Presidential candidate of the People’s Trust (PT), Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has said that the series of institutional and regional endorsement from interest groups, political parties and civil society groups was big boost to his aspiration to win the presidential election.
He said, “I have a lot of goodwill in the civil society. That is what a lot of the other contestants don’t have, except Sowore (Presidential cnaidiate of the African Action Congress-AAC), who was one of our juniors in those days, many years after I left the university as a student union leader. Not many of them have the type of reach and network that we have in the civil society in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. This is very critical. You are not looking at a candidate who is strictly depending on his party.”
Olawepo-Hashim described his quest to lead Nigeria as an enduring struggle that will be sustained beyond the national elections. “It is a struggle to build a modern economy, expand the GDP of the country, have a new mindset about the possibility and opportunity that Nigeria presents to the world and to our own people, to unite Nigeria. There is no candidate that can inspire comfort across ethnic lines like my candidature, right now. It is what I have worked for throughout my younger years; building bridges as a student union leader, as a business leader, playing in many organisations. I have tentacles all over the country. There is virtually no state or local government, where I cannot call somebody and say, ‘help me’ because of what I have done in the past. It is not just because I am running for presidency. I have been an activist. I have also done a lot of philanthropy all over the country. I have been a national officer of a ruling party. I have visited many states as a result of that.”
Emphasising the importance of a political third force, he said the PT was a movement of political leaders who are statesmen and desire to build a modern state. “There is a difference between politicians and statesmen; politicians think about office and power. Statesmen think about not just office and power, but they also think about enduring institutions and values can make states endue. Sometimes they are called upon to make sacrifices beyond them; sacrifices that may demand them giving up their own personal comfort. That is what statesmen are made of and the time in question that Nigeria has stepped into now requires statesmen not politicians. It requires leaders that will rise above ethnicity. That will rise above their religious faith.”