The Bola Tinubu interview

The Tinubu Revelation (1): My deal with Jonathan


*Laments breach of contract with the people

Because of the issues involved in this first part of the TINUBU REVELATIONS, we decided to run the interview along with other materials in this segment of the paper, NATIONAL CONFERENCE PALAVA. Fiery as ever, Bola Ahmed Tinubu spoke with passion about the failure of leadership in the country. According President Goodluck Jonathan the respect deserving of the holder of the Office of the President and Commander-in-Chief, Tinubu, nonetheless, did not shy away from stating his views on how leadership in Nigeria appears to be going to the dogs. Did he meet with President Jonathan before the elections, “Yes, we met”, he declared; but he was quick to add that he never reached any deal for personal gains. Rather, he impressed it on Jonathan the need not to breach the contract entered into with Nigerians. Today, however, even Tinubu himself feels betrayed and disillusioned.

But you would need to read this explosive interview – mind you, the second part is even more explosive as you would find out at the end of this part. Excerpts:

By Jide Ajani & Anthonia Onwuka

Let us start with the Code of Conduct Tribunal?

For seven years or thereabouts, they’ve been shouting; they tried to stop me in 2003 before the elections and I said bring the evidence.

Was it that the accounts did not exist or where did that confidence come from?

Look, if you list all these accounts, you must have access to what are the balances in them. Believe me, Heritage Bank doesn’t even exist any more – that was the account I was using when I was in school. Now, you employed a private investigator, to give you details of an account, he would give you every bush meat he can get. It would then be left for you to sort it out and find out what the balance sheet is and when was the account opened, how much is in it; what is the aging analysis? Is there any evidence that Lagos State Government funds were transferred into that account? But government just listed account numbers, about 19 and there was no thorough investigation.

Your children’s accounts too were….?

Do you know my daughter’s graduation suffered a set back because of that?


Because the banks are down-sizing, so if you have only $3,000 or $1,000 in any account and governments or people are making enquiries into it, the bank would just say ‘this is a troublesome account, so why are we wasting time on it’; they will just close the account and cancel whatever cards are on it – they did all of that to my children.

So what does this tell you about those in government who are supposed to be giving inspiration to the citizens?

What it means is that they are not honest to be leaders and they are not competent to be leaders; they are vindictive and malicious. They are not looking at the future and the reputation of this country, no respect for values and family life and respect for human dignity. They just don’t care.


* Tinubu

The question of the idea of bringing him down and destroying an individual is not a civilized attitude in any politics. It doesn’t show that you as a leader have that character trait that you can develop even in a civilized debate and discussion. You cannot help the country like that as a leader.

Good, you mentioned debate and discussion. 20 years since the talk about a Sovereign National Conference, SNC, it has refused to go away. What conditions would you say have continued to exist and which have made the issue remain with us – even with more fervency?

Lack of honesty, lack of commitment to core values of nation building, lack of integrity in governance, lack of character in leadership of the country, lack of visionary leaders, lack of true commitment to constitutional democracy and that’s a great absence of a ‘we the people’ constitution.

We might remove the word sovereign from it because sovereign belongs to the people in any democracy but this our constitution, was it agreed to by the people? It is a lopsided constitution that is not democratic. It is an imperial constitution in a democratic setting.

Too much power at the centre even though they cannot manage the responsibilities attached to those powers. Until you devolve power, we’ll keep having problems.

Why do we create states when we know that we will make them powerless? Why do we adopt the philosophy and principle of federalism if we know that we cannot put it to practice in a constitutional environment? It is because we have not been honest about it. It’s a unitary system in a federal environment.

The power in any constitution is relinquished from the state to the centre and it should be about the security of the country.

You can have a federal police, but why do you have a legislative house of assembly, with the criminal code being that of the state yet the state does not have the coercive powers to enforce or implement the laws being made by the state? Why do we concentrate the revenue at the centre and be a supervisor of every state? That is not right.

The conference is necessary because the quality of life of our people must improve. Government dabbles into everything. Look at agriculture! Government continues to make policies and you ask where is its farm? What is the ministry of education doing with its huge budget? Even the universities it claims are located in states. The federal government says it is maintaining roads and universities but we have seen what has become of them. Lagos State that is building roads and bridges. can it not maintain them if you devolve power and give more funds?

Our constitution has given the states mandates that are not funded; so you ask, what type of constitution is that? Devolve power, devolve the revenue.

Lack of accountability is our major problem. Look at the revenue accruing to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; how is it accounted for? Look at the waste going on. We need to discuss.

Those who talk about the complexities that would arise talk about the word sovereign…?

(Cuts in) Okay, remove the word sovereign and let’s talk.

In Benin Republic, a similar thing was organized and the end result was the cessation of the Mathieu Kereku administration and those who continue to oppose an SNC point to that because the momentum that would have been generated would be unstoppable. So, if you were President Goodluck Jonathan, how would you go about it because it is easy for people outside government to talk and grand-stand?

Remove myself from the picture and let Nigerians discuss and let government not mid-wife it.

Is that all? What about representation?

Transparent representation without you interfering! We’ve had elections. Let politicians stay out of it. You have the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA. You have several non-governmental organizations peopled by citizens of this country. You have body of doctors, you have retired judges, you have eminent retired judges. You can have all of them to come together and contribute membership to the elected delegates.

The counter argument is that we already have a National Assembly membership that is elected?

Okay, ask these people to have their toga of National Assembly and let them down because they were elected on the platform of political parties; so how would they discuss the problems of the country without thinking of the politics and positions of their parties, the character, texture and all? How would they be dispassionate without being partisan? Or do Nigerians want a constitution of a political party as their constitution or that oF ‘we the Nigerian people’?

Okay, who are those who constitute this ‘WE’? Government says it is defending the interests of the Nigerian people; those asking for SNC are also claiming to be representing the Nigerian people. So which is which? Which people are we talking about?

We are talking about non-partisan Nigerians. There was no single vote for an individual – only one person cannot vote for you because, as some people are voting for you, some others are voting for other people too. It is only the majority mandate that gave you that platform, so those people who voted against you or those who didn’t vote at all, are you saying you are representing everyone? How can you say so?

The constitutional conference would be about the people, discussing Nigeria, administration, governance, from a non-partisan angle because we are all witnesses to the crises engulfing this nation.

How do you now ensure that members of that body would not be tainted by the influence of politics?

Even if they are, it would not be in favour of one party. Take for example the way PDP has been using its majority. The amendment they did, they limited the scope and then added in the constitution that you have just 180 days to ask for your right, for fair hearing about a petition. They can also use that to amend a constitution that will create a one-party state if you leave them to carry on the way they are carrying on.

We can cry wolf; but are these fears real – The fears of a possible one-party state?

Of course! Yes the fears are there and they are real. Just look at the example I gave and which you can not challenge. They amended the constitution with their majority and when you have electoral dispute you have been limited because the days are ticking while the legal tussle is on. ‘I’ve received this mandate, go to court, you have just 180 days’.

What is a constitution supposed to be about? Your rights, my rights to fair hearing; to take a civilized manner for dispute resolution instead of taking to the streets with guns.

It is not enough to criticize. If you were the Commander-in-Chief, what are those things that you would be doing differently?

First of all, the image of the country should and would concern me.

I am not at war with my people in the country – I should not declare war against Nigerians. It is either there is anger somewhere or disappointment. My investigative apparatus must be first class and I must not be tired of constant consultations with people and leaders in this country with a view to making peace.

I have been there before. I governed Lagos State and Lagos State is very complex because if you govern Lagos then you can govern Nigeria. Lagos is a microcosm of the country because every tribe is represented here. We’ve had inter-ethnic conflicts here in Lagos – Mile 2, Ajegunle, Idi Araba, Mushin, Mile 12, Ikorodu, we’ve had the bomb explosions and we’ve managed all these. We’ve also had the OPC crisis and even if you were not in Lagos you were somewhere in this country.

You must really find out what these people want: Is it a sense of injustice? Are these my political enemies? What can I do to remove whatever weapons they are using against me? The image of Nigeria must be of paramount concern to you.

All these that you are saying now appear strange because just before that election that brought Jonathan to power, you were seen as a beautiful bride?

(Cuts in) I thought I was

For you to sound this frustrated and even express the fear about the President now sends a signal. You met with Jonathan before the election and we had that you reached a deal with him? Or was there no deal, for instance, on what and what you would like him to do for the country when he becomes President because from the way you’ve spoken, it appears as if some agreements were breached?

There was no deal between me and the President prior to the election. There was only the plea. We met, I won’t lie.

I’ve known the President since he was a deputy governor. And God and Nigerian people have placed him where he is and I must respect him. I believe that he should be fair and he should believe in constitutional democracy.

I believe he was meant to become Acting President based on the turn of events and as the Constitution provided for.

And when our proposed alliance didn’t work, I left my options open. We had a discussion about the stability of this country and the rule of law, the development of this country. That there will be adequate consultations, there will be effective consultations; there will be fairness.

Democracy, constitutional democracy, would be allowed to flourish and good ideas would be allowed to flow and pursued for the greatness of our country. So we discussed all these points.

I didn’t make any bargain for myself. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t need it.

That was the context of the deal I meant?

For myself!

No! I mean the issues discussed and possibly agreed on as conditions for your support?

Okay. I challenge anybody to publish it if there was a private arrangement or deal with me, including the President, let him come out and tell Nigerians, please speak now or keep them quiet forever.

We met, no lie about that.

Look at the issue of subsidy removal. Our party’s position on that is clear – yes, if the subsidy was to be removed, how do we make a long term plan for it so that it would not affect the masses in an adverse manner.

We summarized our position and gave it to the President.


What happened to all the beautiful ideas you bounced off the President?

They were never accepted. They said we would meet again but we were never invited back and all we had was that subsidy had been removed.

So how come you trusted such a person?

You are asking me! I think there are fifth columnists in Jonathan’s administration, in that cabinet. Some people just wanted to set him up for disgrace with wrong advice. How do you advise the President to remove subsidy on the 1st of January, the beginning of an accounting year; the beginning of a new year when people have traveled.

Why not 5th of January? What was there to be benefited from the January 1 date? What image are you trying to make of this man?

Or what image was the man trying to push out for himself because he is the President and he should think decisions through before they become policy?

Okay that is another angle. But he can not just come from the toilet or from his bedroom and say he wants to remove subsidy suddenly.

That is his problem as President. What if he woke up from the wrong side of the bed?

Wrong side of the bed! I don’t see any side of the bed that is wrong. Then you break the social contract with the people who voted for you.

You didn’t even set some programmes in place to cushion the effect of what you are trying to go and you just decided. If you call Ashok Leyland or Mercedez and say bring your plant into this country and make thousands of buses, you’ll get waivers and I’m going to buy up the buses, do you think they won’t come and set up plants here? You give them a guarantee. You rehabilitate the rail system first before jumping into subsidy removal. Meanwhile you are earning handsomely from the international price of crude oil, yet you jump to remove subsidy? It’s inhuman.

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