Reverend Peter Obadan needs no introduction. He participated actively in the politics of Edo State and by extension Nigeria. He was deputy governor in the state in the Third Republic, with Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, as governor. Obadan was also a prominent member of the defunct NADECO, which fought stridently for the de-annulment of the June 12 election. In an exclusive interview with WESTERN POST’s AGENE AKHERE in Benin, Obadan speaks glowingly about the incoming Buhari’s administration and calls on Nigerians to be patient with the former general as the country begins to experience the change to come…
Sir, how do you react to President Jonathan’s speech conceding defeat to General Buhari?
It just shows the real Jonathan, not the superficial Jonathan that the sycophants around him made him to look like. He presented himself just as God created him to be and I was not surprised that he manifested in that form. Shakespeare said that there is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads unto fortune, omitted we are also told all the voyage of their life is bound in shadows and mysteries. President Jonathan knew very well that the game was up and if he must be remembered by history, he must do something positive, he must do something for which generations unborn will keep him in memories and that he did. I am very, very proud of him. I must confess that those of us that have studied the man, Buhari, know it’s obvious that Nigeria is now set for greatness. But all hands must be on deck. Promises made must be fulfilled and if we put our house in order because this race is not for the weak but the strong, then history will also remember President-elect Muhammadu Buhari well.
What would you consider as the factors that brought in Buhari?
I must say that the partnership brought about by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Muhammadu Buhari must be commended by all Nigerians because he is leading us to greater height. So if they had remained selfish, self-centered, we will not be where we are right now and abinitio. I also stated that if we must win the presidency, then the person to pilot the boat is John Oyegun because you need a man with the patience of Job, you need the man highly articulate, you need a man with humility upon which commitment is route to help bring about a change. A man who is not greedy, who has no itchy fingers, that was why many of us looking at those that were contesting for the office said God had given us Governor Oyegun for that purpose. Really, what we enjoy today is because we had the right people in the right places and I must commend the leadership of APC who took time to select the team. Yes, some out of anger left because they could not achieve their personal objectives. There were some people who would have been given the national chairmanship of the party and they would have sold the party, and we would not be where we are today. The high level of corruption, indiscipline, sycophancy would still have continued. But now Nigeria is set for a change
Now, President Jonathan has fulfilled his promise of conducting free, fair and credible elections. Nigerians are yearning to see the President-elect fulfil his promises too. Are you convinced that he would fulfil his electoral promises as stated by him?
We may not have 100 percent fulfilment of our electoral promises in 2019 but Nigeria will see positive changes. They will know that we are on the right track. History has shown that Muhammadu Buhari is not seeking the office for personal aggrandizement because he is a man of principle and integrity but for a just course. Upon that premise and with the calibre of people around, all the promises made will be reasonably fulfilled. And unfortunately for this country, oil prices are dropping and that is the time he is coming into the office but I want to appeal that we must all be patient with the incoming administration. We have a problem in this country, which is why even the very rich refused to set up industries because they need a quick turn over. You sow today; you reap tomorrow not having the patient of waiting. Even when you plant the field; you scatter the grains, it is God’s own time to water the ground and to give the sun. In Nigeria, we don’t have that patience; people expect a magical performance from General Buhari from the day he is sworn in but that will not happen. There must be a period of planning and studying the issues on ground before talking of implementation, before we start seeing results. At times when they mention hundred days in office, I laugh. What is hundred days in office? It’s not enough to access the progress of any man. If you have four years to go, you should not start judging the man until two years. Then you can say that this man has done two years and we are not seeing any sign yet. So Nigerian should be patient with the incoming administration. Why did Jonathan earn a minus? For example, in the South-South states, although he won but the percentage is low; like in Edo State, in the last election, we gave him over a 90 percent but today, with all the money that was injected into the state, because they felt Edo State must be taken at all cost, they had a war against Oshiomhole and with all the billions injected, we saw all the bags of money been moved in, yet he did not earn 60 percent votes. There was a sharp drop, which meant in Edo State, there were people who were determined, who said money cannot buy us this time around. In every society, we have people who are gullible. So we always have issues like this. I believe God is interested in this nation. If the men in carsorck could drop the Bible and be serving their belly, then we are heading to utter destruction. But God became merciful upon this nation because to Jonathan many false prophesies given to him like nobody will take this office from you, you are already there, this will happen, that will happen. They knew they were deceiving themselves with the name of God, which is a shame. And the few who dared to speak the truth were a crowd by others, that’s my constituency; the Pentecostal Church. I am sure and I know that by now, most of those leaders would be hiding their heads in shame. They were giving false prophesies when they did not hear from God, they said God had spoken to them. It’s a shame but thank God he is a forgiven father and we hope that by now lessons have been learnt. So many of us are very happy and joyful if someone like Fayose can, within 24 hours, turned around and congratulated Buhari.
Most Nigerians see the President-elect as an upright man but are scared of the kind of people surrounding him, what’s your take on this?
I will tell you that my Bible tells me that when you spike the shepherd, you scatter the sheep, when you reverse that; you will see that when the shepherd is feared, the followers learn from it. All I will say is that those that have been stealing should steal no more, we now have a man that can be referred to as Mister Integrity, Mr. Honesty and when he stands upright all others will follow, but when Mr. President starts stealing dollars and directing the Central Bank to send transfer which are not official, the tendency is for the followers to steal the same and say if you blackmail me, I will blackmail you. So you find out that corruption will be embedded but if the man there is upright, and hears of any corrupt movement and reacts against it knowing full well that he has no skeleton in his cupboard, it will serve as a deterrent and nobody will practice corruption. I believe that we have reached a point in our history where those who are called to serve, must serve with honesty. Now, we must begin to say to ourselves, we are going into office to serve the people not our interest because the consequences are grave. As a professional accountant, when I watch the television and see the Minister of Finance defending the indefensible, I just feel sad. It is not the Nigerians who are being deceived but the fellow who is dishing out lies and destroying our reputation with her deceitful utterances, so we must now say to ourselves, we are going into offices to serve our people because the consequences are there for us. If you look at it, Jonathan was removed from office by the sycophants he surrounded himself with. It was the act of the sycophants that caused Jonathan to lose his seat, the unguided utterances, the deceitful utterances, the sloppy way led to the downfall of Jonathan, that’s why I started by saying that the real Jonathan manifested in his ending speech and he is a real man. I am sure those are the qualities Obasanjo saw in him and recommended him to step into the shoes of his master. But while in office, he gave room to sycophants, to those same sycophants who also advised Obasanjo to go into third term and setting up Obasanjo for destruction. Today, what the progressives fought for from the genesis of the struggle had just started manifesting because this was why many of us went on exile, but unfortunately when we gained power from the military, we didn’t have the resources and we didn’t have the number to take power from the military. That is why from today till tomorrow, whatever is said about Bola Tinubu, I will keep commending him for the way he continued the struggle, because he knew the objectives of the struggle. Unfortunately he was the only one that came out and participated in governance but he never lost sight. He held on to it and he ensured he did everything within his reach to see to the manifestation of the objectives and today we are very happy and proud of him as he became the beacon of those of us who went on exile to the fulfilment of our objectives. So frankly, we commend him. Also the APC Chairman, Oyegun, was there in exile. I kept telling people that the day Obasanjo was said to have been detained, Oyegun was in the snow carrying placards, saying Obasanjo must not be detained. I still have those pictures. You know those are the people that have fought for this country not with bows and arrows or with guns and bombs, but with their intellect; these are the people that deserve to be called true Nigerians.