Friday, 8 September 2017

Why People think I am fronting for Obasanjo & IBB—Jimoh Ibrahim + Why Nigerians are cursed with Private jets

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Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim (OFR) Who is he fronting for? IBB or OBJ?
In the continuation of the exclusive interview Ovation Magazine had with self acclaimed turnaround magnate, Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim (OFR) he discussed about the issue of his fight with former Ondo state governor, Dr. Segun Mimiko, his relationship with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Muhammadu Buhari and some other politicians in the country. The Harvard trained tax expert spoke about his humble beginning in Igbotako town—Ondo State (South West Nigeria) and why he is investing big in the Nigeria media business sector. Asabeafrika brings you more of his chat with Ovation magazine in full details. Enjoy the excerpts
 You had this famous altercation with the Governor of your state, Gov. Olusegun Mimiko what is the relationship with him like now.
Chief Jimoh Ibrahim, the 'turnaround' guru of our time?

I think that incident has come and gone. The Governor (now out of power) is my friend and it was not something serious. It was overblown by the Commissioner for Information. The Governor was with me at the airport, and he was asking for my mum during the kidnapping episode.
Ex-Ondo Governor Segun Mimiko with wife, Folake
Then I told him, “Look, you cannot ask for my mum at the Airport. If your mum was kidnapped, I will close down my activities until you recover your mum. I will personally go out and search until your mum is back. When she returns, I will pay a visit because this is a mother that knows you and they (including my father) are with the Labor Party”. Though, I am with the PDP, It was nothing serious and the governor appreciated it and he was worried. Civil servants know to blow things out of proportion and they have forgotten that I am a Publisher. By the time they were writing their press release, they blew it out of proportion and before I knew it, my boys too had replied them.
How would you assess his performance so far?
The Governor is my friend and I cannot assess his performance because I have not had the opportunity to visit him and take him on concerning his projects.
There is this talk in town that you want to be Governor of Ondo state
Well, that is certain.  It is not a talk.
But he is your friend, what if he has a candidate
Ex-Ondo State Governor, Segun Mimiko, Jimoh Ibrahim's friend turned foe

I am a young man and there is not a definite time but I am certain that I will run for Governor of Ondo state. Only God knows the time (He ran last year and lost out). As far as I am concerned, my desire is to fix things properly in that state and I want to do it as soon as possible.
What are the things you wish you can do for a state like Ondo if you have the opportunity
Jimoh Ibrahim....Adjust his thinking cap for 'turnaround' exploits
Number one, you have to make Ondo State financially sufficient, I will start from tax. You have to entirely eliminate any form of tax. I am a tax expert and a tax graduate of Harvard University. The next thing is to eliminate both the company income tax and personal income tax- it is called tax integration. You either do partial integration or full integration. Partial integration means that you will eliminate either personal income tax or company income tax. The State does not have control over company income tax, what we do is personal income tax, which is PAYEE. If I am the Governor, I will cancel it the day I am sworn-in.
Jimoh Ibrahim....Always thinking of how to turn around dead companies and make more people rich?
The best way to do it is to go through the hard road. We will sit down and design financial models for the State. You could set up Ondo oil, and then make sure every local government is involved in that venture. It is clear that you are having entirely generating revenue which is enough to pay salaries and show concern for development instead of relying on Abuja, so we need to stop all these cap-in-hand way of doing things.
What is development levy? How much are you generating from development levy when you compare it to the project you want to do? Right now, I advise the Federal Government, this is not the right time to use tax to run the economy. Do not continue to say that you make your money from tax. How can you make money from tax? That means you are milking the people because we have recession all over the world today. In America when you employ somebody, they give you a tax credit so why are you now saying they must kill a company because they are not paying tax?
Jimoh the tax expert....Would have cancelled PAYE tax in Ondo if he became Governor
This is a difficult time and you see, if the companies are alive, they will pay tax forever. So, if you kill them, they will not pay anything. These are the issues and when we get to Ondo, there are 27 ideas of generating money that I have in my notes here. I have given you just two. Ondo is a very rich state when we get there, we will unveil all these things and then the money will start rolling in. we have the mental capacity, the experience  and expertise to make Ondo work in the most creative and unique way without inconveniencing the people, money must come from development engagement. Look at the University at Akungba, it can be self sustaining. I told University of Ife, that you are complaining you are cash-strapped, if we create a server and you make every graduate of the University to be hooked on it and then make them have personalized email for a small charge of say N100, you would generate millions easily. I for example would like to have You can even put class 91. So, for me to buy this email address from University of Ife, I would pay N100; now multiply N100 by the number of people that have graduated from the University since 60 years ago.
Jimoh Ibrahim....The man who loves graduates and hates illiterates
Currently, if they have 16,000 students, if we multiply it by N100, we would get 160 million. You are saying the University is not rich; you are waiting for the government to come and do something. That is just for one email, you can imagine what university branding items can bring to its purse. Things like engraving the University logo in the ring at graduation and then let the ring be 18 carat gold and then put the name of the student inside the ring and year of Graduation and the course of study during graduation. It is like having your certificate inside your ring. They do that at Harvard, I do not know why it is difficult for us to do it in Nigeria.
Why your sudden interest in the media
The 'Turnaround' expert showing one of his success stories 'Newswatch Magazine'
It was not sudden; we had a policy in 2007 after our encounter with NICON that 25 per cent of our group balance sheet will be invested in the Media. If the group is worth 1billion, 250 Million must be invested in the Media. That is our decision and that is what we are doing. We have not even reached 10 per cent of the balance sheet; we still have room to accommodate more.
I understand that you also bought sketch, is it a rumor
Well, I do not know about that. What is not in my hands, I cannot claim that I have bought it.
Okay, so it is just a rumor
I do not know anything about it. Maybe, it is a rumor or not, just wait, in time, you would know.
I just want you to clarify
Ovation's Michael Effiong searches Jimoh Ibrahim's heart
I cannot say anything about that, I am sorry. When the time comes, you will know. We have changed Newswatch, we are doing a good job with Mirror and I Know we are going to have other media investments.
Sketch is technically dead which meets your investment criteria
Sketch qualifies as one of those things I am interested in but I cannot tell you that I have bought it at this time.
Okay, have you heard the rumour that you are fronting for former President Olusegun Obansanjo
Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo....Many thinks  Jimoh is fronting for him
Well, there are lots of rumours that I have heard. It is not about Obansanjo alone. I have been a Millionaire before I met Obansanjo. I think the first rumour then was that I was fronting for Abacha, later it was Buhari, when he came to my home town and spent 4 days. They said, ‘oh’. After that one, it was Babangiga, because I can bear Ibrahim (laughs) and I have never seen Babangiga in my life time. The last one I heard was that of Obansanjo. In one day, there was a drama.
Ex-Military Ruler, Ibrahim Babangida with late wife, Maryam. He shares 'Ibrahim' with Jimoh Ibrahim
One of the magazines had published that they had discovered that Obansanjo is the mystery investor that I was fronting for. So that day, I had gone to the villa for a meeting, so after dinner, Baba said to me “Jimoh, they said you are fronting for me o, where is my money?” I said, “Baba, I think that you yourself can front for yourself”. Obansanjo has children that make first class from Cambridge, Seun made a first class honours, Gbenga made a first class, Iyabo made a second class upper in Veterinary Medicine. So, these people cannot help their father, if he need help, it should be Jimoh Ibrahim from Igbotako?.
President Muhammadu Ibrahim....Once slept at Jimoh Ibrahim's house for 4 days
If you ask me to front for you I will chop your money, because I can’t front for you and give you the money. If i am fronting for you, I will have my private jet, I have my own house in the Bishop’s Avenue, you that is the owner of the money, where is your own? Lazy people do not see the power of reasoning and intellectual capacity. I have said it that the money of this world belong to those who are educated. People with ideas. Any illiterate that is rich is holding his money in trust for the educated one to come and collect.
Sir, you just mentioned a bit now about your upbringing, how did your upbringing shape you for the challenges that you are facing today
Jimoh Ibrahim....The boy from Igbotako
 I am from the village and you know what life in the village looks like. We eat together in a plate, about 10 to 15 people eating dinner. We have to go to the farm after school; we greet each other very freely. We are focused and resilient. The village has been a very good source of inspiration to many of us and we appreciate it that way. I do not lose touch, I enjoy being a village boy and I am still a village boy. Till today, I go to the village almost every weekend.
What kind of leader are you
  I am a level five leader.
What does that mean to the ordinary person?
 A servant who has seen it all, one who has graduated from a boss to a leader, at that leadership level, you become a servant. Because you are like a control tower for several years, but now, you are at the level where people will control you: That is the kind of leader that I am.
Who are the kind of people that interests you, the kind of people you are attracted to and what are the characters in people that you do not like.
Can anyone really think like Jimoh Ibrahim?
The only thing I want is for you to be intellectually capable. If you are not intellectually capable, you cannot be my friend. I cannot like anything in you. Why did you not go to school? Especially when you had the opportunity to go and you are now behaving like someone that went to school. If you go to school and you are a University graduate, you will be my friend forever. I will always like you and would have respect for you because I know that even if you are poor now, you will definitely make it. God have respect for the graduates more than the illiterates. God love graduates and hate illiterate, particularly illiteracy that is cause by self affliction. There are some genuine illiterates, fantastic people, we love them. They are those who did not have the opportunity to go to school and whose fathers could not afford to send them to school. They wished they went to school, but for someone who did not go to school and is behaving like he went to school; that is the problem.
How has the last two years been as a major investor in Nigeria? President Jonathan had said that all Nigerians should assess him, what is your assessment of this government
Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan....Gave Jimoh Ibrahim OFR title
The president cannot be wrong in all things in fairness. It has been a long time I saw Jonathan, but I can tell you one thing, he has not been disturbing the private sector. I am not saying I am assessing him or I am scoring him. I do not think he is interested in taking over people’s business or creating problems. I have not seen anyone complaining about that during this government and that is a credit to this government. We have a humble president but I think the president needs to make sure that he does not have issues with any of his constituencies. Leadership is a challenge, the country is a challenge and he needs to face the challenges. It is normal, it is not something that is extraordinary and if there is any problem at all, morally speaking, the rancor between him and Obasanjo must be settled because it is uncalled for. I have heard the President saying on one occasion when he just came in as president of Nigeria that it will be difficult to produce another Obasanjo.
Former President Umar Musa Yar 'Adua....Saved Jimoh Ibrahim from losing NICON Insurance to Northern Cabals
Because of the enormous level of the intelligence and the records that Obasanjo had set as president. So past leaders should be respected. I think Babanigida has paid his dues and nobody can rubbish him. Buhari has been a fantastic leader, whether you like it or not, he is a disciplined leader. I saw one of the State Council meetings and was surprised to see that Buhari was able to attend this function. I expect him to build more on that. He should steer clear of sycophants because he is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and there is no argument about that. A lot of leaders have come by, they are countless. Atiku, Azikiwe, Obansanjo, Legendary Awolowo, unblemished Nnamdi Azikiwe, we have many of them that were there and I think we should respect them. This country has produced impeccable leaders and our very wonderful Yar’adua. They have offered Nigeria one or two things, the only thing is just that everybody had one challenges or the other.
Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim with his former Editor now Lagos State Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde (L) with News of The People Magazine Publisher, Dr. Loye Amzat (R)
Even God had a challenge when he created the world. In Genesis, when God created man and everything, He decided due to the problem that man gave to him that He would destroy man. He destroyed the world, that was the time he told Noah to build an Ark and he destroyed everything on earth for 550 years. God went through-out that turbulence and that turbulence took God for 550 years. He destroyed all He created and started again. So, we are far away from that, we must face turbulence and  we must be calm to over come them. A leader should be calm in crisis.  The president uses good statements. I think we should unite to build the nation, so I think we should make carefully-worded statement and not war statements. Good statements build a nation. Nigeria is doing very well, remarkably well, a 50 years old country. You want to compare it to America of 1776. We are talking about centuries. This is a young country and it is promising and doing well. I am very proud to be Nigerian and I expect everyone to be like that. Let us take it easy, we cannot get there in one day, it will take some time.
You saw the new guidelines on private jet what is your opinion on these policy
Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim's private jet parked in the hanger at Kotoka Airport, Accra
There is no opinion, it does not concern me; my jet is America registered. If you did not want me to park in Nigeria I will go and park it in London or Ghana. What is so special about the guidelines? The thing is, we about 167 million people, the number of real jet  that can fly very well are, not the one that will be having problems are on air are than less than 20, in fact 15.
Out of these 15 jets those that were not bought with over draft facilities are less than 10, so others are refinanced. 167 million people, 20 jets, it is a curse to the nation. Is that what they have in other country in the world? Do you know that the number of private jets in Ghana now is almost getting to the number of private jets in Nigeria? And they are expanding the terminal for private jets; when they are supposed to be praying that their children buy private jets they are criticizing private jet owners, it is so strange to me.
One of 'Turnaround' expert Jimoh Ibrahim's success story, Air Nigeria
If you say one cannot carry your relations on your plane, no problem, you can park it in Ghana: you can board a plane from here to Ghana and you will carry your relations from Ghana to London. So i do not understand some of these regulations. Maybe they have their reason. For instance, when they said private jet pilot to declare their manifests, I agree with the government completely on that. There is no reason why we should carry people that the government will not know about or the control tower will not know about. Except you are doing something illegal, what will stop you from telling them who you are carrying? Government just wants to know who is inside the private jet and there is nothing bad about that. In fact, when you go with your private jet to other countries, they come and pick you at the tarmac. Owner of private are given special privilege in the world, you can fly Paris without a visa and just inform the authorities that you are coming with someone in the plane that does not have a visa and they will arrange it for you at the Airport.
The 'Turnaround' guru, Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim alighting from his private jet at Kotoka Airport, Accra
All they would need to do is to come and stamp the passport. If I have a business meeting today in Paris and my visa has expired, I will just phone the immigration there and ask for visa. If you are an individual and you buy a jet, whatever business you do to buy a jet and nobody stopped you from buying a jet, then it must be a genuine business. I see some pastors also flying private jets. I do not know whether their church members buy them fuel but there is nothing wrong in a pastor flying a jet. If a pastor has branches all over the world then it makes sense. Whosoever buys the fuel does not matter, it has to be maintained. Owing a private jet for me is not a luxury. People always term it a luxury. There are many places where we have our businesses and they do not have regular commercial flights. If you are going to Sao Tome without a private jet, you will spend four days to get there and you will go through four countries and you need their visas too. I must say however, that just 20 jets in a population of 167 million people is a curse.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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