Eminent businessman and All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential aspirant, Tein Jack-Rich, has said his motivation to govern Nigeria in 2023 is to emancipate the country from its current economic doldrums.
In this interview with AIDOGHIE PAULINUS in Abuja, Jack-Rich said the country needs a navigator, someone with the cutting edge knowhow, a developing agent who understands the mechanics and the microeconomic dialectics to deal with the core issues of the country and establish footprints that can grow the economy so that anyone can come on board.
Amongst other issues, Jack-Rich said if elected president in 2023, he will banish the nagging issues of youth unemployment, poverty, and social unrest, among others.
What is the motivation behind your quest to become president of Nigeria in 2023?
The point is that you have to be a patriotic citizen of your country. With the current trend of things going on in the world, if you look at the global economy right now, you’ll realise that Europe is struggling and it is likely to get worse by 2023. You look at the challenges in Eastern Europe where you have Ukraine and Russia fighting, and just a few days ago, we also saw that Finland and Sweden wanted to join NATO. It means that the global supply chain will be disrupted the more – market will struggle. In the Asian block, you see China also struggling with COVID; in the United States, it is struggling with inflation and these are countries that we all run to for help. The global economy is standing at about $82 trillion; continental Africa is about three percent of that, which is less than $2.5 trillion. Nigeria is about 19.8 percent of continental Africa’s GDP. The GDP that we currently have does not really mean cash at hand. Well, that is the size of our economy. It means that in 2023, with all the turbulences that the world is experiencing, it is going to be worse. So, you need the political leadership that understands the dialectics of microeconomic fundamentals to put in place the right economic policies and then, back it up with the right legislation to create jobs for our youths.
Unemployment is a major challenge. That will enable us to then secure a peace pact in our respective communities and states as unemployment has ravaged our communities and states as we speak right now. So, you need a strong, smart, energetic, and fresh leader with the right knowhow and how to turn that knowhow into fiscal value for the country to grow. And I have seen myself as one who has been able to develop these qualities to be able to give back. I have been in business for 24 years now, doing good around, helping communities in states and all that, providing potable water, building hospitals; some, constructing roads so that we can connect markets; awarding scholarships and really feeling the vibes of those communities. So, the bubble right now is about a do-not scenario in 2023 is going to be catastrophic. Oil and gas is dwindling. You saw the report that JPMorgan just put out, deleting Nigeria from the list of emerging economies. These are challenges that social unrest is creating for us. Even with the oil windfall, we were not able to produce a lot to deal with our needs, while we are still struggling with subsidies and all that. So, my interest for the 2023 presidency is for the heart of this country to be saved, to be protected so that I can give back my knowhow to my great country, Nigeria.
Do you have the political structures to clinch the presidential seat in 2023?
We just inaugurated our coordinators who are statutory delegates and they have been championed to go to their respective states. I am also engaging governors, engaging stakeholders, party members and all that and I believe strongly that with the message that I have, when they listen to the message, the partnership to support my candidature will be something that they will all buy into.
In the race, we have Bola Tinubu, Vice President Osinbajo, and Rotimi Amaechi, among others. How do you hope to galvanise party members to ensure that you clinch the ticket from them?
Party members are like you and I. They all represent their respective interests – economic interest, political interest and social interest. My message is key – the economic emancipation of the people. My message is key – to create jobs so that unemployment will be a thing of the past. To help develop the party in such a manner that it becomes the strongest, the most innovative and rich party. So, my message to my party members is all about the newness I am bringing to the table. Yes, the names you mentioned have been there, they are fathers, they are highly respected, but I am a producer, I am not a consumer. I produce what a lot of these guys consume and spend. What brought them to where they are is all about consuming what someone has produced. So, I am a producer of the critical asset that this country must depend on. So, you need a president that can enable oil production to mitigate the shortfall in our foreign exchange earnings and using it as a catalyst to industrialise this economy. I am a development agent, so I understand the engines of economic growth and that is the type of leadership that we need and not names. We need leadership that has the audacity and capacity to take risk in what he or she believes in and to deliver goods for the best of the economy and the country.
There is the issue of North-South dichotomy and the South-East is saying it hasn’t taken a shot at the presidency and that it should be given to them. Are you confident that a southerner will clinch the 2023 presidency, particularly you?
My interest for 2023 is not about South-South, South-East or South-West. It is about the heart of this country. This country will be bleeding real hard by 2023. You need the right political leadership to deliver the best for this country. You need freedom of the press; you need our creative industry to be accessed to getting the best from their creative work. We have a lot of piracy and all that. So, there is a lot to be done for this economy.
There is a lot to be done for all the sectors and the collaboration that I am bringing on board as a private sector player is the engine that will develop this economy to a point where it goes on a cruising altitude. When the economy is cruising, then you can bring any man to come on board. But right now, the economy requires someone with the cutting edge knowhow, someone who is a developer, a developing agent, who understands the mechanics and the microeconomic dialectics, to deal with the core issues and establish footprints that can grow economy so that anyone can come on board. You can ask a child of ten years to pilot a ship, but that child does not have the ingredients and the knowhow to navigate the ship. So, right now, we need a navigator.
Why do you think we are where we are as a nation? Why have we not been able to get it right till now?
I don’t want to talk about why we are where we are. All I want to talk about is that 2023, we have a challenge that you need the right knowhow to deliver the best and I think that overtime, our forebears have tried in working so hard to deliver their promises. But the most important thing is that there have been several challenges and all that. But 2023 is key for us to reset this economy. And to do that, you need someone with the right knowhow, with a cutting edge, an intellectual prowess, someone who has been a risk-taker; someone who is a development agent, somebody who understands the microeconomic dialectics that needs to be established and to enable us to have an economy to deliver what this country really needs. We need a knowhow-based leadership, a leadership that can take risk in what it believes in. We need a leadership that will enable our currency have the right value because the fiscal policy enablers have strengthened the core engines that drive profitable economic growth, using the private sector as the key engine.
There is no way you can reset the Nigerian economy without putting in place, proper security architecture. What is your plan in that direction?
You talk about security architecture and we talk about providing jobs for the youths. I mean, the youths are hungry, the youths are angry. We have a surge in population, a population that by 2023 will be about 222 million. And the dependency rate is so high. We have over 78 per cent of the population as dependants. So, you need a leadership that can put in place, the right economic policy to utilise a lot of our youths who are hanging out there doing nothing. Train them through the value chain, get the right education for them, and then, as soon as they come out, they are into the market, creating value. Not only that, we need a leadership that can convert a lot of the informal sector value into the formal sector market. And to do that, there are certain incentives that we need to provide so that the government can earn more money. Over 60 per cent of the market opportunities that have been inflated, the government can’t even say anything, can’t realise any value from it. The government is not earning from it. So, our strategy is to go smart. With a smart industrialisation, a model which is borne by the Jack-Rich Industries-360, we will be able to curb a lot of these excesses and all these waste and put them into the basket so we can have a lot more to enable local community wellness and to grow economy and maintain social wellness.
It is believed nationally and internationally that one of the reasons why we are backward as a nation is as a result of corrupt tendencies in governance? How do you hope to tackle corruption?
That is where technology comes in. Right now, technology has advanced. We have artificial intelligence and all that. Public and private sector partnership is key and the public sector development is also important – -developing the public sector with the right knowhow, with the right training. Reforms will be done so that they will be through modern technologies so that you don’t have to submit a document and somebody will pick that file and start going from desk to desk for approval. That is where corruption sets in. So, avoiding one-on-one handling also will reduce corruption. But the most important thing is reconstructing the economy with a lot of job opportunities so that a lot of these redundant youths who will find themselves in public service will not be thinking about how do I maximise wealth for myself rather than maximising wealth for state? So, technology is going to be one of the key engines, but to do that, we need to set up a centre of excellence – smart cities where they can go and be trained. A lot of our universities will also be enabled to have different schools so that they can have vocational training centres where they can acquire these basic skills and knowledge that is needed to deliver the best that the local community or society really needs.
How do you hope to repair the battered image of Nigeria?
You know I am a private sector player. I play in the bigly strategic national economy. So, when a private sector player who understands the mechanics of public and global enterprise, how it works – the ethics, the standards, the procedure, the requirement, the operationality, the trade,he does and then, they use that to judge you. But again, my story is there. My antecedent is known. Our interest is our country and also to create that inclusion and in collaboration within the private and public sector. Not only that, foreign investors will have that security to put in that money in Nigeria and then, to grow the amount of wealth that they need so that they can make profit and the country too can earn from it.
The party on whose platform you are contesting for the presidency in 2023, the APC, a lot of Nigerians believe it has not fulfilled the promises it made to them in 2015 and 2019. What is your take on that?
You need to understand why I pretty much love the party. It is called APC. Do you know what APC means? All Progressives Congress. I am a progressive and the party is for the youths, young people like me, to showcase your interest, to come out with innovation. Whatever may have happened before, it is a party with varied interest and different people with different political ideologies. Sometimes, you have that mix up. They will come with different stuffs. But I am coming in with newness and for me, the best party to showcase my contents is APC because it is for the progressives. And we will come in and change the tide and change the narrative and then work by the principles that guide the progressives. And I believe it is for young guys like you too. Perhaps, you are going to join us when I become the president.