Among the gladiators that faced off during the recently concluded presidential elections in Nigeria and their support staff, Ohimai Amaize‘s name stands out. Ohimai, more popularly known as Mr Fix Nigeria, is an annoyingly staunch supporter of the former ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and while you may not agree with Ohimai’s approach, especially during that very aggressive campaign period, you cannot doubt his tenacity and commitment. This tenacity has no doubt played a vital role in thrusting the youngman to the sort of national prominence that has seen him speak on behalf of the then ruling party both nationally and internationally. Yvonne Chinyere Anoruo had a very telling exchange with him as you will read below:
You are married to Sunday Oliseh’s sister, Tessy, who also is a fashion designer, and you effortlessly model her designs. Is the business a joint venture between you two? Are you paid to model? (Be honest!)
(Laughs!) Well, Tessy is my wife. We complement each other. Everyday that passes since I got married to her, it becomes even clearer to me that a force beyond the ordinary brought us together. I was made for Tessy and she was made for me. Whatever I have belongs to us. Whatever she has belongs to us. So I don’t have to be paid to model her designs. For me, it comes naturally and it has become a way of life that we will pass on to our children and future generations of the Ohimai and Tessy family line.
So tell me, how did you meet her and would you say that your fame rubbed off on her business and influenced its success?
I met Tessy in 2011 while I was serving as the Special Assistant on Advocacy to former Minister of Youth Development and later Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi. It was at the launch of the first YouWIN business plan competition in Lagos. Before then, I had this friend, Tobi Sanni Daniel who is Ice Prince’s Business Manager. I worked with him while I was Campaign Manager for the Dele Momodu Presidential Campaign. Tobi always looked so well-dressed, stylish and fashionable that one day I had to ask, “who makes your clothes?” He said, “It’s one over-talented little girl. You should meet her.” So that was how Tobi connected me with Tessy, and the rest is history. One thing that attracted me to Tessy was her hard work and humility. By the time I met her in 2011, she had already won the Best Nigerian Fashion Designer Award at the Nigeria Fashion Show (NFS) in Paris, way back in 2006. Yet she had this unassuming aura of humility and calm around her compared to some of her contemporaries. Then, I almost forgot — she is God-fearing! My wife loves God and she doesn’t joke with the things of God.
Did you always imagine yourself actively participating in politics in Nigeria? At what point did you make the switch? Is politics something you do on a full-time basis now?
I never really liked politics. To me, politics was for rough, rugged and tough people who have no principles. I never imagined I could have taken such passionate interest in politics the way I have done in the past few years. The switch happened in 2012 while I was working with Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi at the Federal Ministry of Youth Development. I had just come out of a tough campaign experience as Nigeria’s youngest presidential campaign manager. I had had my fingers burnt with that experience. I had sour tales to tell. But thankfully, I learnt from Mallam Abdullahi that if one is really passionate about serving and bringing real change to their society, then public service is a critical platform to achieving that. So the question then arises: how do you get into public service? Politics still remains the most compelling platform for leadership recruitment into public service. Realizing this truth helped me develop more than passive interest in partisan politics. I still don’t see myself as a politician. I am a professional in politics: a techno-politician. Please excuse my coinage. (Laughs!)
Who are your influences and role models?
My number one role model is Jesus Christ. Everything I do or aspire to become in life is moderated directly or indirectly by my knowledge of the person, ministry and purpose of Jesus Christ. I strive everyday to be like Him in words, thoughts and actions. Then you have my late father, Mr. Alfred Amaize who taught me about delayed gratification and the benefit of integrity and hard-work. He was a Secondary School principal and it was from him I learnt that everywhere you are called upon to serve, you must leave that place better than you met it. He sacrificed everything to give his children the best education he could afford. I will never, never forget that. Then my mum: Mrs. Theresa Amaize. That woman loves her children to a fault and I am her last child. I doubt that I could have come this far without her prayers. She has taught me to be a praying parent. In politics, my role model is Barack Obama. His disarming oratory is something I never get to recover from. I have lines from Obama’s speeches in my head. My dream is to one day surpass his oratorical prowess. In style, allow me pay tribute to Sean Combs, the Bad Boy of entertainment. I follow him and have been greatly influenced by his sense of style and his ability to turn raw talents into gold. And then, more recently, you have Carl Lentz – the Pastor of Hillsong, New York, who defies popular convention about what a Pastor should look like. You can Google him. He has taken Christianity to another dynamic level as has not been seen anywhere in the world in recent times. He shares a lot with Sunday Ogidigbo, the pastor of my local assembly, Holyhill Church, who I also greatly admire for his depth and wisdom in managing people.
Please tell me: what is that one thing you wish everyone knew about you?
Many times, I feel like people don’t really know that behind the person they see on Twitter is a very harmless, soft-hearted, good-natured and kind human being. Some people say I am controversial because of what they have seen or heard me say via social media. But if you have shared my life’s experiences, you would probably understand why I speak the way I do sometimes. Still, we live in a world where we don’t always have the luxury of explaining ourselves before we take the decisions that people eventually decide to judge us with. That’s life.
Reports are that you are the “Pastor” of the Underground Gospel Night Club. How is that coming along? Why did you think it was necessary to start it?
The Underground became necessary because we discovered a void that needed to be filled and God sent us to fill that void. The Underground is now known as a place, a hangout where ‘un-churched’ people who have disconnected from the essence of church as we know it today, become reconnected to God in an atmosphere that is welcoming and not condemning. The way The Underground started makes it altogether clear that it is a divinely orchestrated vision whose time has come. In 2013, I was feeling so strongly about setting up a Gospel Nightclub when in the same week the thought dropped in my heart, my Pastor, Sunday Ogidigbo called to say he had received an instruction for us to start a Gospel Nightclub in Abuja. We never discussed it prior to this time. The rest is history now but we marked our one-year anniversary in January this year. We have been on break for a couple of months now. We are restructuring a few things and also putting plans together to secure a new place as our previous venue was becoming too small for our capacity. We will be back soon.
Your twitter handle: @MrFixNigeria which many say started from Facebook has gone on to become a very popular one in the Nigerian social media space. What were you looking to achieve with it? Can you categorically state that you have achieved that purpose and have contributed as best as possible to fixing Nigeria in the last few years?
It is actually interesting how I got the name Mr. Fix Nigeria. I did my national youth service assignment at the EFCC in Abuja. I was deployed to the Fix Nigeria Initiative unit of the commission. It is now called the Strategy and Re-Orientation Unit (SARU). I was so passionate about my work that colleagues in the office started calling me Mr. Fix Nigeria, and then the name stuck. Ever since, I have lived with that consciousness that anyone who bears the name, “Mr. Fix Nigeria”, must never be found doing anything capable of destroying Nigeria. The name has since become a way of life for me and my dream is that one-day, every Nigerian will begin to see themselves as a “Mr. Fix Nigeria.” Everywhere I have worked, I have lived by that principle of problem-solving: fixing things that are difficult. I may not be able to tell you that I have achieved my dream of fixing Nigeria, but I can tell you that everywhere my footsteps have touched, I strive to leave the footprints of a man who left that place better than he met it. Fixing Nigeria is a task for all Nigerians and it will remain a continuous process and a culture that will be handed down from generation to generation.
If you had your way and controlled the will of many Nigerians, former President Goodluck Jonathan would not have lost the last elections. What was your first reaction when you realised that he had lost especially after he made that concession call?
My reaction when President Jonathan made the concession call was simple: follow the leader. I congratulated President Buhari and the APC publicly within minutes after that. It’s not a do or die thing. We would have loved to win but they said we did not. Another day will come. President Buhari tried 3 times before he eventually got it. You have the example of Lincoln too. Everyone has his or her time and when that time comes factors will align and bring it to pass.
In as few lines as possible, tell us Nigerians what we have lost by not reelecting Jonathan?
I think we have lost a very democratic, humane and humble President. I think by not voting for Jonathan, we lost the opportunity to consolidate the gains in Agriculture, the unbundling of the power sector and the empowerment of young Nigerians through initiatives like YouWIN. We may have also lost a President who listens, who consults widely and knows that he alone does not know it all. I think we may have also lost the freedom of expression, as we knew it. I pray I am wrong, but time will tell.
You were very vocal during the last elections, rumoured to be at the centre of many controversies that arose during the period and even outright mudslinging. You were even said to have linked President Buhari to ISIS. Looking back at that election 3 months after, do you feel any regrets about your actions and statements during that period?
For the record, it is not I, Ohimai Godwin Amaize who linked Buhari to ISIS. It was Richard Grenell, ex-spokesperson to four former U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations. He is the longest serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations and he wrote an article where he linked Buhari to ISIS. The article was published in The Washington Times. Please Google it and confirm my side of the story. What is my own? Was it not on this same social media that Japheth Omojuwa called ex-President Jonathan a pig and my APC friends lost their voice? Did they condemn it? Why is Ohimai always trending in their mentions?
What do you think you could have done differently in terms of your approach?
Individually, nothing. Collectively, yes, there’s a lot we could have done differently. But I will leave that for another day.
How do the controversies and rumours swirling around you make you feel?
Was it Tuface who sang that: “If nobody talks about you, then you are nobody.” I guess that is the story of my life. I stopped worrying about haters long ago. I have learnt to invest my attention only on people who believe in me and in my dreams.
You most likely would have lost a good number of friends and allies in the period that led to the last elections especially those that were anti-PDP as it were. Tell me about it.
Well, I guess I lost only the fake friends (Laughs). The real friends are still here. They respect my views even when we disagree. They know that we can disagree without being disagreeable. They understand me and even make excuses for me. They know that Ohimai will never stick his neck out for what he does not believe in. They know that whatever Ohimai decides to do, he goes the 100% to get it done. I have a good number of them around as mentors, contemporaries and protégés. I don’t take my relationship with such friends for granted and even when I make the mistake of doing that, I am the first to reach out and say, “You know, I got it wrong.” Life is too short to carry these things on the head. Really, who knows tomorrow?
In the aftermath of the elections, how would you describe your relationship with people like Omojuwa, Ogundamisi, Gbenga Gold, D.Olusegun who were your core antagonists with very strong anti-PDP stance. Are you friends with them, offline especially?
I have only met Kayode Ogundamisi face-to-face once. We have never really been friends in the real sense of that word. But I am cool with him beyond the occasional sparks on Twitter. Whether he feels the same way about me is another matter entirely, but at my own end, I am cool. It is pretty much the same with Omojuwa who I have met a couple more times and interacted with. Interestingly, he was the first person who interviewed me when I was appointed Special Assistant on Advocacy to Mallam Abdullahi in 2011. He went on to say nice things about young people being encouraged to go into public service. That was how my path first crossed with his. Dada Olusegun, I have never met. But those who have met him say he is not someone to be taken seriously. I also have not met Gbenga Gold yet somehow, he managed to get me on his mailing list. I receive all sorts of propaganda mails from him. (Laughs!)
There were reports recently that you were appointed S.A. New Media to President Buhari, talk to me about this. Is the President Buhari-led APC government one you are willing to work for?
My decision on who to work for depends more on what God is telling me than on public expectations or my personal feelings. Every time I have been offered a job, I pray about it, consult appropriately before making a decision. So, your question is not a matter of yes or no
Given the role you were considered to have played in the last election and within the PDP, do you think it will be okay (morally or otherwise) to accept the job even if it was offered?
Again, I will stand with my earlier answer. Given the fact that the Jews were in captivity under the hands of pagan Kings in Babylon, would you have expected Daniel to serve as an adviser to King Nebuchadnezzer? Not only did he serve, he served with an excellent spirit. People need to know that these things are more spiritual than the razzmatazz they see in public. I have never applied for a job since I graduated in 2007 from the University of Ibadan. Every job offer I have taken was made possible by the grace of God. It is not about PDP or any political party. I became a Ministerial Aide in President Jonathan’s government before the thought of joining PDP even surfaced. My supreme accountability will always rest with God. He alone has the final say over my decisions. If He says go, I have no choice. If He says stand back, I have no say in the matter.
If you could give President Buhari one advice to better his government that you are sure he will heed, what will that be?
President Buhari should not let the fear of losing his second term election stop him from stepping on powerful toes in the fight against corruption. It affected President Jonathan in his first term and I believe we would have seen a different Jonathan had he returned as President. Buhari should not make the same error. [He must not] gamble with the fate of our nation. It is beyond PDP versus APC. The soul of a nation is at stake. Secondly, it is not a crime to be ignorant in some areas of governance. I don’t expect any President to be an all-round expert. No President is. Not even Obama is. Buhari must be bold to get the best hands to run this nation with him. He alone cannot do it. The old formula of surrounding himself only with people he has worked with in the past will not do it. Diversified competence and integrity is the way forward.
What is your connection with online media platform: Breaking Times and twitter handles like: @ThisIsnotBuhari among others. They have been linked to you in recent times.
(Laughs!) We live in an era of rumours. I have also been accused of running General Olukolade’s Twitter account even though I never met the man all through my stay at the Ministry of Defence. My critics are so fixated on me that they end up giving me more credit than I deserve. They attribute to me things I am not even capable of thinking. Laughs! Sometimes, when I want to laugh, I just type my name ‘Ohimai’ on the Twitter search and then I begin to see all sorts of funny insinuations. Sometimes, me and my wife can’t help but laugh it off.
PDP was a great party- I say “was” deliberately. What do you think the immediate steps should be towards rebuilding the party if it is to stand any chance in 2019?
I wrote an article already about this. The issues are clear. The party must return to internal democracy, rebrand its public image and perception both in terms of visual perception and organizational culture. Then the party must become an embodiment of competence, performance and integrity. I will lay more emphasis on performance especially by its public office holders. Fashola became the poster boy of performance for the APC because of what he was perceived to have done in Lagos. If some PDP governors can match or surpass this record, it is the biggest branding the party needs to rebuild its national image and rebound. Again, the party must invest in youth empowerment. Credible young people must be encouraged, supported and empowered to attain their potentials within the party. PDP cannot make progress by neglecting its brightest youth. They did that in the last election and paid dearly for it. Lastly, don’t ignore social media. Invest in it. Engage it and shape the narrative going on there.
Do you consider yourself to be future of PDP say as likely governor, or maybe President?
Time will tell.
What should we be expecting from you in the coming days, career wise?
Expect an Ohimai who has never deviated from his passion – fixing Nigeria inside or outside public service.
Thank you very much for your time.
Culled from Olisa.tv