Fela Durotoye is the presidential candidate of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN). He speaks about his mission and vision for Nigeria.
You emerged ANN presidential candidate through what some say was a controversial primary. What impression does that leave of the party?
The Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) is a party that holds transparency, integrity and excellence as its core values. There were two of us contesting for the party’s nomination as Presidential candidate, myself and Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim. A day to the presidential primary, Mr. Olawepo-Hashim sent a letter to the party chairman, Emmanuel Dania and the Board of Trustees, withdrawing from the race. However, since it was a day to the primary, his name remained on the ballot. The primary was held in the presence of five officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The delegates overwhelmingly voted for my vision for a New Nigeria and entrusted the party’s mandate to me with 240 votes to Mr. Olawepo-Hashim’s seven votes. Mr. Olawepo-Hashim and several party members created a faction of the party, held parallel primaries without officials of INEC. They have however now joined the People’s Trust Party.
I will simply say that the old order of money politics has no place in the ANN and those of us remaining in the ANN are patriots who want the best for our nation. Those who sowed discord, lies and propaganda in order to further their own personal agenda to the detriment of true democracy are no longer with us.
The group Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT), initially adopted you as consensus candidate. But all of the actors who supposedly adopted you are now presidential candidates in other political parties. Does that mean that the PACT is no longer of effect?
To be clear, PACT hasn’t collapsed, rather, we have synergised our resources, visions and structure into a more formidable platform, the Alliance for New Nigeria. About 20 presidential aspirants came together to form the PACT alliance. We recognised that we were stronger together than divided. So, we needed to come together, place our personal interests aside for the good of Nigeria and ultimately come up with a process to choose a consensus aspirant, who we would all throw our weight behind. Eventually, 13 aspirants followed through those conversations and I emerged from that process.
The process of PACT points out the difference between politics and nation building. Politicians are thinking about bitter competition while nation builders are thinking about better collaboration. So while some aspirants are now candidates on different platforms, I believe that building a new Nigeria, starting in 2019 is a team effort. If we all come together, as a team; as I believe we will, and put Nigeria first and ourselves last, and offer true servant leadership, Nigerians will realise their options are not limited to the lesser of two evils, but a greater good is also available.
What is your vision for Nigeria, 58 years after independence the country seems to be going in circles, what are you bringing to the table?
My vision is clear. A country that is the world’s most desirable nation to live in, work or do business with by December 31, 2025. I’m not even offering a better Nigeria; I’m offering a new Nigeria. A new Nigeria is not negotiable. Fifty-Eight years ago, the world had high hopes for our nation as several young people came together for a particular goal, to birth a new, independent nation. They weren’t tied down by political contraptions of zoning, tribe or religion. We were Nigerians. We were a nation that the world had high hopes for.
My leadership is offering a new Nigeria where opportunities abound for everyone. We will build a new Nigeria where what is available to the rich is accessible to the poor. We will build a new Nigeria where we are seen as Nigerians, and not the tribes we come from. I offer an opportunity to build a new Nigeria where generators are silent because power is present, where our law enforcement officers are the most professional and distinguished in the world and where we are the first choice for Nigerians to educate their children. I’m offering visionary leadership for new Nigerians to birth and build a new country. My vision is to restore our lost hope and glory in being Nigerian. Today, we have been divided by politicians who have successfully engaged in promoting our diversity as differences so they can divide and rule us. That’s why my candidacy is not about politics, it’s about nation building. We have had several decades of politics and it hasn’t worked. It’s time for a new era, of nation building. That’s why I don’t engage in giving sound bites so I can make the news or maligning the character of other candidates to score some cheap political points. That’s not what the new Nigeria is about.
Many politicians now play up the issue of restructuring and it seems the topic would play critical role in the outcome of the 2019 presidential election. What is your position on that?
I recognise and understand the importance of restructuring, but I don’t believe it’s just about resource control. My thoughts on resource control are mainly on fair distribution of the resources. Presently,
the Federal Government is the greatest beneficiary of resource control. In true federalism, the states own most of the revenue that come from the resources found in their territories. But I believe that the states themselves shouldn’t be the sole beneficiaries. In a Fela Durotoye administration, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would not be an economic complexity, GDP must get down to my pocket. If it doesn’t reach the common man, it’s just big english. I believe that the communities where the resources are found should get 20 percent, the local government should get 20 percent, the states should get 20 percent and the Federal Government should get 40 percent. Now, for reasons of financial transparency and probity, the money generated from these resources will be allocated to a special fund to develop these communities, building roads, schools and hospitals, so they can see their lives getting better from the resources they own. Going into restructuring, I believe that most of the agitation is because there is no clear vision that binds us as Nigerians that we can channel our unique diversity to create a united, new Nigeria and secondly, there is no fair and equitable distribution of resources. I believe that the Federal Government must create a national standard that is replicated across all states. For example, there should be a national housing code, or standard for how thick our roads should be, how many children should be in a school and what colours their classrooms should be. I believe states should be given the authority to generate their own power, secure their own borders with their own police, but we must also strengthen our institutions like the judiciary, law enforcement, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and INEC among others to be independent of manipulation. We must take politics out of governance and rework our constitution.
Some Nigerians see the presidential election as a two-horse race between the All Progressives Congress (APC) President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The ANN does not appear in the permutations. What do you say to that?
It’s actually a three horse race between, President Buhari, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and the millions of Nigerians who have been failed by both the APC and the PDP. The ANN would represent these Nigerians. Nigerians are speaking out now because for the last 20 years of our democracy, they have seen politicians rule with impunity, making lofty promises that they don’t intend to keep. I want these people to see in me, a man just like them who will make a single promise to them; to put Nigeria first, Nigerians second and himself last. The ANN may be a new party, but we know the complaints of Nigerians. Every Nigerian who does not believe in the APC or the PDP is an ANN member. We are the party that represents Nigerians that are tired of how the country is. We are not politicians, we are nation builders. We are the party for those who don’t believe in the APC or the PDP.
So you don’t believe the APC and the PDP have solution to the nation’s problems?
When you want to build a house, you may have the money to hire painters, bricklayers, carpenters and buy materials; but none of those things are the most important. The single most important thing you need to build a house is intangible but it controls the physical. You need a vision of the type of house you want to build. Your vision will eventually determine the number of bricklayers, carpenters and masons you need to hire. So my answer is what vision does President Buhari or former Vice President, Atiku have?
My vision is very clear and I’ve been saying it and working in my own way towards it since 2004. It’s to build Nigeria into the world’s most desirable nation to live in by December 31, 2025. That’s seven years and two months from now. My vision is to make this nation the first choice for all Nigerians to live, work and do business and the preferred destination for foreign direct investments.
What do you advice Nigerians to do?
In a nutshell, I’d say vote your values, vote for the candidate that presents an opportunity for a new Nigeria that works for all and not some. The 2019 elections are not between the APC and the PDP. It’s a choice between the old Nigeria represented by the APC, the PDP and others like them and the new Nigeria. It’s a choice between politics and governance. It’s a choice between politicians and nation builders. It’s a choice between experience and expertise.
It’s a choice between staying with our terrible past and trying a new, clear future. It’s the choice between having one extra hour of light and never having to say ‘Up NEPA again.’ My advice is for all Nigerians to come out and vote. Don’t sit at home and watch it on TV. Don’t say your vote won’t count; because if that was true, then why are politicians buying them? Don’t say people haven’t heard about Fela, tell people about him and the ANN. Don’t say Fela Durotoye won’t win, so I won’t waste my vote. If 100 million people decide to waste their vote on Fela Durotoye, we will win.