•APC, PDP ‘re now Siamese twins, part of country’s problems
•Desperate elites trying to divide united Nigerians
Lawyer, and businessman, Mr. Adewole Adebayo, is aspiring for the presidency on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. In this interview, he gave reasons why he wants to be president in 2023 and why Nigerians must reject the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP at polls.
On why he is running for the presidency, the highest office in the land
We are in a period of extreme emergency where the ship of state is imminently going to capsize. This is not a time to start asking whether you are an admiral, a new ship-man, carpenter or a passenger. Nigeria today is a rudderless ship and the Captain and his top officers are crying for help, the mother ship is heading for the abyss. So we have to go to the deck, take over the rudder and steer the ship away from catastrophe.
The executive powers of the Nigeria Federation are vested in one man, the president and the country will look like whoever the president is; the person’s virtues will be used to service that office, his vices will loom large over the office, his fears will be the fears of the country, his hope will cause other people in the country having hope. So, there is nothing I can do for Nigeria and her future if I don’t go for that office where the executive powers lie, that is why I’m going for the Office of the President.
You talk about Nigeria in extreme emergency and the ship of state on the verge of capsizing, what are the major problems you see?
You don’t need to think too much to know the problems of the country, they are out there and they are shouting. This is not the era of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe or Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who foresaw the problems we might have in future and tried to warn us about them.
These are problems that even a child knows. This country is insecure and getting worse by the day. The governmental system we run and our state actors have become part of the insecurity of the state and there is poverty not just among the unemployed but also among employed professionals. The character of those in power is reflecting intellectual poverty and they are stealing blindly because they are afraid that the poverty would catch-up with them.
This country is taking unity as a curse and you pay a price for preaching unity. Insecurity, poverty, lack of unity and injustice have become common currencies in Nigeria. We no longer have assurance that the President and Commander-in-Chief is the father of the nation.
In the Second Republic, as divided as were politically and despite that many people did not agree with the politics of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, we had to go to the Supreme Court to settle the issue of 12 two-thirds, but nobody in the country doubted the fact that Shagari was head of state and that you could go to him and complain about issues and get quick answer, no part of the country was alienated.
I will not focus on the problems because they are well-articulated. I’m focusing on the solutions. My coming out to run for presidency is to show the people that the problems may loom large but the solutions are obvious. It is the lack of discipline that makes us look at the problems like a child that has malaria, he knows that his mother keeps the medicine in the cabinet but because it is bitter he does not have the moral courage to take the medicine.
That is the problem of the Nigerian elite, they know the solution to Nigeria’s problems – insecurity, poverty, disunity, injustice and others but they will not take the medicine because it is bitter. Insecurity will not end until all those sharing dollars on top of it realise that it has to end because lives are being lost, every incident produces an excuse for someone to siphon money. That is why insecurity persists.
There is a widely held belief that Nigeria has not been as disunited and divided as it is today, what do you think is the reason for that?
I will frame it differently. Some of those who say Nigeria has not been this divided are using it to weaponise disunity just to challenge the government of the day. I can tell you that Nigerians themselves have not been more united than now about the problems the country is facing. The common Nigerians are more united now than ever before.
The problem is that the elite have not been this desperate at any time in Nigeria’s history to use disunity as they are now because overtime, especially since 1999, terms and tenure are defined and no matter how powerful or mischievous a politician is after four years you must have to take another mandate and after eight years you cannot take another one.
What the political elite in Nigeria have done is to form a conclave and put their names in a basket. If I’m governor today after eight years I will put somebody to succeed me and go to the Senate, if there is a chance I will go for the presidency and if I don’t get it I become a minister.
To succeed in doing this they have to keep the people disunited. They use it to get power. Sometimes they go ethnic, other times they go religious but the bottom line is that this does not have any effect on the real life dynamics of the Nigerian people. The common Nigerians are united by the misery the political elite foist on them but the political elites’ interpretation of unity is whether they are all represented in government. We must contrast the cry of the elite over the sharing of the loot with what the Nigerian people are going through.
The common people of Nigeria are not disunited among themselves. I don’t join the elite in their ethno- religious classification and interpretation of what a disunited Nigeria is based on how much access they have to the villa. The Nigerian elite are the ones stubbornly trying to promote disunity.
Do you think the SDP can compete with more established political parties like the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP?
The SDP is the second oldest party in Nigeria after the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, who are our friends and hopefully we will finalise our union together. It is not hard at all because APC and PDP have become part and parcel of the fabric of the crisis that Nigeria has. Both are now problems to be solved and they are not popular with the people. The SDP has more committed members than the APC or PDP.
What is happening is that the AP and PDP are using the apparatuses of state to promote, and project themselves but they don’t have depth. We have taken our party to the people and we believe we stand a chance to defeat them in a free and fair election more so now that the Electoral Act, though not perfect, has become more transparent and pro-voter.
Three things are in our favour. First, the SDP is committed to delivering good governance unlike the APC or the PDP which are a place for people who want to share the resources of the country. Second, we have a track record of having produced MKO Abiola in 1993. He won an election that is till date the freest and fairest election in Nigeria. Thirdly, the election is going to the people and the chances of rigging are reduced, I don’t see any reason to join the APC or PDP when I know they are the problem of the country.
The SDP has existed since MKO Abiola emerged its first standard bearer in 1993, but manifesto and ideology wise is the party still the same?
Yes, that is why I’m running on a mantra of ‘Hope Again’, and our slogan is farewell to poverty and insecurity. MKO Abiola ran on farewell to poverty. At that time of MKO Abiola it was inconceivable that Nigeria that was running ECOMOG and securing the entire West Africa, Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea will become a theatre of war. We are running on that mantra because every injustice MKO Abiola spoke about, the poverty he wanted to address has got worse now.
Also, the fruit of poverty and injustice which is insecurity has started to germinate. So, we have to go beyond what MKO Abiola did, we are dealing with poverty and insecurity. We are determined to internationalise Chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution – Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy- it is written in the constitution for a reason so that we won’t have a wayward un-anchored government that will take power, privileges and perquisites of office and resources of the state and take care of themselves.
Nigeria is supposed to follow social and economic justice and every other aspect of justice. However, they put a clause there that has prevented ordinary people who are victims of the violation from going to court to enforce it. That is what we are coming to do. Look at the economy, the Central Bank which is supposed to defend the currency has joined the Federal Government to debase the economy and inflation is all over the place, they now say they are giving us intervention, they go into the markets sharing N5,000 in the name of Market-moni and N-Power.
Still on your aspiration on the SDP platform, what happened to your association with the National Consultative Front, NCFront?
The NCFront of which I am part of is not a political party, it was not designed as a political party and will never be a political party. There are elements in the NCFront who were advocating that the NCFront needed to be a political party but many of them have gone to associate with existing parties, some of them were even key officers of existing political parties and there was this idea of some parties merging to form a new political party or forming an alliance.
The aim is to give Nigerians a viable force that will help them escape from the forced dilemma of APC and PDP because both have basically become one party, you can see that from the new chairman of the APC to the last man in the National Working committee, NWC, are heart and soul PDP members and if you go to the PDP it is the same, both have become the same.
The NCFront was trying to give Nigerians a clearing house where we will debate ideas, but we found out that our ideas were common and not only were they common among us, the ideas were common with the common people. The 2023 electioneering has already started, political parties can hold their conventions now and nominate their candidates, so how can we go to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and say we want to register a new party?
What stands you out from all the other aspirants across the political parties, why should Nigerians put their trust in you?
For me, it is the freshness and singularity of my commitment to the purpose of the republic and total lack of any distraction, the mastery of the situation of our people and ability to see solutions quickly. You will see that the majority of my solutions don’t require money, they require character, competence and commitment which cannot be purchased in the market. They are not things we need to borrow money from the IMF to do.
If I become president most of our problems will go away just by the application of common sense and virtues. People without these virtues are compromised because they are playing politics of compensation and don’t understand that we are all at risk of oblivion if we allow politics to be done like a business where you invest and reap bountifully for yourself.