Tinubu must be the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria– Okunola; PDP’s candidate 2019 Federal House of Rep. election

Mr. Mutiu Kunle Okunola thumbprints the APC membership form after filling the form to signify his membership of the APC
R-L: Vice-Chairman APC Lagos West Chief Funso Ologunde, Mr. Mutiu Kunle Okunola, Chairman APC Lagos Chapter Chief Tunde Balogun and his Chief of Staff Alhaji Y.K. Yusuf at the APC Lagos Secretariat when MKO made his formal declaration for APC.
Mr. Okunola’s Tribunal Withdrawal letter to stop further trial on the victory of MHR James Abiodun Faleke in the 2019 Federal House of Representatives, Ikeja Federal Constituency.

In this Special Edition of the Lagos Panorama interview column FACING FACTS I engaged Mr. Mutiu Kunle Okunola (MKO), the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate in the recently concluded 2019 general election for the Federal House Representatives, Ikeja federal Constituency seat in the ‘Green Chamber’. He contested against the All Progressives Congress (APC) incumbent Member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon James Abiodun Faleke (JAF).

Okunola, a former Organizing Secretary of the PDP in Lagos state, recently dumped the PDP for the ruling APC and withdrew his petition at the electoral tribunal. Bearing his mind in a ‘no holds barred’ interview, the vocal politician cum businessman elucidated that he dropped his personal ambitions in order to realign with the progressives and support the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to run for presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.

Please enjoy the complete interview:

LAGOS PANORAMA: For the benefit of our esteemed readers please introduce yourself?

I am Hon. Mutiu Kunle Okunola, also known as “MKO”.. I recently contested for the House of Representatives, Ikeja Federal Constituency under the PDP. I have now ported (laughs), to the APC, to progress forward for national interests. So that we don’t have any political rancour in Ikeja. In other words, so as to have a one party system in Ikeja and Lagos State at large.

In specific words, what premised your ‘porting’ back to the progressives? Although, I am aware you were in the formative years of the present progressives, that is, Alliance for Democracy (AD) sometime before you defected to the PDP. So what informed your coming back almost immediately after the general elections where you contested under the PDP against the incumbent Hon James Faleke of the APC?

Thank you very much. A lot of people did not know the main reason why I left the progressive then for the PDP. It was because of my ambition. I had the ambition to serve the people of Ikeja. I was not known enough to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to secure the party’s ticket and so I moved to the PDP to pick the ticket, which I got in 2007, 2015 and most recently 2019, on my capacities there. But now in APC, there’s discipline and decorum.

The fallout after the elections, gave me insight that narratives are going to change in 2023. Based on our rotational power-shift system of governance, the north must have had 8 years of the presidency and it will be the turn of the south to produce the next president. Anyone who is not practising politics of hatred or ‘bad belle’, will know definitely that you have to support a southerner for the ticket. I cannot support any presidential candidate from the north in 2023. In Yorubaland we have a saying,s that ‘ile, la ma tin ko eso ro de’, (literarily meaning, ‘charity begins at home’). I believe Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has the intellectual and financial means, as well as the political clout to clinch the presidential ticket of the APC. Within the party, the South-South have not contributed so much to start craving for the ticket ditto the southeast. They’ve contributed the least, while the only southern region that has contributed more to the APC to deserve the presidential ticket is the southwest. And within the southwest it is only the Jagaban-Bogu, leader of all leaders, that stands out tall and well.

For me, I cannot now in 2023 line behind any Hausa or Fulani man because I want to play bad politics or I want to get at Tinubu. No, because they have had their turn, so it’s our turn in 2023. I should be able to support him to become the president which will be of great benefits to us all. The political scenario has changed. When Obasanjo was there, he didn’t create any Yoruba leader, he didn’t patronise any Yoruba leader. I can count 3 or 4 leaders Obasanjo clamped down and he even imprisoned. Like Gani Adams. Adenuga, the Globacom chairman, went on exile. Rather than create Yoruba leaders, he jailed them, like the late Sunday Afolabi. Today the scenario has changed. Buhari has created more leaders, not just Hausa/Fulani leaders, but people from his immediate state and family.

So when I looked at the scenario, I realised that the scenario has changed. The best bet for me is to support the ambition of a southwest presidency to liberate Oduduwa and Yoruba people. My major job in APC is very simple, I have initiated a programme tagged ‘Tinubu 2023 not negotiable’. What it means is that there is nobody who can tell us that Tinubu will not or shouldn’t contest in 2023. The importance of all this is that if we all stand behind Tinubu, it is feasible, because we cannot allow the north to rule again in 2023 without power rotating to the south. That is why I have started the programme ‘Tinubu 2023 not negotiable’.

We will begin seminars and other enlightenment programmes to sensitize our people. When you talk about Tinubu, some shallow minds and mischievous elements infer corruption, but corruption is a long institutionalized elections jib. Whereas today we have the ‘Gandujegate’ and nobody is saying anything. It’s people like Tinubu who have what it takes to clean the system off corruption, because he is not looking for financial breakthrough nor money to build his first house.

As a president, he is to administer the resources for the development of the nation, which he is more than capable of doing. So people shouldn’t give a dog a bad name to hang it. Asiwaju was a successful governor for 8 years and his legacies live on. He successfully transcended to building a great state and more leaders who are now Vice President, Ministers and lot more. He deserve to be given the opportunity to rule and fix Nigeria. I have started the programme to enlighten Nigerians that Tinubu is capable and will make Nigeria great again. However if we can’t have equity in the polity then let everyone go on their own way. The only person the Oduduwa nation need to support now for southwest and Nigeria to progress is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

I have granted some interviews to tell Afenifere and I am also using this medium to say again that if they are truly Afenifere they should support Tinubu to become the president of Nigeria and not create unnecessary confusion. They should stand behind him.

With your initial statement, that you defected to the PDP because of your personal ambition, does it now mean that you’re now subliming your personal interest to the collective interest of the progressives?

Yes, that is the essence of my coming back, if for my personal interest, then it’s too early for me to have decamped but because of collective interest. I was at the tribunal and paid my lawyers before I withdrew the case challenging the APC victory, because of same collective interest. I see something bigger now and I can work with teeming progressives who have been winning in Lagos in the past 20 years, rather than wasting a second I felt like joining yesterday. I don’t want to be seen as creating problems for the wheel of the progress of Lagos State. Let me share this with you; Politics is so dynamic and we have to be diplomatic in whatever activities we are doing. Tinubu has kept the light on all this while. Each time people talk about him they don’t say he is not qualified, so what are we talking about.

Power is not served ‘a la carte’, so if we want power in the southwest we must all queue behind Tinubu. I will give him the biggest support he never expected. He is a leader of all status, honoured in the north, south, east and west. He is going to repeat the overwhelming victory of MKO Abiola in the June 12, 1993 presidential elections. When Abiola contested, so many people, including IBB (Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida Rtd.), never knew he was going to win overwhelmingly.

That is my belief. A philanthropist like Tinubu will be the one who will repeat that victory again if given that ticket. A man who spent every kobo to project other people, people will always remember him. He has touched the lives of uncountable people. Some people are even saying that ‘you’re coming to APC for Tinubu to recognise you”, and I ask if it’s not my right to be recognised by Tinubu? So what’s wrong with that? If Tinubu is a free giver and I have lot of people I also want to give to. I want to serve my people. Good governance can come from anywhere. So if I am given the opportunity to serve under him I sure will.

The spate of insecurity is alarming, before now the southwest was seem most peaceful and safe region in Nigeria but the sudden increase of kidnapping and banditry in the Ife/Ibadan axis, Ikire, Ondo/ Ekiti and most hinterlands of the southwest is worrisome. What’s your take on the state of insecurity in the country?

In fact, that is one of the reasons I am craving seriously that Tinubu should contest as the president of Nigeria in view of his wealth of experience. The security issue is a challenge for all. If you have capable hands, it won’t be a problem. People are speculating it is Fulani herdsmen. Buhari as a president couldn’t have told the Fulani herdsmen he doesn’t know from anywhere to be invading us in the southwest. People take advantage of the weakness of the security apparatus. And we are human beings, maybe it’s due to the age of the president. People can be sentimental from the background or take advantage of the situation. We need a capable hand, a man who has actually governed and delivered in a state like Lagos.

After Buhari, we should take a break from presidents with military background, it has to be a civilians who has a background of managing security apparatus and somebody who has the capacity to act as the commander in chief of armed forces of this nation. Some confused people have started a distortion craving that Tunde Bakare should be the next president. We need a viable, bold, capable and generally acceptable leader like Tinubu. You cannot control people who don’t  accept you. That is why the 9th National Assembly, both the Senate and House of Representatives, overwhelmingly gave the leadership to the APC under the influence of the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. That is what we’re looking for, we need the capacity to be able to command and to be able to direct. That is a litmus test that if he is made the president of this country he will be able to deliver as required and expected.

Very soon, I will invite you to a host of events, seminars, lectures, roadshows sensitize the people on Tinubu for President. Tinubu himself is not even thinking towards that direction, but we have to encourage him. To sensitise the people on the reasons Tinubu must be the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We need to say it loud and clear to the people in the majority. It’s because we Nigerians don’t know about history, that’s why we keep on repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

This time, some of us have decided to educate and enlighten the people, on the importance of Tinubu leading this nation in 2023. People are short-sighted. If MKO Abiola had been allowed to be president in 1993, he would have long finished his tenure. So why are politicians immature and since 1993 we haven’t known peace. Are we going to make another mistake again when we have the opportunity of a leader like Abiola still living in Tinubu? They’re both my mentors. And my acronym MKO, I try to emulate their philanthropism, boldness and vocal ability. Most of the pictures of Abiola in the Abacha days, you’ll see Tinubu behind Abiola, that’s to tell you he is focused and has been round for long before some new baby politicians crying wolf.

I have worked hard and financed the PDP in the state. I have helped several members but now I want to take my support to help Lagos state become a one-party state. Southwest must be agog with Tinubu.

What is your take on the prospects of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration meeting the yearnings of Lagosians?

Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu has hit the ground running. He started work immediately he was sworn-in, visiting deplorable infrastructures like the Badagry express road. He’s talked to the contractors, addressed LAWMA, has improved on the welfare of LASTMA and other Lagos Civil-Servants. Sanwo-olu and his deputy Dr. Hamzat, are experienced and working hand in hand already putting in place progressive engagements. That is to tell you the kind of leadership to expect. Those were the foresights the PDP in Lagos didn’t foresee. They likened Babajide Sanwo-olu to Ambode who created problems for the party. He discontinued with the vision of Asiwaju as followed by Fashola. Instead of continuity with the original developmental masterplan, rather he tried to fester bad politics in Lagos state. So they (PDP) thought they could win. The last elections have shown that is not only about winning but can you defend the vote. It matters a lot. We need people in 2023 who can defend votesd. They have change the scenario from just winning to also defending the vote. Election is like a war, power is not served ‘ala carte’. Now you can see that Sanwo-Olu is willing to serve the people of Lagos. I believe in his vision and already he is implementing the developmental masterplan blueprint that was laid down by a visionary leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

On a final note, I noticed you have being organising some form of empowerment programmes. Can you give us an insight into these?

I realised that times are so hard that people have being committing suicide frequently. From research, there are three main reasons people may want to kill themselves. First is isolation, when you have nobody to talk to and share your problems with. The second aspect is when you feel nobody cares for you in hard-times. I realised that the only way to you can start touching lives is to create activities and opportunities around people. So under MKO Foundation, I opened an online programme tagged MKO Financial Foundation where I send 5,000 Naira to the different participants accounts on my platform. A little support within my capacity.

Usually on Sundays, when there are very little activities, people tend to think negatively when they don’t have food to eat and no one to discuss with or help. So negative thoughts of killing oneself may creep into their minds. But when you create activities, where people have the opportunity to have some money. First they will not feel isolated and it shows you care for them. It will raise their hopes and expectations. So I created that online platform where people interact on Sundays, no particular fixed time. The time varies, it’s just to create the excitement. I have over 2,000 followers on the platform. We started it on WhatsApp and migrated to telegram to be able to accommodate more participants. It also educates some people who don’t know how to use the social media.  And they have the opportunity to interact with over 2,000 people. Some, even on their own, give free airtime recharge on the platform. I dispense 200,000 Naira every Sunday to 40 beneficiaries.

We are now going to the second phase, which is empowerment of between 100,000 Naira and 1million Naira. This will involve you submitting a business, we interview you and afterwards follow up to ensure the money if given to you, it won’t be diverted to something else. That is the second phase starting in July.

The third phase is the Educational support for payment of school fees and scholarships. I hope to create the foundation to live after me in support of our people. The greatest legacy is to be able to help other people in need. To put smiles on their faces and renew their hopes. Giving back to the society. We need to change the leadership style, from a stingy self-centred style, to a generous and caring leadership style.

How does one join the online group?

Just go on telegram app, search for MKO foundation or MKO Financial Foundation and join the group. You can google it online. It’s public. So by the stated time on Sunday forward your bank account details and stand the chance of benefitting. Your chances are not limited but you have only one chance per week. So in a month you may have 3 to 4 opportunities.

In a brief sentence, what’s your advice to prospective youth aspiring to be entrepreneurs and trying to setup their own private businesses in these hard times?

They must be hopeful. There are many challenges in life but when you’re hopeful and focus, you will get it right. The second aspect is perseverance. You can’t persevere if you’re not hopeful. To persevere means, even when things go wrong, you continue doing it, correcting your mistakes until you get it right. Definitely, one day, a particular hour and minute, success will smile on your face.

Thanks very much, it’s been worthwhile talking to you.

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