Being a relative of a great politician is a big burden in itself. The burden is bigger and more profound if you are now the grandson of two great politicians whose activities while alive contributed to the growth and development Nigerian. Welcome to the world of Adejare Adegbenro, grandson of late Pa Alfred Rewane, a strident voice in the fight against military rule and strong backer of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, who was assassinated in his Lagos home in 1995 by goons suspected to be agents of the military government. Adejare’s patriarchal grandfather was the late former Premier of Western Region, Alhaji Dauda Adegbenro who also played a very prominent role in the evolution of post-independence Nigeria. With this rich and enviable political background, one would have expected the successful businessman to tow the path of his forebears. Alas, that has not really been the case. In this interview, self-effacing but personable Adegbenro speaks with Lanre Alfred on wide-ranging issues like the ongoing national confab which he says is a laudable idea but falls short in the area of youth participation
Given your background as the grandson of the late Alhaji Daudu Adegbenro, while late Pa Alfred Rewane is your maternal grandfather, one would have expected you will play a more active participation in Nigerian politics especially in your home states of Delta and Ogun; why the seeming indifference? Are you scared that you might not be able to step into the shoes of these two great Nigerians?
Let me start by praying that the souls of my grandfathers, of blessed memories, rest in perfect peace. On the issue of my seeming indifference to the politics of Delta and Ogun, and Nigeria as a whole, let me say first that I am not indifferent. For me, the issue is the difference between politics as exists now and my perceptions of the ideals that should define politics. I believe in politics of no bitterness or ethnic divides, politics that fosters educational and infrastructural development, religious harmony, and the social and financial integration of all. The politics that is played in Nigeria today runs contrary to my ideals to a very large extent.
What do you think of the on-going National Conference?
It is a very laudable project. I hope and pray that the people in the conference will be honest, sincere, and accommodating of the views of others, and that they are able to reach common positions. However, i would have loved that the youths, the people that would mostly benefit from this, are in the majority, while the elders present play an advisory role, considering that it is the future of Nigeria that is being discussed and that the youths constitute between 65 – 70% of the population
What is your opinion on the much-anticipated declaration of the incumbent president’s candidacy in the 2015 elections?
Well, there are certain people that have gone to the court for a pronouncement on the matter, and what the court said is that it is his constitutional right to do so if he so chooses. I remember that in 2011, there was a lot of hullabaloo on whether he should run for office or not. Eventually, Nigerians voted him into office. The electoral result was challenged up to the Supreme Court, yet his victory was upheld. I believe in the power of the electorate, so, in the end, Nigerians will decide. I have my vote and the vote of my people, which must count for something.
What is your view on the Boko Haram insurgency?
Boko Haram is a sad and unfortunate development in Nigeria’s history. My advice would be for sectional heads to come together to deal with the issue as a nation. I don’t see the Boko Haram threat as a regional problem limited to the north eastern, north central or southern problem. I believe it is a national problem and should be dealt with as such. I am also mindful of other ills that have plagued us as a nation: the kidnapping menace, fraud, extortions, armed robbery and religious bigotry.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has been suspended from office over allegations of financial impropriety while the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke is being investigated. Similarly, the Minister of Finance has been fingered for the waivers granted to some Nigerians? What does all these tell you?
The matter of the CBN governor is already in court, and it would be sub judicial for me to comment on this. As for the allegations levied on the Minister of Petroleum, if her activities are not within the framework of the budgetary allocations, the House of Representatives is competent enough to look into it, because, in the first instance, it was a member of the House that raised the issue. On that of the Minister of Finance’s waivers, this is something I read in the papers, and is largely speculative. As such, I wouldn’t want to comment on it.
What is your take on the International Human Rights Commissions allegations that the Nigerian Army had committed gross acts of human rights violations in its handling of the Boko Haram issue?
As you are aware, he who alleges must prove. I am honestly not competent to speak on this matter, but I am sure the security organisations are competent enough to handle the issues raised by the commission.
Is the APC the change that Nigerians need in the forthcoming elections?
The APC is a change, whether it is a change the majority of Nigerians will accept is subject to the forthcoming elections. But, it is noteworthy to consider the outcome of the gubernatorial elections recently held in Anambra State where an APC aspirant partook, yet another party’s candidate emerged winner and has been sworn in by INEC, though the victory is being contested at the tribunals.
What is your take on the PDP members that defected to the APC?
(Laughs) Although I want to give my comment, the case is before the court and so I must reserve my comments.
What is your take in terms of the infrastructural development at the state level?
This is a tough one because of where I have been and what I have seen in life. Some state governments are making whole-hearted efforts and do stand out from their contemporaries, yet I am afraid that when the bigger picture is considered, these efforts seem inadequate. What I would like to see is a situation where every single kobo coming out of each states coffers is judiciously used on optimal projects that benefit the public. I must add here, how many of our state governors see the position of governor as a job that must be done for the people and not a luxury office with a lot of pecks?
In your view, what can bring about unity amongst Nigerians?
Tolerance, love, understanding, mutual respect, and an appreciation of the rights of others. What I mean by this is: it is not okay to call your self a Christian/Muslim/Traditional Worshipper and not practise the essence and pillars of these beautiful faiths that all preach oneness, peaceful coexistence, respect for one another, harmony and love. I will advise that we Nigerians see ourselves as Nigerians, each one responsible for the other, and that our clergy men should shy and shun the teachings and practices of hatred and greed.
Are there specific events that you would say have had the greatest influence in defining you?
Without being immodest, I thank the Father Lord for who I am, for the family I am from, and for allowing me to believe in Him.
Who are your role models?
The late Pa Alfred Rewane and Alhaji Daudu Adegbenro of blessed memory.
What is your advice for the upcoming youths of Nigeria?
First and foremost, I would like to advise parents, guardians, custodians, elders and leaders in our society to fear God Almighty, and see the youths as a sacred responsibility given to them by the Father Lord. To the youths I say the sky is the limit to every dream and ambition. With hard work, dedication and perseverance, and by the special grace and mercies of God, contentment and success will follow.
Come 2015, between the PDP and APC, who would you support?
(Laughs) When the time comes…..
Finally, will you run for an elective office?
I personally do not have any political ambition, but if it is the will of God, so be it.