From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sun News Publishing
"General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s (IBB) in-law and President, Black Gold Group, Chief Sunny Okogwu has said that Professor Wole Soyinka is not a Nigerian, and as such he has no locus standi to continue to criticize IBB.
Speaking in exclusive interview with Daily Sun in Kaduna, Okogwu who was apparently reacting to Soyinka’s recent lecture, wherein he said among other things that IBB denied Nigeria the opportunity of a nationhood, noted that it was high time Nigerians stopped blaming IBB for whatever happened during his rule, insisting that if he (Okogwu) should open his mouth to speak on the person of Soyinka, Nigerians would not “buy him for 10 kobo.”
“He (Soyinka) was invited to speak on a particular person who has a political legacy; instead he took on a man that has nothing to do with the occasion. If I should open my mouth to speak about Wole Soyinka, that I know, as someone close to IBB, Nigerians will not buy him (Soyinka) for 10 kobo. Pitifully too, Wole is not a Nigerian, so he has no right, no privilege to represent Nigeria and talk about Nigeria or about the situation of Nigeria.
“He is not a Nigerian, he is a settler. The man is a nationalized Nigerian. He is a beneficiary of our generous constitution. He knows where he came from. Have you ever seen a Nigerian like Wole Soyinka, the man who puts on white hair, unruly like a Rasta man, white beard not taken care of? Have you ever seen any Nigerian leader growing white hair like Wole Soyinka or white beard like Wole Soyinka? It is only Wole Soyinka that wears that kind of hair. A true Nigerian does not wear such hair, and we don’t have one like Soyinka.“[/b]He also spoke on why he would not ask IBB to run in 2011, but was quick to add that, if he runs and wins, he (Okogwu) would be glad to return to the corridors of power once more.
He also spoke on other issues of national interest, including the claim that like Soyinka, Obasanjo, former Nigeria’s President, is equally not a Nigerian.
Since after General IBB relinquished power, there is hardly any public discuss about the political situation in Nigeria that his name will not feature. Just recently, Wole Soyinka again pointed the finger at him for depriving Nigeria the opportunity of transforming into nationhood. How do you feel as somebody who was close to the man when he was in power and still close to him even out of power?
The accusation by Wole Soyinka was wrong and is still wrong. It was not true, and it was an insult to Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s kind of politics. If Wole wants to talk about anybody, let him call his own press conference. He was invited to speak on a particular person who has a political legacy; instead he took on a man that has nothing to do with the occasion. If I should open my mouth to speak about Wole Soyinka, that I know, as someone close to IBB, Nigerians will not buy him (Soyinka) for 10 kobo. Pitifully too, Wole is not a Nigerian, so he has no right, no privilege to represent Nigeria and talk about Nigeria or about the situation of Nigeria.
How do you mean he is not a Nigerian ?
He is not a Nigerian, he is a settler. The man is a nationalized Nigerian. He is a beneficiary our generous constitution. He knows where he came from. Have you ever seen a Nigerian like Wole Soyinka, the man who puts on white hair, unruly like a Rasta man, white bear, not taken care of? Have you ever seen any Nigerian leader growing white hair like Wole Soyinka or white bear like Wole Soyinka? It is only Wole Soyinka that wears that kind of hair. A true Nigerian does not wear such hair, and we don’t have one like Soyinka.
But his origin is traceable to Ogun State, and his family is well known there. How about that?
Not everybody in Ogun state is a Nigerian. We know them very well. They either came to trade from Cotonou and settled in Nigeria. They trade mostly in kolanuts, and sometimes they even come from Togo or Ghana, but what I am saying is that when you are not a true Nigerian, don’t talk about Nigeria in a way that is insulting. If he is a nationalist, why did he oppose the rule of Abiola, why did he oppose the rule of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and why did he oppose Obasanjo? Now he has been opposing the rule of General IBB. Can he, Wole Soyinka rule? The answer is no. He was given opportunity, but he failed.
When was that?
It was during the IBB’s regime, was he not made something? The only thing he could do and did well was to introduce cultism into our university system, which caused the death of our children. Is cultism a tradition of Nigeria? No, it is foreign.
But he has always come out to defend that position that when they were in school, the pirate confraternity was not a cult to harass people, but a group to defend their collective rights as students?
That is what he preached to you, he was a preacher of that tradition that does not belong to Nigeria, and he brought it, is that not enough? There are so many preachers in Nigeria that will preach something and do something else.
There was also this general belief that when he was in charge of the Road Safety Commission under IBB, there was sanity in the system, how come you now say he could not perform?
There was no sanity anywhere. In fact, the situation became worst. He knows what he did, I am not supposed to say it, if you talk about people, talk about yourself. We in the IBB family have family value and we maintain it. Soyinka doesn’t seem to have that value, and anywhere he goes he talks the untalkable.
But most of the things he said were the things other Nigerians have said about IBB, so why are you singling out Soyinka for attack?
Yes, most of things Nigerians say about IBB were things the likes of Soyinka were always saying, not necessarily that they were the truth. You can see how he changes Nigerians’ mind and take his view and put into their mind. Is that a true citizen?
But one cross that IBB has continued to carry and will remain for a very long time to come is this issue of June 12, is that not enough to pour venoms on IBB?
It was not IBB who annulled the election, and as such it will be unfair to continue to attack him on June 12 issue.
But do you agree that annulment of June 12 really has devastating effects on Nigeria?
It may have, I don’t know, but if Nigeria has a law it must be obeyed, IBB obeyed the law.
In annulling June 12?
He did not annul June 12, the court annulled June 12 and the court was higher than IBB. You people should talk things as they come, it was the court, go to the archives, the court still exists and the document still exists, and because Wole Soyinka is not a Nigerian he wants to contravene the court order. Who is he? Nigerians obey court order and we are still obeying court order whether you like it or not. Who was the person who took the case to court, was it IBB, the answer is no. How did Abiola join politics? And which political party was he into? How long was he in that party before he was nominated presidential candidate? What happened between him and Arthur Nzeribe, the man who took the case to the court and made sure Abiola never became the president of this country? And I am quoting him, go and ask him, he was the one, and he is the one and he still will not, even if you wake Abiola up, Nzeribe will never allow Abiola to rule this country.
The story is wide and long. He brought Abiola to the party late and he was the principal actor and when he (Abiola) came in he was nominated, Abiola refused to greet him and even to answer his (Nzeribe) greeting became a problem, and he (Nzeribe) told him clean and clear, ‘you have not gone anywhere, you are behaving like this,’ over his dead body, ‘you will never rule this country.’ And you know Nzeribe for what he is, he concluded his project, you can go and ask Saraki (Oloye), Saraki went and begged him in his house, personal home in his hometown, he said no, Abiola went there he said no. what is IBB’s own there? IBB heard the annulment on radio. IBB was here (in Kaduna) passing through to Katsina. He was asking me, did you hear the radio news and I said yes. What is his own there; he quickly ran back and complied. Why is Soyinka not telling Nigerians the truth, Soyinka knew about Nzeribe, let him tell Nigerians.
What you are saying in essence is that Nigerians should stop blaming IBB for the annulment of June 12 and other things that happened during his regime?
They should put the blame on the party and those who took part in the annulment that was highly concluded professionally and legally by the court.
Do you think Yar’Adua should run in 2011?
That is not for me to say, he has the decision to make.
Some people have already started urging your in-law to come and contest, the way they had always done. How would you react to that?
That is up to them.
What is your advise as somebody who is close to him, should he run for Presidency in 2011?
If I advise him, people will say I am greedy. But I am the one who suffered during President Babangida’s rule. My family and Babangida family gained nothing during his regime other than insult, threat, loss of our property. Is it now that I will ask him to pursue the position of President again, what will we gain? He himself, what did he gain? Bullets all over the places, who is saying sorry to him, you want him to start going all over places and by the time he collapses who will say sorry to him.
Supposing your in-law decides to contest in 2011, what will you do?
What will I do? I will do what I did before.
What did you do before?
I will sit on the chair and go to the corridor of power and make sure he comes out alive.
But you will not ask him to contest?
No, I can’t control him, it is an offence to control a mature man and stop him from what he wants to do. He is matured, I can’t control him.
IBB made a lot of people while in power, how come you said members of his family did not benefit anything?
That is a good leader;. Yes, he helped a lot of people thinking that it would be smooth for him so that towards the end he could help his family, but he didn’t see the end, so the family lost. Which leader do you see doing that now? That was a good leader.
What will be your advice to Nigerians?
[b]Keep your country, and make sure that these people who come from neighboring countries do not rule you. If you give them chance, they will take your money, take your property, take everything and destroy your country and leave you.
Who are those people from neighboring countries ruling us?
We have many of them, they came enmass during the civil war and they refused to go. Some of them even changed their names, bearing names that you don’t understand. I don’t need to mention names. So many of them came from the waterfront.
We also have them here in the North?
I said everywhere, did I mention any specific place? When Abacha was ruling, did he say he is a Nigerian, you people said he came from foreign land, also you people talk of Marwa coming from Cameroon but he led you, Ribadu from borders of Chad, Buhari from Niger republic, Obasanjo from Dahomey, name them, and I will tell you where they come from.
What of IBB?
IBB is from Nigeria.
How come it is only IBB that is from Nigeria? His name is there, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
Olusegun Obasanjo is a Yoruba name, how come you say he is not a Nigerian?
Olusegun Obasanjo is not a name. Olusegun is not a Yoruba name. Obasanjo is not a name. Oba means what? Chief, Sanjo means what, Oba forbids sin, Sanjo is Igbo, so he has emerged from where, he has emerged from where and settled where; don’t let me bring those historical things. Give me another name and I will tell you where they come from.
Of course, you know, Wole is not a name, Soyinka is not name. It is Yinka that is a name, so where did ‘So’ come from. They came from somewhere and took kolanut to Badagry. I don’t want to tell you this type of things. They begin to organize rallies, amass power and they become the leader of the multitude and the multitude use propaganda tool to make them prominent and they become Wole Soyinkas of this world. I think the trend must stop."