TAN Wasn’t Funded With Government’s Money’
MANY commentators are of the view that Igbo people have put all their eggs in one basket by supporting President Goodluck Jonathan and that life in the opposition would not augur well for the race. What is your take on this?
On the Igbo voting pattern, I want to say that the Igbo helped Buhari. If the Igbo had voted as they were supposed to, President Jonathan would have won.
So, Buhari needs to thank the Igbo for not voting massively for Jonathan. In order words, they made ways for him. This has taught the Igbo a very big lesson. Secondly, the Igbo, in voting for Jonathan, have taken a leap of faith for who took care of them. I believe Jonathan really took care of the Igbo.
The Igbo had quite a number of opportunities in his administration. You may also want to say that we deserve more for our support. He did more in the north, like the Katsina Dam, which is the biggest project handled by Jonathan’s administration.
You know, all these dams and hydro-power projects are multi-billion dollar projects. Irrespective of that, the Igbo are still appreciative of the little he did for us.
Be that as it may, my position is that General Buhari should think of the Igbo, and please make them his friends. If possible, do more than Jonathan did for us. That is my position on the voting proper.
Then coming to Lagos, the Igbo have been in Lagos since the creation of Nigeria. It was only Zik that went to the House of Representatives from Lagos, when he had the opportunity of representing Lagos, as an Igbo person.
Since then, no Igbo man has been voted into the Lagos State House of Assembly.
For 16 years that APC has been in power, they never cared about giving an Igbo man an elective slot in the Lagos State House of Assembly, or to represent it in the House of Representatives, even when we have Igbo everywhere in Lagos.
So, if truly you claim that you are a democrat, you need to practice it. And if the APC has not given Igbo that opportunity in Lagos, then you always bring people from the minority, then we think there is still animosity against the Igbo.
What we have done is not something that we want the Lagos State government, or whosoever, to be angry about. Rather, it is democracy. They should take this as a window to go back to the drawing board and see how we can be accommodated.
And that is all that I was preaching then. If you go to America today, you see Igbo, you see Nigerians in the parliament, if you go to London, the same thing.
We are not only talking about Igbo, I mean Nigerians. You know Igbo are spread all over the world like the Jews. So, for me, elections have come and gone. I am preaching that we should go back to our normal selves; go back to the drawing board, and then, at least, think about the next line of action till the next election comes up.
But for now, I’m grateful to the Igbo, I am grateful to Lagosians who have deemed it fit to vote for Ndigbo from Lagos to be elected into the Federal House of Reps and House of Assembly in Lagos.
What would you advice Ndigbo to do, for now, politically, to belong to the mainstream, to be recognized, in Nigerian politics?
Well, I will try to balance things. My advice is not to Ndigbo alone, my advice is to the government of Nigeria.
The government should embrace and try to balance things especially for Ndigbo.
They should balance Ndigbo first, by giving us additional states, making us to be like others, and stop marginalizing us. That is one key thing that is very important. If you do this to Ndigbo, there is no way you will not be recognized.
Ndigbo don’t need so much from any government. You know, they voted Jonathan because of the second Niger Bridge which has not even materialized. We will like others to be reassured that we are part of this federation.
The second way to cool the minds of Ndigbo is to make them part of your government.
Honestly speaking, any government without Ndigbo, I am wondering how that government will function because Ndigbo have a special gift.
So, it is my opinion that General Buhari and APC need to show love to Ndigbo. And once you show any Igbo man that you accommodate him, you can’t imagine what he will do in return.
Now, let’s talk about TAN. Most of us know that a lot of money was spent on TAN. There are insinuations that TAN was funded with government money. Others say that you funded TAN with your money. What is the true position?
First and foremost, TAN was not funded with government money. TAN is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO); we have a lot of friends that have been supporting us. I am still shocked at the amount of money spent. You know a lot of money was spent on Jonathan’s campaign and I can say that without any fear.
I believe that Jonathan is a good man who meant well for this country, and I supported him. I still have that believe till date that he is a good man. I saw sincerity in him.
Remember, Jonathan is the only president in the history of Nigeria that did not allocate one single oil well to anybody. No president, be it military or civilian, ruled this country without ceding, or allocating oil wells for himself, his family, friends and to other people.
Can you clarify the issue of the TAN budget. Was the funds from your own pocket and don’t you regret that Jonathan didn’t win?
I can say yes and no. One is that, you don’t invest and wish that the investment would go the way this one went.
The elections has come and gone, I would not like to open the old wounds, especially when the main actor in the whole episode has conceded defeat.
But for me, we have a lot of strategy, we have a lot of people, all over Nigeria, we have a lot of data, we have a lot of information, which we can’t use today because we cannot go against our principal, you know. But for me, all I plead is this, let Nigeria be.
I want to stand by the fact that Jonathan has conceded defeat to the results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He has conceded to the elections result as announced.
Let us go to the issue of fuel subsidy scam. Your name was mentioned severally during that investigation. Would you want to enlighten us on how the matter ended, and if you were eventually cleared from it?
My name was not mentioned. We had a House of Representative where we had this committee of Mr. Iyke Imoughuede that came up and say my name was there and nobody gave me the right of fair hearing and at the same time. I believe there was a bit of conspiracy against me, and there was this hanky-panky game to take over my company.
Remember, I was the only Nigerian that stood firm then, dragged the government to the House of Representatives and asked, if you have anything against me, come and show it. They made mistakes, you know, looking at my lifestyle, sometimes, or the things that I have achieved within a very short period of time.
Then people thought I had my hands deep into the scam and it was one of the things that made me to contest the governorship of Anambra State in 2013. I made it clear when we had a debate that if you have any thing against me, come up and show it to Nigerians.
Up till today, nobody has come forward with any allegation against me.I was even cleared by the Nigerian Police, the Anti-Fraud Unit, the EFCC, including the Attorney General of the Federal Republic Nigeria, after very intensive and rigorous investigations.
For me, clear conscience fears no accusation and I will be the first person to say, if you have anything against me, come up and show it to Nigerians.
Most businessmen prefer to stay on in business, and leave politics for politicians, but you are trying to change the roles. You are a successful businessman and also a politician. How do you manage that?
It is because I am clean. It is rare to see a clean business man doing politics. Why would business men be running away from politics? If you know you have no skeleton in your cupboard, there is no big deal serving your people.
If you feel you have gotten to a point that you are contented, and you can serve people with your knowledge, you should go and serve people.
Do you still have any political ambition?
I had before, when I wanted to serve my state, Anambra State, as governor, but I don’t know if I will still want to contest. I am one politician that you cannot define as being overzealous to grab power.
So, I don’t know when next political opportunity will come. I might still say no because I am guided by my spirit, not of the ‘wants’ of the world.
Do you regret supporting Jonathan?
I have no regret, but I have also regret. The regret I have is that people that deceived the president, because I worked in the presidential campaign organization.
On several occasions I made contribution that would have made us to win the elections and people did not go along with me.
So, I was like alone, a lone ranger and I cannot challenge the entire presidential campaign organization. Nobody worked harder than me, nobody contributed more than I did. I think I am the biggest loser after Jonathan and his wife, in the whole country. So, that is my regret.
But if it comes to the regret of being involved, or participating in the whole political campaign, I love it. It broadened my idea about politics in Nigeria.
Can you ever accept Buhari as the president of Nigeria?
Why not? He is a man I respect a lot, even before the elections. I have always made my position known to Nigerians, that I respect him. We in TAN never got involved in any hate campaign against Gen. Buhari. A General must be respected, a general is the pride of any nation.
What would you say TAN gained, and what are we expecting from TAN in the future?
Well, I want you to note this today, if you walk the streets of any Nigerian city today, you will somebody wearing a TAN polo . So I will say through Jonathan’s campaign, TAN has been marketed to every nook and cranny of Nigeria; that is number one.
Number two, the awareness created by TAN is bigger than some political parties did today in Nigeria. I will say we have really done well.