We recently heard you survived 5 mini heart attacks before you were properly diagnosed in a London hospital. What really happened?
Six in total if you count the one that happened in the hospital between when I did my ECG and while I was waiting for my chest X-ray results. The truth is I had been having many episodes of chest tightening and I could not explain it. First in Dubai, then in Nigeria. After one very bad experience, I went to a hospital in Abuja and was given medication for indigestion which surprisingly made me feel better. It was not until I got to London that it reoccurred and my wife insisted I should be taken to the hospital, that we found out what it was. Just the ECG and blood tests revealed there was a problem and so without delay I was rushed into the theater and operated on. If I had not come in, the damage would have spelt the end for me. A few quick lessons to be learned. 1. Listen to your wife. 2. Doctors without equipment is trial and error and 3. Many people die for lack of treatment. The whole experience was free. Not one Naira was spent. Because two days later was my wedding anniversary, they let me home the following day to go and enjoy my second lease on life. The final lesson is between your symptoms and an equipped doctor, there are things you can do. Mine was breathing exercises. A simple google search will reveal the different types. I used them to save my life. Now I’m up and about and feeling even better than the weeks leading up to when I went in. It’s God.
With all the stress of politics and your passion for progress, are you not tempted to slow down and take life easy?
I’m glad you used the word passion. That means you know it’s not a thing you turn on and off as you see fit. I have seen the world, I have seen Nigerian politics, I know what is needed and I know who can get it done. Why then would I look the other way and mind my business? Because I’m looking for food? No. Food will find me. I’m not that hungry. With this heart attack sef, I need less of it. I strongly believe in the potential of Nigeria and I truly believe in the genuineness of men like Buhari, Amaechi, El Rufai and others. I’ve seen the sincerity of some men in the legislature, the business community, the arts and at the grassroots level in Nigeria. We have enough men and women to build a better Nigeria for all of our children. I choose to help them. Especially when they make mistakes. Nobody is perfect.
Rivers state is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. Be it internal APC issues or statements from your Governor. Any comments?
We have a history of being very outspoken, especially on social media. Even secondary school children are posting political opinions on Facebook. During Odili it was not like that. But they were one family then. Now the family has broken up and they all think that they are equals. Besides there is a benefit for being an equal or a close ally of an equal and that benefit is what politicians from 1999 have lived on. Stopping it now is not easy. That’s one reason. The second reason is outside influences. Rivers state is the donation capital of Nigeria. It’s influential just by virtue of its place in Nigeria. They don’t call it the Treasure base for nothing. Even if Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom like they should take more allocation, Rivers is still Number 1 in the eyes of everyone. So being a friend of our Governor is a career path for many citizens both inside and outside the APC. I said it once and I’ll repeat it again. People in APC in Abuja conspired with Wike to prevent Amaechi’s candidate from becoming Governor in Rivers state. Why? Because if Amaechi has a Governor in Rivers state, he will be too influential in the Abuja equation for 2023. So unless Amaechi makes peace with his colleagues in Abuja, we cannot have peace in Rivers. In the meantime he is doing his work as Minister of Transport oblivious to them. I admire his focus, but I will be constantly preaching peace. Like I said in response to the Governor’s unfortunate comments, we don’t need to wash our dirty linen in public. While we spend huge cash on media, lawyers and frivolous costs, our people are looking for school fees, food to eat or money to invest in business. Who loses? I thank my father for giving me the wisdom to not respond.
Are you interested in contesting for Governor come 2023? Word from the grapevine says you are gearing up for it. Can you be open and tell us what you are planning?
I’m not going to be making the same mistake my brother and former Senator friend made by pushing for hundred before I even reach for one. The state of the party in the state is not conducive for any kind of electoral victory, talk less of a Governor. A total root and branch overhaul is needed to address the fresh management that we need. Unless you want to change parties as a protest. Not me. I have done that before. Doesn’t work. Becoming Governor in Rivers state is not a one man show. It requires a team effort and if you are talking APC Rivers state, Amaechi is the undisputed leader of that team. The grassroots believe in him and so without his support, you can’t win. 2023 is miles away, if we take care of the little things, other things will take care of themselves. I have shown that I’m not desperate to be the one on the chair. All I want is for Rivers state to move forward. It must not be me. But move forward it must. Amaechi is the leader in the state. If you don’t want his leadership, it’s not a cult, you can operate outside him. But let us avoid bringing each other down publicly for the sake of our party faithful, for the sake of our state and for the sake of our region. It’s not worth it. We can agree to disagree agreeably. Weakening APC strengthens PDP. I cannot support that.
What are your thoughts about the statement by Senate President that anything Buhari wants, he will get from the assembly?
In politics there are two types of people. The ones who care about the optics of how things look and those who just get on with it. I am increasingly leaning towards the latter. It’s important we put his comments into context. The Senate President is succeeding a predecessor who was a stumbling block to the executive at every turn. Without the benefit of his personal thoughts I think this Senate Preaident is distinguishing himself and the Senate he leads from that toga. Call him a rubber stamp or an extension of the executive if you like but he will not stand in the way of the much needed progress Mr. President wants to bring to this country. Thankfully he has given us a key deliverable already. A budget. In December, 2019. That is what my thoughts are processing.
Can a party with this level of crisis and amidst renewed calls for the national Chairmam to resign make progress and move the country forward?
Of course. It’s possible to chew gum and walk at the same time. Friction is a function of interaction. What is taking place is normal when you are viable. People fight over you. But our party is not running the government, the President is. Let’s leave internal party affairs to the party. They will resolve them, without the glare of you in the media.
The recent victory of APC in Bayelsa state fueled allegations of anti party activities against former President Jonathan. Do you wish to comment?
Not really. Except to say that the former President gave us Wike. I understand why. The enemy of your enemy is your friend. There is very little difference between the parties in Bayelsa. It’s not like they have a peculiar ideology.
When a Christian moves from one denomination to another, he or she still serves God, yet a politician can’t work in another party and still serve his or her people? I used to think our problem was leadership. Now I’m not so sure. What goes around will come around.
Allegations of mismanagement within the NDDC. Are you happy about the probe and what would you like to see going forward?
Oh yes. I am. For two reasons. The first is I know many heads will roll. Secondly, heads rolling signifies consequences. That is the singular most significant reason why we are where we are today. There are no consequences for our actions. Change that and you change everything. Why be good when being bad has no consequence?
You were into movie production. Why did you stop?
God forbid!! Me stop. Not possible. I am alreadyvworking on my next project. My scriptwriter and I are having lunch in London tomorrow just to review our progress. So the entertainment industry is not a passing phase for me. It’s what I hold dear. Two of my kids are coming for that lunch meeting. One is in Princeton and he wants to become a Producer. My daughter is already making waves in the UK film industry on major HBO productions and wants to be a writer/director. Her CV is intimidating. She just graduated with a first class. So film production is in the family. It’s just that I believe in taking my time. It shows in the productions.
Finally, give us your assessment of 2019 with regards to the Buhari administration and tell us what your predictions for 2020 will be.
Well he won the election, so the 2019 story itself was that positive assessment. Looking at 2020, I think he wants to leave a legacy. That is good and bad news. The good news is he will take Nigeria to the next level of prosperity. I expect more jobs, increased investment, improved infrastructure, greater transparency and better fiscal management. The bad news is he will take no prisoners along the way and he will take some very tough short term decisions that have a longer term positive impact. He isn’t contesting for an election and he has the future of the masses in his mind. My only advice will be for him to pay attention to healing the nation. Politicians play on our divisions to get power. Now that they have lost it, patriots should play on our unity to keep Nigeria strong.
APC NWC has set up a national reconciliation committee but some are already kicking against the composition. Will there be genuine reconciliation because there are certain people who believe nothing good can come out of Oshiomhole?
I don’t share that view. Anyone who wants to make progress should have no problem embracing peace. I’m an optimist with an umbrella like I said before. Let’s give peace a fair chance. The proof in the pudding is in the eating. Let them start work.
The emergence of Ovie Omo Agege as leader of the party in south south. Some people boycotted the meeting that produced him: Godswill Akpabio, Rotimi Amaechi, Godwin Obaseki. Can we say their absence showed a crack within?
You can say it but it won’t be true. I believe the Deputy Senate President is now the highest political officer from the South South, so he is not really contesting political leadership with anybody. The media often like to read meaning into innocent issues. Maybe because controversy sells. Amaechi, Akpabio, Sylva and even Oshiomole have large profiles and could easily provide leadership for the region, but the respect for the office of the DSP and their preference to focus on their jobs means, this isn’t a matter for debate.
Buhari has said he won’t contest in 2023. So many tendencies smarting for the ticket. Which of these will pick the ticket and do you forsee the cabal producing a candidate by proxy, despite Buhari warning that no one should drop his name?
I won’t be tempted to speculate. If as has been established , a week is a long time in politics, how much more time is 3 years? There are too many actions the President can take that will affect the outcome. The worst mistake anyone should make is to underestimate the role of the President. Even his silence will speak volumes.
BREAKINGNEWS: Ogun politician, Buruji Kashamu dies of COVID-19
Ben Murray-Bruce who broke the news on Twitter said Kashamu died at First Cardiologist Consultants in Lagos.
EID-EL-KABIR: SANWO-OLU FELICITATES WITH MUSLIMS, CALLS FOR MODERATE CELEBRATIONS
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has rejoiced with Muslims across the country on the occasion of Eid-el-Kabir festival, urging them to celebrate moderately in the wake of the rise in cases of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor also advised Nigerians, especially Muslims to imbibe the lessons of sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim and work for the unity and progress of the nation.
Sanwo-Olu, in his Eid-el-Kabir message released on Thursday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, congratulated Muslims in Lagos and advised them to continue on the path of spirituality and peaceful co-existence.
He said Eid al-Adha became a symbolic event in the history of mankind, given the bountiful rewards that followed the patience and perseverance of Prophet Ibrahim, who held on tenaciously to his faith in God despite being afflicted.
Sanwo-Olu therefore urged Lagosians to draw lessons from the prophet’s examples by eschewing tendencies that could severe the unity and stability in the country.
“Today, I join millions of people around the world, to wish our Muslim brothers and sisters in Lagos State and in Nigeria happy Eid-el-Kabir, which comes with significant lessons for mankind. For the Muslims, today’s celebration is very unique.
“This symbolic Islamic festival is a reminder to us that, there will always be great rewards when we have abiding faith and patience in trying periods; persistence in prayers and tenacity in our belief.
“It also reminds us of the sacrifice we are expected to make not only for the purpose of spiritual fulfillment, but also for the progress of mankind and development of our society.
The governor also reminded Nigerians, especially Lagosians of the need to reflect on the new reality caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, saying it has altered the way we live, work and celebrate.
He said: “Traditionally, Eid-el-Kabir is marked with fanfare, where thousands of worshippers head to various designated praying grounds in their localities for special Eid prayer, followed by festive gatherings, visits to families and friends, gift exchanges, feasts among friends, neighbours and relations.
“However, these activities, which are a reflection of joy and happiness of the season, cannot hold this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let us reflect on the last four to five months of our lives as individuals, as a state and as a nation. We should also remember our health care workers, and thousands of COVID-19 patients who would have loved to be at home to celebrate with us at this moment.”
Sanwo-Olu also advised Nigerians to support the government’s efforts in building a nation that would work for all, adding that the need to keep Nigeria on the path of development is a collective responsibility of all citizens.
“On behalf of my family and the Government of Lagos State, I wish all Muslims a happy and peaceful Eid al-Adha celebration,” he said.
PA FASANMI, A GREAT NATIONALIST, PASSIONATE LEADER-SANWO-OLU
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has expressed sadness over the death of an elder statesman and leader of Yoruba socio-cultural group Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi whom he described as “a great Nationalist, passionate leader and humility personified.” He was aged 94.
Pa Fasanmi, also the leader of Egbe Ilosiwaju Yoruba, died in the early hours of Thursday, after a brief illness.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, in a condolence message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said the death of the nonagenarian came at a critical period when his wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom was most needed in Nigeria.
Governor Sanwo-Olu who also described the late Pa Fasanmi as a complete gentleman and selfless leader said he contributed immensely to the development of South West region in particular and the nation in general.
According to Mr Governor, “Pa Fasanmi, was an exemplary leader who spent the greater part of his life in the service of humanity, particularly the Yoruba course where he contributed to the development of the region.
Sanwo-Olu recalled, ” In the old Western Nigeria, Pa Fasanmi served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Old Western Nigeria Housing Corporation.
“He was National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in 1977, elected into the Senate in 1979, and became a member of the House of Representatives in 1983.
He also served as a member of the National Constitutional Conference Commission in 1994.
“Pa Fasanmi was indeed an icon who will never be forgotten in history of Nigeria and the Yoruba race. He will surely be missed.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu said that late Pa Fasanmi, who was an “Awoist” to the core, would be remembered for his words of wisdom in keeping Nigeria as one united entity.
The Governor added that Pa Fasanmi, had always been advocating to Yoruba leaders to forget their differences and close the ranks for the good of the Yoruba race and Nigeria as a whole.
According to the Governor, “the late Pa Fasanmi made the call in Lagos in his remark at the public presentation of the book: “Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo and Corporate Agency”, written by Professor Wale Adebanwi, an Associate Professor in African American and African Studies, University of California-Davis.
“According to the frontline politician and second republic senator, this is (then) the time for political differences that have existed among the Awoists and the entire Afenifere clan to be cleared.
“At this auspicious time in our country, it is good we are having an occasion like this which brings many of us (Awolowo Associates) together. The event of today suggests to me that we need to forget our differences.
Sanwo-Olu stated that the above statement among other great virtues are what the late Fasanmi stood for.
“On behalf of my family, the Lagos State Government and people of the state, I want to express my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the immediate family members of the deceased; the government and people of Ekiti and Ondo States over the irreparable loss.
“May God give the departed soul eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear the loss. Adieu Pa Fasanmi,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
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