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‘Nigeria’s future is dependent on strength, quality of youths we produce today’

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Davidson Isibor Akhimien is the chairman of Grassroots Democratic Party of Nigeria (GDPN) and a presidential aspirant. He is a philanthropist and currently sits as the Chairman of King David Group of companies with interests in the private security, logistics and hospitality. In this interview with SEREBA AGIOBU-KEMMER and LEO SOBECHI, he spoke on the burning issues of politics, security, governance and national development.

For how long have you been in politics? What is the motivation for going into politics? On what platform are you running for the 2019 election? What should Nigerians expect from your leadership?

I joined politics because when I look at Nigeria, in which I grew, all of the hopes and aspirations that we had while growing up have been dashed. I speak for my generation and generations yet unborn. As it is today, our generation is in disarray.

There is a lot going on in the political scene, in the economic landscape and all are saying that they expected to see a better Nigeria, food for all by year 2010, electricity for all by year 2010 none of those things have materialized It appears we have been moving backwards, apart from that we see the intransigence and the primitive accumulation of the political class.

The political elite; most times we are inundated by the conduct of our leaders in the papers as to how they play fast and lose with the resources of our country, the common wealth of the people.

You hear of how money is being stashed abroad by individual politicians all in the bid to accumulate wealth for themselves to the detriment of the entire citizenry, hospitals are not equipped, health workers are not adequately paid, the educational sector is in decay, the quality of education is very suspect, there’s no housing, and you see from very large aspect, the people are not benefiting from democratic governance. Politics and governance are to a very large extent about justice and equity and that’s why I’m coming out.

I’m coming out in the interest of the downtrodden of the Nigeria society, I’m coming out in the interest of the forgotten grassroots people, the same people that put the Politicians to power and do not get anything from the government. I’m coming out because Nigeria is blessed enough to have a more prosperous society, an equitable society, an egalitarian society because that’s not what we are experiencing now. I’m coming out because of the heightened level of insecurity in the land, the security of citizens is one of the primary responsibilities of any government.

The President, Commander in Chief of the armed forces in trying reconstitution of the federal republic the protection of lives and properties and the establishing of welfare for the people of Nigeria, I see that there appears to be a failing in that area giving the recent insecurities we are experiencing in so many states of the federation. I’m coming out because there is a need for the rebirth of our nation.

Our nation has been moved topsy-turvy there is no proper grounding, the institutions are there but they are not strong, persons are regarded far above institutions.

Institutions should hold sway. Persons come and go but institutions remain. So there’s a need to strengthen the institutions, I’m coming out for that reason.

I’m coming out because I find out that primordial politics has been the order of the day, Nigeria is suppose to be a great and united country but what I have seen is that politician have divided the country among ethnic and religious lines, am coming out because am a detribalised Nigerian, am coming out because am a product of this country Nigeria in the sense that the federal government sponsored me from the beginning to the end of my education.

Speaking from the point of patriotism I owe my country service that will account for progressiveness, service that I think can bring the country to terms of unification, am coming out because Nigeria needs to be an integrated society, an egalitarian society, a society where there’s a future for the youth, but as it stands today, our youth don’t have a future.

There is a lot of disillusionment amongst not only the youth, but also people that are living on the fringes of society.

I’m coming out because Nigeria cannot afford to waste her youth, the energy of her youth; the future of a country is dependent on the strength, quality of the youth we produce today. The drug issue has become a very big problem with our youth, drug is ravaging our youth we cannot afford to have a drug ravaging youth in this country otherwise our country Nigeria will be doomed.

On the matter of youth, from demographic information, we have a very young population, the median is less than18 years, both female and male and the young people 0-14 are about 43 per cent, when we take 15-54 we have like 50 per cent of the population that is vibrant and energetic that should be really driving the development of the nation, as our Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka said recently that the intellectual capacity and patriotism should be the driving force of the youth.

But do they have the education system, considering that the social system has failed because excellence is no longer there?

You don’t have a youth, you don’t have a future and human capacity development is primary in our consideration for building a new nation because like Bill Gates said “no matter how much investments you put into infrastructures, if you do not have an educated workforce populace to drive whatever the developmental project or infrastructures you put in place, you have not achieved anything.

When you talk about a nation, a nation is nothing without its people, its people must be developed intellectually.

Look at the education system today, its so poor that sometimes I want to weep when you look at messages in the social media, you look at the kind of language that persons that are suppose to be a masters degree holder and even professor use, you will weep and that for me it’s a random sampling of what our educational standards are, abysmally low, very poor quality of education, what do you expect from the people who are not properly educated.

Our schools at all levels: primary, secondary, tertiary have been brought to a situation where the quality of education is like peanuts.

There is no quality instruction, even persons who are suppose to be teachers and instructors themselves falter a great deal so what can they pass on to their students, what kind of leaders are we producing for the future?

I have great fears for my country. So what are we going to do as a government, we will try to see how we will revamp the entire educational sector. There is a percentage of company income tax about 2 per cent that is meant for education.

The question is how are these funds applied? Are they applied to education where they are supposed to be or they are diverted? We are going to try to build more schools, we are going to try to improve the level of instructions if it means hiring instructors from overseas as used to be the case when we were growing up, we will do so because we must turn the educational sector around that’s the foundation of any meaningful development in a nation.

We are going to refocus, look at our educational curriculum at all levels, we are going to refocus on the requirement of modern day Nigerian society we are going to b paying attention to SET (Science Engineering and Technology).

The world today is a digital economy we operate and so we need to train people skill set that are able to meet the development in the 21st century so we are going to redirecting our curriculum, we are going to be encouraging innovation and ingenuity in our youth and ensuring that wherever we find inventions in our youth, a direct policy of government will be in place to encourage such inventions to the climax.

On a clear myogenic table can you in a jiffy name 42 people you can use as a team to drive these processes you’re talking about?

42 persons, I have them on my list

The issue of leadership selection has been the bane of this country, there have always been this attempt to cerograph zonal structure, and how do you think the issue of zoning will be the solution?

That’s the problem, especially at political party level. There is need for Nigerians to understand that we are one nation, one people.

When it comes to this issue of zoning, let the best man do the job if you zone to a region and the region cannot produce someone as good enough that comes from another region of what use is it? We are talking about representation we are talking about performance in the political scene.

We politicize everything that’s my problem with Nigeria” We are talking about somebody that will move Nigeria from point A to point B and then you’re bringing sectionalism, you’re bringing zoning.

If its somebody from fringes that can move Nigeria from point A to point B so be it, we are looking for leadership, this ethnic and regional leanings and persuasions have been the pain of our society, why should we continue to throne along those lines, I’m first a Nigerian before am an Igbo man, am first a Nigerian before am a Yoruba man, am first a Nigerian before am a Edo state man that’s why bringing back our new educational curriculum we are going to bring back civic education so that we promote symbols of patriotism, symbols of Nigerianism amongst the youth.

Today, children that are growing up are not looking at themselves as either Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa, they grow up going to the same schools, having the same aspirations and hope. It’s our forbears that try to tear us apart along religious and ethnic lines, but it’s a shame for modern day Nigeria for people to still be talking of ethnicity and religious persuasions.

Coming to the issue of structure, where do you stand in this current talk about restructuring of the economic and political system?

It is an issue that have been burning in hearts of many Nigerians and this issue of restructuring has taken the front burner just as a result of seeming imbalances that has existed over the years in political governance.

The perception of lack of justice in the governance in the country, the lack of proper integration of the different peoples in this country.

As a result of certain policies and actions of successive government that have not been justiciable as far as the entity called Nigeria is concerned that’s why we have this things coming up and everybody wanting to go to their towns, so to speak.

Instead of building a Nigeria that’s more integrated, where the people fuse into themselves I think that should be the future, people are clamoring for restructuring. I think in the final analysis that decision will rest for the people when our government comes into power.

When you come to the Nigerian nation, let us take first for instance the issue of security and architecture, the insurgence in the northeast, where will you situate the failure of the nation to contain that insurgency, where will you situate it as a person with enabled background?

If you look at it from the point of view of political economy, you will discover that so many factors were responsible for the emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria but be that as it may, the present government I must give them a pat at the back for having degraded the Boko Haram element the way they have done.

But you see, as with all the insurgence and terrorist activities, there is no final ending of the war. The war may end but sporadic attacks may still occur as a result of their cell group type of operation.

What has happened is that the military campaign has been brought to an end, but now insurgents have now moved fast into cell groups and at the level of cell groups, the heightened intelligence activity is what government needs to take on to be able to reduce attacks at the cell group level because what they’ll be doing is looking at opportunity target so you may end the war but sporadic attacks still continue for a while.

Now my advice to government is “at this stage of the conclusion of the military campaign, government must begin to put in place what we call psychological operation” it a military term that refers to, in this case, the massive de- radicalization of persons in that area.

Who are these persons; persons who have been called a Boko Haramist, persons who have the tendency to join the Boko Haram movement, and the youth generally in that area.

There is a need of massive psychological operation to be carried out by the government, using all measures and all instruments. It starts from the mind. They were brainwashed and indoctrinated so what we need to do in the level of psychological operation is to further brainwash them and re-indoctrinate them so that they will be impended with national goals and aspirations.

The issue of the sale of military equipment from the USA has become an issue, now situating the problem of insecurity in Nigeria is it about equipment or personnel or the whole organogram of security?

It’s an entire gamut. There is the place for equipment; there is the place for personnel in the place of manpower, because if you look at the population of Nigeria over 190 million people conservatively speaking, and you look at the number of police men in our police force and even the military you’ll find out that there’s no match, the ratio of policeman and the number of Nigerians is small almost none existence so to speak, so there is the issue of no strength, the manpower of the police force, there is also the issue of equipment modern day fighting equipment “ we have what is called asymmetric fighting in the 21st century so the equipment that will be used is a specialized equipment and I don’t think we have that in enormous numbers, I think it’s a good thing to invest in that because we may not have seen the end of the asymmetric conflict in the land.


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