The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) assumed a new twist yesterday as the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, accused the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun of frustrating the reconciliation effort initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari. Tinubu, who heads the APC National Reconciliation Committee, made the claim in a letter he personally signed and addressed to Odigie-Oyegun, dated February 21. Copies of the letter were forwarded to President Buhari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
The APC national leader particularly accused Odigie-Oyegun of seeking to undermine the mandate given to him by the President to reconcile aggrieved members and ensure party cohesion by engaging in dilatory tactics. His words: “Drawing from your behaviour in Kogi, Kaduna and with regard to the state chapter assessment requested, I am led to the inference that you have no intention of actually supporting my assignment. Instead, you apparently seek to undermine my mandate by engaging in dilatory tactics for the most part.
“When forced to act, you do so in an arbitrary and capricious manner, without the counsel of other National Working Committee (NWC) members and without regard to our internal procedures.” The former governor of Lagos State, who recalled that the APC was established as a party of internal democracy, lamented that its internal institutions have been actively undermined or allowed to atrophy. According to him, the spirit of a new and better Nigeria that guided the APC to unprecedented electoral success has been steadily replaced by the bankrupt and ruleless ways that brought the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) low. He said: “Since the election, there have been several reports of lack of openness and fairness which have led to internal crisis in some of our states.
There have been allegations of self induced crisis resulting from merchandising of internal processes. We all must agree that the party was bound to suffer growing pains but not to the extent of losing part of the substantial goodwill that brought us to power.
“However, that which concerns me has little to do with the manner by which the party is growing. What concerns me is the manner in which the crisis is developing that can lead to serious erosion of party cohesion and confidence.
Were I alone in this concern. I would discount my observations as a sign of my own misperceptions or infirmity. However, I stand not alone in this worry. My grief is shared by so many party members that I would not be accused of exaggeration if I said substantial party leaders are worried about the course of our vessel.
“I believe it was from this sober concern that President Muhammadu Buhari recently appointed me to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence-building efforts in our party. Upon the appointment, I gave the president my word that I would work diligently and objectively to achieve the goal set before me.
“In this vein, my first port-of-call after receiving this assignment was our party’s National Secretariat to present myself before the National Working Committee (NWC), with you as one of its members by virtue of your position as Chairman of the party.
“During my interaction with the NWC, I enjoined its members to freely express their views concerning the state of the party at the national, state and local levels. I listened attentively to the views of every member of the NWC present. On your part, you promised unalloyed support for my mission. Consonant with that vow, you said you would provide all Information at your disposal and you vowed to act as a liaison between me and the state party chapters.
“At that very meeting, I announced I had formally started the assignment handed me by President Buhari. I offered to keep you abreast of my work. I said that I wanted the NWC to be like an informal advisory council and board to me in the discharge of this presidential mandate. “Unfortunately, the spirit of understanding and of cooperative undertaking to revive the party seems not to have lived beyond the temporal confines of that meeting.
I assure anyone who cares to know that this positive spirit of cooperation did not meet its demise at my hands. “My position was and is that we can only restore the party by resolving its current deficiencies in an unbiased, neutral manner that allows us to strengthen our internal democracy by annealing those internal institutions and processes vital to such internal fairness. I stated this position then and still hold to it with all sincerity.
“Yet, disappointment greeted me when I discovered that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions. Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of the APC.”
Tinubu further accused Odigie- Oyegun of contributing to worsen the crisis in some state chapters of the party through unilateral decisions. He said: “As a party, we have strived to be the best, present hope for the nation. Yet, your goal appears to be something of a lesser pedigree in our discussion.
You personally mentioned Kogi, Kaduna, Kano and Adamawa states as places afflicted by serious party issues given your assessment. These were states where I believed cooperation between you and I should have been intense and detailed. Instead, you have taken it as your personal mission to thwart my presidential assignment in these key states. “In Kogi, you rushed to the state to unilaterally inaugurate a new slate of state officials, parallel to the officials already heading the state chapter of the party. While this may place you in significant affinity with those parallel officials you handpicked, this machination suggests no improvement in the welfare of the party in Kogi or at the national level.
This usurping of authority exacerbates conflict and confusion; it does not resolve them. “It is my understanding that your dissolution of the duly-constituted state executives and the hurried naming of the above-mentioned caretaker group was not approved by the NWC. This arrogation of power sets you at variance with members of the NWC as evidenced by National Publicity Secretary Malam Bolaji Abdullahi s statement condemning your improper and unusual action.”
Tinubu also blamed Odigie-Oyegun for the lingering Kaduna APC crisis, saying the eruptive state of affairs is a direct and proximate result of the inability of the party under his leadership to follow the dictates of the party constitution and regulations to arrive at a result that all may agree was rendered objectively and in harmony with the principles by which this party was founded. On the imperative of time over his assignment, Tinubu insisted that the national chairman make available to him the status reports and all other pertinent information regarding the state chapters without further delay if the President’s mandate is to be achieved. He advised Odigie-Oyegun not allow personal issues he has with him to affect the party’s fortune. His words: “You may have personal qualms with me.
That is your right as a human being. However, you have no such right as the chairman of this party. This party belongs to all of its members. You have no greater claim on it than any of the rest of us. Whatever personal qualms you may have with me are secondary at this point. “You have a moral and professional obligation as the party chairman to act in the party’s best interests. Your hurried and unilateral actions belie the important agency you hold for the party.” “I beg that you refrain from taking any more improper unilateral decisions with regard to the national and state chapters of the party.
As the chairman of the party you must ‘work within the confines of the duties and responsibilities enumerated under the party constitution. You must not stretch beyond them. If you continue to do so, I fear you may undermine the party in no small degree. You may well cause internal fractures and dissension difficult to repair yet visible to all. I fear this can undermine our goodwill with the electorate and make the approaching challenges to the party materially more difficult than they need to be.
“As the chairman of this party, you should not want this to be your legacy As a member of this part from its inception, I don’t want this to happen to the party and I don’t want such an awful thing to be your legacy.” When contacted by New Telegraph last night for his reaction, the APC National chairman said he will reply Tinubu very soon.
Okorocha can’t stop my ambition – Deputy Gov
Deputy Governor of Imo, Mr Eze Madumere, said he would pursue his governorship ambition to a logical conclusion in spite of opposition from the governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha.
In a statement by Mr Uche Onwuchekwa, his Media aide, Madumere said that no amount of opposition from the governor would make him to lose sight of the ambition.
He said “God is the giver of power and decider of destiny and no man born of a woman can stop my ambition.
“I think that from the wealth of my experience as a seasoned administrator both in public and private sectors, I am the most qualified to take Imo state to the next level.’’
Madumere, however, revealed that the “greatest opposition’’ to his ambition was from people he nurtured politically.
He said he was betrayed by people he brought into politics, but stressed that no level of betrayal or sabotage could stop him from the governorship race.
Okorocha had some weeks ago announced in the state that his son in-law and current Chief of Staff to him, Mr Uche Nwosu, would succeed him as governor in 2019. (NAN)
The Durotoye, Moghalu challenge
The emergence of youthful figures in positions of power in other lands seems to have given hope to some young presidential hopefuls ahead of the 2019 general elections. FELIX NWANERI reports on two young Nigerians – Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu, who are determined to change the old order
Today’s generation of young people is the largest the world has ever known. Half of the global population is under 30, and yet 73 per cent of countries restrict young people from running for public offices, even though they can vote. The teeming population of young people, notwithstanding, they make up less than two per cent of the world’s members of parliament. About 30 per cent of the world’s lower houses of parliament have no members of parliaments (MPs) aged under-30, while more than 80 per cent of the world’s upper houses of parliament have no MPs aged under-30.
But, it is a reversed trend at the moment as there is growing unhappiness with established politicians across the world. The new trend, which is driven by youthful energy, perhaps, explains why countries like France, Ireland, Estonia and Austria and Canada, recently elected leaders under the age of 40.
To the electorate in these countries, there is the feeling that new approaches are needed for today’s problems. Therefore, less emphasis is put on age and experience. More than youth alone, these new crop of leaders offer their respective countries a renewed sense of vitality and excitement.
For instance, 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, who was recently elected to power in Austria, had earlier served as the country’s youngest-ever foreign minister and hosted negotiations on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who before Kurz was Europe’s youngest leader, as well as Emanuel Macron, France’s youngest-ever president elected in June last year at the age of 39, also held high ministerial positions before leading their political parties. The question many have asked against this development is: What could have influenced this trend? The answer may not be farfetched as the rise of social media has changed the dynamics of politics, making it less predictable.
The generational power shift sweeping across Europe, perhaps, explains the renewed interest in, and enthusiasm for politics among the youth back home. More than before, young Nigerians seem to feel more comfortable dealing with the new dynamics than old established politicians. The new political dynamics is also boosted by the recent passage of the Not too young to run Bill by the National Assembly. With the bill’s passage, sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) have been altered to reduce the age of eligibility for elective offices across the board thereby affording more young Nigerians the opportunity to stand for elections.
This means that Nigerian youths can now contest for president at the age of 35 and governor or Senate at the age of 30. It is a change from the initial 40 and 35 years limit, respectively, which was mandated by the constitution. The bill also provides for persons at 25 years to contest for the House of Representative and states Assembly. Prior to this time, the youngest age a person needs to run for elective office in Nigeria is 30 years at the House of Representatives or the state House Assembly level.
The Obasanjo/Agbakoba challenge
Advocates of the rights of young people running for elected office had predicated their campaign on the belief that young people deserve the same rights to run for offices and that age discrimination is a hindrance to youths’ participation in the democratic process. It was against this backdrop that the likes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Olisa Agbakoba, recently called for the opening the political space for youths’ participation.
Agbakoba had in a letter to Obasanjo in July last year, entitled: “Nigeria needs a generational shift in political leadership,” raised concern over the quality of leadership in Nigeria. He said that Nigeria’s situation is due to failure of leadership, adding that country has been “held back by crop of leadership that has outlived usefulness and effectiveness as a result of old age.” He went further to say that Obasanjo ruled Nigeria at 39, and that Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello were 40, 43 and 40 respectively, when they began active roles as pioneers of Nigeria’s political history.
He also reminded Obasanjo that Odimegwu Ojukwu and Yakubu Gowan were in their 30s, when they took centre stage in Nigerian politics and therefore urged him to intervene in the political situation of Nigeria to see that, like in France, where 39-year old Macron emerged as president, and in Canada, where Trudeau, 45 is the prime minister, a younger Nigerian could also be president.
But, Obasanjo in his reply entitled: “Re: Nigeria needs a generational shift in political leadership,” called on the younger generation to organise themselves around positive core values, become ideological in the sense of nationalism and patriotism in their quest for a generational shift in political leadership of the country. His response read in part: “It is sad that the successor generation of Nigerians have in most cases resorted to work avoidance in the quest for leadership.
Most members of the younger generation of Nigerians are mostly contended with waiting for dead men’s shoes and are unwilling to beat alternative past leadership. In such a situation, it is to be expected and actually it is human that those with some head start in life will not concede such advantages freely and based on their innate goodness.
“The world as I know it, is powered by shrewd hard-headed calculating individuals and the cornucopia of their mercy is decidedly thin and it is unlike God’s rain that falls on the just and the wicked alike. The point to ponder is how has the successor generation positioned themselves to lead?” On what the younger generation needs to do, he advised: “Let the younger people organise themselves around positive core values.
Let them become ideological in the sense of nationalism and patriotism in this struggle. “This is democracy. Politics is a game of numbers. At the end of the day, the youth are in the majority. What is the excuse? So, long as the older generation do not have the incentive to step down, for so long will they continue to reinvent and reappoint and resurface.”
Babangida’s call for generational power shift
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, who added his voice to campaign, said the forthcoming 2019 general elections provides an opportunity for a new generation of leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country. Babangida, who reflected on the state of the nation in a statement titled “Towards a national rebirth,” said: “This is the time for us to reinvent the will and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conduce environment to grow national economy both at the micro and macro levels.”
He added: “We have experimented with parliamentary and presidential systems of government amid military interregnum at various times of our national history. We have made some progress, but not good enough to situate us on the pedestal we so desirously crave for.
“It is little wonder therefore that we need to deliberately provoke systems and models that will put paid to this recycling leadership experimentation to embrace new generational leadership evolution with the essential attributes of responsive, responsible and proactive leadership configuration to confront the several challenges that we presently face.
“In 2019 and beyond, we should come to a national consensus that we need new breed leadership with requisite capacity to manage our diversities and jumpstart a process of launching the country on the super highway of technology-driven leadership in line with the dynamics of modern governance.
“It is short of saying enough of this analogue system. Let’s give way for digital leadership orientation with all the trappings of consultative, constructive, communicative, interactive and utility-driven approach where everyone has a role to play in the process of enthroning accountability and transparency in governance.”
Youths, young professionals rise to the occasion
Apparently heeding the call for a new order that will see the youth taking over from established politicians, a number of young professionals have so far declared interest in the 2019 presidency. Prominent among them are renowned motivational speaker, Fela Durotoye and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu. Unlike their peers, whose aspirations are limited to declarations on the social media platforms, the duo are leaving no stone unturned to make real their dream by officially declaring to run for the highest office in the land and going a step further to set up structures to give older politicians, who have dominated the political scene for long a run for their money in the forthcoming general elections. There are others who have declared for the governorship of the respective states.
Durotoye: Dreams a new Nigeria
The 46 years old consulting guru, leadership coach and public speaker, who runs the Gemstone Group, has declared to run for the 2019 presidency on the platform of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN). He said that he settled for the party because the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot save Nigeria from her myriad of problems. Noting that he has committed his life to building Nigeria and listing a number of projects he has executed without the help of the government, Durotoye averred during his declaration for the 2019 presidency on February 22, that he has what it takes build a new Nigeria.
His words: “As you may already know, over the last 13 years, I have committed my life and resources to doing all I can to build a New Nigeria that would be the most desirable Nation to live in by December 31, 2025. “As I have stated severally on this platform and in public, I have come to the conclusion that good governance is critical for any nation to accomplish its full potential. In fact, without good governance every other good work carried out by its citizens would ultimately be like pouring water into a basket and is therefore not sustainable.
“This is why it became important for us to set up the running for a new Nigeria platform, where we galvanize a critical mass of people who would participate in the governance process either by voting or being voted for at the 2019 general elections and beyond.
“In line with our Values one of which is to “be a role model worthy of emulation,” I had to decide to get involved in the political arena rather than staying on the sidelines and only challenging others to go in. “It is my hope that as I step unto the political scene, many more of our brightest and best will arise to heed our nation’s clarion call to contest for elective offices, win the elections, and most importantly collectively deliver good governance to our nation.” On his vision for Nigeria if elected as president, Durotoye said his desire to serve Nigerians better and provide the kind of leadership the country urgently needs are the factors responsible for his ambition.
“I do aspire to serve my nation and I believe that to be able to do the most that I can, it will require that we have the kind of leadership for the nation that I believe I can offer in terms of priority of vision, in terms of a set of clear values that can bring about the kind of behaviour and culture of a new Nigeria.
“More importantly, in terms of the fact that I am someone, who has spent the most of my life helping others build their businesses, find their careers, and I don’t know if there is any other platform that will enable me serve the people as well as possible as the presidency.” he said. Serving the present crop of leaders a quit notice, he declared that the youth have decided to take their destinies into their hands and will take over the mantle of leadership through the ballot box in 2019.
He said: “To these rulers, our generation serves notice; we will no longer be ruled. We have been ruled for the last 57 years, and have not fulfilled our potential as a nation. This generation is determined to choose real leaders, who are committed to serve the common interest of our people and protect our common wealth.
“And I stand here on behalf of this generation of leaders to declare that we are now willing, able and ready to serve our nation through elective office and we are ready to deliver the quality leadership and governance required to build a new Nigeria.
“To build the Nigeria of our dreams will require exceptional candidates, who would emerge from a pool of excellent and credible aspirants chosen by the people to represent them at the general elections. This would require a free, fair and transparent internal democratic process, which even the prominent members of the established parties claim to be missing within their political party structure as they cross carpet from party to party, seeking more favorable outcomes from the same flawed system that I have called selectocracy.”
As intelligent as Durotoye’s ideas may sound, the questions many have asked over his ambition are: Does he have what it takes to run a presidential campaign? How strong is the platform on which he wants to actualise his ambition and most importantly, what level of political experience does he have to run a complex society like Nigeria if elected as president? But, responding to the doubt over his qualification to run for the office of President, Durotoye, in a post on his Instagram page, appreciated the comments and criticisms thrown at him, stating that tough questions would make him learn faster. He wrote: “I’m so grateful for all the feedback offline and the comments online…
pleasant, unpleasant and sometimes downright nasty… I am grateful for all. “Like the political analysts often say, No comment is the worst comment in political space. Why; because it lacks energy. Positive comments carry positive energy and can be directed into action (campaigning/volunteering/donations and ultimately voting). “Interestingly, negative comments also carry energy but you only need to find ways to get to the essence and redirect the energy for positive action. No comment carries no energy and therefore cannot be directed or redirected.
“So thank you everyone for liking, reposting, retweeting and commenting. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, concerns and excitement with me. Your opinions are important to me and those tough questions are helping me learn faster and ultimately preparing me to be a better aspirant. “
No doubt, only Durotoye can proffer answers to the puzzles over his ambition, but the fact is that what he lacks in political experience, he has in private practice although the two sectors are miles apart. Born in Ibadan, Oyo State in 1971, Durotoye is graduate of University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he obtained a BSc in Computer Science with Economics as well as a masters degree in Business Administration.
He is also an Alumnus of Kennedy School of Government Executive Education programme of the prestigious Harvard University, United States. He as well as attended High impact Leadership for a better society Program at the prestigious Yale University and The Leadership Institute, Arlington (Virginia) all in the United States of America. He is also a certified leadership coach of the John Maxwell Team. In 2015, he completed the Executive Seminar programme on Strategy, Innovation and Governance with specific focus on Sustainability for Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and corporate organisations at the prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS).
Moghalu: Sees a post-oil future for Nigeria
The former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while declaring for the 2019 presidency on February 28, asked Nigerians to replace recycled “failed leaders” with competent and experienced youths. Moghalu explained that he is taking a stand to unify Nigeria beyond ethnicity and put the country on the path to progress.
He also assured that he will hit the ground running from day one by announcing members of his cabinet in 48 hours if he emerges as president. Though he is yet to declare the platform on which he intends to actualize his ambition, there is no doubt that the former CBN deputy governor has an intimidating profile and well thought out plan, which even his critics cannot afford to admire. For instance, he disclosed his plans to establish a “concrete economic diversification plan with a concrete path to a post-oil future for Nigeria, based on emerging global trends.”
To achieve this, he insists that “we must stop recycling failed politicians and regenerate our leadership ranks with competent and experienced young men or women.” He speaks further on why he wants to be president: “I seek the opportunity to offer our country visionary, purposeful, competent leadership to build our future.
“The world is changing: time and tide have in several countries swept away old orders and brought in new, more dynamic ones. Nigeria must not remain stuck in its past. We, you and I, can do it for our country too. “We need to modernize, and quickly.
For instance, we know that women in leadership and in government can accelerate growth for any economy, yet only six per cent of our legislature are women. There are many, many competent, smart women who are more than ready to dig in and work together to rescue this country. We must draw them out and ensure that their voices are heard.
“We must stop recycling failed politicians and regenerate our leadership ranks with competent and experienced young men or women. Youth who have prepared themselves with the relevant qualifications must take over the mantle of leadership because this struggle is about the future of Nigeria, not its past.
“The battle to reorient Nigeria into a strong, capable country requires competence, capacity, and character. And as a citizen who aspires to be president I possess all three. “If it is about competence: my work as a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who played a leadership role in rescuing and stabilizing the Nigerian banking system after the global financial crisis speaks for itself. “If it is about capacity, my work in the United Nations reconstructing countries torn by civil war or reforming the internal workings of the world body is there for everyone to see.
“If it is about character, well, talk to my colleagues, mentors, friends, and of course my family and listen to what they have to say. Strong, knowledgeable guidance is needed as Nigeria navigates these difficult waters, and I offer myself for service with a solid track record of leadership.” Acknowledging that there are no quick and easy solutions to Nigeria’s problems as decades of economic and leadership mismanagement cannot be undone in a few short weeks or months, he said of his policy agenda.
“My vision for our country is set out in my new book BIG (Build, Innovate, Grow). In summary, however, the agenda of a government under my leadership includes the following: “Compose a world-class, ‘first eleven’ team based on merit and inclusive governance to drive government policy. We will be ready on Day One.
The appointment of all senior officials of the Presidency will be announced within 48 hours. My government will enthrone evidence-based public policy, strategy and risk management as tools of effective and modern governance. “Establish and propagate through the educational system a foundational philosophical worldview for the Nigerian state, around which all Nigerians will unite in a common purpose “Lead a consultative political process, in cooperation with the National Assembly, to achieve a constitutional restructuring of Nigeria and return our country to true federalism for stability and prosperity by 2021.
“Implement a 50:50 gender parity policy in all political appointments – nearly double the ratio recommended by the National Gender Policy of 2008. “Establish and implement a Diaspora engagement and return policy and strategy as a new, fundamental component of our national quest for development as has been the case in China, India and Israel.
My government will build the Diaspora Commission approved by the National Assembly into an effective, world-class institution to accomplish this important agenda. “Fundamental overhaul of the Nigerian Police Force that will emphasize training, equipment, and boosting the strength of the Force by recruiting at least 1.5 million policemen and women, up from the grossly inadequate present force strength of 350,000.
“Establish an innovation-led economy, with intellectual property and commercialization of local innovation as its bedrock. “Establish a Venture Capital Fund with a minimum of N500 billion as a public-private partnership to invest in the creation of new businesses by presently unemployed youth in Nigeria; the new businesses created with support from this fund will in turn create new jobs.
The fund will be managed by private sector partners while the Federal Government of Nigeria will be a core investor. “Reform energy policy to create an enabling environment for Nigerian households to be powered by renewable energy while industrial zones are served by gas and hydro-powered energy and fundamental reform of Nigeria’s healthcare system to assure quality healthcare for Nigerian citizens and remove the need for medical tourism abroad. “ Undoubtedly, Moghalu is stepping into the political space for the first time with a rich profile, but there are several political dynamics that will come to play, which may puncture his aspiration.
Among these dynamics is the power sharing agreement between the North and South, which explains why a northerner is likely to emerge as president in the next elections. Already, the two leading political parties – APC and PDP – have zoned their presidential tickets to the North. So, the option left for the Anambra State born banker is any of the “lesser parties” although they cannot be ruled out to upstage the “big two” as politics remains a game of the possible. But, Moghalu, who said he is not deterred from joining the race by any political arrangement whatsoever, declared:
“It is the turn of any competent Nigerian to aspire for the post of presidency because career politicians have failed Nigeria.” While Nigerians wait for the former CBN deputy governor to declare the platform on which he would be contesting the 2019 presidency, the question some have asked is: Who is Kingsley Moghalu? Born on May 7, 1963, Moghalu is a graduate of the London School of Economics. He also read Political Science at the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka. He served as CBN deputy governor from 2009 to 2014.
A former official of the United Nations (UN), Moghalu is currently a professor of practice in International Business and Public Policy at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, United States. He is the founder and president of the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation (IGET), a new think tank based in Abuja.
Youth and the urgency of now
While the emergence of youthful figures in positions of power in other lands gives hope to these young Nigerian presidential hopefuls, it still remains to be seen how far they can cause a break from the past. To some analysts, the newcomers should have concentrated their energy at the state level, and if they succeed, look towards replicating the success at the centre. Nigeria, these analysts argued will fail if handed over to inexperienced orators, who know next to nothing in practical terms what leadership demands.
However, there is a political school that believes the urgency of generation power shift is now. National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who shares this thought, disclosed that his party will come up with what he described as “Generation Next” programme for repositioning youths to take over leadership in 2019.
Speaking at the opening of PDP Youth Leaders meeting in Abuja, on Wednesday, he said age barrier will be removed and a 25-year old that is popular and intelligent can be voted into power as governor. “Unless you come out and volunteer to make that sacrifice, you will not be noticed and the country will be missing you.
The country needs the youth and the party is ready to allow you participate,” he said. Will the youth seize the opportunity of the 2019 elections to address the leadership deficit that is so legendary in an emerging world order that emphasises clear-headed and able leadership, developments in the days ahead will determine.
2019: PDP has many presidential pretenders – Akintoye
Dr. Remi Akintoye is a former acting National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a member of the party’s Board of Trustee (BoT). In this interview, he speaks on the party’s quest for an acceptable presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections, the recent defections in the party, among other issues. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
You were recently appointed as a member of the PDP Board of Trustees. What are you bringing to the table as the party rebuilds ahead of the 2019 general elections?
Firstly, I want to thank the party for the appointment. The PDP is a very big party in the whole of Africa. I think my appointment as a member of the party’s BoT is meritorious since I served as the National Secretary of the party sometimes ago and our constitution says those who have served in such office including that of chairman of the party are automatic members of the board.
But you have to possess integrity, you have to be honorable and you have to be tested to become one. So, it is not that it is really automatic. I want to thank those who considered me meritorious enough to be a member of the BoT. I use this opportunity to confirm that I will work assiduously to ensure that the PDP regains power in 2019.
Are you not worried about the recent defection of two members of PDP BoT, Prof.Jerry Gana and Prof. Tunde Adeniran, to the Social Democratic Party (SDP)?
It didn’t really worry me so much because many other people have left the party and so many others have likewise joined the party as well. I know that within the next three to four months, politics will heighten towards the election of 2019 and things will really settle.
By then, we will know the true PDP members and true APC people. For now, there is still this thing that I will call political anomie, where people are jumping from one place to another, whether because they don’t want the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ask them questions anymore or because they feel the All Progressives Congress (APC) is better than PDP or whatever.
But I believe things will soon settle and you will be amazed by the number of people that will return to the PDP. I think Prof. Adeniran, who left the party may have his reasons; he may have been very annoyed with what happened at the last national convention of our party. But I will say that he should emulate people like Chief Bode George, who still affirmed that no matter what happens, he and his supporters will never leave PDP.
So, Adeniran should look back and embrace peace. Most of the things Chief Bode George was saying at that time are what Adeniran is now saying. He was saying that what happened the other time must not happen again. Adeniran may have justification for what he is doing, but he must be matured enough not to leave PDP because of that. So, I am not very worried because I know he is a staunch member of the PDP. He may be annoyed now, but I believe he will return to PDP. You can’t be a tenant in another person’s house, when you have your own house.
How do you think Adeniran and others, who left the party will return, when the issues that made them to leave ihave not been addressed?
I quite agree that issues are still pending and it is becoming apparent that the last administration in the PDP under Senator Ahmed Makarfi did so much harm to the party than good. But like I said earlier, the issues will be corrected in the next two months or thereabout. The issues will be sorted out in such a manner that the party will be stronger.
A lot of efforts are currently ongoing for reconciliation and rearrangement to ensure that under Price Uche Secondus, who is a very good administrator, PDP will bounce back. Those who really love PDP should forget the past and let us rebuild our party.
Does this reconciliation move take cognisance of aggrieved members, who want to adopt sitting on the fence approach ahead of the 2019 elections?
No! You cannot adopt a ‘siddon look’ approach. You are either a member of a party or not. If you are still a member of a party, you will hope for its progress. The progress we are looking for now is winning the 2019 election and nobody except Chief Bode George can deliver the South-West for the PDP.
He has been in control of the structure of the zone for such a long time and he has mastered its winning formula. That is why some people raised other people to perpetrate what happened at the last convention. By that, I mean if seven people are coming out from a zone to contest for one office, it means that we are not serious. He is saying that micro-zoning is the fabric of the PDP.
But he is not bitter by what was meted to him and the zone at the convention. I was there when the Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, came to meet him after the convention. He is a fair minded person and very forgiven. He is not even fighting for himself, but those who will come after him. He is saying that micro-zoning created peace in the political arena of PDP for the 16 years. But all that has been removed now and we must learn from our mistakes.
There are insinuations that a clique has hijacked the PDP and they are the ones controlling the affairs of the party. How true is that assumption?
It is not possible in PDP; even a governor cannot do that. If it looks like that, I can tell you that it’s a temporal phenomenon. I said it is not possible because PDP is a very rooted party, it has a BoT, has a National Executive Committee (NEC), has the National Working Committee (NWC) and other organs including the youth and women. How do you think one man can control all these organs?
Also, there are still also some respectable elders and founding fathers of the party, who are still around. One person can maneuver the convention, one person can maneuver the election of his successor, one person can control the structure of his party in his state, but at the national level, no one single man can dominate. Even one of the governors that people are saying will be controlling the party said some few days ago that no governor can dictate where the party is going and that no governor can dictate the party’s presidential candidate.
But there are fears in some quarters that what played out at the last convention might also occur in the run-up to the party’s presidential primaries?
It is not possible. Whoever is thinking of doing that may want to tear the party apart without remedy and that may be the end of the PDP. But the elders, including the respectable chairman of our BoT will not allow that. The party is a party and not a one-man property. The majority will speak, minority will speak and everybody will be heard, but the majority will carry the day. I don’t have any fear about the PDP producing a credible and acceptable presidential candidate for the 2019 elections.
How does the PDP intend to manage the array of contenders from the North for its presidential ticket?
There are people coming out from the South as well. Let me define it this way; there are so many pretenders than real contenders in the race. But when the time comes, you will see the contenders standing and the pretenders heading home. There are rules; there are mechanisms and machinations to select the presidential candidate, let us wait and see. The election of NWC members is a micro-platform, but the presidential primary is a larger platform, where merit, intelligence, integrity and other qualities will be weighed against each other to say this person can win election for us.
What makes you think that the PDP will win in 2019?
I am so sure that the PDP will regain power in 2019. One thing that is certain in life is change. There are indices that will make PDP win the election on the ground as of today. Those indices include the economy, security, and others. I am not saying that the present government is not doing anything; they are pulling their weight, only that their weight could be better in terms of democratic gains for the people.
What special quality do you think whoever would be PDP’s presidential candidate must possess to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC in 2019?
I think a candidate with equal acceptability not only in the North, where the person would come from, but by all Nigerians, is what would guarantee victory for the PDP against APC. He must be acceptable by all. He must be somebody that people know very well and he must be bold to declare his past achievements.
Such an astute that will be acceptable by the party will go a long way in ensuring that PDP wins the election in 2019. I believe we are winning already and that is why such a person cannot just be produced by some few people. We want someone that even a member of the APC will say that ‘if it is this guy, I will change my mind and vote for him.’
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