YNaija Interview: Over exuberance will be Obanikoro’s undoing – Demola Seriki

by Gbenga Olorunpomi

Demola-Seriki

After holding four ministerial appointments, Demola Seriki, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and accountant, knows a great deal about the politics and intrigues of holding public office in Nigeria. A professional and thorough-bred technocrat, Mr. Seriki it was, who first brought Musiliu Obanikoro into public limelight in 1992 after appointing him as a Personal Assistant when he, Seriki, was appointed Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Council in 1992. Also as a former Minister of State for Defense, he is eminently qualified to give deep insight into the man and how he currently runs the defense ministry as a junior minister. He also spoke about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and gave a few suggestions on fighting insurgency.

Excerpts…..

Thoughts on Koro’s comments on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s alleged connection to Boko Haram

I was also Minister of State Defense once, so I know what the office beholds and the purview. Musiliu Obanikoro’s statement was not just irresponsible, it was feckless. It was feckless in the sense that it had no bearing as to alluding to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is seen as a notable figure in the opposition. We remember the late General Azazi even said it that the PDP was the problem of Boko haram. That those who were promoting and were proponents of Boko Haram were all PDP members and that until they were able to comb inwards that they saw that the problem always emanates from the PDP. So, he (Obanikoro) making that statement, it had no bearing at all. I think for you to have said that to someone who appointed you at a time as commissioner, who helped in a great deal to make you a Senator, is such a bizarre statement. (Obanikoro) must parade himself in the society very well. This also reminds me of a time he went somewhere in Lagos, which was not needed. His purview had no bearing on that visit. In fact, there is a Minister of Defense who has not been heard saying anything. So I don’t know why the Minister of State Defense would have to make himself to be very notable and colourful in a very negative and adverse manner. Really, if he doesn’t stop this, it will reduce him and put him in  political tatters, and that is where he is dragging himself to. But, we all know that sometimes, it might be exuberance. Exuberance in the way that you want to run for elections as the Governor of Lagos state. We are in the period of Ramadan now. If Allah says you will, you don’t need to make someone like Asiwaju venerable. Doing that is such a least expected and I hope that he finds a way to redeem himself.

 

The recent Ekiti Gubernatorial Elections

I was very embarrassed and I became so disillusioned when I heard the results. In the sense that, “Why this?” I was made to understand that the Governor (kayode Fayemi) lost his ward, I’m not sure, but it is clear that he lost his local government area. Really, from what we see, we the APC, need to go sit back, go back to the drawing board and do our homework. Without making a proper evaluation and assessment of what took place in Ekiti, we won’t be able to come up with a solution and proffer for ourselves answerable means so that such scenario will not have an encore in Osun state. We need to avert such practice, which I call ill practice, in Osun. And you have someone like Omisore, who is probably the worst ever to represent Osun state in its history since its creation in 1991. For someone like that to have been in the senate is an apology. I remember that he won the election from prison at the time and, as the Chairman of Appropriations, he was more of a money-monger all through his time there. We walked a bit closely, very irresponsible man. Someone like that would be a huge disservice to lead a state like Osun as governor. But I trust Aregbesola as a politician; as someone who is committed to public service and to his people. He has a style that I find very admirable in him, the “Grassroots Effect.” You cannot use that, though, to prevent the PDP malpractices. So, we must return the drawing board to avert such adverse and idiotic incident that took place in Ekiti. Ekiti became a huge lesson and embarrassment to all of us. But I know every well that Kayode Fayemi has taken it in good faith. Whatever the case may be, let’s move forward. I read somewhere that he will not go to court, but, of course, if the party says it is going to court, why would he say he won’t go? The party cannot go to court without him and he cannot go to court without the party because he ran on the crest of the party.  As a result, we have to do more. We have to do the post mortem analysis and be able to come up with the truth of why those things took place, without deceiving ourselves and without compromising the truth. We must tell ourselves the truth.

 

Senator Remi Tinubu recent alleged disciplinary issues in the National Assembly

Senator Victor Ndoma Egba is my good friend. We worked together when I was Minister of State in Agriculture and Water resources. He is a very fine gentleman but I’m so shocked and to my chagrin that someone like that would have to open a carte blanche investigation on Senator Oluremi Tinubu. I’m a constituent of Senator Tinubu and she is representing my interests in the senate. I would not like to imagine our senator being reprimanded in that manner so much that she was referred to the ethics committee. I find that to be very mundane. The matter was raised just 24 hours after the bomb blast in the heart of Abuja, Wuse 2. I would not expect such a mundane issue, which embraces every definition of a charade. These are things he could have spoken to her behind closed doors. He has her contacts. I wouldn’t expect the Majority Leader of the Senate and SAN for that matter to do what he did. He should know better. The matter is mundane in all veracity of being mundane. Senator Tinubu’s presence in the senate has always been a vulnerable one because of her husband and they always try to target her for a lot of things to blemish her, to disparage her, to bring her down and to reduce her. But, she is a woman of colour, a woman of substance, a woman of intellect, a woman that has proven a lot of people wrong. She is doing her job to the best of her ability and we are very proud of her in the Lagos central senatorial district. This is the most important senatorial district in Nigeria. It can boast of being the nerve center of Nigeria. It has the largest seaports in West Africa, Apapa port and Tin Can port. That is huge. And a senator that is doing a great job, you can’t do anything to her. You can’t reduce her. Only Allah can reduce anybody. Nobody can recall her, only we the constituents can and we won’t. In fact we use this opportunity to give her our vote of confidence.

 

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s importance to Nigeria

Asiwaju Tinubu is an enigma. He is an embodiment of politics, an embodiment of change. He is an embodiment of character, an embodiment of generosity, kindness and, of course, overall valour. He is a very courageous man; a man of hope and audacity. In the context of that, he has been able to prove a lot of people wrong in the way and manner he has done things. First of all, he defied theory and practice in 2003 when he became the only governor that was left standing when the party at the time failed everywhere in the south west. He was the only one that survived the PDP Tsunami. So, from that time, he became larger and larger and keeps growing. After leaving office as the governor of Lagos state, he has done extremely well. He has been able to sit back and boost the confidence and reputation of his people and through that means, with God’s assistance, was able to get back most of the southwest states. Asiwaju has been a man of faith and destiny. That is Asiwaju for you. I don’t know how he does it. The man is full of character. He has earned serious reputation because he touches a lot of people. And as my grandmother said, “A man is not successful until he touches all those around him.” She also said, “It is not the amount of money you amass but the amount of people you have touched that makes you a successful man.” That is how the man has been operating. He has touched so many people. It goes beyond Nigeria. I remember when I went with him to Ghana for the inauguration of President Mahama, I was in a state of euphoria with the way he was being well respected and well revered by a lot people there. I could see that he is much more than the kind of person that we imagine him to be in Nigeria, far above that. Without bravado, he has been able to do what he does successfully. Of course, he is not perfect. Of course, there will be hiccups, failures and disappointments will come from time to time. It is part of the territory of success. But, in all, the man is a serious and important part of the opposition in Nigeria and a man of valour.

 

Fighting  Boko Haram

A lot of things can be done. Extinguishing the problem of Boko Haram is the responsibility of all of us. We must ensure that we proliferate our intelligence gathering capabilities and see that Nigeria is well commended for that in the intelligence community. Nigeria’s intelligence gathering is zero. We just say it on paper but it is zero in reality. The NSA must do well. I don’t know when last they had Joint Intelligence Board meeting. Also, our borders are porous. Every Boko Haram incident, the people being arrested are majorly non-Nigerians. So, we need to strengthen our borders and we need to bring the Customs to work in tandem with Immigrations. We should take Customs back to the Ministry of Interior. Customs right now is in the Ministry of Finance. They are claiming it is an issue of money. It was Ngozi Iweala that did that at the time. It is absolute rubbish. What the Ministry of interior should have is two Permanent Secretaries; one for Interior Security Operations, the other for Finance. That other one would be an accountant who would be deployed to Customs, take the money and revenue and remit to the Ministry of Finance. Customs have no business being under the Ministry of Finance because what does that ministry know about para-military? Customs is a para-military; they carry weapons and maintain armories and armaments. What does the Ministry of Finance know about that? They have no business being there. So, if we have that, we will have a common platform for border control and operations. Immigrations and Customs must work in harmony to achieve effective security of our borders. They must synchronize their policies and the policies must come from one minister, not divided. For now, they are both at the border and sometimes, they threaten to shoot at each other. They don’t share information that we expect to help terminate or extinguish the problem of Boko Haram. We must strengthen our borders in such a way that ministerial policies will have effects on both of them in a common manner.

One comment

  1. l just want to set the recors straight that at no time in the history of the political life seriki and Obanikoro had Koro played a subservient role.l am saying this because at the time (1992) I was the organizing secretary of the defunct national republican convention in lagos island and it was Obanikoro that actually pulled the crowd and l make bold to say that Demola Serikiwas not even a member of the defunct NRC at the time,it was when Otedola won as Governor that Obanikoro brought seriki to us for support to get party senate nomination and we worked and got the ticket for seriki. Sir micheal Otedale appointed Seriki to lagos state sports council and Koro became a member of lagos state Bulk purchasing company,this will tell anyone with good sense that KORO at no time served as Seriki,s personal assistant.l am saying again that it was KORO who brought Seriki to political limelightwhen he was taking him round his political connection all over the senatorial constituency and he ultimately secured the party ticket and lost to the defunct SDP. I know both of them are friends dated back to their days in USA,but for Seriki to say all these lies about KORO is a betrayal of KORO who brought him to poliicallimeliht.l enjoyed most of the interview except the lies that l am clarifying here.

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