Chief Kenny Martins, an astute businessman cum politician, has debunked claims by former President Goodluck Jonathan that he conceded victory to the incumbent, president Muhammadu Buhari not out of pressure or persuasion from any quarters within and outside the country, but for his conviction that it was the right path to take. “Let me make it clear, that I was not persuaded to do so by anyone within or outside the country. I knew it was the right thing to do”, Jonathan reportedly said at a recent graduation ceremony of Bingham University in Nasarawa State, where he and ex-Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon were awarded honorary doctorate degrees.
In this exclusive interview, Martins, an in-law and ally of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, gave a rare insight into a ‘secret meeting’ at the former military leaders Hilltop mansion at Abeokuta, Ogun State. He revealed that at that meeting, the need for Jonathan to surrender if defeated at the polls as well as his quiet and peaceful exit was discussed and resolved in the presence of the General Overseers of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, and the Living Faith Church, Bishop Oyedepo. Excerpts:
Let us go back to the 2015 presidential election, the alleged American intervention and why former President Goodluck Jonathan readily conceded victory to Buhari. What happened?
In December 2014, I went to meet former President Olusegun) Obasanjo in Ibogun, Ogun State. It was a festival day for Ibogun Town; the ceremony was on and I went and sat next to him. I told him there was a problem; he said what is the problem? I told him: “Sir, election is coming, and if Buhari wins, people believe that Niger Delta militants would not allow him to take over, and there would be bloodshed. If Jonathan wins, people believe that the northern extremists of whatever hue would not allow him, and there would be bloodshed. Either way, those two candidates are already captives of their extreme followers who are willing to waste the country.
Sir, the country believes that you are the one who brought the two of them, so when the bloodletting starts, before they go for anybody, they are going to come for you first.” He said: “Shut up, what have I done?” I said: “Everybody believes that you are the one who runs this country; they believe you are the cause of the problem, and I am just telling you that there is something you need to do.” He said: “What do I need to do?” I said: “Sir, see General Babangida, he is there in Minna, everybody knows that he is a member of PDP, but everybody knows that he is also a member APC. He is standing with two legs on both sides. The other day, General Buhari was going to hold his campaign in Minna and Chief Servant, the governor, said they can’t give him the stadium, General Babangida told Buhari, please come and use my golf course, go ahead with the campaign.
So, you are just on one side of the APC, and when this problem comes, and for Nigeria to scale this problem we need the likes of yourself, Babangida, even the Danjumas of this world, to hold this country properly, so that there will be no wahala. So, you yourself must be seen to be on both sides.” He said: “But I am not a member of PDP.” I said: “Nobody said you are a member of PDP, but you should make up with Jonathan.” He said: “How?” Jonathan didn’t send me to him, but I told him: “The man said he wants to see you, so you should see him as the President, and assure him that both of you don’t have any issue, if you win, I will support you; but for God’s sake, if you lose, just go quietly.
“And call Buhari who is already on your side and tell him if you win, we take over, but if you lose, lets’ go home; let’s not listen to anybody saying we should cause wahala.” I said “It’s what you have to do, so that you can join forces with other people to ensure that either way, there would be peace because all of you are speaking with one voice.” He (OBJ) said: “Ok, Kenny, tell him I will see him anywhere he chooses.” I said: “No sir, you won’t see him where he chooses; he will come to your house.” He said: “Come to my house for what?” I told him, is it because both of them had not been speaking for years? I said: “The man will come to your house.” Jonathan had not told me he was going to come to his house. He said “okay.”
At that time, the then chairman of Federal Road Management Agency, (FERMA), Engineer Jide Adeniyi, was one man who reached Jonathan readily, so I told OBJ, now that he has given his consent, I would talk to Jide. So, this was how we presented the case to Jonathan that Obasanjo wants to see him in his house, and the business was to talk peace. So, a date was fixed a couple of weeks later, and the meeting held. Obasanjo, because of his personal relationship with the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, invited him to come for the meeting. Jonathan, surprisingly, emerged at the meeting with Bishop David Oyedepo, Winners Chapel General Overseer. I think there was also one person, but I can’t remember who it was. So, the five of them now went into a meeting and the essence of that meeting was what I have told you – If you win, I will raise up your hand and congratulate you as the president, but if you lose, please go, for the sake of Nigeria.
It is only God who knows why Obasanjo should bring Adeboye, and why Jonathan, without consulting Obasanjo, should bring Oyedepo. You can see that at that meeting, God was seated where the decision was brokered that whoever loses should go. And none of these people you are mentioning were privy to what happened; it has nothing to do with America or Obama, it was only God who did it for Nigeria with the help of these men mentioned above.
So, it was therefore easy for Jonathan to concede defeat and congratulate Buhari. While others were waiting and expecting that the results would be announced which may not favour him and were already thinking of what to do if they didn’t win, the man quietly picked his phone privately, congratulated Buhari and came back and sat with them watching the TV, until they started hearing that he had congratulated Buhari.
That was how God wrested Nigeria from the crises which had sent almost all expatriates out of Nigeria. So many Nigerians had escaped for abroad. Some ran to even Ghana and Cotonou waiting for the time when the bombings would end. And whatever remained, they would come and meet. It was a Nigerian homegrown content and it was a homegrown solution that solved the problem.
Contrary to your assertion, Jonathan recently said emphatically, that he was neither pressured nor persuaded by anyone within or outside Nigeria to concede defeat to Buhari. He said that it was based on his personal conviction to do what is right. How do you react to that?
Why is Jonathan lying that nobody pressured or persuaded him to concede defeat? It is disheartening when our leaders keep lying and deceiving the people about the true position of things. He lied.
When you were discussing with Obasanjo and you told him he abandoned Jonathan, what…
(Cuts in), He didn’t abandon Jonathan, Jonathan abandoned him first and he in turn abandoned Jonathan.
How did it happen, what was the cause?
It all came from Jonathan and his group. And I forewarned OBJ about it. I said this man Jonathan you are picking is a friend, he even helped to save my life once. Jonathan and Buhari were the two people who shielded me from taking a bullet from my enemies.
I told OBJ, this man that you are forcing on us to be the president would not be able to do the job and when he is not able to do it, you will fight him, and when you fight him, he will fight you and the rest will be history. So, the man got to power and people in a cartel, starting from his Chief of Staff, Diezani, and co, turned him against Obasanjo and that was how their fight started.
But why is it that Obasanjo is always falling apart with those he supported to power? It was the same thing with the late President Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and now, people are insinuating that he has started having problem with Buhari. Why?
I don’t know; he’s the one that’s always putting people in power. But there is one Yoruba saying that, it is the kingmaker that is first beheaded by the king when he gets to power. So that is what I have learnt in my own small role as a kingmaker.
You said earlier that Jonathan saved your life. How’s that?
When we had the Police Foundation Fund problem and the secretary of one of those people who were contending issues with us in the judiciary came and said that, as a man of God, he called one of my friends and told him, tell Kenny Martins that I am the secretary of this man’s company for 20 years, and have been working with this chief security man at the police force headquarters and a traditional ruler, and they have marshaled a seven-point agenda to take over the Foundation from him. They have deployed six and it has not worked, the seventh agenda is assassination, and as we speak, they have recruited those to carry out the act. I cannot have blood on my hands, so at this point, I have to meet with Chief Martins and tell him what is going on. He came to me and told me what happened. He came to me through Prince Onyegbule, my friend.
(Cuts in…) Who is that person?
He is dead now, they killed him. And I went to Vice President Jonathan then, I said sir, you are the patron of this institution, I told you about the problem, they want to kill me and take over; they believe the $1m that is coming as a loan, I should give them.
I can’t give them loans of the Americans and the Chinese, they should wait until we have used it and the proceeds come from the project. Yar’Adua was the President then, but he didn’t support them. They didn’t have Yar’Adua’s backing in that fight. That was why he told one of them who is a traditional ruler to go and resign otherwise he would be deposed, and that one resigned to me. I still have his letter of resignation. So I went to Jonathan and he called the DG, DSS and said look, Kenny Martins is to be killed; so, so and so person is involved, and you have to go and take care of the situation. And they gave us men and we went with the DG, NDLEA then Lanre Ipimisho, was still alive; and they tracked those hired assassins to their base.
On the day they were to hire their guns and come for the operation, they had surveyed my home and office, the chief security officer of a Division that was supposed to coordinate the security surveillance and arrest, alerted them to stop the operation; so they refrained from attacking me. I was not killed. I owe my life to Jonathan. So I am not belittling Jonathan in any way.
What is your take on the present state of the PDP which you belong?
I have never been a member of PDP, I just helped in the formation of PDP. General Babangida, General Abdulsalami and myself were the ones who put heads together and said there will be two parties and apportioned the actors. And when I called the actors, I told them which part of the divide they will be for. Chief Sunday Awoniyi on one side, Baba Abraham Adesanya, on another side, with Dr. Olusola Saraki and Chief Olu Falae on another side with Chief Bola Ige. So, I have always functioned across party lines. But I might have sympathy for a party and right now, I have sympathy for the APC because PDP messed up. The APC would have been equally dead, but they have something in their favour. They have the Federal Government in their pocket and so many state governments. But it is not that they are healthier.
PDP doesn’t have all of that, it’s a dying party because they are killing themselves. They keep shooting themselves in the foot. Very soon, they won’t be able to walk again.
So, it’s a crippled party, but it can re-invent itself to be in opposition. We need a major opposition party to make APC wake up to its responsibilities. APC should not just work to win 2019 elections again, they must perform well for the remaining time they have left so that Nigerians will suffer less.
Nigeria needs a strong opposition party to nibble them they way they were nibbling at PDP – they showed PDP. The Femi Fani-Kayode that they are hanging out to dry now performed the job of a campaign spokesman for them. He did exceptionally well, he gave APC hell. They in turn with Lai Mohammed gave Jonathan hell, which in turn helped Nigeria.
Is that the reason the APC government is after Fani-Kayode?
It is a useless effort, why go after the man? That is one thing I don’t understand, somebody needs to explain that one to me. I am a campaign person of the President, you give me money and I run the campaign, you now tell me the money came from Obama or from someone else, what is my business? I am not the judiciary, the courts will determine that. If I were this government, I would leave those people alone. Jonathan is suddenly looking like a hero today. This government needs to clean up its acts.
What is your take on the crisis rocking the APC?
The APC crisis is expected. APC is made up of three legs, not strange bedfellows; they are one creature that has managed to use three legs to walk. It has not been done before, because they have CPC under Buhari, AC under Tinubu, and then the Obasanjo/Saraki-led part of PDP. Forget that Obasanjo wrote a letter to dent Jonathan’s image, it took Saraki moving in with the five governors to change the equation, otherwise, APC would have been as usual, one big trailer packed in Lagos without engine that can’t get to Abuja. So, it is the PDP equation that brought in the engine that moved that mighty machine to Abuja, and….
(Cuts in)…So Obasanjo is the leader of the Saraki faction?
No, I don’t think so. Obasanjo said he is no more in politics. But the three legs of the APC comprised Buhari and CPC, Tinubu and AC, plus the New PDP, the five governors, plus Obasanjo their godfather who has been there before them.
So, without that input from the PDP, either via Obasanjo or via Saraki and the governors, there was no way APC would have won. So, when it came to sharing of offices, I believe that, that Senate seat is a legitimate seat of the PDP, since CPC already has the Presidency, APC has the VP. They are taking themselves to court, why are they doing all those things? Tinubu started the fight and has since abandoned the fight. Who is now carrying on with the fight in the APC, nobody knows. But I hope they find it imperative to settle within themselves and leave Saraki to face his job. They should allow the National Assembly to function because we don’t need a divided government.