CUPP MoU stated that after the emergence of the consensus presidential candidate, other positions would be filled by the other presidential candidates.
Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Dr Davidson Isibor Akhimien, the presidential candidate of the Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN) believes that the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) from its foundation was a fraud to grab power not in the interest of Nigeria and its people, but for selfish interest.
Akhimien in an exclusive interview with Sunday Sun before the flag-off of his presidential campaign in Bayelsa explained that the promoters of CUPP were not sincere with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed, which he claimed was demonstrated through its breach. This, he said, was not different from the retrogressive politics that has held the country down for so long. According to him, GDPN promises a new vision for Nigeria different from the ones the recycled politicians have failed to deliver to Nigerians.
What made you to withdraw from CUPP?
A situation where people are looking for power at all costs, there are a lot of deceit; there are a lot of half-truths. At a time that the MoU was signed by different party chairmen, the agreement was that there would be two primaries. The first primaries would be for the constituent units to pick their presidential candidates; the second primaries would be for all the presidential candidates of CUPP that emerged where a selection is going to be made through a transparent process. But that was not to be. We found this to be a total miscarriage and a travesty of justice and the process. The moment Atiku Abubakar emerged as the PDP presidential candidate; he just went and picked his running mate whereas CUPP MoU stated that after the emergence of the consensus presidential candidate, other positions would be filled by the other presidential candidates. Secondly, most of the political parties chairmen became presidential candidates of their parties, where is that done expect in Nigeria and nobody called them to question. So, the whole arrangement was not in the interest of Nigeria and the people, but for self interest. And most of these political parties you are talking about are by proxies. So, there was what I called a pre-conceived arrangement. So, it was fraud from the beginning and we cannot be part of a fraud. We had looked forward to the emergence of a fresh party with a fresh face to take Nigeria out of the doldrums that the old recycled politicians had kept us, we didn’t see that happen, and we would not be part of retrogression; so we are advancing without CUPP.
Why are you contesting for the presidency?
I am contesting for the presidency because I have the capacity, the competence and the pedigree. I have the experience. As Nigerians we are tired of the experience of the old order, an experience that has paid off for the teeming mass majority of our people. This is why I am running for the highest office in the country so that I can entrench politics of social justice, a politics of inclusiveness, politics based on righteousness, morality and not the debauchery we find around. I am running for the office in order to clean the stable.
What in your understanding do you think has gone wrong with Nigeria?
It is very clear for all to see. We are inundated on a daily basis by the activities and actions of our politicians, especially in the area of corruption. You see how our nation is being torn apart along the fault lines of religion and ethnicity. It has been a very difficult thing to build nationhood in Nigeria. The integration and cohesion needed to put the country together and focus on developmental issues are not there. We are playing politics of greed, avarice and politics that pander to the self. A lot of things have been wrong and I would summarise them in four points. In the first place where we are as nation compared to other countries that got independence at the same time with us is nothing to write home about. If we look at these countries: Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and put them side by side with Nigeria, you will see that we are still lagging behind. If you look at all the United Nations Index on nations in the healthcare delivery and human development index, you would find that we are way behind. Recently, when talking about terrorism, Nigeria was mentioned, our own Nigeria has become the third country in terms of global rating of terrorism, something that used to be an anathema. In the human development index, Nigeria is rated 152 out 157 countries. When you look at all of these things you would see that there is a lacuna in the area of visionary leadership. Visionary leadership is what took Singapore to where it is today; visionary leadership is what took UAE to where it is today; it is what took China to where it is today. Today, China is bursting loose. Visionary leadership is what is taking a country like Rwanda and making it a model for democracy for Africa. Nigeria is lagging behind. This is not the Nigeria of our expectations. It would appear that successful leaderships have not been able to take us to Uhuru. So, visionary leadership is one area I have identified that we have missed it. The other thing I have identified is governance. Poor governance is defined by the poor infrastructure you find all over the place. Poor governance is defined by the insecurity that pervades the country; poor governance is defined in the stifling of institutions of democracy that should hold society. There is poor governance and Nigerians are just looking and complaining on the sidelines. Nigerians need to take the bull by the horns. It is time for a turn around. Enough is enough. Thirdly, our politics is not played along the lines of development. Politics is all about development. Even if you say politics is group interest or contestation for power, even the groups as encapsulated in space and time in this country show me the development. The terrorism we are experiencing in the Northeast today is largely as a result of disconnect between governance and the governed. There is lack of provision of basic amenities for the common man. That is why today when Boko Haram offers a better life for the recruits you find them pandering to them. That is why they continue to recruit as many of them that are dying. They find it lucrative to align with a parallel government. Finally, we need the restoration of moral values. It is in consonance with the common good. Today, we live a lie in this country. There are no more family values. A father lies to his children. Children lie to their parents. A child indulges in 419, which they call Yahoo Yahoo and parents would be cheering them on. There is no wrong any longer. So, how can you now build a nation on falsehood? Our politics is now monetised and that is why we are in this quagmire. The electorate would expect you to give them money and tomorrow they would say politicians are corrupt. Culpability is both ways. Nigerians have to change their thinking. We have to sacrifice for once to bring about the desired change. There is no good thing that comes without sacrifice. Nigerians have to sacrifice this time around.
Why did you choose Bayelsa to flag off your campaign?
Indeed, it could have been any other state in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, Bayelsa to me is a very special state. It is special to the economy of Nigeria as presently constituted by the way of what we contribute to the GDP. Nigeria is largely a mono-cultural economy and a larger part of that come from the South-south and Bayelsa is a major state. So, it is in recognition of that contribution to the economy of Nigeria, I decided to honour Bayelsa to flag-off my campaign.