The two leading political parties in Nigeria – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- have been described as birds of a feather. A chieftain of the APC in Lagos State, Hon. Moshood Salvador, who said this in an interview, added that the 2014 Constitutional Conference contains the solutions to all the problems in Nigeria. In this interview with OLUDOTUN OSHUNRINADE, Salvador speaks on critical issues such as what the Nigerian youths need to do to combat unemployment, 2023 presidency and others. Excerpts…
What is your assessment of the current Government in Lagos State?
I am not that kind of politician that would assess anybody. Why should I be assessing any government, when people are hungry? My own is to encourage the people to go to farm and not to sit down and be assessing people. If you perform you perform for yourself; if you don’t perform, then it is for yourself.
But will you say the political class in Nigeria has met the yearnings of the people?
I have changed my attitude to that; rather than sitting down and talking about a government, let me talk about the people. Let me educate them. I have a big farm now; the equipment they are using there were all manufactured by young Nigerians. I would talk about this rather than talking about a set of people that are not ready to help the masses.
Do you believe that there were massive intimidation and violence in the 2019 General Elections as some people claim?
They have to tell us what they mean by that. I don’t know why they are saying that, may be they saw what I did not see.
But, do you think the 2019 Elections were okay and that we are moving forward?
We are not moving forward if we talk about past elections, let’s talk about future elections; that is when you can say we are moving forward.
There are insinuations that the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, wants to contest the position of the President of Nigeria in 2023; do you support his ambition?
He has never told me he wanted to contest for the office of the president so I would not react to that.
Do you think it is now the turn of the South West to produce the next president after the north must have ruled for eight years in 2023 and who would be your candidate?
To the best of my knowledge, I have not seen anybody coming out to say he wants to contest as the President of Nigeria from the South West, and why should I have a candidate. It is when someone aspires that I can say whether he is qualified or not. I have not seen anybody coming out; all we have heard are rumours. So, I don’t have a candidate yet. Will I now sponsor a candidate for the office?
You were in a public office in the past, but now you are a private person; are you coming out for an elective position in 2023?
That is one of the things I usually correct in people, I have never stopped being a private person. I always have my business, I don’t depend on politics. I joined politics because of the people, you can see them around me every time. I spend my money for them and do everything for them. When I was much younger I used to buy water and distribute to the people in my community free of charge in my office in Mushin, Lagos, then. That was before I joined politics at all and it was because of that my leaders in Ward C1 in Mushin and Mushin generally decided that I should contest for a seat in the Federal House of Representatives under the then National Republican Convention (NRC). That was what brought me into politics. My mother objected, my sister objected and everybody was against me, but I told them I would not change and that I would remain the Moshood they knew. There are politicians and there are politicians, there are politicians that amass wealth from politics, but I amass wealth from my business. I went into farming because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I had never seen a chicken processing line in my life and I designed them myself. We manufactured everything, and they are producing now. We produce chickens, cows, goats and the rest. We process, package and give them to our distributors, we don’t sell live animals.
Does that take much of your time now than politics?
Politics has never taken much of my time even till date. Being a leader does not mean politics should take all your time. I don’t spend more than 30 percent of my time on politics, while the remaining 70 percent is for my business.
What would be your advice to politicians generally because the people believe that those in political offices go there to amass wealth for themselves?
You are wasting time when you advise them; the masses would deal with them. I got so disappointed, when one said they should put off the microphone so that members of the public would not hear what he wanted to say while meeting a committee in the Federal House of Representatives. You want me to associate with such a shameless person. They are probing somebody over allegations that he stole money and he pretended to have fainted and they rushed him out only for us to see him going out of the National Assembly in his car. Is that another method of covering corruption? The masses are looking at all these.
President Muhammadu Buhari came with the promise that he would reduce corruption in Nigeria; do you believe that corruption has reduced in Nigeria?
If you believe that corruption has reduced in Nigeria, then you blame the people behind the #EndSARS Protest that there is no corruption; why are they protesting? Do you know how much they are talking about on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Pension Fund and others?
Let’s talk about restructuring, people have said that we need restructuring and that there is too much power at the centre; what’s your view?
I was part of the Constitutional Conference of 2014, that is the solution to our problems, once we implement the 600 resolutions we made at the conference, then you will have a new Nigeria. That is the holy book of democracy, development, growth and unity in Nigeria.
Do you support state police in Nigeria?
That was part of our resolve and resolutions at the National Conference.
Youths believe that it is time for them to take over in Nigeria. Do you believe in generational change in the country?
Who are youths in Nigeria? It is shameful of our young ones to say a 40-year old person is a youth. At 40, if you know what you ought to have achieved, you would not call yourself a youth at that age. Are you going to measure youth by social standard, educational standard, or age? That is why in Islam, we talk of maturity by nature and not age. If you are 13, 14 or 15 years old as a girl and you have started menstruating, then you are mature. If you are 20 years of age and you are not menstruating, then you are not mature.
Even the time we pray in Islam has to do with sunrise or sunset. That is why we face certain direction before we pray. For instance, you can say you are 24 years old, this is what I ought to have achieved, you don’t wait till when you are 40 years of age and start putting the blame of your failure on anybody. We expect that from people of eight years to 25. At 25, you are already out of the university, what did you read in the university that you can practice instead of waiting for a corrupt government.
My position is that all corrupt people should be tried for capital punishment. I went to Kaduna Polytechnic by myself at the age of 16. I attended Federal School of Science on Lagos Island, not through my father or anybody.
I just applied and I was admitted. When I was in primary school, I wrote applications to secondary schools for admission. I was first admitted at Mayflower in Ikenne, Ogun State, but my father said I should not go; he said I was too small because I was in primary four at that time. When I got to primary five, I went to Oriwu College, where I wrote an examination that was like UTME, and I was given admission.
It was at that time my father allowed me to go. In those days, no father would search for school for you unlike now. We should change our orientation and some of these things are because of our corrupt leaders. They now take pride in corruption, they take pride in stealing. All these young ones are looking at it and they would start getting depressed.
They imagine when they would go and work and be earning N40,000 or N50,000 monthly, whereas a son of a minister, who is his friend is driving a Mercedes Benz and he could even give a girlfriend N100,000. They got the youth frustrated, which led to #EndSARS Protests. The youth should not call themselves leaders of tomorrow, they are leaders of today. At what age did Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.) become head of state? At what age did Wole Soyinka become professor?
You have been in the PDP, now you are in APC, what is the difference between the two parties?
I cannot see any difference between the two parties apart from the fact that one is ruling in Lagos State and at the federal level, and one is not in those two places.
What of their ideologies?
I cannot see any difference in their ideologies. I can count 500 people that were in the PDP and now in APC, who left because of some persons or over personal interests, not because of ideology. It is a matter of individuals.
So, you feel the masses should look inwards for economic survival?
I want young Nigerians to stop looking for jobs. They should just ask the government for enabling environment to operate, it is not for them to go and engage in car wash business. They must do something that would add to the GDP of the country. You must be able to do something that would encourage the economy of your state. You can do simple farming, where you can employ people. I have a graduate from the Obafemi Awolowo University, who did some paintings in my estate and is now doing some paintings in my farm. He does it with a special touch.
Painting is not for dropouts and he is getting more money than the people working in oil companies. He spent less than a week with his partner with whom he is working to do the paintings of the corridors and rooms in the estate. He has not even finished the work in the farm because he requested to go to Kwara State to do some other works. There are some jobs you think are for dropouts like vulcanizing for instance. Vulcanizing is a job for graduates; they should have units in filling stations.
How can you have a man with one eye as a vulcanizer? How can one know the pressure of a tyre by hitting it, this shows the level of illiteracy of these roadside vulcanizers. What does he know about pressure, or expansion of air in a tyre? He would just pump the tyre to 55 and you get to the road and the tyre would expand and burst and cause an accident. But an educated person would be able to know the amount of pressure for a tyre in a rainy season and dry season. There must be skill acquisition for all kinds of jobs.