Nation’s leaders should not be elected on the basis of religion, region – SDP presidential candidate
Amid the ongoing discussion about balancing the two faiths for all political parties in the upcoming presidential elections, has your faith ever been questioned?
The person who questions my faith the most is me, because I know the precept of what it takes to be a Christian. As Christians and Muslims, it is our work, in terms of what we do in private and public life in service, that should speak for us. We should not use religion to claim jobs, votes. Religion should be used as a moral guide. A former president of the United States once said that the presidency is a lonely place where sometimes your last resort is to be on your knees.
Perhaps that is why President Buhari said he was eager to leave office.We’ve seen it before you’ve seen it.
Who is your running mate and his faith
The faith of my running mate is not the reason. Let me tell you how the SDP behaves and our view on it. We don’t question people’s religion, but we are sensitive to the country, as we are a diverse community.
So you don’t miss good people, men and women and different faiths. At SDP, we believe that Nigeria is not only about Muslims and Christians, we also recognize other faiths. We respect each other’s sensitive identities and beliefs.
We hope one day we don’t push this argument to a ridiculous point where people start asking that you’re the only two people here. I’m happy to be a Christian because it’s a religion that I have a serious faith in and I grew up in an environment where half of my cousins are Muslim, so it’s not a problem for we.
As a lawyer, here in Nigeria, in America and elsewhere, I have met very good Muslims and very good Christians. And I have pursued very bad Muslims and very bad Christians.
My message to Nigerians on this issue is that we can only raise this argument for one reason, to judge the ability of this person who is going to hold public office to have a sense of sensitivity, because he is the only reason with which you can judge it. The first duty of a person who wants to be president is to choose the candidate for vice-president.
That’s why I ask: Who is your running mate and his faith?
We would announce it, because my party has to be there when the announcement is made. What I want you to understand is that since we entered civilian rule in 1999, Christians have ruled, Muslims have ruled. In fact, both have ruined us. So we should not use religion as a major criterion.
Maybe 10%, 15% of the parameters of choosing our leaders should be to show if that person has the general sensitivity to a diverse environment like ours.
Why are we so obsessed with the politics of the region that it becomes one of the parameters before one can aspire to govern Nigeria?
In politics, whatever argument you want, it is available in abundance. What politicians do is first spot their interest, when the argument is found it then helps their goal, but when you work for the people like I do, I have no permanent interest other than good governance, making sure that we have accountable government, and as black people, Nigeria should not be the seat of shame in the world. I always ask myself: why are we concerned about the politics of the region? I see that the fear could be due to marginalization. Second, people have been misinformed or should I say misinformed into believing that the presidency is a reward. It is very difficult work. So it’s my mission in politics to interact with people who have that kind of overriding perspective to say, yes it’s important for identity.
What exactly are you offering Nigerians because you said we should focus on job creation, national security including food security. You have just returned from a tour of the United States, what exactly should we focus on. What are we doing wrong?
What we are doing wrong is that we have no government. We have incumbents who pass 4 years and leave and are replaced by their friends.
If you were the president and Kuje Correctional Center was attacked, what would you do differently?
He wouldn’t be attacked if I were president. The first thing a government does is get information. Second, is to have the ability to process intelligence. What they do is they don’t spend enough time on government time. They do all kinds of things in the villa. They don’t have time to pursue intelligence, to process intelligence because their recruitment is flawed. They do not even respect the 2011 law on terrorism.
According to the military in general, would you change the security architecture if you were president?
When you elected me, you made the biggest change because you elected a Commander-in-Chief. With the greatest respect, President Buhari is not doing 2% of the work of Commander-in-Chief.
You mean despite being a former army general?
You know, in this country, we don’t look at records very well, we look at titles. When you examine the records very well, you will know that what is happening now had to happen.
Nigeria has a revenue problem. How do you plan to fix it?
Easy enough. Nigeria has an honesty problem as they steal the revenue that goes to the nation.
Are there any facts to back this up?
Yes, I have facts. For 3/4 months, I have been shouting that 80% of the crude oil sold by Nigeria is stolen.
Your party does not attach itself to any State like its own, moreover, it is not really popular like the others. So what are your chances of being incumbent in 2023?
For the decamped. Even people who went to work came to see us first. Peter Obi came first to the SDP. We set exams for each of them, but they all failed the exams. Peter obi failed our exams. Bola Tinubu failed the exams.