‘I’m coming out because there is lack of justice, equity in the polity’
Presidential candidate of Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN), former soldier, and businessman, Dr. Davidson Isibor Akhimien, spoke to LAOLU ADEYEMI on national development, insecurity, among other salient issues
Nigerians seem to be tired of fake promises by Nigerian politicians. What do you have to offer Nigerians if elected president on Saturday?
Our party was established in December 2017 and we are coming fresh into the political space. My party is coming with an ideology to reduce or eradicate rural urban migration in Nigeria. We would look to having an intensive agro-economy, industrialization of rural areas with a view to fostering development across Nigeria. We would use technology to drive the nation’s economy, and we would ensure we stabilise power generation in the country. We shall encourage industrialization and promote agriculture without concentrating more on any particular region.
What is the blueprint you have to bring the long awaited development that Nigerians have been yearning for?
For me, education is very key in our plan to turn the fortune of this nation around. There is no way we can talk about sustainable national development without considering the level of education of the Nigerian populace. This is why education remains one of our major instruments to be used in fostering the development that the nation needs.
Do you have data on the literacy level in the country to arrive at that conclusion?
The fact that the literacy level of Nigeria still stands at 40-45 per cent shows that we have not even started any journey on the path of development. The development of any nation in the world is subject to the literacy level of her citizens. The human resource of a nation is the major resource it could bank on for development. No matter the level of development you bring to a country if the citizens are not educated to embrace and sustain it, the said development would crumble like a pack of cards. This explains why GDPN’s manifesto centres majorly on education. We know that the Mental Development of the Nigerian citizens is very key to the national development and its sustainable growth.
Despite the two per cent of the education trust fund that comes into the nation’s educational sector yearly, there is no much development in the area. An instance is the infrastructural decay in many of our tertiary institutions. My party wants illiteracy level to be at almost zero level. We are going to tweak the curriculum to suit what the nation needs in this 21st century with a view to having more innovators in our country.
One of the deficiencies in our society is that we lost our value system. So, we would need to tweak the school curriculum from the grassroots. Interestingly, funding will not be a problem because we would make use of public private partnership, with a mindset to improve the level of education in Nigeria.
Are you really a grassroots’ person and how well do you know the nation’s landscape?
I am a grassroots person and I am on the ground in every part of Nigeria. I m a member of 21st century Nigerian – I speak Hausa, Igbo Yoruba and French. I am an employer of labour in 20 states of the federation and I started my business with just N30,000, and today I have a group of companies. I am an African per excellence. I know what Nigerians want and I feel their pains. I was not born with a silver spoon and I understand the problem of Nigeria.
How long have you been in politics and what was the motivation?
I joined politics because when I look at the Nigeria in which I grew up, all 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. As for the political elite, as are amazed by the conduct of our leaders, how they play fast and loose 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 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 politicians in power and do not get anything from 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.
I’m coming out because I find out that primordial politics has been the order of the day. Nigeria is supposed to be a great and united country, but what I have seen is that politicians have divided the country among ethnic and religious lines. I’m coming out because I’m a detribalised Nigerian. I’m coming out because I’m 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 its progressive, service that I think can bring the country to unification. I’m 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 among people that are living on the fringes of society. I’m coming out because Nigeria cannot afford to waste her youth and their energy. I believe the future of our country is dependent on the strength and quality of the youth we produce today.
Corruption is the bane of underdevelopment. How does your government plan to fight corruption?
We need to understand what corruption is and its dimension. The current government‘s measure in fighting corruption is one of the many ways to fight corruption. This is the repatriation of the stolen national wealth to government’s pocket. But we need to understand corruption in the broad scope. No doubt, corruption is endemic in our country and there are many ways to fight it.
Standardization of our education system is one of the ways to contain corruption. We would set up a team that would be monitoring the investment we are making into the educational sector. Corruption in form of capital flight, nepotism, and how contracts are being awarded. Parents bribing teachers to promote their children are practicing corruption. The market woman also gets involve in it.
How will your government tackle corruption different from how it is being fought at the moment?
The legal angle is what we need to critically examine. Corruption is endemic in Nigeria; the issue of capital flight, over inflation of government’s contracts, and nepotism are other types of corruption. When we talk about corruption among the leaders, we must also look at the followers. While we applaud the issue of whistle-blowing the current government is using to recover some of the stolen funds, we should also look at how to bring some of the culprits to book.
Our party would also look at transparency in the running of government. Freedom of information will be seen to work effectively under our own government and there will be more transparency in the award of government’s contracts. We would also set up a special task force on corruption cases to speed up the process of judgment. Corruption kills the soul of a nation and we would take stringent measures to fight it.
With your background in security, what is your position on how to confront it?
When you plot a national security graph of our country, terrorist activities in the Northeast tops the chart. Fulani herdsmen and terrorism activities will follow this. Terrorism as a phenomenon is not new, but it has thrived on our land for 10 years. The best way to tackle terrorism is to prevent it from taking root. Unfortunately, we have so much allowed it to get to us before we took action. The sustaining factor of terrorism in Nigeria is its affiliation to ISIS.
One of the issues we are having is the inadequate supply of logistical support in fighting terrorism. Once a requirement is made for an ammunition supply, government must ensure proper monitoring so that the provision would cascade than to the troops. Counter-insurgency operation by the military does not necessarily eliminate insurgency; government needs to get to the root and address it.
Another salient issue is the way terrorists have formed a parallel government with the government in the Northeast region. Information meant to be provided by the citizens to the government is being divulged to the terrorist due to some lapses in the communication process between the governed and the government.
When the shooting stops, psychological operation begins. Psychological operation’s weapon is the brain and not the bullet. Government needs to indoctrinate the populace to the side of the government by intimating them with government’s plans to give them succour.
The level of education in that part of the country is also responsible for the way terrorism has thrived well in the region. There was, and still is, lack of education, lack of empowerment, and plenty of poverty, and they were not feeling the presence of government. So, government needs to give them more succour and not pack them into internally displaced camps (IDPS).
Obviously, there is a gap between the government and the people from that region. Government needs to massively invade the people from this region with massive succour. The war against terrorism goes beyond the issue of bullets; psychological war should resume immediately.
We should not just eliminate the causes of insurgency, but government must do more in addressing the issue. Terrorism is a psychological war. When I become the president, our intelligence operations would be ultra-proactive with a view to sensing danger from afar and address it.
Do you think you stand a chance among other major political parties like PDP and APC?
All power belongs to God. If you look at the statistical data, one may say we are new in Nigeria and among the political parties. But my resolve is to be the number one contender and president of this country. I have confidence that 2019 election is the defining moment for Nigerians, looking at the psychological and political experience.
It is an era for the emergence of a new political elite and departure from the old way the nation has been run. My party is at the vanguard of fostering a paradigm shift with a view to bringing real development. The verdict is with the masses, but whatever we do in this year elections will determine the future of the country in the next 30-40 years. It is a chance for Nigerians to make a new course for their lives. We are partakers of the experience of the old and we are better judges for the present.
Nigerians have seen a lot in the hands of the amorphous relationship between APC and PDP. Ask me who is the APC man of today and I will show you the PDP man of the old. The two parties blame each other for the nation’s woes, but we are not fools. Nigerians may have been pauperised by these political elites, but they need to carve a new path for themselves in this year’s elections.
What is your advice to voters in the coming elections?
It is high time Nigerians chatted a different course for their lives and it is a moment for them to interrogate their successive leadership and then make a judgment. Nigerians should pull away from the old politicians that have brought us to this level and try 21st century political leadership.