Tunde Imolehin is a well-known architect, environmentalist, media personality and politician. He is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with INIABASI OYOK, he bares his mind on various issues including the Change Agenda of the Buhari administration plus his pet project- The Change (Nigerian Vision Project) which is due for formal presentation soon.
You are into politics and a very active member of the ruling party. In the next few days, your party will be one year in office. How would you assess the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari?
We are on course, despite the teething challenges of fuel scarcity, National Assembly hiccups and what have you. The President has continued to assure the nation that change will come. At a recent town hall meeting, Vice President Osinbajo buttressed this. As a change agent, there is nothing that has happened that has caught me by surprise.
The President has done well to live up to his pre-election rating. He has provided uncommon leadership as expected. We have witnessed unusual and commendable approach to governance in the last one year. Bars are being raised phenomenally and daily in the aspects of transparency and accountability. New frontiers are being discovered, explored and exploited. The results of creativity, pragmatism, passion and innovation are beginning to unfold. This is definitely not a government of change for nothing. Our party is not a party of pretenders. We did not promise to perform miracle in the short run. Change we chanted and promised and implementing and change, we will deliver ultimately. Truth be told, any sincere change process usually comes with unease; it requires that we would have to move out of our comfort zones.
It will require many to be at the receiving end and while this is going on, there will, of course, be what we call resistance to change because the response of people to change differs from one person to the other. Should change put food on the table and fuel into the vehicles of the citizens? Yes. Should it be a short-term thing amid the rot of the past? Not possible. And that’s the reason why many are complaining and this is understandable. Did I expect it would be a smooth process? No. Did I anticipate the challenges within and outside the party and the frictions between the National Assembly and the Executive? Absolutely Yes. People should remember that the Buhari administration scored many firsts in the history of our nation.
We are the first merger party through the amalgamation of independent parties to take over the reigns of government in the country. The first transfer of presidential powers via the defeat of an incumbent party and president to another and the very first time a candidate with the kind of “dream pedigree” would become the president after three unsuccessful attempts.
But people are complaining…
I just told you that feedbacks are expected whether negative or positive. In any endeavour, there is no gain without pain. We must appreciate this fact. My confidence grows everyday as I see hope of a stronger economy built on transparency, respect for the rule of law, discipline, hard work, creativity and excellence. We all need to make sacrifice to bring these about. I am glad no one has said the government is clueless and high handed, lazy, unfocused and unpatriotic. I am excited one can see very visible attempts to enforce true fiscal discipline through leadership by example. I am really persuaded by the logic advanced by this government anytime there is a need. Above all, this government is a listening government, accessible and very prudent. All I would ask for are prayers and patience.
You speak so well of the government as if you are involved in its day to day activities…
I joined in midwifing this change government so I equally share the burden of responsibility. However, you don’t have to be in government to be so infected and impacted. Things are so transparent. People are held for financial indiscipline and corruption regularly and you cannot fault the process. Mistakes are made and you get apologies and corrections. Mischief makers and fifth columnists try to undermine the process by spreading falsehood and unlike before, what you get is balanced report and responsible and constructive engagement. These are signs of responsibility and maturity in governance.
But some say the war against corruption is selective…
Yes, it has to be. The agencies responsible for the assignment have to be selective. I guess they have a lot on their table and they have to prioritise the flow and sequence…
That’s not what I mean… There is the allegation that the government is employing the war to witch hunt the opposition and only prosecutes those who are its known enemies while no one in the APC is being held.
Oh! I am not a lawyer neither am I a judge but I know the principle of evidence is very strong in legal jurisprudence. This is applicable here. It’s just a fallacy. One of the intentions of this change government is to build and strengthen institutions. By the time we are done, no one should be above the law. Right now, the systems are weak and porous and very smart people take undue advantage.
Ondo and Edo states are holding elections soon to elect new governors. How prepared is your party?
We have the best organized party structure in Nigeria, despite huge distractions and poor finance . I am aware that our party, both at the state and national levels are gearing to retain our slot in Edo and dismiss the expired government in my state, Ondo. I am particularly excited about the harvest of defectors recorded in recent times both in content and quality plus the high level of maturity, pragmatism and enthusiasm displayed by the party especially in the Sunshine state. This will no doubt give us victory come November 26 this year. We have learnt our lessons and the fact that the Mimiko government continues to stumble is adequate tonic for all of us rooting for change in order to offer the successively oppressed people of Ondo state good governance from February, 2017. It may interest you to know that there is no governance in Ondo State. The almost eight years of the Mimiko government has been a waste of the massive resources accruing to it through IGR and as an oil producing state. No real developments. The state is littered with cosmetic projects that cannot generate the desired value. Unemployment is very high. The citizens drink water via the airwaves through massive propaganda. The workers are being owed up to six months’ salary arrears, yet the outgoing government felt the best and the most sensitive thing to do was to prioritise and commit huge sum of money to a one-sided local government elections. In Edo, the people are too wise and knowledgeable to return to the ugly past given the uncommon achievements of the Adams Oshiomhole administration in the last eight years.
Your project “The Change (Nigerian) Vision Project was recently presented. What is it all about?
It has not been formally presented or launched. It will be performed by the President at the right time. What we have been doing is to create awareness for the 10-point strategic plan designed and conceived to orientate and facilitate attitudinal change and sustainable development in our polity, especially in this season of change. Let me state with every sense of modesty and responsibility that the concept actually predated the APC merger which adopted the change slogan. In 1996, I ran a programme -Change Vision on Nigerian National Television networks. In the year 2000, I incorporated Change Media. In 2001, we sold the idea to the Obasanjo administration. It was endorsed but paucity of funds stalled it. In 2015, I founded the Voices of Change essentially to provide support for the APC campaigns and after the elections, the group consolidated and we designed the Change (Nigerian) Vision Project. In addition, we intend to institutionalize the Change Philosophy in Nigeria. Details of this will be unveiled soon. The independent project has received the endorsement of the President and the Vice President as well as the National Leadership of our great party-the governing party. This government is very unique. It is a change government. We need a very unusual national orientation strategy that will adequate communicate the change agenda to the people of Nigeria. We need to sufficiently and creatively inform, enlighten, educate and empathise with the Nigerian public- the ultimate beneficiaries of the change vision especially in this climate of change to “buy fully into” the agenda. Government does not have the monopoly to turn things around, hence this venture. This is the right time for all patriots, technocrats in the private sector, Diaspora, to be counted on the side of positive change and history in our nation. This is a defining moment in our country and we should grab it.
We have begun the implementation of the plan. Already, the print content is on through the publication of the Change Vision Magazine. Change TV, Change Radio, will debut in May. Change Parks (Change is Green), Change Police, Face of Change, Community Change will follow. They will be handled in sequence. We have a very special programme to commemorate one year of the Change Agenda in Nigeria. The Change Nigeria Vision Project will be released soon. It is a very efficient, effective and holistic national reorientation and change management and sustainability strategy. The concept is for everybody as long as you stand for positive change as a way of life.