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There was heated exchange between Nigeria’s communication minister, Adebayo Shittu, and a presidential aspirant, Omoyele Sowore, on a public affairs radio programme in Ibadan on Saturday.
Mr Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, was in Ibadan in continuation of his campaign efforts. He arrived Lagos from the UK earlier in the week.
The programme, monitored by PREMIUM TIMES’ correspondent, held on Fresh FM, Ibadan, owned by foremost broadcaster and musician, Yinka Ayefele.
The interview had barely kicked off when the debate became heated.
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“Minister, it is great to see you. This is the minister of an outgoing regime; the Buhari regime will be kicked off power by 2019,” Mr Sowore said shortly after the programme began.
He had barely concluded his introductory statement when Mr Shittu fired back, saying the Sahara Reporters’ publisher is a dreamer.
“By your wish or by God’s wish? You are just dreaming. You are a day dreamer” he said in response to Mr Sowore’s claim to which the presidential hopeful replied saying, “By the wish of the people of Nigeria, Sir. It is not a dream. It is the realisation you’d wake up to on February 15.”
Mr Shittu retorted: “Sowore, what’s your electoral worth? Whether in your Ife (sic), home or any part of this country.” Mr Sowore replied: “My electoral worth brought you to power in 2015. Nobody even heard about many of you in 2014.”
The minister thereafter said the Sahara Reporters publisher didn’t know about him because he was inconsequential in politics. “You are inconsequential…” he said.
In defence, Mr Sowore said he was consequential because Mr Shittu and others came to power by the efforts of young Nigerians like him.
He said, “I am consequential because you came to power on my back, on our back… on the back of young people who invested a lot of hope.”
In response, the minister described the publisher as a mere noise-maker. “What did you invest? Did you invest more than me, No? I will not sit here and allow someone make noise…You are just a noisemaker. You are just a noisemaker.”
The Sahara Reporters publisher thereafter warned that the minster’s conduct was typical of the same way handlers of former President Goodluck Jonathan treated Nigerians before they were defeated at the polls in 2015.
“This was the same way Jonathan people were sounding in 2014… you are gonna be shocked in 2019,” Mr Sowore said. On accusations by the minister that he was a dreamer and that his statements were politically motivated, he said: “The Nigeria of the future is for dreamers like me.”
Apparently angered by Mr. Sowore’s statements, Mr. Shittu said: “You think the presidency is for people like you? Go and start from being a councillor. I have been a member of the House of Assembly, I was a commissioner twice, I was already a lawyer… you wouldn’t know, you were too small.
How old are you? How old are you? This is not a platform for minions like you to come… you think the presidency is something you can just buy in a market place? You are a giant in university politics (and) by the grace of God you will be put to shame.”
The anchor of the programme, Isaac Brown, momentarily brought the situation under control but the coordinated conversation didn’t last long before it turned into a shouting match yet again.
When asked to explain the rationale for vying for the presidency, the 47-year-old publisher said he had been around for thirty years fighting for the betterment of the country. He also said he had built a media platform whose reportage help bring the present government into power.
“That’s rubbish!” Mr Shittu fired back. “I have been in politics since you were born. For forty years, I have been in politics and I was already a lawyer before I joined politics forty years ago. You can’t be here and talk rubbish.
“This is rubbish! You want to become president? You are a day dreamer. Who will make you president? You will be president of your Ife… not Nigeria.