Anti-Corruption war will only impress me when Seyi Tinubu is arrested – David Hundeyin

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In this exclusive interview with Dockaysworld, investigative journalist David Hundeyin speaks about matters relating to the state of the nation, particularly President Bola Tinubu’s 1 year in office; his expectations and forecasts for the administration’s performance.

He also spoke on the chances of success of an opposition political movement and the need to tackle the matter of violence that impedes the viability of such movements.

In this interview, Hundeyin addresses the economic and anti-corruption mission of the government and the need for media literacy in Nigeria.

He also touches on some issues of the day including the controversial coastal highway from Lagos to Calabar.


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Speaking with Dockaysworld Journalist Amadin Ogbewe, David had these to say:

Last month made it exactly one year since Bola Ahmed Tinubu became the president of Nigeria and was sworn in. One year later, What is your assessment? Did you expect everything that’s currently happening?

”I didn’t just expect it, I used data to project a lot of these things that have happened. I said, for example, multiple times that the sole purpose of Tinubu’s presidency would be for the benefit of Tinubu the man, Tinubu the family, and the wider political and economic organization he has built around him over the years. That will be the sole animating purpose of a Tinubu presidency unlike any other president in history where an attempt was made to at least pretend that there was some sort of governance going on in some kind of national interest. If that wasn’t always the case, but at least the pretense was made. In this case, there will be no pretense. I said that multiple times and I think the past one year has borne me out of this. Before he even settled down in office, it didn’t take up to a month, his very first policy decision had to do with that unholy arrangement that is going on now between Oando which as you know is owned by his nephew. Essentially Oando has become a sort of de facto NNPC in a deal that restructures in a way that no one is really quite sure how that came about. But that’s just what it is now. So essentially, the Tinubu family is now at the vanguard of the Nigerian energy, industry and NNPC has been cornered by one family effectively, which is without precedent in Nigerian history. Something else I said was that his Lagos blueprint of overtaxation without offering any value in return will be scaled up to the federal level. Entities that specialize in revenue collection would record massive share price increase because previously things that used to be done directly, you would go to a bank, pay into a certain government account, receive a teller and that will be that. Nowadays everything has to go through some third party, which has some sort of link to Tinubu. If the people are expecting governance in the midst of all of this, good luck to them, because they’re not going to get it. That’s exactly what has happened. Has the security situation improved? No, in some instances, it has actually worsened. Has the economic situation improved? It has significantly worsened. Buhari’s years are now looking like the good old days. The short to medium-term outlook. How does it look? The stampede of investors running for the exits to get out of Nigeria tells a story on its own. Most recently, we saw this story about how Maersk supposedly was going to invest $600 million into Nigeria and he went to town with it and did the whole song and dance about global shipping giant investing dollars into Nigeria which supposedly was meant to reflect well on the economic policy of his government so far, only for Maersk themselves to essentially come out and say: ”We don’t know what you’re talking about. This never happened. This is fake news. And this is not the first time things like that have happened. Even in diplomatic space, they have multiple incidents like that. On the UAE lifting of visa ban. Everyone was happy, only for the UAE to come out and say no, no such thing happened and no such engagement has taken place and we have issued no such directive. As we speak, the visa ban is still in effect almost a year since they went to social media and made joyfully noise out of the announcement. This is what a Tinubu presidency was always going to be so there’s absolutely nothing surprising. I’m not disappointed, because it’s exactly what I expected”.

So I’d like to get your thoughts as to activities on the economic front and the anti-corruption front. Do they move you at all?

”No, they do not, because again, you cannot get propriety from impropriety. So if the person at the top is the biggest criminal of them all and then we are scrambling around looking for one Betta Edu then I’m sorry that doesn’t impress me. So if the person who is at the very top.

“Is someone whose entire career and fortune is criminality and political corruption, and this is proven, these are not just allegations and accusations. These are proven things. I’m not even just talking about proven in the sense of some of the work that I did. I’m also talking about some of the work that is out there in mainstream media. So for example, the fact that this person’s son was able to purchase an $11 million mansion in London, a 37-year-old unemployed kid was able to purchase the $11 million dollar mansion in West London, using the proceeds of a state’s oil corruption enterprise. This was reported in Bloomberg, literally like the week before his inauguration. And that very individual, that son, till today is prancing around Aso rock, charging people for having access to his dad and all sorts of things. That is what’s happening at Aso rock and you are saying I should be impressed because you’re suspending one Betta Edu who diverted 500 million naira. Yes, 500 million sounds like a lot of money but compared to what is actually going on at Aso Villa, its chicken change. Same thing with the Yahaya Bello thing with 850,000 dollars, yes it’s a lot of money, its more than a billion naira but how about 40 billion or a hundred billion, How about 250 billion because that’s where the real corruption is. It’s at the very top level. So one thing that I think perfected during the Buhari era was how to confuse Nigerians with numbers because these guys understand that a large number of Nigerians are numerically illiterate. To many Nigerians if you tell them 575 million naira and then you tell them 2.5 billion naira, which figure sounds like more to them, instinctively they choose the first figure because it sounds like a lot of money. This was a trick that was played on Nigerians during the whole thing about Diezani Allison Madueke. We were having all these fantastic sums of money being quoted. She was accused of stealing $90 billion which is numerically impossible because Nigeria’s entire federal budget was roughly just about 30 billion for a year. So if one person stole $90 billion, that means for three years, nothing happened in Nigeria. For three years even the president of Nigeria did not eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. The only thing that happened was that one person just diverted the entire federal and state budget for three whole years which is absolute nonsense. It’s not true. But again, Nigerians are numerically illiterate so these things are used as distractions. They dangle these things in front of you so that you don’t look at what you’re really supposed to be looking at. So if you are going on and on about Yahaya Bello’s $850,000 Or Betta Edu’s 500 million, then you’re not looking at Bola Tinubu and Seyi Tinubu cause that’s where the real story is, you’re not looking at Femi Gbajabiamila and the people in the Aso villa, you’re not looking at like the chief of staff or the Senate president Godswill Akpabio because that’s where the real story is, instead they are looking at distractions, they sacrifice pawns who are disposable. With all due respect to her, politically, Betta Edu is an orphan. She’s very easy to discard. She has very little political value. She could be disposed of that way. Yahaya Bello is now an ex Governor, he’s not a part of the administration. He has no posts and in the Nigerian political cycle, once you’re out of circulation for four years, you might as well be out of circulation for 40 years. So it’s now known that even though just a few months ago, he was a very powerful person, now for the fact that he’s no longer in political power, he can be treated this way. People think that something significant has been done meanwhile, all they’re actually doing is basically just sending the EFCC to investigate private citizens who used to be involved in corruption, which is good but that is not an impressive thing at all. When I’ll be impressed, is the day I hear that Seyi Tinubu is getting arrested for racketeering, that’s the real story”.

So in terms of solutions, I suspect that if you have this forecast about the current government, naturally, anyone would start to wonder what are the options? To delve a little bit into the political aspect, what’s your take on opposition as we speak? Is there hope that a credible opposition can perhaps rise to make a difference or change the situation of things?

”Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that it’s already been demonstrated, I think from the last election that it is entirely possible for political movements to come into existence and to exert power. But also No, as the last election also proved even after going to unimaginable extents
in the Nigerian political context. It still happens that the Nigerian state or those in control of the Nigerian state have a capacity for something that the generality of people don’t. And that something is violence. So I’m very, very careful to answer this question without saying
something that I don’t want to be quoted saying. Whatever political movements or opposition that is going to successfully challenge the existing order needs to figure out how to solve that particular problem. Because it’s all well and good winning an election, for the record, I 100% believe that Peter Obi won that election. There is evidence showing that. However, what the APC administration, the existing establishment has, that Peter Obi did not have or that Peter Obi’s movement did not have, is the ability to exert widespread, coordinated violence in pursuit of certain goals. Right? So in the unique Nigerian political context, it’s not just about votes. It’s also about commanding the influence of people who have the capacity to influence violence. So that could mean the police, that could mean the armed forces. It could mean, the so-called thugs that we always see in every election, who somehow magically get armed and funded around election time. Nobody ever knows who did it. They always seem to act in favour of the ruling party, but nobody ever knows who sponsors them or where they got their arms, where they get their funding from, very interesting sort of mystery that exists in plain sight. So whatever political opposition is going to upset the existing order needs to figure out how to solve those problems. I’m not going to make any recommendations because as said, I don’t want to be seen to be advocating for something that I’m not advocating for, but the fact remains that it is an intractable problem that needs to be solved, because even if you get 25 million votes in a Nigerian election, at the end of the day, if the person who is
counting the votes or who is announcing the results is on the side of somebody who scored 1 million votes. And they decided to write your 25 million as 2.5 million, you can’t do anything about it, because they’ll simply tell you, go to court, where you’re going to meet a judge who is also on the payroll of whoever. So these are the problems. I think even more pressing than electoral politics. Those are the questions that need to be answered. The very structure and nature of the system has to be upended or the system needs to be cleansed in some way because there are too many deeply embedded operators within that system who are making it such that the system itself guarantees political retrogression. So this time, it is not just an issue of bad politicians or bad candidates. No, the system itself has become bad. So INEC itself has become the guarantee of having bad leadership or bad government in Nigeria. So if that problem isn’t fixed, then any electoral or political movement is sort of like putting the cart before the horse. We have the EFCC going after a former APC governor. We had a minister Betta Edu removed in the midst of all of this and so on and so forth”.

What do you make of the controversial coastal highway project by the Federal Government involving Landmark?

”The current project which supposedly needs Landmark to be demolished was a deviation from the original project. The Blueprints are out in the public domain, I’m sure you must have seen them. Somebody went out of their way to ensure that someone’s private enterprise was
destroyed in the name of building infrastructure. Now the infrastructure that is being built first of all, there’s absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that this thing is ever actually going to get built. Because if you look at the the economics of the project makes it very clear that this thing is going to become an expensive abandoned project. It’s never going to happen. The best that will happen is maybe a section of the project in Calabar and in Lagos might get completed maybe a 10 or 20 kilometre section and that’s where it will die for several years. If
you look at the cost of the project, we’re talking about billions of dollars not naira. Nigeria simply doesn’t have the money and won’t for quite some time. So the only justification I can see for the huge wealth destruction that took place is that, if you look at the new route of the
supposed coastal road through Lagos, it is essentially going to connect Eko Atlantic with the new developments happening in Ibeju Lekki. So essentially, one man is trying to make it such that his private investment or the investment he and a consortium have put together –
because whether he’ll publicly admit or not, Eko Atlantic is him and he’s Eko Atlantic. Himself and Gilbert Chagoury are indistinguishable as a business entity. They are one and the same. Eko Atlantic is a Tinubu project, its a Tinubu investment whether this is politically correct to
say or not. This person is trying to make Eko Atlantic more viable because currently as it exists, as I’m sure you’re aware, it has basically stalled. As it exists, it is basically a huge white elephant. It’s a waste of money. So this is an attempt to use state money and state
power, state influence to turn the huge private white elephant into a thriving city where he can carry out his favourite activity which is selling land for billions. That’s what this is all about. Unfortunately”.

What is it like at this point in time still trying to make a difference while not being in the country and seeing all that is happening?

”Regardless of where you happen to be geographically nowadays, one still has an opportunity to make a change because Internet access is almost ubiquitous anywhere in Africa. So gone are the days when you had to be on ground before you had a voice or you could get things done. Just by having a Twitter account, it’s possible to get things done nowadays. So I don’t feel as if I’m absent, per se. However, I do concede that especially as time goes on, and as the bad actors in the system continue to entrench themselves further, the question does sort of come up a couple of times in one’s mind. What exactly is the point of all of this, but I guess how I rationalise it in my head is that, well, someone has to do it. And that’s just the way it is. When you claim to be fighting for a bigger cause than you, I guess one of the conditions that comes with it is you have to accept that what you’re fighting for might not even materialise in your lifetime. Might be for the sake of your children that you’re doing it, but you won’t say that because it’s not happening in front of you, then that means that you’re going to just give up and walk away”


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