Solomon Bamidele Jnr is a businessman and the former President, Nigeria community in Vietnam. Recently He spoke to Daily Sun on the state of the nation, especially on the issue of insecurity, RUGA and Fulani herdsmen attack. He submitted that for Nigeria to move forward, all hands must be on deck to rescue the nation from its present state of socio-economic quagmire. He speaks further.
What is your take on security challenges facing Nigeria in the recent times?
Issue of Security is not what we can leave for the Federal Government alone. All stake holders from the private and public sector must come together as a team with resolution on the way forward. Is there any crisis in Nigeria? The answer is yes; except for those who are trying to lie to themselves, except those who are benefitting from the present government who does not care whether the masses are enjoying good governance or not during this administration and those who does not wish the President well. I am close to many members of APC. In fact they call me APC man but we have to identify the causes of the problem that FG is trying to solve. All of us are not perfect but what are the things that we can do? From the government side, the private sector and the general public should all come together to tackle the problems headlong.
It is true that in the past we were having the Boko Haram problem which the government had tried a lot to curtail. There was a time in this country when Boko Haram hoisted their flags across local governments in the North East, but today it is a different story as most of these areas have been liberated. Additionally, 17 local government areas in Borno were taken but today all the 774 local governments are under the Sovereignty of the Federal government of Nigeria. Then, there was bomb blasts everywhere even in Abuja, but today it has been brought under control
Today the major issues that are of concern to all of us are the herdsmen menace, the Shite and the kidnapping problem. These are major Issues that all of us have to come together and address and like what former President Olusegun Obasanjo said in his recent letter he addressed to the President where he point out as an elder stateman and two times head of Nigeria government the problems and his advice, we have seen some response in support and against his wonderful suggestions both from top government officials, elder statements, politicians and religious leaders.
What are the implications of bad governance on Nigerians in the Diaspora?
Few months ago, I was invited as a guest speaker by the Nigeria diaspora commission to talk on how to improve the value chain in our agricultural sector at the Aso villa, there I met both serving and former ministers, like minister of works, Agriculture, Housing and others. At the meeting, the vice president Yemi Osinbajo also gave a wonderful speech on effort the Federal government is making and also seek our contributions to come home and invest.
Now, I on the private sector side and also having businesses in the Diaspora, Vietnam to be precise, we have a lot of partners and investors that we have introduced Nigeria market to them and which they saw as a potential market, however, anytime we plan to led some partners and investors to Nigeria, there will always be an issue with insecurity and the security reports especially the unverified ones on social media scare many of them away.
Not quite long, Nigeria joins other African Nation to sign trade pact. How would this boost Nigeria’s economy?
It is a good development. If well implemented the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) will encourage manufacturers to do more. It would also encourage healthy competition among manufactures across the continent as they would work hard to meet the new demand created by the large market.
As you may know Nigeria is the giant of Africa So if we can address issues like Security, steady electricity, road infrastructure and other problems, the pathway leading to economic growth through AFCFTA would have been laid.
What is the problem with Nigeria?
Many of us do not understand what is called a nation. Nigeria belongs to nobody, yet it belongs to all of us. Even if we are Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba, we are one except those who are preaching enmity, confusion, and spreading fake news on social media which many of them are not even aware of the implications and what they are doing and now we saw ourselves divided along parties, religion and ethnic lines.
In the 60s before the war, many Igbos were all over the country doing business and after the war, up till day they are still there, doing their business. In Lagos, everyone describe that city as no man’s land because all tribes in this country could be found in that state. This is not a Lagos of the east, west or North but because of politics we have changed this attitude, which has kept us together for decades.
Recently, the governor of Kano State mentioned that the Fulani nomads should return to the North because of public opinions where it is vividly clear that other regions aside from the North does not want the RUGA project. But the Igbo and the Yoruba’s still want to do business in the North and other parts of the country.
I know that these ill feelings about the Fulani people started with the Boko Haram menace where southerners saw the Fulani’s as killers. This mindset has created a lot of confusion.
We have to caution ourselves by watching our utterances and my advice to government is to look into the area of journalism because most news and publications coming out to the public are not censored and verified. If we all wants Fulani to return to the north. Are we ready to tell the Igbo, Yoruba and other Southerners to return home? No. All of us still want to move round Nigeria freely.
We thank God that the Federal government has suspended the RUGA scheme for now while trying to go for better option like ranching which is modern method of cattle rearing. In Netherlands like I mentioned in one of my interviews, practice this method and even made that country largest dairy producers in the world. So why can’t we apply such method in Nigeria? So I am pleading with the government to adopt this method. I wish the government well and I believe that they would yield to my idea.
Not quite long, monarchs from South west met with President Buhari on the way forward, How would you describe this development?
It is a fantastic move and if you look at the content of Baba Obasanjo letter, you would see similarity in the content. I want to commend the Ooni for this move aimed at restoring peace in the country. If there is no peace in Nigeria, Monarchs and their Kingdoms will also be affected.
Ooni as a peaceful dynamic monarch has a lot of international exposure. So he knows the value of peace in the southwest and other parts of the country. His Majesty knows that without equal right and justice, there won’t be peace for everybody. If other traditional rulers in other regions could make similar moves, peace in no time would return to the country.
On the same breath, I want to commend former president Obasanjo for continuing to act as statesman by raising the flags anytime he sense dangers.
Aside writing letters to President Muhammadu Buhari, Obasanjo also meet with leaders of Fulani’s in Southwest where they rub minds on how to find solutions to farmers, headers clash and also how to identify renegade Fulani’s among them. Such moves is what is expected of other leaders of thoughts across the country.
I appeal to Nigerians to exercise patience. If in the next 3 years nothing positive happened, Nigerian’s had the option than to vote for another leaders both in national and at the state level.
I am appealing to the FG to also relate with some of us in the Diaspora on how we can make our contributions to move our fatherland forward.
How can the FG avoid eruption of another Boko Haram like cases from the way its handling the shi’tte crisis.
Well, in Elzakzaky case, the issue is in court and I believe as an individual and with my experience, all cases in court must be left for the court to decide. I also believe the federal government and the Kaduna state government know what is right to keep the nation together.
Tell us about yourself
Many already know about me. I am the CEO of S&M Trading, Import and Export Company Limited and also the founder of SBJ Consultancy Company Limited and as a businessman I have been contributing to the development and research in agriculture, education and the tourism sector both in Nigeria and the Diaspora. Also I was President, Nigeria community in Vietnam for almost 10 years. I am married to a Vietnamese and at my leisure time, I play golf, football and love travelling.