Chief Bode Mustapha is a frontline politician in Nigeria and the Osi of Egbaland, a High Rank Chief in the ancient town. We bring you concluding part of the exclusive with him
Question: Sir, what kind of President would you prefer for Nigeria in the next political dispensation?
BM: For me, there should be constitution amendment. People call it restructuring but what I think we should have is decentralization of power. Make the center unattractive. Concede powers to the regions. And when you have decentralized power, let the central handle defense and foreign affairs. The federal government has no business with agriculture, it has no business with education, has no business with health. The health challenges of each area vary. Some areas, you need more nurses than general practitioners while some will need physchriatist. The first Physchriatic hospital in Nigeria and West Africa, is Aro, there must have been a reason for citing it there. And some responsibility must also be ceded to the grassroots, which is the local government and each arm of government must be independent, as in totally independent. If the government is paying Judicial officers, he who pays the piper dictates the tune. They can make them write judgment, they can coerce them. I mean, give me a break, SSS people went to the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s residence, harassed him, the next thing, he was at the Code of Conduct bureau, the next thing, he was forced to resign because there is no independence of the judiciary. The Prime Minister of England will not say he wants to fire the Chief Justice. So, we have to grow up
Cut in… What about the court case concerning executive order 10
BM: I support executive order 10 because it gave independence to these arms of government we are talking about. But, if the Supreme Court says No, what can we do? We are saying we want you to be independent, so that when you make pronouncements, we know its independent pronouncements.
Cut in… Maybe it should have come as an executive bill to the National Assembly
BM: Possibly, but if it comes as an executive bill to the national assembly, the problem is that to have a constitutional amendment, you must have two third of the states House of Assembly. And I think Mr President in his wisdom knows that they will not get the two third
Question: Yes, we have a lot of people canvassing to be President in 2023. Infact some have rented crowd to canvass for people who have not said anything. Infact, the one that is most ridiculous, (permit me to use such word) is that of the CBN Governor, Emefiele. Why would the CBN Governor be cajoled, be considered to be President. Has he resigned,? Is it not a tenured position?. That’s why we are asking, what is the criteria for who can be President or is it an all comers now?
BM: Don’t let us put the cat before the horse. The constitution we are operating now, is it the right thing for us? Everybody wants to be President because of the wholesome powers that the President of Nigeria has. The most powerful President in the world is Nigeria’s President. He has so much power over life and death. That’s why everyone wants to be President. And the people who have been benefiting from Emefiele, now wants to continue to benefit. They want to continue with this crab. Give me a break; look at the Governor of Borno State, Zulum. Look at what his boss, the former Governor used as criteria to select him to come and govern. Today, am not Hausa and I don’t care about tribes or religion, today, the man is a man after my heart. Till today, he doesn’t own anything, he doesn’t want anything. Who could ever believe there is so much money going into that state with the things he is doing? That is the kind of person we need as President of Nigeria. Forget sentiments, a man who is not after his pocket, not after enriching his cronies. People have seen Abuja now, what is the industry in Abuja? Briefcase and sharing money…end of story. So, before we talk about President, let’s talk about what is it that we want. Unfortunately, the present crop of legislators will never amend the constitution for part-time legislature etc. I just pray that something calamitous does not happen in this nation before we can enter reset mode. But we need to enter reset mode. What is the future that these young people have with the way things are going? If they don’t know anybody, they cannot get a job. There is nothing called merits. There are people who are offered those jobs who don’t know jack. So, we have to enter reset mode.
Question: Sir, you said something about representing the people. There was a time you were given a Federal appointment. We saw your screening at the national assembly on TV. But at the end, you were replaced!
BM: Yes, because I was not ready to be anybody’s stooge.
Cut in… Did you decline the offer at that time?
BM: No no no, It was all political. I wasn’t ready to be somebody’s kite that they would string. Because nobody has brought me this far in life, God has brought me this far. And I will not take any office that someone will dictate to me what to do, not at this age of mine. When I was younger, I didn’t do it, not at this stage will I do it. It was all about my support for Prince Dapo Abiodun. And what is my reason for supporting Dapo Abiodun? I sat, and watching television and I saw somebody counting 40 names, who were to represent the state, all have been written. And I said to myself, is this Ali Baba and the forty thieves? That without consultation, without talking to us, you just wrote 40 names? Am I out of my mind? I will fight this to a logical conclusion. I didn’t care whose ox is gored. And when Prince Dapo Abiodun contacted me and I said, listen, you have tried before, you wanted to go to Senate, If you want to be Governor, I will support you and I will follow you to the end. I was with him to see the Vice President; I was with him to see the National Chairman of the Party. Infact, when we saw the President, the Vice President, I was the spokesperson.
Cut in… But you have faced the Senate screening. At what point, who pull the string. How did it happen?
BM: All of that don’t bother me. Whoever pulled the string? What is important to me is that today, Prince Dapo Abiodun is the Governor of Ogun State. When people talk to me about Dapo Abiodun and all that, I tell them give me a better alternative in 2023. For the first time, I have a Governor who didn’t jettison all the projects he met to start his own gargantuan projects. Dimeji, you know me, am as frank as I come. The person who removed my name as Chairman of NDIC, people had told me then, if you want to support Dapo Abiodun, do it underground because of Governor Amosun and I said is Governor Amosun God? They said NDIC and I said so what? If I don’t go to NDIC, so what? If I go to NDIC, am going there to serve, and not to go and steal. I have served in several boards, and whenever I get to the board as chairman, I said to the Chief Executive, Oga come come, and said I have not come here to take money. Whatever I am entitled to, give me, because I want to be able to look into your eyes when you have goofed. Prof. Abubakar is still alive today, he was the Executive Secretary of Agric Research Council of Nigeria, I was the Chairman, it was a 53member council. Ask him, this is exactly what I told him. The Commissioner of Agric today in Ogun State, I discovered him. I didn’t know him from Adam. I was chairman of Agric Research Council and I was in my house and somebody came to me with a CV. And I went through the CV and I said Wow… He wanted to be Rector of a school at Akure. And I went to the Minister of Agriculture then, today President of Africa Development Bank, Mr Akinwunmi Adesina. And I said Honorable Minister; we have vacancies now, why not you handle Ibadan and let me take Akure, because I believed in that CV that I saw. I didn’t know Odedina from Adam. You know the beauty of it all, when he went for the interview, he did so brilliantly well. Abubakar came back to me and said Oga, thank you for the candidate you gave to us. That is what I want to see.
Question: It’ seems for 2023, you have made up your mind on the governorship candidate you will support
BM: I will support Dapo Abiodun in 2023. I said that ho! ha!. And lay emphasis on it that I, Bode Mustapha will support Dapo Abiodun for Governor in 2023.
Cut in…. How would you describe his performance?
BM: You see, the problem he has, the problem government has is the information dissemination machinery it is not good enough, end of story.
Question: Sir, at a point in your political career. You became a target of assassination by the military regime of late Sani Abacha. Can you shed more light on this?
BM: I was implicated in the Diya Coup.
Cut in… As an accessory?
BM: (Laugh)… Whatever you want to call it. In the good old days, I had a very good friend in Abuja. And I would take your name to Abuja and bring you a letter of award for land. There were cheap land, going for between N7500 and N9000, and I will pay for it myself. And I gave a lot of sergeants and corporals. Now, the circumstances of why they implicated me, I said I will never talk about it, because you shouldn’t talk about the dead and because of things that I know, that I should not divulge and that’s why I refused to write a book. But fortunately, it was one of those corporals or sergeants who called me at 2pm, and said Oga, I have seen your name in the security watch list, you have to get out of Nigeria today but don’t go through NADECO route. Our people are waiting for you on that route. Fortunately, at that time, I was a Lufthansa Senator Card holder and my card was also a credit card. So, I called Lufthansa in Germany, I booked a ticket and I took a flight that night. Interestingly, that night the guys who called me, four of them were at the airport, because at that night, they were going to arrest General Diya. So, as we walked pass, you see all those soldiers, they check your passport and I saw those guys that I have helped and they saw me off to the plane. Myself and Raymond Dokpesi were the last set of people to board the flight. Infact, Raymond may not remember this, when we stood at the immigration counter,his passport was on top of mine and so I said, “you mean you, you don’t know Ray Power”?. You know he was new then, the guy just said “Oh! Oga RayPower”, he just pushed the two passport and he didn’t bother to check my own and the computer. So, the next morning one Aburo of mine, Dele Balogun called me and said Uncle Bode, have you heard there is coup in Nigeria and General Diya has been arrested. You will be shocked that the first person I called was Prof. Odekunle, I didn’t know he too had been arrested. But Ruka, his wife picked the call. Apparently, the security agents were with her, and they told her to be talking to me naturally. And I said these people are mad o, where is Bros, and she said bros is sleeping, that he is not feeling too well. And I said Ruka, tell me the truth. I hope he is not in danger in any way. It was two days later that I read that he had been arrested. The rest is history!.
Question: Well, let’s go to the traditional sector. Sure you are enjoying your role in that sector. How would you see it’s impart in good governance. Because lately, we see people aspiring into this sector, but with due respect, some of them don’t seem to have character.
BM: Well, the beauty of it is that in Egbaland, and I would say in Ogun State in general, the four Paramount rulers that we have are people of impeccable integrity. People who have achieved in their various calls. I am proud to be the Osi of Egbaland to Kabiyesi Alake of Egbaland. One thing that can never be taken away from me till I die is the Osi of Egbaland. A Governor would become ex-governor, former senator, but unless I die, they will never say former Osi Egba. So, if I wanted to be senator and God said No, but you have to be Osi Egba. if you look at the Awujale, the Akarigbo, a chartered accountant, the Olu of Ilaro, a man who became a fellow Estate Valuer. Kabiyesi Alake, but for the military coup that got him retired. He joined the Army as a graduate and the job he did at the villa. You know people do the real work underground but you don’t hear about them. And he has brought that to bear today here. What I think is important is the constitution amendments that gives specific roles, like we had in those days when we have the House of Chiefs. The House of Chiefs in those days gave advises, because the closest people to the grassroots are these Obas or traditional chief holders.
Cut in… Why can’t we allow the grassroots to pay them. Because when government pays an Oba, it becomes problematic.
BM: It shouldn’t be problematic. Government was paying them in the house of chiefs. And when they say paying them, how much are they paying them? If I tell you how much I earn as the Osi of Egbaland, you would laugh! I don’t earn up to N100,000 as the Osi of Egbaland
Cut it… Paid by the government?
BM: No… Paid by the Egba traditional council
Cut in… Sir, when you were appointed. It was the state government that signed your letter
BM: That was because, the Chiefs Law of 1957 Section 4, sub-section 3 gives that role that when the kingmakers have selected the Osi of Egbaland, or the Otun of Egbaland, we are up to twenty in the chieftaincy committee. When we were to be chosen, the prescribed authority from where we come from are to vote, incase there is a tie as prescribed by the local government. First, a notice will be posted to the wall for twenty-one days for anybody who is interested in the title. And on the day they will make the selection, in my own case, the Iwarefa Ogboni, and the Iwarefa Olorogun, 6 each will have to vote and when there is a vacancy, it cannot be filled until that exercise is over. Once the Secretary to the Local Government, that represents the local government writes his report and send it to Agura, then Agura will send it to Alake, who will now communicate that decision to government. And of course, it has to go through government because it will go through Ministry of Justice, because they have to vet that you are not a criminal and stuff like that. And when the ministry of justice says the person is ok, it goes back to local government who will then put up a memo to council. And that is why it’s not a position where anyone can just say anything; the worst case is to suspend me. Take me out, I will go to court.
Question: What is the role of Ifa in all these ascension. Particularly, in view of this recent chieftaincy law in Ogun State. There was an amendment, how would you respond to that ?
BM: I think that as you can see, as we are evolving. We must begin to also move with time. Let’s face fact, it does not affect me. Even where I come from, Gbagura, we don’t have problem with Osugbo or no Osugbo. But, I think it is the worst thing that can happen to anybody. That you are preparing to bury your father, and some people just appear to say ” Ye pari pa”, and they carry the corpse and you never see it again. It could be traumatic for people.
Cut in… But their father knew before he toll that line
BM: Well, that was then. Look at it this way, let us assume that somebody is an Oba and he has a young son of about 10 years, who was there when they were just about to bury him and his father’s corpse was taken away. It could affect him all his life. It could be traumatic. In my own opinion, I say that people should be given the right to how they want to be buried when they pass on. I think they should be given that right.
Question: Are you optimistic that 2023 will come and go. Because everything seems chaotic? There is instability, kidnapping and insecurity and people are saying, especially Afenifere, let’s restructure and not go into any election.
BM: The problem we have is that to restructure means we have to amend the constitution. And the people to amend the constitution, the present crop of legislators, are they ready to do it? No President can live by fiat and those people who are not ready to amend the constitution are now crying they want to go back. So, it’s a vicious cycle
Cut in… Which can consume the nation?
BM: We pray it doesn’t
On the last note, the media seems to be facing the issue of credibility. How would you rate Penpushing Media in this context?
BM: Why would I be rating Penpushing to Penpushing? (Laugh). But, one thing I must say about Penpushing that has endeared Penpushing to me is the way it is run. There is no special regard for anybody, Its one rule that covers everybody. And that is what I will advise you continue doing. You have one rule, when something is not allowed to be posted, it doesn’t matter who has posted it, there is discipline. Any society or association that lacks discipline is a failed state.
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