Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Samuel Mbonu, is a US based Nigerian and a former commissioner for Housing and Community Development in Maryland. He has declared his intention to dislodge President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential contest.
He argues that for Nigeria must move forward and compete favourably with other developed countries of the world, its citizens must resolve to jettison quota system and zoning of appointive and elective positions in the country, insisting that quota system and zoning of political offices were killing Nigeria slowly, thereby retarding its growth and development.
Mbonu, a strategic advisor and consultant in US, providing expertise on Africa matters to US private and public institutions, also explained why he was not running for the office of a governor in Nigeria, just as he revealed how he intends to sack the President Muhammad Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) next year.
He also spoke on his sojourn in the US and other issues of interest.
Why do you want to dislodge President Buhari?
I want to dislodge him because it is time for him to retire after a meritorious service to Nigeria both as military and civilian President. It is also time for new breed of younger leaders to emerge and revolutionise Nigeria’s political space. These set of leaders have prepared themselves with what it takes to pull Nigeria out of dungeon of underdevelopment and bad governance. It is also time we get competent, experienced and global leaders that would initiate policies and programmes that would herald the much expected positive change in Nigeria.
It’s unfortunate that we have long being under the leadership of some set of leaders who have lost touch with global realities. They relied solely on resources from ground (oil and gas) for revenue. But all those things have changed. 21st century world is driven by human capital. You might like to know that 10 richest men in the world have nothing to do with oil, gas or other resources from the ground. They discovered human problems and initiated amazing solutions to them and wealth became inevitable.
For instance, founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man today. His wealth came from online business. Facebook founder and many others are on the same category. These days, resources from oil and gas are not as useful as they were few decades ago. In fact, developed countries are gradually shifting to renewable energy. They have begun to produce electricity powered cars. Their devices are being designed in that respect too. It is a shame that Nigeria, a country of great people doing amazing things across the world could be held hostage by some political leaders who are after what they could get. I have been privileged to spend over three decades in the United States. My stay there brought me face to face with Nigerians who are doing great things in US and other developed economies. These people are willing to return to Nigeria with great experience and contacts but are not comfortable with Nigeria’s governance system which had and have continued to promote mediocrity, incompetence and corruption. All these would be a thing of the past when I’ m elected Nigeria’s President next year.
How conversant are you with Nigerian political system, having spent most of your years in the US?
It is true that I have lived in the US for the past three decades. But don’t forget that I was born and brought up in Nigeria. I am from Anambra State. I left Nigeria shortly after my secondary school education. After that, I was offered several leadership positions in the US and elsewhere in the world. My resume speaks for me. As a strategic advisor and consultant in US, I provided expertise on Africa matters to US private and public institutions. I served as commissioner for housing and community development in Maryland. I had to appear before Congressmen for screening, in addition to background checks before I could resume work. That was because of huge resources and responsibility of that office. However, that I work in US does not cut me off realities in Nigeria. I visit Nigeria very regular to acquaint myself with socioeconomic and political developments in Nigeria. In summary, I am very conversant with Nigerian political system and it will speak when the time comes.
How important is your US connection in the Nigeria’s 2019 election?
US is the most powerful country in the world and they play critical role in the world politics. They are aware of my plans to rescue Nigeria from socioeconomic and political dungeon. I have good friends that are occupying critical positions in the security, economy, intelligence, political and several other areas. I have informed them of my plans and they have assured me of their support.
Is it not wise for you to seek lesser political office since your name does not ring a bell in Nigeria’s political space?
It does not really matter if my name rings a bell in Nigeria’s political space or not. What matters is the ability to convince the electorate that the right candidate with capacity, experience and competence to sail the ship of Nigeria to desired destination has come. The world recognised that Nigeria is rich in human and material resources. All that is required is someone who is conversant with global economy and could damn the consequences to bring the much needed change.
The person should have global network and experience on modern and realistic ways of handling economy, security, global diplomacy and other issues that would promote socioeconomic growth of Nigeria. Nigerians have been deceived in the past by politicians with unrealistic promises. But the good news is that the people are politically wiser now than ever and they can make good choice of political leaders in the next election. I’m glad that some people that hitherto isolate themselves from political activities have developed more interest in who becomes their leader. For me, I have held positions that is far above the position of a governor and that is why I am running for the office of the President.
Who is your political godfather in Nigeria?
I have no political godfather and I don’t intend to get one. I have heard and seen what political godfathers could do. People always say that no one can politically succeed in Nigeria without a political father. Each time I’m confronted with that statement, my response is always ‘wait and see’. I don’t believe in that philosophy. However, politics in Nigeria is taking a new dimension. People have realised that the so-called godfathers are only but exploiters who are more interested in what they can get. I’m so glad that change has begun to come. People are more enlightened today than ever before. The changes might not come as fast as expected but I am very optimistic that new crop of leaders that would revolutionise Nigeria are about to emerge.
One of the things that has held Nigeria down, politically and otherwise thus far is zoning of political offices by political parties. Another one is quota system. The duo are enemies of progress. I weep for Nigeria each time I see good and experienced people schemed out of political, economic and security positions because of quota system and zoning. What quota system and zoning had done to Nigeria is paving the way for mediocrities, incompetence and ineptitude particularly in the public service.
Politics in Nigeria is capital intensive. How do you intend to fund your campaign?
It is indeed expensive to run for political office in Nigeria. My plan is to take the campaign to the people. I will make them own the project so they could give their best to it. Aside other means of raising funds, I will convince all my supporters to levy themselves so we could raise funds collectively to finance the campaign. With that, they would know that they are part and parcel of the project and they would commit to it.
Which political platform do you intend to use to achieve this dream?
I have not decided on one yet. The consultation is still ongoing. But my team and I have decided that any political party that we will choose must share the same vision and political ideology with us.
What is your assessment of INEC’s preparation for 2019 election?
I think that the preparation of INEC is impressive, but not up to the level that we had expected. But I think in few months time there would be a lot of improvement, going by the reports on registration and collection of Permanent Voter Card (PVC). Nigerians are politically wiser now than they were in 2015, and I am sure they would make informed choices when the election time comes.