You have indicated interest to run for the presidency in 2019. What are your cardinal programmes?
This is not a declaration as such but what I did was in continuation of my consultation with stakeholders, elders and party supporters across the country. They called on me to get ready for the ticket of my party, the PDP, to run for the number one post of this country.
I therefore decided to come home to discuss and seek the opinion of my people who are my immediate constituency. As you may have noted, I had a long stretch of discussion with the stakeholders of the party, the local government and the state leadership and I did inform them of the call upon me to run for the presidency of this country by traditional rulers, the business community and other stakeholders. I decided that it is incumbent on me to come to my state and hold discussions with my people and put a critical question to them whether it is worth it for me to join the race and the resounding response from them was that I should join the race.
With this assurance, with this support with the leadership of PDP in my state, I think the stage is now set for me to discuss with other stakeholders across board to make formal my declaration to join the presidential race to seek the ticket of my party.
With what Nigerians are witnessing in the present leadership of the country, what new things should we expect from you?
For me, I am going to draw inspiration from the manifesto of our party and I am going to look into the programmes the PDP has drawn for the past 16 years when we ruled this country. Beyond that, there are three key issues that my party is very concerned about. Number one is the issue of economy; the PDP made Nigeria’s economy the biggest in Africa; it became investors’ haven in Africa. Unfortunately today, Nigeria’s economy is in a very sorry state.
Number two is the issue of security; everybody knows what the situation was under the PDP. What the APC had against us in 2014 and 2015 was the issue of security but we are all living witnesses as to how the PDP was able to improve on that. I had the privilege of being the chairman of the committee that dialogued with the insurgents; we all knew what we did to cripple the wings of those insurgents who were not willing to dialogue.
Today, the APC government keep telling Nigerians lies by saying they have degraded Boko Haram. We are not safe in our houses; we are not safe on the streets; we are not safe in our places of work. What kind of country is this? Again, because of insecurity, we don’t have investors coming to Nigeria anymore. This is having an overbearing effect not only on security but also on the inflow of businesses and other opportunities. In Nigerian today, we have a lot of investors folding up. They are selling their investments and moving out of the country.
Number three is the issue of corruption. Never in our history as a nation since the amalgamation of Nigeria over a hundred years ago have we seen the kind of corruption we are faced with under the leadership of the APC. The war against corruption being fought by the Federal Government is lopsided.
Nobody will run away from the issue of security because whatever you want to do to Nigerians you must ensure their security. I have been involved in this before and I will not shy away from it. The issue of the economy should also be considered very well.
Today, everything is falling apart. Go round and ask the citizens. Someone who has a capital of i will find it difficult to fully account for it. The rate of unemployment and inflation is very high. Go to our markets and to the various business communities, you will be shocked at the limitations and handicaps that our people are going through. Go and see what is happening. People have had their businesses completely wiped off and others who are struggling have their businesses in a sorry state. We are going to restore the confidence of our people and the good days will be brought back by the grace of God.
How do you intend to tackle these issues if elected?
The first thing anybody who is going to fly the PDP flag would do is to draw his aspiration from the PDP manifesto. We have a programme; I will not bring anything outside what is in the programmes of the PDP. Our programmes worked before and I believe they will work again.
On the issue of the economy, the PDP has what it takes to improve on the economy. As far as the issue of corruption is concerned, we started from within our party. We stated that we would start the investigation from our members. I know of people who have been accused of corruption and unwholesome practices but are walking the street head tall today. They found themselves in the APC and became ‘saints’. When the time comes, we will right the wrong; we will do things holistically; we will do things with sincerity; we will do things transparently and with integrity because this APC government lacks integrity; this government lacks credibility.
Many of the governors who collected the Paris Club refund did not use it in paying workers’ arrears. If elected president, how would you tackle this?
If you ask Nigerian workers, they will tell you not only do they know me but indeed I am a friend of the Nigerian worker. I have had the privilege of being a Minister of Labour for nine months; I was even a supervising minister as at that time and as at then, there were 23 different labour unresolved issues and I was able to resolve them before I handed over to the person who took over from me as substantive minister. In addressing all these issues, I will draw inspiration from the holy Quran as a Muslim. The prophet said if anybody has engaged in any legal labour, his wages should be paid to him and rightly so. But let us look at it holistically, it is not that Nigeria is poor, it is not that Nigeria does not have the resources but those resources are poorly managed.
In the case of the APC government, their priorities are misplaced. They don’t have the welfare of the Nigerian workers to heart. That is why they are doing things the way they like.