Avoid monetary policy, Aboderin advises Nigerians – The Sun Nigeria
By Christy Anyanwu
Chief Abimbola Aboderin loves politicians who grew up on the closeness of his father, Olola Moyosore Aboderin, with politicians like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, Chief Adegoke Adelabu among others. But his meeting with MKO Abiola further tipped his interest in Nigerian politics.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, Chief Aboderin spoke about his dream for Nigeria in 2023, his book titled: ‘Democracy and the Untold Story of June 12’, his foray into politics and the dynamics of Nigerian politics .
Tell us what is the motivation behind the book “Democracy and the untold story of June 12”?
History is very important and the past embraces the future. The book tells everything that really happened on June 12. I was with late leader Lamidi Adedibu and MKO Abiola’s lawyer, Prince Bola Ajibola. The late MKO Abiola was a very good friend of mine, I met him through my father, the late Moyosore Aboderin, who happened to be a quiet but strong politician. Someone must have advised Abiola to seek my father’s help as a politician. That’s how we both became friends after my father’s introduction. I started seeing Abiola regularly because we were involved in defense cases.
How was your passion for politics born?
In 1992, I had already tried my hand at politics with the strong man of Ibadan politics, Adedibu. I started supporting Abiola’s presidential ambition on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Abiola was a very rich man. He would have made a big difference if he succeeded in presiding over Nigeria. He won the June 12 election, the best election ever held in Nigeria. He won the election even in the village of Bashir Othman Tofa. He was the most popular presidential candidate in Nigeria. He only had a slight problem with the SDP primary where delegates had to vote for who will emerge as the party’s standard bearer. He told me in confidence that his major problem was winning the primary. We started campaigning for him. As the son of a political leader and also a politician, I threw all my weight behind Abiola. We were able to raise funds for Abiola. We raised about 300 million naira. Myself, the lawyer for Adedibu and Abiola, we were the main people who started the fundraiser. This money was in my custody for more than 24 hours. If I was a bad guy, I would have taken it, but I’m a man of honor and I love this country. I never needed money from him because I was rich and came from a wealthy background. I was just working with him to make sure he won the election, which he did. I saw Abiola as a man who cares about Nigeria, he knew that Nigerians are suffering, he told us that he is fighting to stop the suffering of Nigerians. We were so sure that Nigeria will move forward after winning the elections. Until the election is cancelled. At this time, Baba Adedibu sent traditional warriors from Ibadan to Abiola to guard his house for security. Until the day we never saw him again without knowing that he had been hijacked by the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). As I said in my previous interviews, if NADECO had been patient enough, Abiola would have become president. Our own plan was for Abiola to leave Nigeria so he could declare himself president outside the country. Then one day I was walking to my office in Eric Moore Street, Surulere. Suddenly I saw Abiola in an open top car in a convoy and people were shouting his name MKO, MKO, that’s when I knew he was back home. This is the mistake he made. After his declaration as President of Nigeria, he was arrested. You cannot declare yourself king in the lion’s den. I had known the late head of the military state, Sani Abacha, for a long time. He craved power. I knew he was never going to cede power to Abiola. People thought the cancellation was tribally motivated, but that’s not true because the former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, was not a tribalist. Babangida wanted to do well, but some soldiers do not want Abiola. It was the best election in the history of Nigeria, the election was fair. Nigeria must cooperate with June 12, they must forget tribalism, religious differences, ethnicity, work now for Nigeria.
Why did you point the finger at NADECO on the Abiola case?
They did not handle the matter diplomatically. They backed Abiola to proclaim himself president in Nigeria when he knew Abacha was willing to kill for power. Immediately after the statement in Epetedo, Abiola was declared wanted by the government. He was later arrested and put in jail. Many June 12 activists were hunted down and imprisoned while many fled the country to escape Abacha’s brutality. NADECO members did their best, but with patience it could have been better.
When did you get into politics full-time and also contest an election?
I am passionate about good governance in Nigeria. My father, while I was studying in the United States, visited me and told me that I should go home to join the Senate. I participated in political campaigns when I ran for the Senate. The cost is very high. Everyone asks you for money. The language people understand during campaigns is money, money and money. I had about nine local governments to cover during my campaign. Everyone wants money from you. After each ward meeting, you must feed and pay people. I have no other country but Nigeria, Nigeria is a very blessed country. I am not new to politics. I have already contested the Senate in Oyo State. The people of Ibadan voted for me, but in the end they changed the numbers. I won the senatorial election, but the Independent National Electoral Commission declared my opponent, Abiola Ajimobi, the winner. I was not angry, I would have gone to court, but I let it be. Ajimobi later served as Governor of Oyo State before his death. I went back to the All Progressives Congress platform, we were in the primary at the stadium, so they turned off the light and it was rigged again.
What is your opinion of the political aspirants in Nigeria?
I want people to earn money before entering politics to avoid stealing public funds. Politics and governance should not be livelihoods. It shouldn’t be a lucrative business. I want politicians to emulate MKO Abiola and the type of politics played in the western world where no one has the ability to steal from government coffers. MKO would have been a great president because he had support from all over the world. The economy would have been better than it is today. Food would have been cheaper. He was already spending his own money to solve the Nigeria problem. He had big plans for Nigeria. I advocate that the system and structure in Nigeria must be designed to prevent public servants from misappropriating public resources meant for the development of the country. For me, campaigning for elections in Nigeria is exorbitant. Politicians spend a lot of money on various groups of people such as party followers, women, youth, parish members, church, students, etc. This high cost of election campaigns leads to the looting of public funds when people end up winning elections and holding public office. No one will spend millions of naira to buy votes and want to recoup the investment after winning the election. The cost of campaigning is too high in Nigeria.
Let’s talk again about the vision to save Nigeria, from the June 12 issue?
I saved Nigeria in the past with my own money. We are in trouble, we have to save Nigeria. From security, to health, to defence. Nigeria must be saved from the base. In management, you have to prioritize everything. Nigeria, first of all, is a great nation, but we are competing against each other, everyone wants to be rich. Everything has to be prioritized. God gave us everything. We can look at the area of health.
I’ve been in so many hospitals, our people are dying everywhere and our leaders are eating fat. Look at the fields of defense, I presented the best weapons to the Nigerian police, who was able to help them fight these terrorists now. You have to analyze what the Armed Forces have. Look at education, things are not going well in this sector, students are buying papers and exam results. Parents no longer care about their children. We need to convene the stakeholders to find out exactly what the problem is. I traveled most of the roads to save the country after studying banking and finance in California, USA. Over there, they called me an African prince. As a leader, you become strong. You cannot call yourself a leader without any power. I took Abubakar Rimi to America in 198. To make the country better, I brought the best entertainment show in the world to Nigeria – Sunsplash. I used my connection to borrow money from the World Bank, Paris Club at age 31. I met with the German Foreign Minister and informed him of my interest in helping my country, I also informed my friend, Ibrahim Alfa, the Chief of Air Staff in Nigeria in his office, of my interest in helping Nigeria was when Chief SP Chu Okongwu was Minister of Finance.
What do you think the government should do to help young Nigerians?
It’s so sad that the leaders messed things up for the youngsters. Everyone’s ambition is to make money. They can kill to make money. It’s so sad. My advice is to love your God. I’m also a pastor, I preach in Computer Village, I’m an evangelist just to tell people about their creator. Our leaders have no plans for young people. In America, their plan for young people, they create jobs for them. Most young people in this country are unemployed and that is very sad. Look at 419 and yahoo guys.
Your dream for 2023?
I pray that people take it seriously. There should be no more monetary policy. Our people should say no to the politics of money in 2023. As on June 12, people voted according to their spirit and not because of money. Nowadays, it’s money and money. We should vote for people who can do something for our country.