Presidential candidate of the Alliance For New Nigeria (ANN), Fela Durotoye, speaks on the kind of leaders the country needs, why he and his party rekindles hope of a brighter future, insisting that Nigeria can pay the N30, 000 minimum wage if it cuts wastages in government, among other issues.
What is your take on this year’s general elections?
The elections would be a new beginning for the nation and the true freedom the country deserve after 58 years of independence.
Even though Nigeria gained independence in 1960, the country is yet to be free and the people are yet to make their choices.
But this year’s elections provide a unique and golden opportunity to write a new chapter in the history of the country.
After 58 years of independence from our colonial master, we are yet to be free from the shackles of the cabals and a few people who have held us bound soon after independence.
I mean freedom from the deprivation, poverty, hunger, preventable diseases and all other forms of hardship brought upon us by those who have ruled us and held us captive for so long, freedom from the terror of armed robbers, kidnappers, herdsmen, militants and harassment and extortion from security agents.
Freedom from the shackles of unemployment and career stagnation, freedom for our students to pursue an academic career without strikes, freedom for every woman and every girl to maximise her full potential without any limitations to opportunities because of her gender, freedom to pursue our business dreams without the oppression and suppression of government policies that have brought upon us economic stagnation and recession.
Freedom to succeed in whatever part of the country we are in, because we are Nigerians, without being marginalised or discriminated against by tribe or religion.
Why do you think the country needs new leaders and fresh kind of leadership?
Nigerians have the capacity not only to be great, but to also do great things.
But we must have a government that works for everyone and not just a few, a government that is not just for privileged few and their families, but one that seek to serve and not rule over its own citizen.
We need leaders of excellence who have proven themselves in their endeavours in different spheres of life, especially even when they don’t have any office.
We want people of integrity, promise keepers that can make promises and keep them.
I believe Nigerians deserve a government that is transparent and accountable to its people. And these are the values upon which ANN was founded- transparency, integrity and excellence- and these are exactly what we are bringing into government.
Eight out of every 10 businesses die within the first five years in Nigeria.
Out of the two remaining, one of them would eventually give up the ghost within the next four years, so only one out of every 10 businesses would remain.
My point is that Nigeria is a blessed country, there is probably no country as blessed as Nigeria, yet we have become a laughing stock in the world.
The world looks at us and cannot understand how a people so blessed have become one of the poorest people on earth.
So, we believe very strongly that this is the year Nigerians would actually take a stand and decide to move forward as a people.
What is your government going to do differently, if elected?
Our government would focus on four things. We would strive to reduce the wastage and eradicate the culture of corruption that has depleted our ability to fulfil our potential as a nation.
We would reform governance and the civil service, so that we can have a culture of excellent service delivery.
Through our culture transformation programme, the public sector would teach the private sector what excellent is.
We are going to restructure our country, especially the economy, to empower every community and local government to be able to take the resources they have and bring them to add economic value to our nation.
Today, Nigeria generates about 80 per cent of its revenue from crude oil and yet, we have a reserve of about 49 mineral resources.
Nigeria has the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world and yet, 65 per cent of our roads are not tarred.
Ninety per cent of Nigeria’s land is arable and yet, we are only cultivating 35 per cent of our land. Nigeria potentials for greatness are literally begging for good leadership to utilise maximally.
I know for a fact that Nigeria is just too blessed to be a poor country. In fact, we are blessed enough to become one of the greatest nations on earth.
With an abundance of mineral, natural and human resources, Nigeria can and must become one of the most desirable nations to live in.
We must believe in our ability to review the nation, regardless of how damage it has become.
That ability to believe is largely going to be helped also by the media, because as long as the media keeps portraying that the presidential election is a two-horse race, then the people’s mind would be shaped to believe that it is so and it is only the lesser of the two evils that they would have to live with.
We want the media to let the people know that there is an alternative and they don’t have to choose one of the two sides of a bad coin.
You might as well reach out and get a new note that is untainted and unruffled, that has no stain on it and that new mint note that has values is ANN.
It is no longer hidden that the umbrella is licking and the broom is broken. It is time for the lion to show the way and lead the way as we go into the new Nigeria, a land of promise.
Are you in any way collaborating with any other parties/candidates to effect the kind of change you desire in the country’s leadership?
The record shows that I have always made myself available to the process of collaboration. I believe we need to form an alliance to build a new Nigeria, and that is why our party is called Alliance for New Nigeria.
There are many Nigerians today who has never seen a Nigeria that works, Nigerians who have never known a Nigerian without a generator, Nigerians who have never seen water come out of taps that were not driven by boreholes and road without potholes.
Most Nigerians have lost hope and I believe that our coming together would make us stronger than the parties that have ruled us over the years and give Nigerian a country that works.
Every 20 years, Nigeria gets a fresh start in governance. We have seen a pattern emerge that stated in 1959.
On December 3, 1959, Nigeria had its first general election under the British rule, which brought about the independence of the nation and 58 years of colonial government gave way to the beginning of sovereign rule.
It is very interesting that a 48-year-old man, the following October 1960, stood on the podium and delivered the independence day speech on behalf of the nation.
On July 7, 1979, another election took place and this time again brought another shift from 14 years of military rule into civilian rule, again new opportunity for government. There was another election 20 years after in 1979 and 1999, giving way to civilian rule.
From 1999 to this year is another 20 years. I believe this year is going to see the emergence of another wave of new governance for a new.
I am 47 years old and I would be 48 on May 12. By May 29, when the next inaugural address is going to be read, I will be 48 years old.
There are patterns that would show you that this run in a circle and every one of the cycle theories did not go to the bigger party or the stronger people; it went to the underdog.
Our generation carries the promise of a new Nigeria and the mandate has been given to us to deliver this new Nigeria, but we must accept the responsibility to deliver the future of our great nation, a great new Nigeria for one and for all.
I urge Nigerians to cast their votes for ANN in the forthcoming elections.
I believe this journey to a new Nigeria would be filled with hope, joy and celebrations and at the upcoming elections, Nigerians would vote for their freedom and a party that is committed to their freedom, their happiness and their prosperity.
This is why I am convinced that millions of people, just like you and I, are unhappy and tired of living in a country where life is just so hard and nothing seems to be working, people who believe that we are blessed enough to be a better country than we are today, all of us would come out and vote overwhelmingly for the ANN.
I believe what Nigerians need right now is the currency of hope to have a future that they deserve, and it would take someone who has hope, who believes in the future of Nigeria, somebody who has the capacity to inspire, and this is what ANN is giving.
Today, we are borrowing so much and getting so little. It doesn’t matter how much water you pour into a basket, it is still going to be empty at the end of the day.
What corruption does is to dry our common wealth and deplete our ability to deliver service to the people. We need people of integrity and when we have that, we don’t need to go and borrow.
What is you take on the welfare of workers and the agitation for improved minimum wage in the country?
I think Nigeria has the capacity to pay N30, 000 minimum wage if we are able to cut the wastages in government and take down corruption that has depleted not only our ability to invest in the welfare of our people, but also to be able to do anything that would help us build a great nation.
I believe very strongly that it is a lack of sincerity on the part of government that has brought us to this point.
The most insincere thing about the current administration is that it portrays itself to fight corruption, but harbours corruption within its rank and protects people within it ranks from any form of thorough investigation and prosecution.
That is why I make bold to say that the President is not sincere about the fight against corruption and because of that insincerity, Nigerians are being told the country cannot afford to give its workers a living wage.
Today, Nigerians’ take home pay cannot take them to the bus stop, let alone take them home.
What we need are true leaders, who are there to serve the people, improve the quality of lives and standard of living of every citizen, not leaders who would feed fat on the largess of government.
Nigerians have the opportunity to leave behind insincerity and chose sincerity in the coming elections.
###CREDIT TO THE GUARDIAN NEWS###