Adejare Aremu Adegbenro, a youthful entrepreneur prides himself as a true Nigerian because of his paternal and maternal political pedegree. His father, Niyi Adegbenro, is the son of the late Premier of the Western Region, Pa Dauda Shoroye Adegbero of Abeokuta, Ogun State. In the same vein, his mother is the daughter of the late chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Pa Alfred Riwane of Delta State. Despite this powerful combination, he simply chose to be self-made by following his heart into business. Today, his logistics and automobile business competes favourably with the outside world. He fielded questions with journalists in Lagos recently. Agatha Emeadi was there for The UNION. Excerpts:
What do you think about the just concluded 2015 general elections?
I think all Nigerians should give thanks to God because it was indeed, God’s doing that the election was a peaceful one. It was against the anticipation of the people that a there would be violence that election would not hold and that Nigeria would break up. But to God be the glory that Nigerians came together and spoke with one voice. In unity they elected a president that came from the opposition party for the first time in the history of Nigeria. One cannot but mention the fatherly roles played by the likes of the former leaders of this country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Abdusalami Abubakar, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Chief Emeka Anyaoku . If not for them, Nigeria could have become ashes by now. They have proved to be real elder statesmen and respected international figures.
What lessons have Nigerians learnt from the election?
As a country, we should have learnt to be flexible because nothing is cast in gold. Today, I have personally learnt that Nigerians have a voice. The election has shown that whoever misbehaves in office would be kicked out through the ballot box.
What do you think were the problem that led to ‘Change’?
I believe we should look at ourselves as Nigerians and not as Muslims, Christians, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo or whatever. Religion and ethnicity caused most of the problems we are facing today as a nation. The second problem was lack of discipline that led to corruption. That was why Nigerians got up and said President Goodluck Jonathan has done his best and that it was time to try someone else. It is an open fact that majority of the voters in this country are the masses. And once their welfare is not guaranteed, there will be problem. If they don’t have jobs, shelter, electricity that would drive their various businesses, then they would with one voice say enough is enough. Nigerians are now so politically sophisticated that in the last election, they even collected money and voted against those who gave them money.
What is your take on the delay in judicial matters in the country?
Cases are like that all over the world. But there are cases that should be fast tracked. And that is up to the president and the judicial team to have a way of not having some cases staying for too long before adjudication. There should be duration for cases. If a suspect is not guilty, let him go. If he is guilty, jail him. It is all about discipline and welfare. If the people don’t have the necessities of life like electricity, good roads, food and job, they would look for other means to survive. These are what the government has to provide. And when you look at the antecedents of the vice president-elect, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), a seasoned administrator, he surely knows what to be done in the administration of justice. Then again, the incoming president who never fought back with all the insults hauled at him during electioneering campaign is a man that possesses the qualities of a good leader .
What challenges do you think would confront the incoming government?
First and foremost, as far as I am concerned, the incoming President, General Muhammadu Buhari will need all Nigerians’ support to succeed. It is God that can solve the mirage of the problems plaguing the country. Therefore, we should all come together the way we did during the elections to support him in the onerous task of nation building. We should not expect miracle overnight.
People should not make Buhari’s work more difficult by expecting instant miracle from him. The man that has been aspiring to lead this country as a democratically elected president for a long time must have a master plan for the country. We should give him a chance and rally round him to implement his master plan and see what he has for the Nigerian people. Discipline must be maintained because it is the bane of the nation. I personally believe that discipline must be maintained because lack of it breeds corruption. And corruption has eaten deep into our fabrics of our society and we just have to fight it together as one. Secondly, we have to look into the challenges of power sector because without constant supply of electricity, nothing can work. So much money has been spent on electricity, yet nothing positive has happened. How can we manufacture without power? That is why manufacturing is more expensive here in Nigeria than anywhere in the world. There are no infrastructures on ground, no good roads and our ports are alarmingly porous. So, at what point can we begin to say we want to produce anything that the masses would gain from?
How soon do think we should expect the ‘Change’ Buhari and his party promise us?
We are yet to see what the incoming government has in stock for us and how the people, especially the opposition would accept it. That is why I said we should organize and harmonize ourselves to assist the incoming administration to be effective. And as I said earlier, it is about discipline. With discipline, you will realize that Nigerians are easy people to lead. For me, it is a collective responsibility and people should give God fearing advice to the president elect. They should give advice that would have positive impact for today’s Nigeria and for our future. I am closer to my 50s than to my 20s. So, I am thinking of my children. That is why we should rally round Buhari and forget about which side of the country we come from. Thank God the he is a disciplined man. So, let us toe his line and regain our lost glory as the Giant of Africa. We can do it. Our problem is self-aggrandizement. Nobody says we should not be rich. What we are saying is that things should be done following due process and laid down rule.
How sizeable do you expect Buhari’s cabinet to be?
Presidential system is expensive. Yet the coming cabinet should be trimmed to save cost. Only capable hands should be appointed to make things work. We know politicians would always be politicians. We should know how to accommodate them. But for the surgical operation, we need competent hands on board to carry it out. Not the people that would see the incoming administration as ‘business as usual’. That is not what would move the country forward. Corruption has eaten so deep even into the generation that is yet to be in its 20s. We are part of the problem. We celebrate corruption. If somebody is a thief and tomorrow he becomes governor, if he comes around we will all rise and salute him. If it were in England, he would be pelted with rotten eggs. We should now realize that all of us should come out and shout. That is the leverage Buhari’s emergence has come to offer Nigerians.
How do you feel about the current fuel crisis that is tormenting the citizenry?
It beats me. I am not an expert in that sector but as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t make sense. All this comes back to selfish interest. Why should we be producing oil, taking the same oil outside to be refined, and bringing it back to the country and we then pay subsidy on it? It doesn’t add up. Nigeria should look elsewhere beyond oil. Our country is blessed with a lot of resources. But what do we do about that?
Everybody just concentrated on oil. Take our airports for instance. With the huge amount spent, they are still porous. If we don’t know how to do it, we should learn from those who know. Dubai is there so is Philippine.
They make sure their systems work and they are making revenue out of it. Dubai is a tourist country today and it is making so much money from tourism. What are we doing in Nigeria? We are just contributing to other countries’ GDP! Does it make any sense? It doesn’t. I remember as a child when I was schooling abroad. Coming back to Nigeria was more of joy than going to England for holiday. Today, it is the opposite.