Sunday, 24 April 2016

Dele Momodu talks about Buhari, Alison-Madueke, Saraki

Dele Momodu
 The veteran- controversial journalist, politician, entrepreneur and the Ovation magazine publisher, Dele Momodu has recently been in the centre of attention over his “candid letter” to the embattled Senate president Bukola Saraki. In this interview with Nonye Ben-Nwankwo and Gbenro Adeoye of ThePunch, Momodu tells more on his relations with Senator Saraki, shares his views on the current state of the nation, the Buhari government and presidential jets.
“Eagle One” – Buhari’s presidential Boeing 737 Business Jet

About the state of Nigeria 

The state of the country now is a bit volatile. Don’t forget that a very strong political party was voted out of power last year, so naturally, the tension is still there. But my attitude to it is that the tension can be tackled by the government. There is nothing happening in Nigeria that has not happened elsewhere. My attitude is that every Nigerian, whether in the Peoples Democratic Party, the All Progressives Congress, the National Conscience Party, the Labour Party or whichever, must join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue Nigeria and he too must join hands with them. 

About the Buhari administration 

I’d say we could do better. I’m not on the hot seat; I’m not the president of Nigeria, so there are things he would know that I don’t know. He would have access to more information than the ordinary man on the street. But I believe that Nigerians are very agitated at the moment. I’m seeing a lot of complaints on social media and all kinds of caricatures. You would think the government has been in power for four years. In less than one year, people are already abusing us. What I know about government and power is that people (who are close to him) hardly tell the leader the truth. They tell him what they think he wants to hear; they tell him everything is under control. “Oh! Don’t mind the disgruntled elements.” In government, everybody is always disgruntled. This time last year, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s boys were busy abusing us thoroughly. There was nothing they didn’t say. But we knew we had to carry on with our mission, based on principle. I’m not a member of the APC or the PDP, but people don’t know. I was just a volunteer. Our generation, I believe, is different. These days, nobody thinks that anyone can do anything based on principles. They think it must be based on political affiliations, religious fraternity and so on. I’m just a Nigerian who wants Nigeria to be good. 

About presidential jets 

I think we have too many presidential jets right now; that is my opinion. I believe that we have too many and even Buhari himself had criticised that before he became the president. So I don’t know what they are waiting for. I think we are spending too much money flying round. Each time they fly, they tell me they have reduced the entourage but I don’t think so.

About ministerial aspiration  

No, I wasn’t disappointed (on not being included to the Buhari’s list of ministers). I actually wrote an article before the list came out on why I believed my name would not be there. People were circulating some names. But to start with, I’m not a member of their party. Anybody who wants to be a minister, an ambassador, the first prerequisite usually is to be a member of the political party. It is even almost a constitutional thing. Till today, I have never left my party, the NCP. So if I was desperate for an appointment, I would have left my party. Nobody would drive me away if I want to join the APC. 

About meeting the former minister of petroleum Diezani Alison-Maduekwe 

This is a woman who every reasonable journalist in the world would love to interview. People interviewed Osama Bin Laden. If it was in Nigeria, people would say they paid you to promote terrorism. They would change the word reportage to promotion. That is what they do anytime because Dele is not supposed to be a poor person, he is a flamboyant man, so everything he does must be for financial considerations. What insult! I’m older than Diezani.

An exclusive with the former oil minister was the central topic for the launch of TheBoss

Look, I’m the only one who knows how I gain access to people. When I contacted someone who I would like to speak to Diezani, the person told her and she said, ‘Ha, no no no, Dele is our enemy’. That was the first thing she said and the person told me. I said I was nobody’s enemy; whatever she says is what I would reproduce. A journalist must be able to give his word. People are abusing me for interviewing Diezani; what crime have I committed? Did I write in the interview that Diezani did not steal money? Where did I write it? Did I write that Diezani was the best minister in Nigeria? What did I write? Just questions and answers! Is it true that you have cancer? I took pictures with my phone and they accused me of doctoring pictures.

On ‘open letters’ and Bukola Saraki

Some people are attacking me now for supporting Saraki. Why? Because I said we must resist the impunity of a man suddenly becoming a villain only when government is fighting him. And it happens every time, right from Obasanjo’s time. If a governor was not in support of Obasanjo, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission would go and pick him. I resisted it at that time. 

I wrote an open letter to Nuhu Ribadu that it was impunity and that it was not good to set fire on an entire village to catch a few rats. His guys came back at me seriously. I almost sued This Day Newspaper because it was used to libel me for speaking the truth. But at the end of the day, Ribadu himself became a victim of impunity and he had to flee the country. So if they are fighting Tinubu, I don’t talk. They are fighting Saraki, I don’t talk. The day they come for me too, there will be nobody to talk.

Source-, Punch (Nigeria)

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