Restructuring Nigeria will transform local communities into industrial hubs- Durotoye
The presidential candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Mr. Fela Durotoye, in this interview with VICTOR GBONEGUN, urged those displeased with the state of affairs to stand to be counted, just as he maintained that his party would facilitate the birth of a new Nigeria if voted into power.
Most political parties are often tardy in their takeoff, as well as, implementation of policies and programmes, how are you going to address this and what will Nigerians gain from your government if elected?
We have designed a blueprint, which was unveiled in May 2018. ANN has a 10-point agenda, which is constantly reviewed. We are not one of those that would show up for our inauguration without believing in a strong and new Nigeria. Nigerians are tired and they desire a new set of leaders. If voted into office, by May 29, we should be announcing most of our cabinet members and it would be the first cabinet that would have been formed immediately after inauguration as seen in other countries.
I believe that Nigerians, first and foremost, would gain the opportunity to pursue happiness, and most importantly, a nation that they would be proud of. In order to be able to extend opportunities to all, three things have to happen- the people would gain a leadership and government that serves the people and not Nigerians serving the government; we will run a government that reduces wastage, and we will cut down corruption and show real techno-leadership.
Secondly, we will make sure that our economy grows because we are going to diversify the economy and with the growth of the economy (through tapping our abundant natural resources), we would change local government areas to economic hubs and industrial zones, thereby increasing job opportunities for Nigerians.
ANN will also bring about reorientation for a new Nigeria and Nigerians would emerge as people that others would love to work with, and through this, we will have a nation where there would be opportunities for all. Anybody who is a son of nobody will become somebody without knowing anybody, and Nigerians will see a nation where the people are productive and have the opportunity to prosper. We will see a nation where the people are safe and secure; where power is constant; where there is investment in education, investment in human and capacity development, as well as, the development of the skills of young people. These are not empty promises, but we may need to look back and see what we were doing before we started this journey.
We have been mentoring people through the Fela Durrotoye Social Network, where over 30, 000 young people have been mentored. We have invested in social projects like education, designed a project that has helped Oyo State to move from number 23 in education to number three in 2009.
A lot of the things we are promising are the same things that we have been doing before as we have been working on the growth of businesses, respect for human beings, safety and security, and promoting enduring value systems. Most importantly, Nigerians would become proud of their nation.
There are tendencies that your programmes and policies may be seen by many as mere political promises?
I always ask people to watch peoples’ lives before they start running for political offices, and if there is consistency between what they were before they were elected into political offices, and what they say when they are occupying political offices, then you have found someone you can trust. I have a track record, written books unlike some other politicians. It is all about looking at the credibility and the track record of the politician and finding a consistency. Voting decision of Nigerians should relate to credibility, track record and consistency of candidates contesting for elections.
People see you and your party as being far from the grassroots. What structure do you have on ground that could attract votes from the masses?
I believe that ANN is a party for all and we seek to create opportunities for all, not just the elite. We are people that have access to good education and we know what Nigerians want. We strongly believe that what some people enjoy as privilege must be available to all. The problems that all of us in Nigeria are suffering were created by a crop of politicians. Today, the economy is not working for anybody, power also is not working and it is not about the elite.
We are fighting for people who do not enjoy the privileges they ought to be enjoying, this is not an elitist fight, but a fight for all, and to a large extent, our message is not an elitist message, but resonates with everyone. Our campaign started in Ajegunle and not Hilton. We started on the street because we have been on the street for the last 14 years. Most of the works we have been doing were not in elitist towns, they were on the street in order to touch the lives of IDPs, the poor, and to lift the under-privileged. This is a movement of people who care, and are making sure that they extend the privileges that they have to other people. It is the people and not the elite that have been supporting this movement with their money. Our party is structured down to every wards in this country. It is a movement for a new a Nigeria and an opportunity to make a difference.
What is your party’s position on calls to restructure the country?
If our party is elected, we will restructure Nigeria. The structure of Nigeria is extremely important especially as it relates to different things. There is need for devolution of power because it is too concentrated in the centre. For instance, the issue of security. Today, the governor is the chief security officer of the state, yet the police commissioner does not report to him. We need to empower local government areas because they are the ones that have to do with touching the lives of people at the grassroots. The local councils are the custodians of the wealth of this nation, however, because they don’t have proper share of revenue, they are disempowered. What we want to do is to ensure that whatever you take from any community as a resource that comes to the Federation Account, 20 per cent of the revenue should go to that community, 20 per cent to the local government, 20 per cent to the states and the Federal Government should be able to operate with 40 per cent. Restructuring Nigeria will transform local communities to industrial hubs.
By restructuring our economic base, we will have the opportunity to incentivise all our communities to be able to say that we will get more from what we give and therefore to a large extent, see our economy grow and there will be job opportunities across the nation.
Do you have any fear that even if you get majority of votes they may not count?
I have no fear concerning vote count because I believe that this election is the type where the two established parties are going to do everything to ensure that votes count and they would do everything to stop the other from rigging. While they are busying stopping themselves, every vote will count. That illusion that votes will not count is a message that the political class sends to the elite, especially to discourage them from participating in the elections. If peoples’ votes don’t count, why do politicians buy votes? Why would you buy something that would not count? Those who believe that votes don’t count should disabuse their minds. People should go out and cast their votes and I believe strongly that the votes of the 50 million people who normally would not vote for the two major parties, will count and we will get a new generation of politicians that would build Nigeria into a great country.
Funding political campaigns is always a challenge, how are you mobilising resources for your campaign?
The people who are tired of the way things are in the country today, and those who want a Nigeria where they would have the opportunity to grow are the ones working for this campaign- the working class people. For the first time, we have seen in Nigerian political history, area boys making donations. This is because they believe in the movement and the candidate. They believe that this is the chance to own something rather than being given something to own. We don’t have any godfather, but the 150 million Nigerians who are supporting this movement.