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I want to see a Nigeria where injury to one is injury to all – Jude Imagwe

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Imagwe

Jude Imagwe is the senior special adviser (SSA) to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Youth and Student Matters. He spoke with our reporter on his job, his relationship with the President and more.

Each time you win an award, what always comes to your mind?

It is an award for the collective youth of Nigeria. I know it is not every youngman or student that can walk into an event and pick an award but each time I get one, even if my name is tied to it, I believe it is for the future of this country. It is an award for all the youths and most importantly one to tell people that from nobody you can be somebody if you have the commitment that Nigeria must move forward.

You harp on the fact that from nobody, you can become somebody. Is this your story?

In life, you cannot write off anybody irrespective of his background because you are not the maker of the person’s fortune and future. The statement is a clarion call on young people, on people that feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel; it is a call on them to wake up and find out that you must be serious with whatever you are doing, you must be prepared to take a step and no matter how difficult it might be, take a step first. It may lead you to your future, or to something you least bargain for, but above it all, take a step.

How has being a part of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government affected your personality?

One of the major things it has done to my person is that I am beginning to look at life from a different perspective. Most people who know me very well will tell you that I have become a strong advocate of one Nigeria, of peace and above all, I have been an advocate of young people realising that we cannot criticise at all times and believe we can get the desired result. Yes, we have a duty to reject certain policies, but it is also our duty and responsibility to proffer solution. If I say I do not like something, it is not enough for me to destroy it. That I do not like it does not mean there is no solution to it.

Tell us about your new programme, “If I were the President?”

The programme will kick off in September, and it was designed because I think it is time for us as Nigerians to start to see ourselves as presidents of this country. If we see ourselves as such, we will realise that the country belongs to us all, and if we practise that ideology with all sincerity and patriotism we will find that there is no man outside the country that can celebrate our country more than us. It is just like telling somebody to write about you; he cannot write it better than you will do. So, the programme is called If I were the president. Today you are not him, but if you were him, what would you have done in regard to the decisions this Present president is taking. When people begin to think from that angle we will begin to have respect not for who is seated there but for the seat itself, knowing that you could be sitting there tomorrow. President Goodluck Jonathan never thought that he would be there some years ago but today, he is there. It is just the same way many young people today may not bargain for it and may eventually find themselves in that position. Divine providence is always there and President Goodluck Jonathan cannot be there forever as president. He is obviously going to leave there someday, so someday somebody from the crowd will sit there. So, if you were the one what would you do. Being in government has also thought me patience. As activists, we always believe we can get things done our own way. How do I mean? We don’t even border to know why policies are formulated. All we know is that it is a policy against humanity, it is a draconian law, it is a policy that we condemn in its entirety and the next thing you hear is, “greatest Nigerian students” and we shut down the system. But I have come to realise since I got into government that there is no policy that anybody will wake up and make out of wickedness. The implementation might not go down well with the people, but such policies before they are rolled out, people have sat down and thought about them. The countries we celebrate today, their citizens have paid one price at one time or the other, their leaders have paid a price to either conform to it or to say this policy will not work and this is the one that will stand the test of time. I have also learnt that at all times, one must continue to respect God and must be close to him because you sleep and wake up every day. If you don’t appreciate it, when you go to the cemetery and you see dead people covered there, and you realise that they once had dreams too, they dreamt so many dreams and they hoped they were going to achieve them, but look at where they are today. So, if you have an opportunity today, you must make the best of it. I have told people that I do not have a business being a billionaire, I have said it and I am proud to say it, but I have a business making people one. It is my joy to see people happy.

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How do people appraise you when they meet you? Is it as senior special adviser to the President or as Jude Imagwe?

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Anywhere I go, I walk in as Jude Imagwe; I do not walk in as the senior special adviser to the President. Jude Imagwe is my name, my identity and what I should protect at all times. People that have used it before now didn’t tarnish it, so I shouldn’t during my own time. If my younger ones decide to spoil it then the choice is theirs, but for today, I have to protect it.

Are you living your dream by working for the President?

I am still young and it will not be too far out of context if I state clearly my age. On Thursday, July 12, I was 35 and I try to ask myself how I got to where I am this quick. I did not expect myself to be where I am today, and in the same vain, I do not know where I am going to, but I know that God is pushing me somewhere, but where it is, I do not know. The only thing I can state clearly is that I wake up in the morning and I go to morning mass, I am a Catholic and I don’t play with mass. I can wake up in the morning around 5 a.m. and go for benediction and mass. I lead the day the way it comes with prayers and hopes that I could impact in the lives of people but what I will become tomorrow I do not know. It is God that will decide and it’s only him that will push me to where he desires, I don’t have the right to choose for him, all I hope he will do is to order my steps. My dream is rooted in the hearts of men who believe we are equal not only in the sight of God but that all Nigerians must be treated with equally. Your right to retirement after 35 years, to owning a duplex and a company should not infringe on the rights of our brothers and sisters or those of us, who come from a poor background, to retiring and owning a house that will accommodate their families. And your rights to cater for your family should not infringe on the rights of those who will retire and still have people to take care of. It is simple; your right to drive a brand new car should not infringe on that of the man who wants to drive a fairly used car. That is my dream. I want a Nigeria where everybody will be happy, where an injury to one would be an injury to all and, above all, I dream of a nation that will be the giant of Africa and will be the most respected country in the world, a country where we are not only the leader in Africa by our economic endowments, our population or by our wealth, but by the ideas we proffer and by the direction we give to Africa.

How often do you travel out of the country?

I am a pan-African; I believe Africa’s wealth should be shared by Africans. And if you steal from Nigeria, don’t go too far with it. If you can’t invest it in Nigeria, you must invest it in Africa because the wealth is from the continent, it is for people of the continent and it should be enjoyed by them. It amounts to the highest level of wickedness to rule us, steal from us and give our money to people who do not value it.

Are you endorsing stealing in government?

This people steal with impunity and you can’t run away from it. There are certain things you don’t pretend about. I am a very practical person. There are things you don’t run away from; when you say stealing, it is not only at the government level. There are people in government that do not have business with corruption, from our various houses we steal, in churches, and in the market. If a taxi driver knows that from a location to the airport is 10 minutes and he should charge you three thousand naira, but because he wants to take advantage of the fact that you are a stranger, he charges you N7,000 and takes you through a longer route, that crime is more than that of a man who is seating on a chair stealing. What we should condemn strongly is anybody supporting stealing, but if for any reason you have an opportunity to steal you must invest it into the system. It is wickedness for you to steal money and take it to a country where you don’t have access to it.

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It is one thing to be Mr. President’s adviser and another for him to listen to you; does he take your advice? 

I don’t look at the President in his official capacity most times, I call him a father because we had a cordial relationship before my appointment when I was the president of National Association of Nigerian Student (NANS), and I must say this without mincing words, it is not political, it is not self-praise, I feel that Nigeria is blessed with a President like Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Do you know why I say so; he is a man that if you are close to him, you will share in his passion and dreams of wanting to transform the country, to leave a mark that will be remembered tomorrow. For any policy that is about to be formulated especially the ones that affect young people, I am usually consulted. He will ask me, as a youth you go to the field and interact with all these people, how do you feel about this, how do you view this. If he is not a father, he will not do that. That is why I have continued to emphasise that leadership and representation are two different things, you could be a president and you don’t have the leadership quality and you could be a leader and you don’t have the opportunity to serve, but the overall summary of it is that if you are a leader you must know that you are the father of many people. He looks at issues practically and takes them as if those he is discussing with are his children.

What is your office doing about the plight of unemployed youths? 

People keep asking this question about unemployment, but it is a global thing, it is not a problem that is peculiar to Nigeria, but one that cuts across board. We too as young people must make ourselves employable, we must begin to develop capacity, we must begin to build ourselves because you go to some areas and they tell you for 30 persons that have come to be employed they have nothing to provide or offer. Market people are looking out for something to buy and those who are selling their products are looking out to get people to buy their products. So, if you say you are looking to get employed you look for what that company requires and use it as your edge. From our office, we have strongly worked with Sure P and youths in Agriculture, but I really feel that government alone cannot tackle unemployment. We must tell ourselves the truth. Young people too must start thinking outside the box, think of those things we have not been exposed to. So many of those things we rush to acquire today in our country are things that were developed by young people of other continents. So we too must begin to think of how to design things; how to improve on things and, above all, how to make change because if you say government should take care of unemployment, selected people will be employed. We have a population of which over 70 million are young, agile and full of energy to work, where are the jobs to accommodate 70 million people? We don’t have them, but we have so many other things. We should be proud of the things we have, most young people don’t want to go into farming; young people don’t want to start small. We, as young people, must encourage investors to come in, we must encourage foreign organisations to come into the country and the way to do that is by stopping violence. It is just like a man in Borno State saying he does not have a job, how can he have one when he has chased off all foreign investors. Government has its responsibility and the citizens have theirs too, which is to behave well and encourage investors.

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Politics

Breaking: Tribunal Sacks Dino Melaye As Senator Representing Kogi West

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Biodun Okeowo

The election that saw Dino Melaye emerging as Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district has been nullified.

Senator Melaye’s election  was cancelled by the Kogi State National Assembly/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.

The nullification was announced on Friday, August 23.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC), Melaye polled a total of 85,395 votes to defeat his All Progressive Congress (APC) opponent who scored 66,902 votes.

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The result was however contested on the grounds of irregularities, overvoting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act by the APC candidate, Sam Adeyemi.

According to reports, the three-man panel led by Justice A. O. Chijioke, in a unanimous judgment on Friday, accepted Adeyemi’s ground and ordered for another election in the senatorial district.

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Oyo House Of Assembly Finally Confirms Seun Fakorede As Commissioner

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Fakorede

The Oyo State House of Assembly has confirmed 27 year-old Oluwaseun Fakorede as commissioner.

Fakorede was appointed as commissioner for youth and sport despite a protest by party stalwarts earlier today.

Governor Seyi Makinde had sent Fakorede’s name to the Assembly alongside that of Professor Raphael Afonja, and Faosat Joke Sunni in a list of his second batch of cabinet nominees.

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The three were screened and approved on Thursday, August 21.

Fakorede

Announcing the approval, the  Speaker of the House, Adebo Ogundoyin, praised Governor Makinde for nominating the commissioners-designate.

Hesaid: “The Oyo State House of Assembly has confirmed 27-year-old Fakorede Seun Temidayo of Ibarapaland and two others as commissioners of the Oyo State Government.”

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Governor Makinde In Dilema Over Future Of Oyo’s Youngest Commissioner-nominee

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Seyi Makinde

The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, is currently in a dilema over the future of one of his commissioner-nominees, Oluwaseun Fakorede.

Fokorede’s appointment initially celebrated in Oyo State has now turned controversial leading to a face off between groups.

While a group is opposing the nomination of 27-year-old, the other group is supporting his nomination as a commissioner.

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The anti-Fakorede group is made up of members and leaders of the ruling party who have hinged their protest on claims that Fakore’s father had defected to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) and worked against the success of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), at the elections.

The group, which comprises party leaders, elders and women urge lawmakers not to screen or confirm his nomination adding that his nomination  negates the sharing arrangement by the leaders to cover the interest of all the regions and zones of the area.

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