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Nigerians’re tired of recycled politicaians –Atuejide

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National Chairman of the newly registered, National Interest Party (NIP), Eunice Atuejide, speaks in this interview on the party’s vision and the 2019 general elections, among other issues. FELIX NWANERI reports

 

Now that your political association has been registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a full-fledged political party, what is its next move?

Our next move is to get our message out to Nigerians. We want Nigerians, particularly the younger ones to believe again in our country. NIP was formed mostly by young men and women between the ages of 17 and 40.

So, you can confidently say that through NIP, young Nigerians are speaking up; rising to the challenge, and partaking in rebuilding our country. We will use every platform available to us to reach out to Nigerians. We will invite them and renew their confidence and trust in our country. We will show them that NIP is a platform they can trust. A platform created by the hungry and suffering masses in Nigeria, for no other reason than to cure the menace in our society.

The political landscape is chacterised by numerous political parties jostling for space. How would yours cope amidst the already existing ones which have been there over the years?

The competition is good for us because Nigerians know that the parties in existence before NIP were created to serve the selfish needs of a particular class in our society. None of those parties have been able to show transparency, commitment to our country and her people.

The mess in governance that we have today is a clear proof of this assertion. NIP is a political party based in the cloud. This means that our members can live in any part of the world and still have direct impact on what is happening in Nigeria simply by partaking in intra-party activities online.

Nigeria has the highest number of brilliant men and women who have continuously broken every boundary abroad, but none of these people have direct access to, or control of any of our political parties. Our political parties are formed, led and maintained by the least worthy of us. NIP has ended that era, so the competition is in our favour.

What we have done at NIP is put a platform out there through which every Nigerian in any part of the world who is over 18 years of age can join in the rebuilding process. We are opening up the political landscape in Nigeria to include the very best of us no matter what part of earth they live or work. We have put something different on the table, so the competition as it is today does not faze us.

Indeed, we have created a sincere and transparent political platform which will help salvage the little left of our dearest country. NIP is a platform for honest, hardworkdeeding, and selfless Nigerians in every part of the world, who despite their own prejudices, are prepared to listen to and consider the opinions of the opposite sides before they take any decisions. Also, NIP will only work for candidates who despite individual excellence, accept that they must convince a majority of our members directly affected by their candidacy before they can emerge our candidates of choice.

There is no automatic ticket to contest any position; there is no delegate system other than that which applies in accordance to the region each person wants to emerge from. So, there is no opportunity to bribe anybody. Every party member is a delegate at each election that concerns them, and every contestant has a duty to convince each member to choose them.

Political parties in Nigeria are bereft of any known ideology. Is NIP offering the people an ideological dimension?

Indeed, we believe that government has a duty to its people and must introduce social reforms to make the lives of each citizen better. We also believe strongly that the private sector needs boosting to encourage development in our country. This puts NIP right in the Atuejide middle of the two sides. We are a central democratic political party so we are neither leftists nor rightists. We’re a little conservative and a little liberal, so we are right in the centre ideologically.

Nigeria as a nation has been bugged by the recurring decimal of gerontocratic leadership, giving no room for the youth to actively participate in governance. What difference will NIP be offering the people?

We are ending that. And we are doing it fairly. NIP was created by young Nigerians, but it does not mean that only young Nigerians will contest elections on our platform. It does not however mean that any kind of old persons will fare well under our platform.

This is so because we operate mostly in the cloud! You must be technology savvy to partake in elections through NIP and quite honestly, I doubt that many of our older class can meet this requirement. We are a political party highly reliant on digital technology.

This is new even to the average youth in Nigeria. In essence, if you are 95 years old or more and wish to contest any general election and choose to do so on NIP’s platform, you are highly welcome. However you must win the primaries first.

In other words, you must win the intra-party election involving other digitally savvy contestants, meaning you absolutely need to be light years ahead of your fellow contestants to endear yourself enough to the majority of us to get us voting for you internally.

I know of some people in their 70s who are terribly technology savvy, however, they are not in the majority. This means NIP will only produce the greatest minds of Nigerian decent in terms of drive and innovation no matter their ages.

Nigerian politics and electioneering involve huge financial layout.

What is NIP’s capacity in this respect?

The huge financial layouts is not synonymous with Nigeria, it is the same all over the world. In fact, Nigeria doesn’t spend a tenth of what most advanced countries spend for electioneering purposes, but the reason for needing the funds is what is different.

The problem with Nigeria is that most of the money is spent bribing delegates. We don’t need money to bribe delegates at NIP. In-deed NIP needs a lot of money – for publicity (TV Radio, Print, accommodation, transport etc), planned community service programmes to reach the grassroots, to organise and strategically plan the campaigns, to cater for our volunteers and permanent staff etc. NIP needs money for a lot of reasons, but not for the usual reasons political parties in Nigeria seek funding.

We do not charge fees for nomination forms, and we do not charge subscription fees, however we are hopeful that Nigerians will give us their money once they key into our vision. Once they see that they can trust us to do exactly as we say. Our only proposed source of funding is from the masses and for us, nothing is too small.

The 2019 general elections are almost by the corner. Being a newly approved political party, how prepared is your party for the polls?

NIP is very open to contesting the 2019 elections at all levels, and we hope to go very far. However considering that our registration happened really late, we are happy to field whatever number of really strong candidates we are able to screen before it is too late to join the race.

For us, 2019 is the experiment, and 2023 is the real opportunity. We have no doubt that provided we continue to work at the pace we have been doing since coming together in October 2016, we will be able to take real political power by 2023. Ours is a party of the future, so we’re not rushing into things for the sake of it.

Do you think that your party can turn the table against the old brigade politicians who have mastered the political terrain?

Yes! Absolutely! Nigerians are hungry for real change. We’re tired of presidents who spend half their tenures in hospitals abroad; presidents who appoint the dead people into parastatals. Nigerians at home and abroad are tired of the recycled political class and their protégés as they have refused to see beyond their noses.

Once NIP has the grassroots on its side, which we will use transparent measures to achieve. Once we are accountable to the people and work together in harmony despite our religious, ethnic, tribal and other differences, Nigerians will see us for who we are. And once they put their trust in us, taking down the old brigade politicians would be easy.

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Politics

My plans for Oyo State, by Obisesan

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A former commissioner in Oyo State, Chief Lowo Obisesan, is a lawyer who is aspiring to govern the state on the platform of the Labour Party. In this interview with SUNDAY ADEBAYO, he speaks on why he is in the governorship race

 

As a successful business man and a barrister, what informed your interest in politics?

Actually, I am a lawyer like I earlier said, and the way things are going in Nigeria politically am not really happy about it and have not been so happy to attach myself. Some good friends and I weighed the options of joining politics then and felt it was better to wait and join at a later time. If you believe that politics is what everybody should get involved in why don’t we join the rest? And that is the reason why we find ourselves in the mist of politicians.

 

Why your choice of Labour Party instead of the major ruling party?

You know for the mere fact that some people are doing certain things in a particular way and that thing is not right does not mean we should join them. I was once in ACN that eventually fused into APC, but when I discovered that things were not done in the right way in my state I decided to let go of the party. Also when you consider other parties particularly PDP you can see that PDP is the type of the party where grabbers are many and people like that don’t have the interest of the people they want to govern at heart, but how to enrich themselves at the detriment of the innocent people of the country and particularly my state and you can see the way things are now. PDP brought us into this problem. We thought APC would bring us out of the problem, but look at what we are suffering today. The fear of God is not in the mind of these people that we can refer to as the leaders of the society.

 

What are the things you are going to do differently from what others have done to make Oyo State a better place?

I am going to do so many thing that will be quite different from what others have done and part of those thing is what I have said that you should have fear of God.

Without god fatherism it is usually difficult to win election. What’s your own view on this?

I don’t believe in that. I don’t share the idea and the principle because the issue of god-fatherism led us into this problem. A god father will push you and support you. When you win he wants to control you and will never let you deliver. But I have a lot of political leaders and mentors who are principled.

 

How would you analyze the Senator Abiola Ajimobi government?

Senator Ajimobi is my leader, my brother. He was my Oga and I can’t say anything about his government for now.I am grateful to him. People know me as a lawyer and but for Ajumobi I won’t be known in politics. When I was first made the Commissioner of Establishment and Habitat, I will never forget what he said about me. He said ‘you are honest and straightforward and to cap it all you have the means but you didn’t steal money in government. I will never run him down because God has used him for me sometime and if anything is wrong with the way he is running his government our people will decide whatever they deem fit when the next election comes.

 

What will be your main agenda if you eventually become the next governor of Oyo State?

Our economy needs to be improved considerably. If I tell you what I have found in line with what my leaders have been discussing ahead of 2019 people might steal it. So I won’t say it. If God says I will be there I will make sure that I work properly on the economy.

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Politics

Osun State deserves better deal –Ogunbiyi

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Dr. Akinade Ogunbiyi is the Group Chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance and a well-grounded innovative scholar, In this interview, he speaks about his blueprint for the rescue mission in Osun State

 

What is your view of the security situation in the country vis-à-vis the herdsmen and other crimes?

It is really sad and inexplicable at this modern age that this is happening in Nigeria. I am sorry to say. I am gunning for a political position, because I am convinced that leadership can make the difference in everything. They will tell you that people are the most important when it comes to factors of production. But, I tell you, it is having the right people, not just people, but the right people. I don’t know how a country so blessed when you see the biblical country flowing with milk and honey, I have not seen any country in the world that fits into that description but God just decided that we won’t have the right leadership.

Fulani herdsmen (or killer herdsmen as they are called), communal clashes here and there, religious war, for crying out loud, we have to talk about what people need. I will be 56 in the next couple of weeks. We grew up in this country. I am a village boy to the core.
My primary, secondary, modern school, my university, everything was in the village. My father’s best friends, especially in my town, Ile-Ogbo, were from the Hausa community. My father was a herdsman. They thrived and they lived in harmony. You find Igbo community; you find in virtually every locality within the South-West.

You say Kano is a no man’s land just as they say Lagos is a no man’s land and you get to Kano in those days and you find every ethnic group represented and they lived as if they were in Umahia or Ile-Igbo. You get to Kaduna, it is the same thing. Is it not the same country? It is all about leadership.

You have leaders who have the capacity to lead well but they choose to do other things. This leadership issue we are talking about, they have the capacity to do the right thing, but they’ve decided to do otherwise.

 

You said your father was a herdsman…

Yes! My father was a herdsman. I grew up to know him as a herdsman. He would go with his friend from Ijebu to Kano and buy herds of cattle, 400 to 600, 1000; the two of them would trek, 90 days, 100 days to lead the cattle down to Oyo. There was no harassment in my locality; they were herdsmen. The three localities that make up Iwo land, Aiyedire, Iwo , and Olaoluwa local governments, we had herdsmen. We never had these issues.

If you come to my farm, about 25 kilometers from my village, you will see serve or eight year-old boys, two of them controlling about 400 herds of cattle. They pass through farms, they know when to stop them; they know when they see virgin land, they know when they see free grazing land.

 

So, what’s the way forward?

This is just political. The day our leaders will come together and say: ‘heck, we are one and let us line up as one these things will end.’ What else do we talk about? We are using ethnicity to divide ourselves. What do you say of India, a country of 1.3billion population; over 300,000 ethnic groups and their ethnic groups are as much as their religious beliefs. It is unfortunate. I can only appeal to our leaders. When people fail to give the deliverables that are needed for the common man to live a decent, peaceful life, they will look for alternative to engage us. This is exactly what is happening.

 

You are contesting on the platform of PDP. Looking at the state of the party as of today in Osun State, how confident are you that is the right platform? Looking at the economy of Osun today because it is heavily indebted, will you still be able to work within that kind of environment?

I will start from the second question. One of the things that spurred me into taking this decision is because of the common man of Osun State. For the past eight years, it has not been what it ought to be. They always say: ‘If it is not broken, don’t try to fix it.’ But as you just said Osun is indebted. We don’t even know how much the debt is. Some say it is N400billion; some say its N200billion.

The government itself said it is N143billion. But for eight years, this is the best that government can give. There is nothing bad in borrowing, the question is, what did you use the fund for? We know that Osun State is heavily indebted and luckily for all of us, there is no hidden place any longer. the Debt Management Office, every month, publishes the statistics.

So, there is nothing that is hidden. Not everybody would ride a car in his life time. Not everybody would build a house in his lifetime. Not everybody would buy bicycle or wear rubber slippers in his life time. But good leadership dictates that everybody must have access to the basic needs of life in order to live a decent life.

Coming back to the platform, I am not just new in politics. I may not have been out there in the open but I have been in PDP from God knows when. I have impacted the party. There are so many reasons why the country is going through what it is going through now. We thank God for the crisis in PDP.

Now, we have the benefit of a standard and which is the standard of APC coming into government. Failure isn’t a bad thing. But for the discerning eye, failure is an opportunity to start all over more intelligently. This is what PDP is presently is.

I was part and parcel of resolving the crisis of PDP in Osun State. Without a peaceful platform, no matter how well meaning, there is nothing you can do. PDP has got its act right especially in Osun. And Osun is like the new foundation the PDP at the national level is going to ride on.

We have learnt our lesson from our mistake. There is nothing bad in failure. It is a man who fails and still fails to rise above his failure that is a failure.

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Politics

Oshiomhole and his new dawn message

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Following his strong desire to inject new blood into the leadership and membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) the immediate past Governor of Edo State and aspirant for the National Chairmanship position of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has taken far reaching steps to galvanize, mobilize and sensitize all segments of people across the six geo political zones of the country.

This meeting with the elders, leaders and members who form the bulk of what today constitutes the mirror through which citizens of the nation and the world see how the party has fared in managing the collective patrimony and welfare of the people, is not only arduous but also interesting.

Indeed, the challenges facing the APC came to the fore last Tuesday when Comrade Oshiomhole visited the party caucus in the Senate to solicit their support ahead the National Convention of the party. It was an opportunity for the senators to bare their minds about the happenings in the party. It was so touching as the senators lamented how rotten the party has become under the leadership of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

The presence of the entire leadership of the Senate at the meeting showed how important it was to them. And some who are sympathetic to the APC were happy because from the close door meeting, which lasted for over one hour, it was learnt that the senators were not keen on leaving the party but all the want is to be given that sense of belonging. That has given a lot of hope to majority of members of the party who equally see the coming of Oshiomhole as the solution that the APC needs.

And to show the acceptability of Oshiomhole by the APC senators, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who warmly welcomed Oshiomhole to the House, noted that majority of senators have this optimism that Oshiomhole has the capacity to lead the party at this point in time.

“I know Comrade has been working hard to talk to people about his ambition and I want to thank him for finding time to come personally to meet the APC caucus in the senate. I have known Comrade for many many years. We have worked together at various levels. So I know him very well and his ability to do all he said he wants to do in our party. I know he has the capacity to take up the challenges before us as a party and I have no doubt that he will do well and make APC a formidable party once more.”

Addressing the senators, Oshiomhole was able to touch on the burning issues in the party to the admiration of the senators. He stressed that the current disagreement in the party can be resolved when all parties sincerely come to the table with open minds for discussions. He said: “Today, I have come not only to solicit for your support but to also say that I dream of a political party where everybody will have that sense of pride and even the sense of ownership. I believe Sir, that the very part of our being a democratic voluntary organisation which a political party represents, means that the basis for coexistence has to be mutual respect.

“I believe that part of the challenges we had which are no secret is that the various organs of the party have not functioned in a manner that was anticipated. And I believe that without those organs functioning, we are just a collection of individuals, who can speak to a party when party members at various levels meet, debate and agree on a particular direction and that agreement becomes the party’s position. And when we now speak on issue of party supremacy, it is in the context of a decision that we democratically arrived at in which members of the party, from the “President to the senate, Reps, to governors and everyone is expected to abide by that decision because they are our own decisions. So I am convinced Mr. President, by my background, as someone who has been victim of power, both economic power and political power which pushed me into unionism and someone who has grown to become a governor, I never oppressed any one, I think I have passed through all the stages and I am fairly informed about the challenges of governors and the challenges of a political party.

“I believe Sir, and I want to assure our senators, that given the opportunity to chair our party, there are couples of things we must do differently. We cannot dream of a party in which there are no disagreements. If we have one like that it means the party is not democratic. Even in the military there are some disagreements and agreements.

“So in a genuine democracy, nobody is seen to get everything that he wants but everybody can get everything that we are able to negotiate. And the driver of this process has to be compromise. Nobody has all the monopoly and nobody is bereft of ideas. And I believe that if we approach issues with open mind with open mind we can do business

“I believe that getting support from all of you and all our leaders, that together we can strengthen our party, giving it more positive image, given our members that sense of participation and together we will confront the forthcoming election and remind Nigerians that even if we have not fix all the problems there is genuine commitment to fix them. And again cannot fix in three years what was destroyed in 16 years. This party is capable of delivering and sustaining the change that we have promised.”

Watching Oshiomhole say all these gave a number of Nigerians hope that the APC is back after the problems that plagued the party in the just concluded congresses in some states. And like Oshiomhole said, many believe that with sincerity of purpose and the spirit of sportsmanship, the crisis rocking the ruling party will be over soon.

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