to Nigeria, when was that?
It was around 2006, 2007 with the support of some micro finance banks.
Let us dwell more on your political sojourn?
After I resigned my appointment in Abuja, I came down to Ibadan to Baba Adedibu’s house and that marked the beginning of my journey in politics.
Adedibu was the leader of PDP in Oyo State. On getting to his house, I met Baba Adeojo, Senator Folarin, Hazeem Gbolarunmi and others there. I told baba Adedibu my mission- that I wanted to vie for the Senate. Baba Yekini Adeojo was telling me to go to House of Representatives because he knows my father, but I refused. He was wandering why people are begging me to take the House of Reps slot but I said going to Abuja is not about enjoyment or money but it is about quality representation. By calculations, it is easier to get your bills passed in the upper chamber than in the lower chamber; why? because you are dealing with fewer number of people.
As a business man, what is your take about President Buhari’s style of governance vis-a-vis its impact on the economy?
President Buhari is doing a yeoman’s job. He has been righting the wrongs of the past. Let’s begin with the recent subsidy removal. Why will Obasanjo and others make noise over fuel subsidy removal? Who are those collecting subsidy? When did subsidy start? Where are the companies collecting subsidy? Who are the ones owing oil companies, do they have license or not?
From what you just said, can we say that subsidy is a scam?
If it is not a scam they have removed subsidy now, petrol is N161, is that not telling you that it is a scam? Between you and I, what it means is that in six months petrol might become N100 if crude does not increase since the prices will be determined by demand and supply. Why then should we be willing to pay some people billions of naira every month? At least now, we have seen that to remove subsidy it is only a difference of 16 naira that is N145 to N161. Who are those collecting these differences? If President Buhari sees that difference in billions of naira, are we not going to have roads in Nigeria in every part of the country?
People have lost faith in the President Buhari’s led federal government...
I believe strongly in Nigeria, I believe in patriotism and I know that our number one citizen is a patriotic Nigerian. I refused to be drawn into APC/PDP issues because if we are going to use that as a yardstick, PDP wasted 16 years of our lives. Tell me what PDP did to Nigeria? They sold all our properties and privatized – Obasanjo was the one who spearheaded the spree; Buhari is trying to buy those assets back through his nose. Where is Nigerian Airways? Who bought them? Buhari is the one that is paying all the salaries and pensions today after 20 years. Where is our Shipyard and dockyard? We are now blaming Buhari for wanting to buy back all these assets. Buhari wants to bring back airline – we are going to pay through our nose, he wants to bring back industry, we are going to pay through our nose because we have sold everything that we once had. Obasanjo ceded Bakassi to Cameroun without conducting a plebiscite; Show me a leader that gives part of his territory away without the consent of the people resident in that part and I will show you a traitor.
I was supposed to study International Laws and Relations with N10 million in a top university in America; I changed my mind in the last minute because I did not trust America. America does not like us but Obasanjo likes America. Obasanjo – if we are not careful might become an agent of America and the West because all his policies were pro West.
It seems you like Buhari?
I don’t like anybody, I love Nigeria. I trust in Buhari because I believe he does not have any business in stealing your penny.
How are you so sure about this?
Very good, he has declared his asset. He declared cows, horses, three bedroom flat. He doesn’t have a house in Abuja. President Buhari does not have a C of O of any property in Abuja, go and check. So, if he has a third party, does Obasanjo not have?
So, you are angry about that?
I was very bitter because he had the opportunity to save his people but instead, he saved his own neck. He has secured his future with his family that is why he is building mansions up down; We all came to this world with nothing so we are going with nothing. Posterity will judge both Obasanjo and Buhari
What would you consider as the achievements of Buhari led-government?
President Jonathan laid the foundation of the second Niger bridge, he did not put a brick on the floor rather it was Buhari that is doing it. What about the rail system, we have two tracks now; independent tracks, not a train waiting for another in one station of 10KM away that the people must wait until that one board before they cross in, we have parallel lines working now…in fact, the Oyo State Governor has entered it if you are not aware…Do you know the economic implications of this railway system for Oyo State? What I expect Governor Seyi Makinde to be doing now is to strategize for Oyo State for the future. He ought to have come up with an economic roadmap of 20 years. What President Buhari is doing now will boost the economy of this state later, provided we tap into it. Right now, we are not aware that the population of Oyo State has exploded, look at the quantum leap of supermarkets in Ibadan for instance. Structures of various sizes are springing up because our consumption graph is going up. There is actually too much money around in some sectors that we need to take away and put in other sectors. When you go around Ibadan in the evening go and look at the beer parlours, they are always full to the brim. Where do they get the money? If I were the governor I will take little of that money and put elsewhere.
Thank you, I will tax alcohol in my state, if you want to buy alcohol you must be ready to pay taxes. It is this same reason that is responsible for the proliferation of hotels in the city. Instead of the government to build industry so as to absorb our teeming unemployed youths, they will rather invest in hotels which does nothing but destroy the lives of our women; our secondary, universities girls have been turned to aristos, why? because there are no other alternatives. It even saddened me that a former gubernatorial candidate could not think out of the box. Despite all the money he realized as a civil servant he could not think of any other company to establish but only hotels.
You said you have three strategies that can turn this state around?
Those are my personal plans.
This is your state and you are so passionate about it?
You are right but I am of the opinion that everyone who aspires to govern this state ought to have had a blue print of what they intend doing. But sadly, the situation is not the case. Let everyone develop his own blueprint. Such blueprints are developed out of their vision for the state they are desperate to govern. But judging from what I have seen of these people, they really don’t have something tangible for the state. Some of them do not even know the state of finance of the state. That is why you seen them making frivolous pledges. How could you aspire to become the governor of this state without having a correct knowledge of the state’s debt profile. It means that they would only go there to trial by error. How could you say you are going to give the state an environmental facelift without having a proper environmental assessment of the state. Governance is a serious job that demands serious research and thinking. There is one key economic opportunity that past government in Oyo State has not worked on- and this is the issue of farm settlement. This is the reason why since all these years we have not forgotten late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Awolowo did not collect allocation from the federal government but yet he built one of the robust economies this country has ever experienced. That is what I have been telling people that I don’t need the federal government’s allocation to build a buoyant economy for Oyo State if I become the governor of this state. For God’s sake we have fertile and vast land that can make this dream come true. As the executive governor of this state, I can go anywhere and negotiate deal for Oyo State. It is just a matter of identifying the comparative advantage such countries have over us here. If this is meticulously done and there is a will that is backed up with good intentions, it won’t take long before Oyo state becomes a state that is self-sufficient in terms of everything.
But the problem we have been having is that majority of those people who have governed us do not have the necessary negotiating skills. That was why I wanted to go to Senate before the last election. My plan was to go to Senate for four years negotiate and sponsor the necessary bills that will put this state on the pedestal of economic buoyancy. But when I was not denied the opportunity in 2007, 2011 and 2015 my people came to me and said to me that I have tried.
Who denied you?
PDP denied me in 2007, Ladoja denied me in 2011 and in 2015.
Were you not given platforms to contest like other aspirants?
In 2010, when we set up Accord, what happened was selection all through because there was no primary at all, Ladoja picked all the candidates. Like I told you earlier, I was given House of Representatives ticket but I declined it. Pastor Sesan, who is late now, begged me to accept the House of Rep ticket, my followers also told me the same thing but I refused. Even with that I promised to support the party and its leadership with the little I have until we realize our objectives. Since that time Baba Ladoja has been wandering what kind of politician I am. I have issues with Baba Ladoja’s style of leadership but I am a party man to the core besides my goal in politics is not to amass wealth but to serve. If it is money, I thank God for what He bestowed me with.
Politically, what did you learn after the last general election?
I learned patience, steadfastness and to wait for God’s time
Going forward, what do you intend doing politically for now?
I am going to contest the governorship of Oyo State by 2023 and I have been praying for Governor Seyi Makinde fervently to succeed now because come 2023 it is going to be challenging for him. He needs to go and re-strategize with a view to delivering dividends of democracy to our people.
But as you already know sir, there is no certainty in politics?
I know, but I also know that our people’s eyes are opened. You can only deceive them once but definitely not twice.
There is something that is key to any politician to becoming elected in any political party! that is the leadership support but you seemed not to have rosy relationship first with Adedibu, then later with Ladoja?
I had a rosy relationship with Ladoja, the relationship I had with Ladoja was leadership-followership. But you as a follower you owe your leader the truth, to speak the truth; you as a leader, you owe your follower to allow them to speak the truth. All I did with Ladoja was very plain and honest, I told him the truth. So, my own experience in politics is what I just told you in summary, I am not here for Nigeria’s money I am actually here to ensure Nigerians makes more money and that is what President Buhari is trying to do. We have never in history, never closed our borders for this long and we never in the history said to the world that we are not going to buy rice from anybody and we are now sufficient in rice production, yes the price is on the high side of it but it will come down.
But our people do not see Buhari’s government the way you are trying to paint it because people are lamenting that the prices of goods and services are skyrocketing?
It is because of my own profession, I am an accountant so I have little experience in economics, my father, may his soul rest in peace used to train me about stocks and capital markets, I used to read a digest on Royal Bank of England, Royal Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Canada every week through my father. They give me their digest on how to run the economy, so I have had access to data since I was a child, I can project for you and you will wonder how I do that because I read, we have abandoned our culture, we are not dressing well, we are not reading well, we are not eating well. When did we start to eat rice in the morning? Everybody is eating rice in the morning now; fertility has become the issue now; do you know why? If your libido is ten times strong before and when you continue to eat rice your libido will decrease because the greatest cause of “jedijedi is” rice. There are so many things we need to do.
To be contesting election every other four years for the post of a Senate or Governor for that matter you must be a billionaire, Is it right to say that you are a super-rich man?
I am a very rich man, I am a very wealthy man, Dangote is a poor man compared to me, why? Because the potentials that I harbor they have not seen, they are only seeing the periphery of my potentials, you will see it when I am given the opportunity to serve. What I am able to do in my own private capacity is what I am telling you by driving business industries into Nigeria, that is telling you that we have the potentials to achieve great things.