By Onyedika Agbedo
Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy, His Royal Punkness and Area Fada, is a former president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN). The singer/songwriter, television presenter and producer has been very vocal on national issues in recent times. In this interview with select journalists, he airs his views on the state of the nation, blaming the failings of the country on corrupt political leadership. He warns that until Nigerians begin to demand and insist on good governance, the situation would remain unchanged, saying the #OurMumuDondo movement, which he is championing, is a national clarion call on all Nigerians to stand and fight as politicians will not fight for them. Oputa, who has consistently spoken against the agitation for Biafra, maintains his position on the issue and urges his kinsmen to “pause on the fantasy tagged Biafra for now”. Excerpts:
You are getting more vocal on national issues these days. Why has it been so?
I am angry because I am a frustrated Nigerian. People like me, you and millions of Nigerians should be doing much better than we are doing presently if only we had an enabling environment. I was born in the early 50s when there was so much prospect in this country, when premium was placed on value, honesty, integrity and love for country.
My dear country has gone to the dogs. The Giant of Africa has become the laughing stock of the rest of the world. How did we get here? How and why did we allow this rot to consume a once upon a time beautiful country with so much prospect? Kai!
Where are the few good men and women who have decided to keep quiet in the face of this kind of evil? Imagine the frustration, the poverty, the joblessness, the hopelessness in a country that can offer its people so much more but have given nothing but pain, misery and so much disunity amongst its people. Yes, I’m angry.
My country, Nigeria is terminally ill from decades of misrule, impunity by vile sorcerers, ignorant drunken politicians, terrorists in agbada brutalising the poor masses, and riff-raffs who are prepared to drag the nation down into the shit pit. Yes, I am mad as hell; na like dis we go dey go?
Now, I hear sounds of very irresponsible and provocative utterances filling the air, burning with hate messages. The social media is filled with ultimatums, datelines and fake news propagating the Old Testament message of an eye for an eye that will soon leave all of us blind. I am mad and angry with all these.
Is that why you are championing the #OurMumuDonDo campaign?
You see, there comes a time in the history of a suffering people when the status quo that has eternally failed can no longer be sustained; when the hungry, angry, vexed, and frustrated are bonded in a coalition to reclaim a country seeking a new direction and a new path; when political leadership has failed from generation to generation, as is the case with Nigeria, and the docility of the populace is almost a norm; the emancipation of the mind from mental slavery becomes an eternal battle for which fighting becomes godly.
#OurMumuDonDo is a national clarion call on all Nigerians to stand and fight, because no politician will fight for the interest of the Nigerian people; it is impossible. It is a call to engage, to protest and occupy all arms of government until good governance is seen and felt by the people. It is a call to re-awaken the Spartan of the Labour union of old in the youths. This is a call driven by nationalism and Nigerianisation. #OurMumuDonDo is a movement of the people by the people for the people. This is a genuine democratic and nationalistic movement.
When you talk about the angry, vexed and frustrated, it sounds as if you are advocating a violent revolution?
No, not in anyway. However, when the people are tired of political exploitation, a nation is re-awakened. When politicians continue in the path of reckless criminality, a mob is encouraged. And it is because of this anger and frustration in the atmosphere that we have decided to rein in, coordinate and channel our anger towards our common enemy under the aegis of the Justice Oputa Foundation.
Why the Justice Oputa Foundation?
Why not? Because the late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa bequeathed a legacy of incorruptibility to this nation; it’s on record. And that legacy and value, today, is extremely scarce. So, what better way to champion an honest cause for emancipation?
You attended one of the court sittings in Nnamdi Kanu’s case probably in a show of solidarity. But after he was granted bail, he has refused to back down on the agitation for Biafra. Do you still support his cause?
For whatever reason, no man deserves to be ill treated in his fatherland as Nnamdi Kanu was treated. Hence, my involvement in the call for his release at the time. I am for equal rights and justice, period. Advocating for the okada community doesn’t make me an okada rider. Advocating for gay rights doesn’t make me gay. So, agitating for Nnamdi’s release doesn’t make me a Biafran supporter. Biafra for me is a mindset. If there were no great injustice in the land, there would be no call for Biafra. So, don’t get it twisted.
Sometime in January 2017, I wrote about my thoughts on the Biafra agitation and how I do not consider it a feasible adventure especially when there are so many important things my Igbo kinsmen can alternatively dedicate their all to. I titled the article “The illusion called Biafra”. Those who haven’t read it should read it up because what I wrote therein will always be my stance on Biafra.
Unfortunately, the dreams of nationhood is lost on the altar of deception, and my Igbo brothers must be circumspect on the fact and history, and not be hoodwinked into some insane propaganda that will only lead to more wahala. So, instead of Biafra, we should channel our energies and abilities towards developing the South-east to become the economic hub of Nigeria. Igbo nation and my people are great but for us to move forward we must kill our individualistic tendencies and come together to do great things.
The fall of Biafra after the genocide, starvation, and immense suffering of my people should teach us something. I believe the failure of the Igbo nation is the fault of the people, her so-called elites and decision-makers. Why have we not poured our energy, capacity and ability into making the South-east the Dubai of the nation as well as the engine room of the Nigerian economy? Who would be our leaders when the South-east is infested with political power-grabbers, 419ers, mindless criminals and looters of our commonwealth and resources? Need I mention names?
Our problem is the lack of men of integrity and a progressive mindset. We lack the right kind of leadership that will fight for the interest of the people. Let it be clear to all that the sufferings and poverty of the people of the South-east are also the sufferings and poverty of the peoples of the other geopolitical zones in Nigeria, including my northern brothers. Even the nascent anti-corruption fight in the country has seen all tribe accordingly represented. It is therefore retrospectively insane to begin to think that a people with a problem would suddenly be relieved when they are attached with a tag #BIAFRA; Abegi.
Therefore, I insist that our mumu don do because the failure of leadership is evident in our agitation for fairness, justice and equality for every Nigerian not just for every Igbo man. And so the mind of the typical Igbo leader needs a revolution so that it can be realigned for the interest of the people rather than the interest of a few.
Let’s focus on our homeland, our states, and begin to demand accountability and responsibility from many of our scammers, riff-raffs and fraudsters in the entire nation.
Former governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State was recently quoted as saying that Nigeria cannot break up because members of the elite are united in preserving their advantages over the masses irrespective of their differences of tribe and religion. Straight from the horse’s mouth! A candid admission that it is yahoo yahoo leadership that runs Nigeria’s affairs; that have kept “the common man” squalid, wretched and “in hell” despite the nation’s enormous oil wealth.
Again and again, I dare to ask that we pause on the fantasy tagged Biafra for now. Let us dutifully work ourselves back into reckoning by fighting for fairness, justice and equality for all Nigerians; not Igbos only, Yorubas only or Hausas only; but all Nigerians.
The notice given to Igbos living in the North to quit on or before October 1, this year, is still trending. What is your take on that?
(Loud laughter) I may be a dreamer, but I believe in the unity of Nigeria. I believe we all need each other. I believe that there is strength in our diversity. But I also know that there is so much disunity, injustice, hatred, poverty and hopelessness all being fanned by “them” against “us” to keep us in perpetual mumuism. My own mumu don do.
Even though our brothers in the North have presided over the Nigerian state more than any other ethnic group, is the North the Dubai of Nigeria? Why is it that out of the over 25 million out of school children in Nigeria, 18 million are from the North while Kano State alone has five million beggars. Go and make your research. According to the UNDP, 82 per cent of northern Nigerians are living below the poverty line, why?
Nigeria has the highest number of young girls suffering from Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in the world and 90 per cent of those young girls are from the North. Why?
Why is it that the base of paedophilia, child sex, child slavery and child marriage on the African continent is most rampant in northern Nigeria?
According to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, the northern states “have the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country, the lowest rate of child enrolment in schools, the highest number of unemployed young people, the highest levels of poverty and faces the challenge of inter-ethic and inter-religious conflict including the Boko Haram terrorism.” Why?
According to Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, if the North-west zone of the country were to ever find itself on its own, it would be poorer and more ravaged by war than Afghanistan. Why did he say that?
What’s all this gragra for? Who are they deceiving? My mumu don do tey tey. I know and understand the game. A lot of my northern brothers have come to my rescue in my dark hours, so has my Yoruba brothers, my Ijaw brothers and if truth be told, more than even my own Igbo brothers. Yes! Who is fooling who?
Is #OurMumuDonDo a political movement?
Of course no. The movement is not a political movement. Isn’t that why we have failed as a people and a nation? I mean selfish political ambitions and perpetual political criminality is what damaged our national fabrics and plunged our nationalistic potentials to this despicable state. So, the answer is NO; the movement is devoid of any political, religious and tribal colourations.
What is the assurance that the movement would be sustained because we have seen many people abandon lofty struggles they initiated midway?
First of all, I am not many people. Secondly, I am not your regular Nigerian. I may live in Nigeria but the Nigerian way has never lived in me. I am stubborn about the things I get involved with and nothing, not even death, can dissuade me. My antecedents are pointers to that. I built an image that continues to tickle most Nigerians. For the past 40 years, I have remained faithful even in the face of being misunderstood, branded irresponsible and crazy by conservative superficial Nigerians; I never gave up. Even when in the beginning my own family didn’t understand or approve, I stuck to my gun. I have been in a marriage for almost four decades with the same woman when many celebrity marriages are crashing up and down. I have remained loyal to my vows in the face of unimaginable distractions. I have never chosen money over my convictions. I even don’t have respect for money so I know I can never be rich because the things that mean the most to me are extinct. I come from a different stock and apples never fall too far from their tree. Yes, you can safely say that I am an exceptional Nigerian and I have a funny feeling that I will probably die that way.
You have said that #OurMumuDonDo is not a political movement but its objectives are tied to politics. How would it impact on the present-day Nigerian politics?
I am under no illusion or doubt that this movement will encourage many young selfless visionary leaders who are either being intimidated by the riff-raffs in leadership, the existing political forces or simply in hiding out of fear for their lives to begin to come out and represent their people. So, this movement is not only about ending the docility of Nigerians, it is also about motivating and breathing life into the dreams of many unknown Nigerians who are hoping to lead this country in absolute genuineness.
Right now, we already have a group of volunteers, consisting of many frustrated Nigerians, including myself, who are fed up of the status quo. When the mentality of a people is that we are freedom-fighters, fighting genuinely for a nationalistic cause, and that an injury to one is an injury to all; continuously saying we are ready for the worse and prepared to sacrifice our all for the good of this country, then, a movement like #OurMumuDonDo becomes a responsibility of the willing and not a burden for the unwilling. It is a movement of the suffering people, which must be owned and sponsored by the suffering people.
The sensitisation is currently going on and will continue for as long as possible. Meanwhile, there are some things that cannot be said publicly. That is why we are encouraging Nigerians to go to www.ourmumudondo.org
to register, so we can communicate whatever we are to do next to them privately.
For the past three decades you have been a youth advocate and at 65 you are still running around with the youth. Yet you have strongly criticised them for their docility. Isn’t that a contradiction?
Nigerian youths are on the danger list, born into a country where the leadership is deliberately making sure that they do not get what they deserve — no enabling environment, no employment, dream killers, creating poverty all over the place. They wear a veil of holiness to cover their evil faces and pretend to be fighting for their interest. If the youths are the future, it is clear to see what kind of future we have with the mumu youths, who still go ahead to celebrate them and vote for them because of N1000. Me, I know say many go chop sand sand if they continue to remain in this mumu lane; I swear to God.
I know that some of them are not ready to come out of their mumugiosity. I know many of them will not even respond quickly to this call of nationalism. I also know that most of them will be unwilling to hold the rope of emancipation, which is being thrown out to them. However, I must tell you the truth. The truth is that things will NEVER change except they decide to genuinely change it. People have been saying that Nigeria will get better since independence but it has still not got better till date. If I need my light on, am I not supposed to get up from the chair and switch it on? But in Nigeria, we believe that praying can help us switch on the light, hence, we won’t bother. As long as most of these useless men of God keep promoting miracles ahead of hard work, more Nigerian youths will be endangered.
But as the Area Fada, I still believe in the exceptional youths of Nigeria. I have met a few who are willing to reclaim their country from the hands of political criminals with insatiable desire to loot and plunder.
Already, we have started seeing skirmishes in the northern part of the country because they are simply tired of sulking up to politicians who fail to keep their promises with the suffering people. Fact is, when the people are tired of political exploitation, a nation is re-awakened. When politicians continue in the path of reckless criminality, a mob is encouraged. When frustration becomes the only mood in vogue in a nation, then, the people are left with nothing else but to defiantly fight for their future.
You get to a point where you say, “damn the consequences” and you unleash the mob in you to fight for the interest of all. There will be no hope in sight and Nigerians will continue to suffer times three if the youths/masses continue to remain docile, indifferent, intolerant to one another and religiously hypnotised. When citizens feel cheated, looted, corrupted and criminalised, they fight to change the status quo not wait for politicians.
Therefore, Nigerians who are disillusioned and disenchanted with the failings of government, political leadership, religious and moral institutions, must as a matter of urgency, begin to organise themselves for sustained activism. This is injury time. We must all begin to organise ourselves to produce options come 2019.