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In conversation

Does Debo Onifade Hold The Key To Liberating Nigeria? | In Conversation

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Synners from all over the world, welcome to today’s edition of #SyncityNGLLL.

This is a platform where we shine the spotlight on creatives on and outside Africa’s shores.

Our guest is interested in Nigerian politics. Debo Onifade has a master’s degree in engineering management from Tufts University (USA) and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the University of Ibadan (Nigeria). Some of his essays have won him awards inside and outside Nigeria, including an IEEE prize at the historic Bletchley Park, UK in 2004, a Professor Femi Osofisan prize at the University of Ibadan in 1999, and a National Orientation Agency Award in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1998. He is also an entrepreneur, soccer coach, policy enthusiast and historian. Though @deboonifade lives in the US, he remains very passionate about Nigeria’s development and seeks to ignite the same fire in Nigerian youths.

Syncity NG:

Glad to have you here, Debo. Let’s begin. In your book, you made mention of young political aspirants waiting and starting from the grassroots. Knowing that Nigerians largely play stomach infrastructure politics no matter the age, would you still ask them to wait or simply get money?

Debo:
Stomach infrastructure is not going away anytime soon because of extreme poverty, so young people have to form coalitions and try to raise money. We have to innovate better ways of convincing people and still find a way to bless them without committing electoral fraud. It will take time and we cannot do it alone by ourselves. We need time and strategy to raise money. Ideas, integrity, and passion don’t win people elections. The right strategy is required and that includes raising money, offering some stomach infrastructure, and uniting to liberate.

Syncity NG:
But where do we raise this money when almost half of the population is living below the poverty line?

Where do we get the millions involved to pick a form or share bags of rice like the others?

How do we liberate Nigeria without money?

Debo:
Money is not the only thing required to win elections. We should start by building coalitions, unifying our efforts & creating apt political strategies, then we can raise money together. Young people wrongly think they can win without collaboration with good and bad people.

Election preparation doesn’t start with buying forms, it starts with joining a party(which is usually cheap or free), building broad coalitions, creating strategies, then you can now worry about contesting or raising funds. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Just like business-you don’t start with funds, you begin with the idea, create business plan/strategies, determine product/service, customers, operational and financial strategies(budget), then you worry about how to raise funds or how to begin with little funds.

Syncity NG:
Glad you mentioned collaborations. What are your thoughts on the last election when Oby, Fela, Kingsley and Sowore (a team of young people) failed to keep to their coalition?

How did you respond to that in your book?

Debo:
I discussed them all in my book. Only Sowore had the prospect to become a real politician. The rest were technocrats not ready for politics and couldn’t win elections. Sowore on the other hand has to transition from ‘activist’ to ‘politician’ in order to win elections.

Except Singapore and Hong Kong, politicians always win elections everywhere else in the world. Let’s perish this childish idea that technocrats or activists can win elections in Nigeria. The book explains how to win elections in Nigeria.

Syncity NG:
Debo, I’m really intrigued with the amount of faith and strong convictions you have in the power of good governance. For those who haven’t read your book, do share with us some of your ideologies and blueprint for Liberating Nigeria.

Debo:

We have the numbers to liberate Nigeria if we humble ourselves to learn politics and collaborate well. Buhari won with less than 20m votes. We have to start from bottom-up and not start from Presidency. The godfathers are sometimes beatable if we prepare well. Let’s stop the social media noise & channel our energy towards solution. Join political parties, attend party meetings and learn from those traditional politicians. Most importantly, read my book. United, Yorubas need Hausas, Igbos, Kanuris, Ijaws, Ogonis, etc. to win elections.

Syncity NG:

I know you said in your book that you had no intention of running for a political position. If you were to be a consultant on a campaign to a political aspirant, how would you handle it?

Debo:
Firstly, I’ll tell the person to please read my book, then he/she should go learn some things from APC/PDP/APGA by ‘gatecrashing’ into some of their meetings, and seeking a political mentor/godfather. We need technocrats and activists but we can’t learn politics from them. Whether we call it godfather or mentor, it is important to have a business mentor. We must seek a political mentor and stop fooling ourselves that we young people know enough to win cannot win without learning from the masters.

Syncity NG:
Speaking of Godfathers and mentors, there has been a lot of allegation that the recent #Okadaban is politically motivated. What are your thoughts on this trending topic?

Debo:

I am usually biased on the side of the people. I am greatly sad that many people will lose their sources of livelihood but I don’t know the statistics of accidents and crimes that this ban is expected to reduce-so I can’t do an effective comparison. LASG has to show us the numbers and convince residents that this hardship will ultimately benefit them. We also need to know how LASG will help business and people that this ban will hurt financially. I don’t think it benefits anyone politically to hurt people like this. I honestly don’t understand how hurting people benefits any political party. It is evil and stupid for any party to deliberately hurt people, just for political reasons. I’ll be surprised if that was APC’s reason.

Syncity NG:
Perhaps you can comment on Amotekun and the security policies of the S/W?

Debo:
I am in full support of Amotekun. The Yorubas have showed class by unifying regional efforts to help their people. I encourage other regions to do the same. But let’s ensure our ‘law-abiding’ non-Yoruba residents are also adequately protected. Nobody should be scared.

I’ll add that my book is available at Roving Heights, Glendora Books at Ikeja City Mall, and Jumia.

Someone asked a question about my writing inspiration. I was inspired while growing up by the activists and Nigerian politicians of the 60’s and 70’s (and not the typical literature gurus) and top on the list was Gani Fawehinmi.

That’s why I sought Femi Falana to write my foreword. But I learnt from the Awolowos, Ahmadu Bellos, Zik and believe we must focus on winning elections and not continue to repeat same mistakes of just talking.

Syncity NG:

What plans have you made back home to be involved in Nigerian politics?
I’m asking because your bio says you live in the US and how in touch are you with Nigerian politics?

Debo:

I was a bit involved in 2011 (supported Pastor Tunde Bakare&Buhari, shared flyers and donated). I have written articles on newspapers and online media. I then decided to write a 200-page book(with a detailed foreword by Femi Falana SAN) to clearly articulate my political views.

Syncity NG:

And with what is going on, do you still think the President you supported is a good idea?

Debo:

No, I stopped supporting Buhari long time ago, and that’s why I am joining the struggle to find alternatives. It’s unfortunate we haven’t had any viable alternative and we need to build a broad coalition to find one ASAP! Power belongs to the people. I intend to join that UNIFIED political party that will emerge soon by God’s GRACE & be active. I will not run for office (because this is not for all of us) but I will play my own little part in the emergence of a proper people’s government. Power belongs to the people.

Syncity NG:

Final words on Nigerian politics and why every Nigerian should get copies of your book.

Debo: Revolution didn’t work in Egypt, Libya, etc. Sudanese agitators had to share power with the military to oust Omar. Revolution won’t succeed in Nigeria. Let’s learn politics and unite together to take over power in Nigeria. Nigeria will fluorish again. Power belongs to the people. The book is available free on Amazon Unlimited Kindle, and paperback is available on Amazon, Jumia, Roving Heights, and Glendora Books. Thank you all for your time today. I really enjoyed this show.

And with that, we wrap up the interview with Debo Onifade. Debo believes in Nigeria and you can tell this when you read his book. Read the book review here.

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