RECENTLY, the National Coordinator of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and founder, Oodua Progressive Union (OPU), Otunba Gani Adams launched Oodua Voice Radio and Oodua Magazine in the United Kingdom. The purpose he said is to project cultural heritage and unity of the Yoruba race across the globe.
ENCOMIUM Weekly took him up on this and much more when we visited him at his new Omole, Lagos abode on Sunday, November 29, 2015.
Recently, you veered into media by launching Oodua Voice Radio and a news magazine. What informed the decision?
In the actual sense of it, there is no way you can project your cause or ideology satisfactorily anywhere in the world without your own media outfit, no matter how small it may be. You also have to be a friend of the media because no matter how the media outfit is, it would project you to a certain level of what you want. In addition to that, it would project you as a personality. Oodua Voice Radio was founded on the basis of projecting the ideology, philosophy and culture of the Yoruba race. Some of the sons and daughters of Yoruba, home and abroad do not understand the philosophy of their tribe. Some of them can’t even say anything about late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
When we’re talking of restructuring or regionalism, they don’t understand what we mean. If you’re talking of federalism they don’t understand it. And when you’re talking of culture identity, some of them don’t even count it very important. And the beginning of any tribe or nationality’s fall is when you throw away your identity, culture and tradition. So, we need to correct all these wrong impressions about our heritage, language, identity and the way God created us in His infinite mercies. And at the same time, the platform would serve as a way to unite the Yoruba. Yoruba don’t see the importance of unity. And there is power in unity. The Igbo are so lucky, they can easily unite themselves with any popular cause that favours them. So, also the Hausa-Fulani. But talking of the Yoruba, when one goes to the left, the other goes to the right. And some of them would see that this is a genuine cause but because of their political opponents, they may decide to go the other way. So, I think it’s highly imperative to use that platform to unite the Yoruba and to preach justice and fairness in Nigeria, the entire black race and even the westerners.
The platform would be more useful to the Yoruba in Nigeria and across the globe. And it would create an opportunity for some people to showcase their God-given talents. So, Oodua Voice and Oodua magazine will serve this purpose. That’s the beginning. As we progress, we would go into television. And after television, we would be looking forward to going into certain cable networks. After that, we would be working towards the license in Nigeria so that we can get the local audience.
How much did the project gulp?
It would be difficult to tell you how much the project gulped because it involves different layers. It’s not ordinary online radio that people would just pay some money to build. We want to build it in a very classical way. And even the level we are now, we want to upgrade within three months. At the level we’re now, we’re test running the station. By Monday, November 30, 2015, the operation would start fully. It’s one to build a radio station, it’s another thing to see someone that would run it for you. And the radio station is established in Britain. And in Britain, some of them are so busy, they see broadcasting as a part time job. So, we’re trying to connect in Nigeria so that most of the people that would run it will be in Nigeria.
Why is it not based in Nigeria instead of Britain?
I have it in mind that most of my businesses would be based abroad. I have run two or three businesses in Nigeria that those put in charge were giving me excuses of poor power supply, and that’s why they couldn’t run them successfully. I was involved in oil and gas business, I have about eight lorries. They couldn’t run it successfully for me. I have bottled water company, they couldn’t run it well too. And I had spent more than N60 million on it. I also have other businesses, but I realized that most of our people you employ in Nigeria here can’t be trusted. Someone that you’ve decided to be paying about N120,000 as salary would be thinking of stealing about N250,000 in a month from the business. And people like us have little income to run a business. It’s not somebody that embezzled money from politics that can just use the business as a cover up. So, anything we’re doing, we plan to bring in more income so that we can survive. So, I am hoping to establish more businesses abroad so that I can have a way of survival. I have embarked on so many things. I am running seven organizations without getting any grant for any one of them. So, I have to equip myself so that I can have capacity to run them successfully.
Where exactly is the station located in the UK?
It’s in Central London.
Why did you choose Central London?
When we wanted to build the station, we gave them an instruction that we wanted it in that place. We chose Central London because it’s a place that when you’re walking on the street, you would be hearing Yoruba, E kaaro, E kaasan o. So, of every 10 black men or women in Central London, you must find at least six or seven Yoruba among them. So, with that now, our people can have access to the radio. They can go there for interviews very easily. One problem in London is that if you’re living outside London, it may be extremely difficult for you to come to Central London because of traffic and the cost of transportation unless if you’re coming via public bus. And some of the personalities would like to come in their cars. And when you’re coming from outside London to Central London, it may take you about two hours to get there. So, we want our people who are Yoruba to have access to the station. That’s why we instructed them to get the apartment in Central London.
You said having a media outfit will help project your course apart from that of the Yoruba, does it mean you established the radio and magazine to boost your future political ambition as being bandied?
First, I have never decided to go into full politics. And at the same time, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Even though I am not a politician, I am an opinion moulder as far as Nigeria is concerned even beyond the shores of this country. Even though I am not a politician, that doesn’t mean I can’t have a media platform. And to put the record straight, most of those who have media outfits are not politicians.
Let’s go into another issue, how would you assess President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since he took over six months ago?
Basically, if I say I know what’s happening, I would be deceiving myself because nobody knows the way forward for Nigeria as a country. All their promises during campaign were not implemented. And the country is stagnant at the moment economically and socially. Money is not flowing. From what we saw, the government has cleared up cash from the public. Even the ministers that were just appointed won’t have much say in the government. Everything would be at the centre. What we would have in Buhari’s administration would be worse that what we experienced in the administration of Jonathan.
Now, if a minister has to spend N5 million, he has to go to the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria. And this is a president who loves to travel a lot. So, if there is an emergency or a burning issue, you have to wait. And in that respect, the level of governance will be highly slow. And Nigerians may not have that kind of patience. People worked against Jonathan because they wanted change. They just wanted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power. And the way things are going now, the same Jonathan that was being abused when he was leaving power on May 29, 2015, is now becoming a hero.
The person they saw then as a hero, that will give them a better way of life has now turned to another thing. And most of his subordinates don’t even help matters. And at the same time, the way Jonathan handled democracy was different from the way Buhari handles it. Buhari still thinks he can control this country the way he did in 1984 to 1985 when he was a military head of state. He can’t have the same power he had in 1985 because every day people begin to know the importance of rule of law. People now realize that my right is my right. We have more lawyers now than then. Also, many more media houses have cropped up. When Buhari was in power between 1984 and 1985, we had only one television station which is Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). Then, Radio Nigeria and some state owned radio stations. But now, they are countless. And all these stations are ready to push out opinions of some leaders. Even now, we have many newspapers, magazines and many online platforms. We have many media houses outside Nigeria that are highly interested in what’s happening in Nigeria.
So, I think the president should think about the fact that with his rigidness, he can’t move this country forward. He’s not a full politician, he’s a military man. He thought he understands the terrain because he had contested four times before becoming the president. But the professional politicians can still set him up. I am talking of the civil servants. Some of them are even worse than the politicians. And most of our lawyers now are even more partisan than their profession. They’re ready to die for their clients to ensure they defend him to the last minute. They would ask their client if he has money and if that one says yes, they would assure him of victory. And that politician won’t go to jail again as expected by the public. Imagine somebody that stole about N25 billion, you now think you would raise a case against him so that he can go to jail. He would be ready to waste N5 billion out of the money. And with that, he would infiltrate every part of the judiciary.
Definitely, it takes some strategies and wisdom for Buhari to achieve in his anti-corruption crusade. Even we have realized that his anti-corruption is becoming selective.
So, you are not impressed by Buhari’s performance so far?
Yes, there’s no aspect his administration has impressed me. Not only us. We have done a contract and we have all the documents with the government. And during the execution of the contract we lost one person and many were injured in the process as well. At the end of the day, while processing it, we went to the legal department, the department accepted our documents. Then, we’re expecting to be paid, but till now the government has refused to pay us. We owe not less than 5,000 people three months salaries now. Assuming our followers don’t understand what’s happening, that alone could have destroyed our organization. You can’t bring partisan issues to a case of a work done by somebody for the Federal Government. Government is government. Ministries remain ministries. Government continues it’s the personality that will change. You can’t say you would deny those that had worked for the government their money because you’re not the one who awarded them the contract. It’s unfair. If we had not rendered the service of securing the pipelines, how would he have inherited the money he met in the coffers of government when he took over?
- TADE ASIFAT