Asiwaju Musulumi of Yorubaland, including Edo and Delta, Alhaji Khamis Tunde Badmus, is one of the leading figures in Osun State. Badmus, the chairman of Tuns Farms Limited, met with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he came to Osun State. In this interview with Gbenga Aderanti, Badmus talks about his meeting with Tinubu, politics in Osun, Aregbesola, Oyetola’s rift. Excerpts:
The 2023 presidential election is around the corner, what are the qualities do you think the next Nigerian president should possess?
Firstly, the presidential candidate must be mature, highly cerebral. He must also have the fear of God, be he a Christian or Muslim, and must also be able to identify the problems Nigeria is encountering now.
He must also be knowledgeable about the best way to tackle these challenges facing Nigeria. That sort of person must also be somebody who has knowledge of the Nigerian economy or who has in one way or the other invested in the economy. If you have not invested in the economy, you won’t know where the shoe pinches. If you are a farmer, you will know what is wrong with agriculture. If you are in oil and gas, you must know what is happening in that industry. What I’m saying in essence is that the next president of Nigeria must be known in one of the key sectors of the economy. The person must be humane.
The majority of the younger elements are clamouring for people in their 40s to rule Nigeria. How possible is this?
For you to lead, you have to learn through the ropes. Climb through the ladder by going through the structure on the ground. You can’t just sit down in your house and say because I’m a young person, I want to be president. The best method for the younger elements clamouring for political positions is not by going to social media, rather by participating actively in the politics itself. Almost all the political parties have youth leaders. The youth leader in that particular party should be in the best position to promote the youths. You can’t just go and stay somewhere and say because you are young, political powers should be surrendered to you. It is not automatic; you have to go through the system. A youth leader can become anything within that party.
In 1993, we had a Muslim/Muslim ticket in Social Democratic Party. The late Chief Abiola was a Muslim, likewise his running mate, Babagana Kingibe. Do you see the same scenario playing out in this dispensation?
MKO Abiola was going everywhere including churches. He never discriminated against any religion, although he was a Muslim. At times he would play more roles in churches. He never bothered himself about the religious affiliation of any individual. We have gone beyond looking at things from the religious point of view, rather Nigerians need leaders that can deliver. For example, the former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, who is also the current minister of works and housing, has a Christian wife.
His wife is top-notch in Catholic Church, she is a dame. Fashola did not because of that disowned her. Nigeria comes first before any other thing. Look at Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, his wife holds an important position at the Redeemed Church of God. It is only those who want to create problems that talk about religion when it comes to governance. The ability to govern very well is the most important thing. It can still happen this time round. Nigeria has moved beyond that level.
When the All Progressives Congress (APC) was coming, people had high expectations about the party, but right now many people are a bit worried about the slow pace of things. What went wrong?
The present government deserves a pat on the back in respect to its contribution to agriculture. For instance, in the past we used to import ship load of rice and maize for consumption and feedmill, but situation has changed now. I know the difficulty we were passing through before we could get enough maize to process into feedmill for our poultry.This government has also contributed a lot in the production of local rice.
Probably, those who drafted the policies of the APC might not be the real people who are in the sectors of the Nigerian economy. Unfortunately, the Nigerian economy is unpredictable. Look at the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, his first priority was how to revive agriculture. He did all he could do to revive the agric sector, in fact, he laid more emphasis on the poultry industry where he belonged. He planned for Nigeria to become the number one cocoa exporter in the world but he was frustrated by some state governments who were not interested in the exercise. The federal government provided millions of seedlings of cocoa and was able to identify 13 states at that time, encouraging them to engage in the mass production of cocoa.
It also borders on leadership. Buhari was voted in 2015 because everybody respected him. They believed that he was Mr. No Nonsense, that he was not corrupt. It was on that everybody entrusted their mandate to him. But the people that drew the policy did not conceive what and what could happen in the future. If you remember, he did not agree to the devaluation of naira initially. The naira was kept the way he met it for about one and a half years.
They had to convince him that ‘Mr. President you have to do this, you have to do that.’ That is why the thing is falling, up till now. His promise to the people was that naira should not be devalued. Probably some of his policymakers failed to understand the dynamics of the Nigerian economy because they are not involved in the real sector of the Nigerian economy. They just sit down to project what would happen. When they were formulating policies they probably didn’t look at the indices in the advanced countries. Buhari meant well but the economy he met did not support him.
I found out that contrary to the impression being given, he has a sound mind. He is abreast with the happenings in the country. He is abreast with everything can think of a good leadership and once you are able to bring out intelligent ideas, you are okay.
When he discussed with me the way Nigeria should go, I was highly impressed. These things will come out in his manifesto. You don’t expect me to divulge this until he officially releases this, but we are still meeting again.
When he saw me he said ‘my brother we are not going to discuss here, we must sit down.’ In the little discussion I had with him, I found out that he is the most suitable person for now as the president of Nigeria.
Should we then assume you are supporting Asiwaju’s presidential ambition?
It is actually the situation. What else can I do? Because when he came here two or three years ago, I didn’t know he was making a proverb, he said I should get prepared that I would be leading a campaign which I have never done in my life. I was always behind the scenes. He said you have to lead, I said no I cannot lead a campaign but this time round, if the APC is able to present him as their presidential candidate, definitely, he will have my 100 percent support and whatever other support I can give him, I will surely do that.
During Hope ’93, you played a major role for the late Abiola, are you replicating that now?
At that time I was still a young man. I happened to belong to the inner caucus of MKO Abiola and we were able to sectionalise all the positions. For instance, I was mandated to handle Muslim affairs, particularly in the Southwest. And we were able to identify where and where we would accommodate everybody. But the most important thing about the Muslims in the Southwest is that it has advanced more than what we had during Hope ’93. We now have academia under the umbrella of MUSWEN and individuals like Professor Ishaq Oloyede, Mallam Yussuf Ali(SAN), basi cally, we have three or four sections now in the Muslim community in the Southwest, we have a group consisting mainly of educationists, and we also have the League of Imams and Alfas.
The League of Imams and Alfas, have the largest followers of Muslims. I primarily operate with the league of Imams and Alfas in Yorubaland with the likes of Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Daud Mankanjuola; Iya Adini of Yorubaland, Alhaja Sekinah Adekola; Seriki Adini, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo; and Nigeria High Commissioner to London, Alhaji Sarafa Tunji Ishola, are all turbaned by the League and will have one role or the other to play .Also coming up now are the various societies. We now have NAFSAT, QUAREEB and other Asalatu groups. We have these societies with large followership. There are some with top clerics like the Morikas in Agege, Lagos, and other various ones. The Association of United Imams and Khateebs in Yorubaland is also one Islamic association that is very formidable and the local modrsahs. The groups I mentioned are the ones with large followership, not those who go about shouting on social media.
The Osun APC crisis, many believe that if you had intervened, the issue would not have festered. Why didn’t you intervene in the matter?
No, it was beyond me because this is a political issue. The thing is rooted. It is not something you can discuss on the surface. The only person that can solve it is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. I think purposely, the minister made a veiled reference to Asiwaju because he wanted him to intervene. Whatever he said about Asiwaju was nothing, what he was looking for was his intervention. The two of them are his products, but Asiwaju kept quiet on the two of them.
Aregbesola played his role here. He did well and Oyetola is following the same legacy and he is also trying to make his own landmark in the state. In the next two weeks, things would have been sorted out finally.
Baba Alaafin called me and said the two of them should not disagree, I delivered his message to the two of them. Ogbeni talks highly of Asiwaju. He believes that Asiwaju is his mentor. He has a lot of respect for Asiwaju.
How would you rate the present government in Osun?
I’m indirectly participating in the government. How would I rate it? The governor has a lot of respect for me. I did not play much role when he was contesting the governorship election. He is just a simple and listening governor. He doesn’t rush at doing something and the little resources available to him. He has been using it judiciously.