Read excerpts from the interview
On his moving from party to party: There is nothing wrong with it. Ours is a fledgling democracy of barely two decades since the end of the last military regime. What it means been the political parties are yet to mature and are going through constant transformations and changes.
That is why even President Buhari has been able to move from party to party, including ANPP, CPC and now APC. And for those who read about world history and political books like I do, they will know that Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill, and others went through so much before achieving their dreams. I’m no different.
I know what I want for my country. I’ve served Nigeria in different capacities, and I am one of the most experienced leaders around today. There is no part of Nigeria I’m not familiar with. I have friends everywhere.
They know me, and I know them. The benefit of being around for so long is that they have come to know me for certain principles and know that I have a rich knowledge of Nigeria and what it would take to move us to the height of greatness.
They can also trust me that I’m not coming to the government to steal their money. God has blessed me with business acumen. How can you run a nation if you cannot run your own business? I run my businesses to international standards.
Let any of those who want to compete with me show what they have managed successfully. I’ve lifted over 45,000 families out of joblessness and poverty through my microfinance company in my State, Adamawa, and we have empowered mostly women.
The good news is these women have been very honest. Returns on our loans have been about 98 percent. They have not disappeared with the loans given then. We plan to replicate this nationwide.
On the popular belief that his ex-boss Olusegun Obasanjo was corrupt: I have the highest regard for my boss. He gave me eight years to serve Nigeria under him. We had our differences but we both tried our best. But on the issue of corruption, I have challenged anyone, anywhere, who has any evidence of corruption against me to come forward.
I’m sure they would have combed everywhere trying to find anything incriminating against me, but they have not found it, or they are still searching. Dele, I’m throwing that challenge again, let them bring out whatever they have on me.
On why he hasn’t visited the U.S.A: On why he hasn’t visited the U.S. A: It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not? I’m not running away from America. I applied but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline categorically either.
They’ve only said my application is going through the administrative process. This is not peculiar to me. For about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of religious considerations.
The current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suffered the same fate for years. Today, he is being treated to red carpet treatment in America. I fly to different parts of the world, including Europe, if America wanted me, it would be so easy for them to reach out to their allies.
On why he left APC: After Buhari won the election, he was no longer interested in the Party that made him President. Every activity stopped and not even the Party Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, could take any decision.
I called Chief Oyegun a few times to tell him our Party was dying slowly, but he told me he would not do anything unless he got clearance from the President. At a stage, I gathered about 18 prominent members and began to meet in the hope that we can re-energize Party activities, but some people lied to the President that I wanted to use the forum to launch My Presidential campaign.
That forum became simply dead on arrival. No BOT, no NEC meetings, as stipulated in our Constitution. The Party became a one-man property. Everyone grumbles behind the President’s back, but they are too timid to raise a voice against the illegalities being perpetuated. I should be bold enough to know what I want and can do so at my age, so, I decided to leave.