Pastor Bassey James is the Senior Pastor of Royal House of Faith Ministry, Lekki, Lagos. He is the Chancellor of Akpabiosm Centre, a magnificent building located along airport Road Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. He is a security consultant and a member of Association of Security Practitioners of Nigeria.
At the weekend, he paid an unscheduled advocacy visit to the Publisher of Radar newspaper, Otuekong Franklyn Isong and members of the paper’s editorial team at the paper’s Corporate Office in Uyo, to talk about his planned National Youths Impact Conference. He also fielded questions on several other state and national issues.
Welcome to our office, we simple know you as Akpabioism. Please can you tell us more about yourself and what you do?
Akpabioism is one of the products that we market; I am Pastor Bassey James, Senior Pastor of Royal House of Faith Ministry, Lekki, Lagos. I am married and I am from Ikot Ntot in Mkpat Enin LGA. I studied criminology and by the grace of God, I am a security consultancy. I run a business. I do more of communication security and strategic management.
You are from Akwa Ibom State and you have been on and off the state, can you assess the development strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel under his one year in office?
I am so proud that we have a man of his calibre, and of great intellectual power and strength. I want to thank God for His Excellency; I think that Akwa Ibom state is so blessed to have him as a governor at this time. The governor has rebranded, remolded and re-engineered the consciousness of our people. He laid a foundation for industrialization of our state, so I score him close to 99 percent. That is not because I am biased; of course, you know the governor is from my own senatorial district (Eket senatorial district). I supported him. Beyond that; Akwa Ibom is blessed to have a banker as a governor. He understands the economy and the management policy. He understands the world economy; minus and pluses of the nation economy and the state economy.
This is the governor that has been able to manage the resources with what we have; he has been able to show Akwa Ibom the way to go. I believe in the next two years, Akwa Ibom state will be an industrial haven. Some of the projects the governor is doing today are fantastic projects that will add value to the people of Akwa Ibom state and also bring massive development to the state.
As a biasness man, I believe this is the best period for business people to take advantage of what the governor is doing. I am proud to be an Akwa Ibom state indigene at this time the governor has given us hope for a better tomorrow, so we have to support and encourage him. I have decided to bring in some partners from across the world to join our companies: Basco Nigeria Limited; Telecom Masters Limited and Rebacon Manics Limited to build what I call the ‘First International Market’ along the airport road in the next few months. I believe in the next few months, the governor will lay the foundation for what will be the first international market along that area. We are also working to put up a hotel facility along that airport road. A lot of things are going to happen because this is the governor that has given us the directions.
You have poured so many encomiums on the governor; in terms of figure from one to hundred, what would be your score of his performance?
If I want to score the governor, I can tell you from what is on ground, because one thing in business development is not all about what you see on ground because, no industry can be set up within days or weeks, it takes process. I can score the governor above 90 percent, not because of the industry that we have not seen but, because of the projects on ground. You know the process of building an industry like the Coconut Refinery that is coming up in Mkpat Enin; you need to clear the land, build the structures, and encourage the people to do business.
Like the Metering Company that is coming up in ONNA LGA, almost every LGA has something to show for the Udom Emanuel’s government. And don’t forget, I am one of the few persons that hosted the governor. I hosted him in a business and international development project in Lagos. I brought in about eight Professors that spoke on the business prospects of Akwa Ibom state, vis-à-vis the governor Udom Emmanuel’s government that was coming to rule the state and we moved to Abuja, where I hosted the governor in Sheraton Hotel few months to his emergence as the governor of the state. I think, I am the only person that has done that from Akwa Ibom state. And we were very clear on our discussion that Akwa Ibom state must make profit. For Akwa Ibom State to make profit we must have a man who understands economy; we must have a man who understand banking; we must have a man who understands industrial revolution. We are too close to 100 percent, because of what the governor is doing, again not because the governor is from my area, No! I am just being fair because, as a business man from the age of 19, I know what it takes to build a business empire. I am just being proud that he is bringing in a lot of value to the people of Akwa Ibom State.
You have spoken so well of governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, however, as a security expert, would you also assess the security situation of the country vis-à-vis the Niger Delta crisis, the Boko Haram, and the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) uprising which could affect the fate of any growing economy?
Yes, it is so unfortunate that we are in this situation but, I can tell you that there is no country in the world that is absolutely free from issues of security. As a criminologist we studied things that have to do with crime. You know the issue of crime is an international phenomenon which every part of the world is trying to contain with, but for Boko Haram, we are praying that they have to understand that killing people is of no value. For our brothers in Niger Delta, Biafra and all that, there is no amount of pressure you can mount on government by destroying national asserts and killing people that will make any sense. You cannot achieve anything by killing people, so we are pleading and begging our brothers to lay down their arms and come to the negotiating table for dialogue, that is why, I am trying to put up what I call “National Youth Impact Conference” so that we can create an avenue for brothers to talk. We must sit down to discuss the future of Nigeria. The future of Nigeria is not in killing people, it is not in kidnapping or destroying government facilities. We are not kidnappers; we are not violent people. So we must be able to come together to re-assess our potentials. There is so much to gain. I grew up in Idumota axis of Lagos where everybody is a business man; people in that area are 99 percent business people. We must cultivate that habit of discussing together and charting a new course for youths in Nigeria, there is no amount of killing that will bring development. We must discuss the issue of peace, unity, togetherness and love for one another.
Talking about National Youths Impact Confab, can you give more insight into the event, what are the issues for discussion?
The issue of the confab is that the youths must sit down to talk about is the unity of Nigeria; you cannot shy away from that. Nigeria can achieve so much when we are united. And we talk about love for our brothers and sisters. We are going to talk about empowerment. We are going to discuss strategic issues that have to do with business and enterprise. There is so much gain in this country; there is so much wealth in the Nigeria that we need to tap. If you come to the south, there is crude oil; if you go to the north there is something there; there is no part of Nigeria that does not have something. There is no part of Nigeria that is not productive; no part of Nigeria that is not blessed with natural and human resources. So we want to see how we can pull our resources together and chart a new course for the youths of Nigeria. I want us to talk about Nigerian youths, not Akwa Ibom youths, nor Biafrian youths. We must be able to come together. It’s Nigerian youths coming together to chart a new course. We don’t want our enemies to come and use us. We don’t want our youths to go and break pipelines, national assets. We don’t want that. We believe that Nigeria has so much to offer us and we have so much to offer Nigeria, if we come together. The enemy has done so much to divide and to destroy us, but I am praying that God should use us to see how we can build bridge of hope; bridge of understanding and bridge of trust among our young men and women. I want to see how we can build a bridge from Abuja to Sokoto, to Makurdi to Lagos to Akwa Ibom to Enugu and so on.
And the conference will take place first in Abuja, we expect at least the 100 most powerful people in Nigeria. We are going to bring in people from the media, academia, banking sector, leadership. I mean people from all sectors of the economy. People will come to talk about the benefits of coming together, talking together and relating together. So this is what I am trying to do. I think this is the first of its kind in this country, so we are reaching out to everybody. I believe by the grace of God that we should be able to put 100 most powerful Nigerians on the table that will discuss to the youths in the North, South, East, and West. And talking together has so much advantage. If you watch Nigeria playing football with another country, you see the people being happy when Nigeria scores in the match. We want our brothers in the North to know that we are brothers and we speak the language of love together. We want an Hausa man, Igbo man, a Yoruba man, a South-South man to sit on the same table and share the common destiny called; “Nigeria.” We must come together. That is the focus of the National Youths Impact Conference.
This is a very nice Confab. The idea of dialogue is good for the country, but my worry is, how are you going to get your delegates to the conference?
The conference is going to have an open invitation to all our brothers and sisters and it is free. We are not asking anybody to sponsor it. Of course, no money is involved, no sponsorship, just come and talk. But as you enter the room to discuss, you must have one thing in your mind that Nigeria is in us and we are Nigerians. Every Nigeria youth must have one direction. Not people labeling Nigerian youths as criminals. We are not criminals, so it’s free to everybody and I can assure you that thousands and millions of people will benefit from this. We are going to print pamphlets, posters, hand bills and we will reach out to everyone that cares to listen to us to tell them that this is our country and destiny; this is our life. And we must de-emphasis on the issue of violence; we must de-emphasis on the issue of self-destruction. Because each time you harm your own brother, you harm yourself. So we are prepared to be used by God to chart a new course for the Nigerian youths.
What informed the choice of your venue to be Abuja as take off, why not somewhere like the south south area where we have the volatile youths or the north East or south west, why Abuja?
You know, Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory. We want to kick-start the project in Abuja, so that we will now zero it down to the zones. For instance, in the East, the conference will later take place in Enugu, in the West it will take place in Lagos; in the south it will be in Uyo and in the North it will be in Kaduna which is the heart of the North. So we hold it there. It’s not a political arrangement were we have to do it North, East, South and West, but you know, we have zeroed it down to four areas and Abuja. I think the right thing to do is to start the conference in Abuja, because we will talk about national security, development, issue of empowerment, and we talk about the issue of unity. Abuja is the centre of unity. Abuja holds Nigeria, Abuja is the capital of Nigeria, so we must come to talk and spread the love across the regions of our great country.
Another issue we would still bring up is the issue of sponsorship. As soon as the issue goes on air, people will start looking at sponsorship. Who are behind the event? So what are you eyeing political in 2019? Do you want to use this as a means to launch out for political office either, for presidency, governorship, senate and so on?
I am entitled to contest any position. I am a Nigerian, but I don’t have the gift of politicking. I don’t have the grace for politics. I am a strategist, I’m a thinker. I am a man that believes in the unity of Nigeria, but nevertheless, I know so many people from Mkpat Enin have started getting worried since 2012, a lot of people were thinking, I am going to contest for local government chairman, or House of Assembly. Some say Federal House. But I can assure you the only position, I cannot win is governorship. Apart from senate, I can contest and win even on zero party bases. I am very popular. I worked with Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu for eight years, so I know politics very well but, I don’t like politics. I am a man that prefers to work behind the scene. I like to generate interest for people. I like issues of development; I like issues that have to do with capacity development, empowerment, strategy and all that. So there is no need for anybody to be worried, of course, you know, I won’t contest for presidency, governorship. I won’t even contest for any office. But I understand everything that has to do with politics, but I don’t have the grace and the gift to go into politics. Of course, you know, I am a Pastor. I love my ministry; I can’t even imagine myself not preaching in my ministry for one month. If I don’t preach for one full month, I will not be myself. You know, politics is not my calling; my calling is the ministry of God, but I am also very active in Business.
Some days ago, you built and donated a well-furnished Police Station to the Nigerian Police Force, Akwa Ibom state command along the airport road, how do you get your funding?
I started business at the age nineteen. I incorporated these three companies: Bascon Nigerian Limited; Telecom Masters Ltd; and Rebacon Manics Ltd. So I have seen everything and you know as I an Ajegunle boy. I grew up in Ajegunle, I had trekked; I had suffered; I had engaged myself in so many activities that energises me to do so much, but I thank God that I am one of those people that you cannot just see anywhere; be it political gathering or politician’s house, just like, I do not sponsor myself, God sponsors me and gives me the grace to sponsor what I am doing. I think Bascon Company is doing great in terms of support to so many groups and by the grace of God; we have been able to do our best. For example, the National Youths Impact Conference we are not asking anybody to contribute a kobo. We are not asking for money, you see everything is not about money. The most important thing in a man’s life is not money but, the ability to think and develop a mental power. Strategy is so important, the Bible says; ‘once there is a Will there is a Way.’ Every day of my life, I spend three hours every night thinking and no matter what I do, I must wake up by 3am, pick up a paper and think because, when you look at your background, you must be able to develop yourself. Thinking is a very import strategy. Thinkers are the ones that rule the world. Look at the young man who brought Facebook and the one who brought Computer, and so many other inventors are not millionaires but thinkers. So, I am in that family of great thinkers. So I believe there is always a way for successful people if you think; if you think; if you read and if you relate with people.
And God has also exposed me to having contacts with so many powerful people because, I am a humble man. Whenever I have contact with any man, the first thing I want to study is his style of success and what makes him to succeed. You don’t go to people to look for money, anytime you want to do something, first do a study, like in the media, you must be focused, you must think, you have to develop your mental power and number one is God.
Though, you are not a politician, but from your discussion, you are vested with the political development in Nigeria, what is your take on the politics of imposition?
It is sad. It is not acceptable in modern political evolution. It is a tragedy. It is not worth talking about. I want to see a level of discuss amongst the Nigerian youths where people will not sit down in one corner and write peoples name for elective political offices in Nigeria. We cannot continue like this. Nigeria is a very big country and we have so many intelligent people. Let the space be opened for all to participate. That’s why I am happy that if we can zero our mind to three to four political parties but, we must be able to have two strong political parties that will checkmate each other. This is what we want to see in this country.
What is your view on thuggery?
This is why we are doing this conference. This conference will address the issue of thuggery. We will be able to expose the dangers of thuggery. That’s why we say youths against violence. Media houses are already writing opinions about what we are doing, even when, we have not yet started it. Because everybody has come to know and see that the Nigerian youths have been used for wrong purposes. Graduates, Masters Degree’s holders, go to hang around in politicians’ houses. We want to put something on the table, and give a timeline to say in the next two years what will a Commissioner for Agriculture do? In the next one year what will a Commissioner for Commerce do? What will a Minister of Finance do? We will talk to the Banks, because one of the problems of Nigerian youths is that they cannot access funds from the banks. When SURE-P came up I protested, I knew that it was a waste of human resources.
If they can pull about a hundred billion naira, bring in ten banks and give them a marching order that every young man coming should take money based on what they have on ground. If you have capacity for one million you go to a bank and collect to return in one or two years.
Nobody is doing that other than buying bicycle; buying Keke NAPEP, what kind of future will you have with bicycle. So if you give a graduate with Master’s Degree a Keke you have destroyed his life.
In the conference, we will say no, put something in the bank. Those who studied agriculture, they will go to Bank of Agriculture, those who studied Banking and Finance they will go to Bank of Commerce, those who studied Engineering they will go to Infrastructure Bank. Even these banks are not doing anything; we want to tell them, please we are not criminals, Nigerian youths are not criminals they are the best in the whole world. Can’t you see our young men are dying every day in the deserts? A young man came to me the other day and said he wants to travel to Europe, I said by what means, he want to use? He said he wants to cross Libya. I talk to him and said, you don’t need to leave Nigeria, there is so much in this country. But government at all levels must stop the issue of politicking and let’s begin to talk about development. Nobody is talking to the youths, apart from doing politics with the youths, whenever there is campaign that is when our leaders recognise the youths, after the campaign, nobody talks about the youths again, so we are saying no! We must have focus.
When is this National Youths Confab taking place?
Between October 27 to 29, we will be in Abuja, from Abuja, we will move to Lagos, from Lagos, we will go to Kaduna, from Kaduna, we will come to Akwa Ibom
All these will be between October and February 2017. We will complete all the conferences. And we will produce a blueprint and send to the National Assembly, and beg, that everything that is contained in there is how Nigeria can assist the youths. And so they should back it up with legislation.
In a nutshell, what prompted you to come to our Newspaper amongst the papers in the state?
This is another thing I want people to understand. It is not because you (referring to the publisher, Franklyn Isong) are my brother; I have seen something in you. I have followed you in the past two years. You are consistent in your conviction. I like men that have capacity. I like intelligent people. I like men that are focused. It is not about Radar newspaper. I have a newspaper before; it’s about you, Franklyn Isong.
“Martin Luther King talked about the content of character. It is the content of the character that I look at for. So, your newspaper has a drive and a good mission. You understand the minds of the people; you understand the market forces; you understand the people; and you have determination at the back of your mind.
“I see that you are a go-getter, not just in the media but, in whatever you set out to do; and I know that sooner than later, the world would be in your hand. So keep being focused; keep the drive.
“What makes people fail to succeed is hunger for money. Most people look for money and forget about the content. But once you have the content, money drives to your location.
“Once there is a brain and a good product, you become a good market for people to come after. But, if you have a bad good, no matter how you are hard working, you can’t sell it. So for you, you are a good market and Radar newspaper is a good brand; people will always come for your products. Congratulations.
Thank you for the visit Sir.