Our challenges require digital solutions – ADC Presidential candidate

Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, In this interview with ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU speaks on his partys chances in the forthcoming general election and declares that President Muhammadu Buhari is good man, but good intention is not enough to govern a country like Nigeria, even as he insists that the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, is not a threat to his ambition of becoming Nigerias next President.

You are in the presidential race, why did you join?

The springs of human motivation are always deep-rooted and complex. Politicians often claim to be reluctantly pushed by my people. Well, my people did no such thing. When I came back to our country a few years ago, I was rather shocked by how far we retrogressed.

Muhammadu Buhari and the APC came to power in May 2015 under a groundswell of optimism and hope. But this hope has been dashed against the rock of broken promises. The government has been immensely disappointing. I know that Buhari means well. He is a good man. He has good intentions. But then good intentions are not enough. I have reached the conclusion that they are simply lacking in capacity. He belongs to an analogue generation; whereas the challenges we face, at the dawn of the 21st century, require digital solutions.

I came into politics to salvage our country. I came into politics because I am a believer in the Great Nigeria Project. I am mobilizing a coalition of progressive youths, who passionately believe in the building of a New Nigeria. Looking back, I realise that all my career, training and intellectual capital has been a preparation for this great vocation. I aspire to be your servant, the servant of God and servant of the people.

I am also a harbinger of peace in a country that has been traumatised by violence and conflict. With all humility, let me solemnly declare that I am the servant-leader that this country has been waiting for.

Considering political parties like the APC, PDP and their candidates, what are your chances on the platform of the ADC?

The African Democratic Congress (ADC) happens to be one of the younger parties. But we are not quite as young as many suppose. The ADC has been around for about a decade. We have structures in all 36 states of the federation, including FCT, Abuja. We have representation in all 774 local government areas across the country and we have structures in every electoral ward and district.
Elections are all about party structures, mobilisation and strategies. We have what it takes to win the coming elections. The ADC is also the most rapidly growing of all the political parties, old or new.

We are currently number three, according to the ratings. But have strong ambition to form the next government of the federation. We also have strong candidates for governorship, houses of assembly, the senate and the House of Representatives.

There are those who say we have no money and no godfathers. Well, I can tell you, God is my godfather. He also created the entire universe and all the untold riches in it. And because I am His child, all the wealth of the world is our patrimony. And just remember this: Barrack Obama was a relative nobody when he came to power. He had no money and no godfather. The odds were all staked against him. All he did was galvanise youths with his vision of a greater America. They went from door-to-door and from ward-to-ward. And they won. It was the same for young Emmanuel Macron of France.

I had some of my education in Paris. I speak fluent French. I know how sophisticated French politics is. There are strongholds of power in France that are difficult to break. But Emmanuel Macron broke them all. He was a newcomer on the political arena, with no money and no godfather. But people saw that he represented something new and were prepared to cast their lot with him. I dont think they have been disappointed.
You watch this space! We are here to take our country back and to give it to the teeming youths and long-suffering people of this country.

What do you plan to do differently if elected?

At present, we have a government that has not grasped the first principles of sound economic management. There is no real Economic Team to speak of. There is no vision and no leadership. Its a case of implementing public policy by muddling through. The consequences are there for everyone to see.

We have a government that is anti-people and anti-business. Most market women and traders have closed down their bank accounts because anybody with money is deemed to be a thief by this government. As a consequence the banks are groaning. We are going to form a government of the people, not a government anchored on nepotism and bigotry. And we are not going to surrender the levers of power to any cabal that will go about extorting fortunes from CBN, multinational oil companies, NNPC and the NLNG.
We are going to do things differently. Our priority is peace, security and the economy. We are deeply convinced that battling poverty requires that we focus majorly on the economy. It is the key to our common prosperity. But it cannot happen in a vacuum.

What will drive prosperity is a new ethos of leadership based on development and social progress. We are committed to reinventing the state as a developmental institution that promotes economic growth, poverty-alleviation and long-term prosperity. We are committed to revamping power and infrastructures, boosting agribusiness and food security, and ushering in a mass agro-based industrial revolution.

For a start, we shall issue an Executive Order requiring all government buildings from local government to states and the federation to install solar panels on their roofs. This will greatly alleviate some of the shortfalls in power.

We have a policy of Electricity for All, which we shall implement with zeal and passion. We are bringing back the tradition of economic development planning, including urban regional planning.

My running mate, Tanimowo Nuraini Bolanle Nasiru, is a renowned professor of Urban and Regional Planning. He will oversee the economic development planning process, in addition to power and infrastructures. We shall institute in the heart of government a Strategy Group that will drive policy implementation.

All ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies and departments will have a performance contract. There will be regular monitoring and evaluation. Those who do not perform will to give way to those who are able and willing.

As a former deputy governor of CBN, how do you intend to create jobs and improve on the economy?

My career has been in finance, banking and development economics. Economic development is my passion. A few weeks ago we unveiled our economic blueprint to Nigerians. Our programme is anchored on 4 Ps: People, Power, Peace and Prosperity.

The first P is people and focuses on human capital, education, skills, health, job-creation and poverty alleviation. The World Bank recently announced our country as the new world capital of poverty, with 88 million of our people living in destitution. We are going to tackle poverty and its root causes. We aim to lift our people out of despair.
Some 70 per cent of our youths in Zamfara and Borno states have no jobs. But we are also conscious of the fact that we must accelerate growth and unleash the productive energy of our people while enhancing national competitiveness. We are going to trigger a mass industrial revolution.

The second P is power and it is anchored on providing Electricity for All. We are determined to drive an aggressive electrification programme, in addition to massive investments in world class infrastructures, including housing, highways, rail networks and deep-sea harbours.

The third P is peace and it is about fighting insecurity and enforcing a just and lasting peace. Securing the common peace has been the first duty of government since Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson.

We have sworn eternal enmity against genocide and killing of innocent women and children. Nigeria has the dubious price of being the world capital of kidnapping. Under our leadership Nigeria will be a prosperous, progressive and peaceful democracy.

The final P refers to prosperity. We are focusing on the economy and on political reform as the foundations for building a New Nigeria. We are committed to launching a framework for political reform, restructuring and nation building. We shall also wean the economy away from dependence on oil, tackling the economic fundamentals vital to building a flourishing, progressive democracy. We are determined that our people will enjoy a new vista of flourishing.

Security is a core responsibility of government; what will you do to put an end to insurgency and others security challenges confronting the country?

I am not by any stretch of the imagination an admirer of General Sani Abacha. But I agree with him when he said that if insurgency persists for more than 48 hours, the government knows something about it. When the incumbent was not in power, he made the infamous faux pas that: an attack against Boko Haram is an attack on the North. Can you imagine such a statement? It therefore does not surprise us that the foreign armed militias are having a field day, ripping the wombs of pregnant women and placing their unborn infants under the sword.

Just last week over one hundred of our brave soldiers perished in the hands of the insurgents. When a rescue mission came to take the dead bodies they also fell under the sword. The once great Nigerian army stands humiliated. Such evil will not stand.

I come from the Middle Belt, which has been the main theatre in this undeclared war against an unarmed and defenceless people. We shall start from the simple premise that any foreigner who comes into our country bearing a weapon must be treated as an enemy combatant. Its as simple as that.

The international laws of war give our people the full right to defend themselves. Those aiding and abetting them will face the full wrath of the law. We are going to create a new territorial army as obtains in countries such as Britain, France and Switzerland. We shall deploy sophisticated technology, including drones, to confront the enemies of our country. We shall mobilise the entire nation against them. We shall fight them in the streets; we shall fight them in the sands and in the mountains and forests. And we shall win, because we are on the sight of right and they are on the side of darkness and the devil.

How would you assess the APC-led federal government especially in the fight against corruption and insecurity?

I used to know General Muhammadu Buhari when I was a young man. I am a fellow of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). He used to drive in from Rukuba Barracks to play sports with us. Then, as now, he is a good man. But goodness is not enough to run a country.

I gave the 2016 October FRCN Lecture of the. It is one of the most prestigious Annual Lecture series in this country. On that occasion I did praise what the government was doing regarding corruption. Today, I no longer share that view. Corruption is a cancerous wound in our body politics. The current approach is based on fire-fighting, chasing rats while Rome is burning.
Their approach is also deeply partisan and one-sided. As a consequence, they have lost credibility completely. We have a different approach. We shall institute in the heart of government a system of monitoring and evaluation of all government projects and programmes. The procurement system is one of the principal sources of corruption, embezzlement, fraud and financial mismanagement.

We will tackle these demons headlong. We intend to reform the EFCC and integrate it with ICPC, with full judicial powers to investigate, prosecute and punish. The lawyers will grumble that this amounts to giving too much power to one organisation. The big mistake we have made in this country is to see corruption and grand larceny as merely a legal and moral problem. For the Chinese, it is more than that. It amounts to high treason, a question of national security. For those who commit such crimes against our people, we cannot give them the luxury of using their loot to extricate themselves from justice. So, you can steal N20 billion of pensioners funds and use N2 billion out of it to hire a gaggle of SANs to shield you from justice. You can even bribe the judges and court officials to hide the files, give you medical leave abroad and pursue all other such legal shenanigans that make our justice system the laughing stock of the world. We will tackle corruption and the root causes of corruption. We shall also empower the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation with more resources to perform audit functions throughout the departments and agencies of government. It is foolhardy to watch a governor defraud his state on the argument that he has legal immunity. It is only in our system that immunity is broadly defined as the right to rob and kill without any sanctions whatsoever!

Are you not threatened by the political might of the candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar?

Threatened is the wrong word. I can never feel threatened by anyone. God is the creator of the whole universe and all the riches in it. And by the way, the greatest asset anyone can have is not money but intellect and a good name. No amount of money can buy these two assets.
Of course, there is no money I have stashed away somewhere, with which I can buy supporters. What I offer them is a covenant of servant-leadership, vision and purpose. I will stand for the downtrodden and the marginalised for youths, women and disabled. I will wipe away the tears of orphans and widows. I will restore hope to desperate unemployed youths whose future has been mortgaged. Remember, Barrack Obama had no money and no godfather when he surprised the world by winning the presidency of the United States of America. Young Emmanuel Macron defied all the odds as a relative unknown quantity to assume the high magistracy of the French Republic. We are the rainmakers. We are going to surprise the world!

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