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Bamidele revives guber ambition



Amidst pomp and ceremony, a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, submitted his letter of intent to contest the forthcoming Ekiti State governorship election to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. Sulaiman Salawudeen reports



A member of the seventh House of Representatives, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, was at the Ekiti State secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), last Wednesday, where he met with the party’s leadership and submitted a letter to declare his plans to vie for the governorship of the state, come July 14.

Bamidele, popularly known as MOB, who was accompanied by some chieftains of the APC, including Chief Akin Olayisade, Hon. Ropo Ige, Femi Akinyemi, among others, were received by members of the party’s executive, led by the state deputy chairman, Chief (Mrs.) Kemi Olaleye.

Hundreds of his supporters, who had earlier gathered at Okeyinmi, the event’s take-off point, in a carnival like, moved through Old Garage and Ijigbo, towards Ajilosun, where the party secretariat was quartered. The party faithful sang all the way, assuring Ekiti people that Bamidele as APC’s governorship candidate, will dislodge the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

The atmosphere was boisterous, the weather clement, and scores of security personnel kept guard at strategic points along the road and at the party’s secretariat to forestall a breakdown of law and order. This was the situation, when Bamidele joined the expectant crowd at the secretariat, gesturing intermittently in acknowledgement of endless greetings of both familiar and unfamiliar faces.

All smiles, the former lawmaker spoke of the possibilities of progress and development, and implementation of peoplesoriented programmes if APC picks a candidate loved and valued by the people. He urged party’s leadership to ensure a level playing ground during the primaries as according to him, democracy must not just be preached, it must be seen in the way affairs of parties are conducted. He said any act that will create conditions for the loss of the election should be avoided.

Disclosing his discussions with former Governor Kayode Fayemi on how APC can win the July 14 election, Bamidele said he decided to settle his rift with former governor as they need to work to ensure success for the party.

“The pact between me and Fayemi is not for personal gain, but for the benefit to the party and overall progress of the state,” he said. He added: “Yes, the minister visited my office in Abuja and the Special Adviser on Political Matters to the President, Mr. Babafemi Ojudu, also wrote a goodwill message to me as I declare my intention today.

To me, this is a sign of good development. “All these shouldn’t give room for speculation that someone was trying to persuade the other to shelve ambition for the other. All the party leaders must work together. So, our working together and their visits to my office was not for selfish interest or about our ambitions alone.

“What this signaled was that it is no longer the old story. It showed that the APC is no longer in war. It shows the party is becoming more united and stronger. It showed also that we are giving each other mutual respect. “I have made it clear at every political gathering I attended that I have settled the rift with Fayemi.

The two of us are frontline party men and we have to work together to rescue our party. We are doing same with Engr. Segun Oni, all in the interest of our party.” The governorship hopeful described as legitimate, agitations by aspirants from Ekiti South senatorial district for power shift to the zone, noting however, that such must not preclude contestants from other districts from exercising their rights to as well contest in line with the provisions of the constitution.

“I want to say that zoning is a legitimate issue. It is also legitimate for every district of the state to aspire in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The constitution of our party doesn’t respect zoning and even the constitution. So, we are free to contest irrespective of the legitimacy of the agitations,” he said. On his vision for the state, Bamidele assured of his readiness to effect change in the political and economic system in the state, when he comes on board as governor.

The former Lagos commissioner said he is contesting for the governor ship of Ekiti State because of his passion for the people and the fact that he has the requisite political experience for the position. His words: ”Some people are worried about the number of aspirants that are jostling for the governorship position. It is a welcome development; even more aspirants will still come out.

But, I have the scientific understanding of governance. I have the experience. Any governor that wants to bring about positive changes must hit the ground running. ”As a member of the House of Representatives, I donated all my salaries and allowances, they were transferred into escrow account, managed by certain individuals, who initiated 88 constituency projects, which include classrooms, street light, motorized bore holes and others.” He noted that governance requires sincerity, focus, candour and genuine love for the people, as according to him, only through these qualities can any leader avail well enough.

He further explained he had always been a progressive and did not defect from APC to another party, as APC had not even been formed when he joined Labour Party (LP) in 2013. Bamidele contested the 2014 governorship election on the platform of LP.

His words: “I was part of the legal team that returned the Certificate of Registration of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for APC to be consummated. I stood with the ACN till when the certificate was returned.

The progressives then were not unaware of the need for us to merge with other parties to be able to win at the centre and that led to the death of ACN. “But, because of the misunderstanding among the leaders of our party, I then quit even before the registration of the new party. This is not even a basis for argument. Senator Ayo Arise left the Action Congress for the PDP in 2007, when he thought the primary that produced Fayemi was not fair enough and today, he is back, ditto Engr Oni. “We must realise that politicians must have bus stops before getting to the destination.

So, whatever happens to us on the way should be taken as issues now, getting to the destination, I mean winning the next election, must be our ultimate target.” The Ekiti APC deputy chairman, Olaleye, in her remarks said the party holds Bamidele in high regard. She added that the former lawmaker’s declaration for the forthcoming governorship election in the state will spur increased action in the party. She assured that the party will conduct a free, fair and credible primary election to pick its candidate for the poll, so that it will go into the election as a united front.

Prior to his declaration, Bamidele had gone round the 16 council areas of the state, preaching unity among party members as well as maintaining that partisan politics should not bring violence, as development is not feasible under a violent setting. Bamidele also during the tour advised other aspirants to run campaigns devoid of calumny and bloodshed, noting that no election is worth the blood of even one Ekiti person.

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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)

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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.

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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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