Jonathan really shocked me with his ‘bad luck’— Prince Jide Adeniyi | + Untold story of “Mr. Poatson” @ 76

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The GDA meeting the Poatson Chairman @ His Anthony Village, Lagos Mansion

Prince Jide Adeniyi is one of Nigeria’s oldest socialites and a business veteran of repute. From an early age of his life, this Ikare-Akoko, Ondo state South West Nigeria born industrialist has learnt how to change his condition to follow suit with the various trend of life.
If there is one thing the Ikare-Akoko born Prince does well, it is his ability to think and do the right thing at the right time. From an early career as a young  broadcast engineer at  British Broadcasting Corporation owned Rediffussion Services of Nigeria, down to his experience as a military contractor with the Nigeria Army, media practitioner at Daily Times and art director at Academy Press down to a swelling career as an entertainment entrepreneur before vying into transportation business in the early 90s Jide Adeniyi has seen it all and if he cares to give out a memoir at a later date in life, it will not only be rich with facts but will make a lot of impact on ethics of thinking one’s way through to prosperity and success in a society like ours.
 A socialite per excellence, Prince Jide Adeniyi the founder of POATSON Group of Companies with interest in entertainment, light packaging, transportation and real estate is the father-in-law to African Hip-Pop Music star Tuface Idibia as his daughter, Pero Adeniyi is the first woman to give the Benue born music star his first three grown up kids.
 However, what many people don’t know about Prince Jide Adeniyi is his long time relationship with the Nigerian military establishment right from the civil war era down to the General Sani Abacha era when he ran into trouble with the junta recording a horrible experience that nearly took his life.
For the very first time in history, Prince Adeniyi revealed the secret of how he escaped General Sani Abacha’s gulag unscathed after six months of horrible experience inside an underground dungeon he shared with late Business Mogul and symbol of democracy, Basorun MKO Abiola. He gave the revelation during an encounter with your soar away Africa’s number 1 celebrity encounter blog Asabeafrika at the pent house session of his Anthony Village-Lagos mansion. Enjoy the excerpts
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika.....'It is only under a Goodluck Jonathan's government that a thief will be brazenly promoted to become a senator'
It appears to me that you have seen the good, the bad and the ugly times of Nigeria’s evolution. At this point in time, how do you feel about the country?
I feel good because if you want to talk of Nigeria today, we need to give glory to God because this country is loved by God Himself. From the beginning of 1940s, 50s, 60s, we have seen several ups and downs but yet God still stands with us. We went through the thick and thin of Biafra war; before Biafra war, we had all sorts of divisionary problems in our polity. The political turbulent of the first republic where people were fighting, burning houses, burning human beings etc, all these were prelude to the Biafran-Nigeria Civil War. And with the grace of God, we survived that but the irony of it all is that Nigerians will never learn because if we learnt so well from history, the so called Shagari political era wouldn’t have failed if only we learn how to govern ourselves and then, try as much as possible to create room for the ordinary people. Instead, our politicians or political leaders want people to hero-worship them when they get into power. Weather in business or in politics, you always wants people to see you as a mini-god that is the problem of this country. The Shagari era that was supposed to learn from the mistakes of the first republic was later dethroned by the General Muhammad Buhari regime and he (Buhari) ruled within twenty months and we were able to pay our debt and that government was able to put Nigeria in a better stead. 
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika....'I wonder how a boy like Goodluck Jonathan from a wretched background feel good seeing Nigeria going aground with the poor in a precarious situation'
All over the world, we gained credibility in the area of ethics and discipline. But again, I remember the excuses critics gave against Buhari, they said he was using all the economy resources to pay debt. And I can remember at the time, (General) Babangida claimed that even Britain and America owe debts. I am quoting him now, that German government owes debt and so, why should Nigeria not owe debt? That Buhari did not give room for development and that with his passion to pay off debts, Nigeria cannot move forward. Anyway, it was a very simple coup and we thank God General Buhari’s life was spared. As at that time, his deputy (Tunde) Idiagbon was in Mecca. The situation in the military government at the time gave no room for religiosity. There was nothing like Christian or Muslim. Your ascension to power depends on your popularity in the society of the army. And that was how the next coup was conceived and won. The gentle man, smiling President Babangida, nice man, he was able to do all he can by moving the Federal Capital Territory from Dodan Barracks, Lagos to Abuja (Aso Rock) in the Federal Capital Territory. He beautified and built Abuja because the so called civilian regime of Shehu Shagari did not do anything tangible. Because that is always the case with civilian regimes, once they are there, they forget the people and start allocating resources to themselves. They make it a colleague and associates thing and that is still the bane of development in Africa and particularly in Nigeria till date. The civilian regimes are always talking of party, party, party in stead of the people.
Prince Jide Adeniyi, Founder, Poatson Group of Companies
“But from the little we desire from government, some people in government are still looting it. If somebody could tell me that someone like Jonathan and his group can destroy the economy of this country I will say rather, no. Because he came from a background of poverty”

You saw some of these regimes from Tafawa Balewa  downto Abdulsalami before the 1999 return to democratic rule, which one is the best regime in your own view?
 IBB created a new & better capital for Nigeria
Among all of them, I will give kudos to Buhari. His regime as a military head of state was the best. Yes, Murithala Mohammed tried but he didn’t stay long because he was there for six months. We could judge Buhari’s experiment because he started on a good note but they cut him short. So, I think the meaningful government that we have in the past is Buhari then Babangida.
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika....'IBB is the Architect of FCT, Abuja'
Why would you mention Babangida. Till date, opinions abound that his era instituted corruption. Why are you giving him kudos?
That is very wrong. It is totally wrong because we all knew what the NPN party did to the economy of this country; you saw what they did when they were building Abuja; all the houses are ramshackle buildings. Some of those buildings are still there in Area 1, Area 4 and places like that, rubbish buildings built by the administration of the civilian regime of Shagari. They don’t add beauty to whatever they are doing but Babangida came and built Aso Rock, he built so many roads, he built all those beautiful places in Abuja and he invited big firms and top investment companies to invest in Nigeria.
“So, I don’t know somebody who went through that same experience can get to Aso Rock and the entire country is coming upside down and he is feeling comfortable. That comfort that he (Jonathan) is enjoying is what I do not understand……And when they say somebody steals in your government, that person gets promoted and become a senator. That kind of attitude I don’t know. I keep asking myself ‘God why?”
(Cuts in) Are you trying to say IBB is the father of modern economy?
He is the foundation; he is the harbinger of modern Abuja. He is the one who created Abuja and who made it what it is today, although the place was discovered by Gowon’s government but IBB was the one who achieved the dream of building that city. We should give honor to whom honor is due, he has done that. I am not saying he is the best but he did very well and he had time because he stayed long and he was there for over eight years and nobody complained that much because he was doing what everybody can see.
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika...'Having a Rediffussion box at a strategic part of your house in those days was a status symbol'
Jonathan shocked me with his badluck
But IBB was seen as the evil genius who did many things for many reasons?
(Cuts in), Gbenga, you see the citizens of Nigeria don’t really complain. They need very little from the government; it is only selfishness and wickedness that has made things gone badly to this level. We don’t need so much, just give us good roads, give us light; give us water and good health system including security; Nigerians will keep on dancing along. We don’t need too much, we don’t ask for too much. But from the little we desire from government, some people in government are still looting it. If somebody could tell me that someone like Jonathan and his group can destroy the economy of this country I will say rather, no. Because he came from a background of poverty
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika....'Right now we are clapping for Jonathan for his democratic act, we shall know if we could increase the tempo or stop clapping when Buhari starts governing in June'
(Cuts in) A humble background
Not humble. I don’t call that humble, he came from abject poverty life. A wretched life, he came out of nobody and God was with him and he got to where he is now and he forgets about God, that is the problem. When you are too comfortable; most of the people that seeks comfort, when they are comfortable, they don’t talk about God anymore and they don’t remember where they are coming from and it is so unfortunate that he (Jonathan) has to go like that.
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika....'In our own days, men have shame'
You mean in a disgraceful manner?
He has not been disgraced until this man (Buhari) comes on board, when everything will be unveiled then we will know where we are heading to. Right now he (Jonathan) is a gentle man, he is going away. Let’s begin to clap. When they (New Government) now get into the office and look at the situation then we will know if we want to withdraw our applause or increase the tempo. It is just unfortunate for us that the country that needs very little in the midst of plenty cannot see the little they demanded for and somebody is swimming in million and trillion of dollars not even Naira at the detriment of the masses of this nation. The roads are bad, if PHCN can be giving we private citizens light at least to sleep in the night and let industries have light in the day, let every other light come in the night, Nigeria will not be like this. Because we are very, very industrious and contented people, this country can live happily with maximum satisfaction on very meager situation. But the government of the day chooses to be greedy with even the little the people desire to live a decent life.
“Then you pay Five Shilling to register yourself, the government will do the re-wiring and bring the box to you and you will put it in an eye-catching place so that people going on the street can see and hear that you have such a thing in your house”
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika...'We thank God that even though Buhari was sacked after 20 months in power, his life was spared to return to finish his work'
Men had shame in the olden days
What was life like in the early times of your life, did you ever imagined things could get worse to this end?
I can tell you when I was very young, I saw Nigeria as a very, very promising country; back to 1958-59 Nigerians were enjoying their style of life. With the little you have, you could plan your life with your family and we honored ourselves. We dignified ourselves in those days. We don’t go all around the place showing off; do you know if a man is accosted by the police and he was taken to the police custody during that time, everybody that hears about it will make it an issue and that stigma stays with you; they will say ‘that man just returned from the police’s gulag’ not to talk of somebody who got drunk and rode his bicycle into gutter, next tomorrow, you will hear them say ‘ah, omuti ni’ (That man is a drunkard) and because men had shame in those days there was a modicum of respect for everyone. Every home kept a flame of integrity on because you don’t want to do a thing that will earn you a bad name so that you don’t put a stigma on your family. Life was moderately planned and enjoyable. In fact, not even many houses have light in those days. In those days, they use either lamp and in some villages they use what we call “Fitila” or lantern and gas light. For music, you don’t have all these home theatres, what we had then was gramophone which you wine-up and play. And people going on the road will stop and dance. So, I remember all those beautiful days. And in those days, we all didn’t have shoes like the man in the state house (Jonathan) said he had no shoes. How many Nigerians had shoes?
Prince Jide Adeniyi with best friend, Otunba Jide Oshinubi
I had no shoes like Jonathan…
So, you didn’t have shoes as well?
No, I didn’t go to school with shoes. I started having shoes in Standard 2 and Standard 3 when I started wearing Tennis and when I finished Primary school I had what is called “e standby”. It is a kind of funny sandal that was reigning at the time and you had only one which you wear on Christmas day or during a big celebration. Even eating rice as a meal was so special at that time, you will be privileged to eat rice maybe if you are living with the Head Master or you are living with an important dignitary and you eat rice on Sundays. And nobody complained then, we were contented because you don’t want to answer bad name. So, I don’t know somebody who went through that same experience can get to Aso Rock and the entire country is coming upside down and he is feeling comfortable. That comfort that he (Jonathan) is enjoying is what I do not understand. Somebody is stealing, the newspapers cry out the next day, everybody is talking and instead, you said ‘go and shot down that press’. And when they say somebody steals in your government, that person gets promoted and become a senator. That kind of attitude I don’t know. I keep asking myself ‘God why?’
Prince Jide Adeniyi, Founder Poatson Group
Are you regretting that you are seeing this bad episode in your life time?
I don’t regret anything that I am not part of, I have not been part of failure. So, I can never, never start to regret and kill myself over things I don’t get involve in; you see the situation of this country is bad and those who are doing all these things to us, God will not kill them but they will live to regret what they have done.  That is my prayer for them.
L-R; Otunba Jide Oshinubi, Gbenga Dan Asabe & Prince Jide Adeniyi
The untold story of my Life
Tell us how you started your life?
Success in life is based on seriousness and hard work. If you are determined to succeed and the road is open, maintain it seriously. When we were coming up there was no favoritism. And that was what helped us to be successful. Your merit counted. I can tell you how many printing presses we had in Nigeria when I started. I happen to become a printer because in my youth days, I love art and I do painting by myself and I encouraged other people to stay with me. I can draw you as you are sitting now and make a great impression of your posture. I started this as far back as 1953. So, I love things like that. When I finished Primary School I moved to Secondary School and by 1958 I was out of Secondary school. I asked myself what I should do with my life; so, I secured a job at Rediffusion, it is a broadcasting outfit that supplies news to various homes direct from BBC. The wire comes from Ebute Meta to your house anywhere in Lagos, inside Lagos. The only prime areas at the time were Ikeja, Agege and you have Surulere, you have Yaba and you have Ebute Meta, Apapa and inside Lagos. Rediffussion as a device is a box, a plywood box with a sticker inside. Then you pay Five Shilling to register yourself, the government will do the re-wiring and bring the box to you and you will put it in an eye-catching place so that people going on the street can see and hear that you have such a thing in your house.
The Prince with his old friends, Alhaji Sakiru Animashaun (L) with Otunba Jide Osinubi (M)
(Cuts in) Was it a status symbol?
Not about status symbol it is just an act of being your brother’s keeper by keeping your Rediffussion box in such an auspicious corner of your house so that when you are going and you hear “Dindin dede dindin—de-den-dede” (Sound of drum beat signifying news hour) you can jump down from your bike and listen to the news. That was the level of openness and brotherliness in those days; the news was not read in Nigeria, the news is being read in BBC in London and their machine will collect the signal and through the transmitter it will transfer the information into those boxes. When you have that in your house, you are a big man. So, to some certain level it was a status symbol. There are two types, there is one called Deluxe that one is big, and every month you pay 5 shillings for ordinary one and for Deluxe you pay 7&6 shillings. So, the box is in your house. I was employed at Oke-Are in Ibadan. Then I was transferred to Akure, from Akure to my home town (Ikare). We were trained at Oshogbo from where I was transferred to Ilesa.  The situation in Ilesa is that I am an operator, I have my headphone, if you plug into the receiver engine, you here the London broadcasting corporation, if the program being relayed is part of your signal or scheduled for West Africa or Nigeria, you pull out and plugged for general receivership and everybody hears it; the receiver box is like a big fridge box size. Occasionally if I have information to relay to viewers concerning in-coming programs that you want people to listen to, I talk. I may talk in pidgin, English or local dialect so that the information can go mass. We also had a lot of people who bring their programs for slotting, they are like content providers. Programs like Storylines and plays. At Oke-Are there, we had a studio, so, we had Variety Show, and it is always coming at 1:30pm on Sundays. That is where you bring in some Nigerian artistes, some good singers, some good story tellers and comedians. We had several comedians those days and I really enjoyed the experience as a foundation member. I was transferred from Ilesa to Akure and from Akure to Ikare which is my town and came back to Ijebu. I worked in all the interior part of Ijebu. By 1960, we got our independence and I practiced for a while before I left because I wanted to further my education. I always wanted to go back to school, even if i cannot go back to the university; I wanted to improve my knowledge.
Prince Jide Adeniyi to Asabeafrika....'Every democratic dispensation in Nigeria never learn from the ills of history'
 I later joined Niger-Soul Construction Company it is an Israelite company, they are the ones who built Textile Mills on Oba-Akran Avenue in Ikeja. I was in charge of their earth equipments that is roller, grader, dumper, concrete maker and all that, I was in charge and I kept the record of how many hours each equipment served in a day. From that point I gained admission to study at Yaba Technical Institute which is now known as Yaba College of Technology. There I went to study for my profession, arts. After that I looked for work and I wanted to relocate from Nigeria to England which I did and I was in England for so many years where I enrolled at the College of Printing. From that point, I got myself well educated and went into printing and on returning I joined Daily Times. There I was taken to Apapa, Bumer Road where they had a big property where they operate Times Press. I was there for two years from where I moved to National Cash Registry (NCR) it is an American company with office at the beginning of Bumer Road. The man who employed me there Mr. Bosen an American died in the first Nigerian plane crash in 1967. From there I moved to Academy Press and from Academy Press, I resigned to start my own company.
Why the resignation at that period after working almost everywhere?
Yes, during the civil war era I was very, very open when Babangida, Buhari were young officers and Captains, Lieutenants, one of my juniors in Primary School, General Alani Akinrinade, we grew up together in the army then, they helped me a lot…
The encounter with Asabeafrika taking place amidst friends at the Pent House session of Prince Jide Adeniyi's Lagos mansion
My role in the Nigerian Civil War
(Cuts in) Oh, you were equally in the army?  
No, I wasn’t in the army. I was just there as a contractor. I was introducing new ideas.

(Watch out for Part 2 of the Prince Jide Adeniyi Exclusive titled “How Abacha Ruined My Business” coming on this blog tomorrow. Kindly re-visit)

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