Alhaji Abdul’ahd Tella is a well-known name in the Nigerian media world. His Journalistic prowess is respected all over the world. He was one of the only two Nigerian journalists that witnessed the admission of Nigeria into the organization for Islamic Conference OIC in 1986.
He hails from Iwo State of Osun. Served as the pioneer chairman, the State of Osun Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, and Osun Broadcasting Corporation. He worked in different capacities; Reporter, Editor, Managing Editor, and Editor in Chief in many Nigerian Newspapers and served as the National Coordinator and administrator for ten years, the Zakat funds for the Late MKO Abiola.
Alhaji Abdul’ahd, was at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria,( NAHCON) as the National Federal Commissioner for Finance, Management Services and Policy department from where he joined politics with a view to represent his people at the National Assembly,
He currently lectures at the prestigious University of Ilorin Kwara State and in this Interview with Abdussalam Abdulfattah, in Ilorin, he narrates his experience in grass root Politics. Excerpt
In this Interview with Abdussalam Abdulfattah, in Ilorin, he narrates his experience in grass root Politics. Excerpt
Sir at a point you left public service for politics, what was the experience?
Very rough and stormy, I can say with every sense of responsibility that numbers of honest men in politics are very few. I went into politics not as a politician, but a service giver for two reasons. First I felt Islam was greatly misunderstood and people like us needed to be in the mainstream of politics to present the true colour of Islam. Secondly, I went into politics for my home town, to give to my people the best in representations at the federal Level. Iwo land unfortunately has been having the misfortune of misrepresentation or not representation at all at the Federal Government level since 1960. As I speak since 1960 till today, there is No single Federal establishment in Iwo land. Those few times, Iwo had people in the Federal legislatures they could not attract one single Federal investment or establishment. So, I thought going into politics particularly with my vast connections across the country, I can attract good projects to Iwo land and environs using the connectivity of my friends who are both Muslims and non-Muslims. But to my disdain, the people I was to serve turned round because of politics to be my albatross. I joined PDP the then ruling party, although naturally I belong to the progressive but to say the least the experience was horrifying.
Can we understand the political intrigues in Nigeria politics?
There are cabals in our political arena who fan embers of discords and intrigues to hold the nation hostage. Anyone who acts contrary to their wishes especially if such persons are like me who want to liberate the masses from their shackles they will go against such. They only have their personal interest to fester not the love of the country or her citizens. Unfortunately, these cabals have so much wealth, from our national resources such that a politician that does not belong to them and do not have money will fall by the way. The intrigues start from the primaries. At a point, in PDP history, the party became a money sucker. Her electoral positions were for the highest bidders. Then it prides even with “a dog as a candidate”, it can win any election thus primaries of PDP were even more expensive than main elections for aspirants. However, my journalistic exposure, M.S.SN background and relationships with the late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola helped me. Abiola name opened vista for me, but overall it was not a good experience, for someone with a lean purse, who went to politics with his honest earnings. I still won the primary elections for me to contest at the main elections but shortly before the elections, Action Congress of Nigeria ACN, now APC, won her court cases against the PDP government of Gov Olagunsoye Oyinlola and that brought change in the political calculus of Osun State. The victory waves of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola made nonsense of PDP electioneering campaigns and our defeat was evident.
Why so much money in Nigeria Politics?
The presidential system we operate make the whole process expensive unlike in the parliamentary style of government, where the Prime minister needs only to win election from his immediate constituency; the president must be elected from the entire constituencies of the federation. The expenditures layout for somebody to contest for presidency is up to three to five billion naira and that is being conservative. For governorship it is about 2.5 billion naira while for the Senate, one billion naira and seven hundred millions for House of Representatives. To contest election into state house of assembly one might need about 0ne hundred and twenty five million naira. Chairmanship attract almost same amount depending on the state. Mark you these monies does not translate to victory, it might be a waste. Our election process is too costly and it promotes corruption, because one is at the mercies of sponsors who only sponsor for their personal interest. And when victory is achieved one has to give them inflated contracts for them to recoup their monies.
In what areas are these billions going into?
It is the primary that is most expensive. Other areas include organization of political meetings at the grassroots. For example: for meetings or campaigns one has to provide the supporters meals, drinks, transportation, fueling, campaign allowances and the larger the numbers of supporters the larger the expenses. Cumulatively, it runs to millions of naira. The tragedy is that the society is so permissive that you will solely become pot of soup for politicians and those who are not politicians. Someone whose wife deliver a baby after nine months pregnancy will come to your door steps for naming or he needs money to pay for medical bills. Will you turn such person back? Or someone who comes to beg for his or her children school fees, you cannot turn them down because if you do that, it might be a beginning to the end of one’s ambition. All these spending are compulsory for one to be taken serious.
Are you saying politics is not meant for people like you?
It is meant for us and I am still there. If people like me quit politics the stage is left to charlatan. In other words when sane men run away from politics men of unstable minds take over and one do not have rights to complain. Regrettably not until our political system is sanitized and perhaps reverse to parliamentary system, the situation might not change till ‘Yaomma Qiyahma. Money bags have hijacked our politics and because of hunger Nigerians have sold their birth rights for pots of porridge. When, I ventured to contest, I was solvent. The allowance that was given to me legitimately at my disengagement from the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), as the then Federal Commissioner in charge of Finance , Management Services and Policies matters was sufficient for me to establish a business venture that would have given me sustained livelihood, but because of our kind of politics, I lost everything to politics.
You mentioned Governor Rauf Aregbesola, as one factor in your political experience. What are your views on his style of Governance?
In one of my columns; in the Newswatch Times, I once described Aregbesola as a positive dreamer who wants to turn the State of Osun to Mecca within four years. He came with mesmerizing posture and he hit the grounds running at a speed that his legs can hardly carry to show the people what governance should be. Unfortunately, shortly after, resources available to the State dwindled. The reasons are well known to all of us. Thus currently, he is having challenges with some projects, but there is no miracle he can perform beyond the current strides. The State of Osun is purely a Civil servants State. 80% of her allocation from Federal government resources is spent on civil servants and recurrent expenditures. What is left to take care of other sectors like Education, Health etc is just 20 %. So how does he progress? His style of administration can better be understood, if one understands where, he was coming from, Lagos State. In Lagos State the Internal Generated Revenue of a Local Government like Ikeja is more that what a State, like Osun will give. I can also says, Aregbesola, is a very loyal person if he believes and submits to you, it is 100 percent, and that has been the myth behind his closeness to people like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other leaders.
But at a point, it was reported he had issues with Osun Muslim Community who felt he had not done enough for it can you throw lights on the issues?
Al-hamdullilah, I am an active member of the Osun State Muslim community. Our brotherhood is the one of the key pivot that he climbed upon to become the Governor and the brotherhood is still there. He came with huge goodwill that is indescribable. In my town, Iwo, which has large Muslim population, the love for Aregbesola is phenomenon. That goodwill might have dried a little but not in totality. State of Osun natives on the streets are not crucifying Aregbesola but may be the elite are doing so, for reasons best known to them.
Can we have a unified Muslim community in Nigeria?
Let me give you a ray of hope. Soon people will see positive efforts towards having a unified Ummah in Nigeria. Works is in progress among different units of the Ummah like, the MUSWEN, the League of Imams and Alfas in Yoruba Land, Edo and Delta, The Jamatul Nasir Islam , the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, as well as within our brothers from the Eastern part of the country. The Sultan, of Sokoto, Sultan Abubakar Saad is coordinating the whole process. He is forward looking, most adorable and committed towards it. Already he has built bridges of understanding between the units and soon we shall be happy for it.
You mentioned the Nigerian Supreme Council of Affairs, but people are not comfortable with the administrative style of Professor Oloyede unlike the Late Dr, AbdulLateef Adegbite’s time. Your reaction?
May Allah continue to have mercy on the soul of Dr. AbdulLateef Adegbite. I do not want a comparison of the two. But what I can say is that, while Baba Adegbite, was alive, he played his roles as expected. Professor Oloyede is also doing currently what is expected of him. He met some anomalies at the Supreme Council and he is correcting them. A large chunk of NSCIA properties have been pilfered by some people and that has to be sorted out by him. He is bringing synergy, organization and professionalism into NSCIA. Before Oloyede, I can say it with every sense of responsibility, there was no organizational structure at the Secretariat. But, now it is highly organized with data bases for the Ummah growing. Oloyede may be seen as impatient person because he want excellent as quickly as possible. His style of not given in for misbehaviors of some people will definitely make them dislike him. He is a good Muslim brother with whom, we all have been together since 1986 and we will continue to be with him till “Yaom al Kiyamoh. And if anyone cares to know, we all ( K.K Oloso, Jamiu Ekungba , Ibrahim Shekarau, Awalu Yadudu, and others were in the same boat with Dr AbdulLateef Adegbite long before, he became the Secretary General.