HOW TO GET NIGERIA OUT OF THIS MESS

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Pendulum By Dele Momodu, Email: Dele.momody@thisdaylive.com

Dele Momodu BY Pendulum

Fellow Nigerians, please, permit me to express my profound appreciation to you all for finding time out of your very busy schedules to read me every week….

Now, let me go straight to the main reason for my epistle today. It would be an understatement to say our country Nigeria has been in perpetual crises for decades. And this could readily be attributed to lack of selfless, reasonable, visionary Leadership. Our hopes have been dashed endlessly after every election cycle and ritual.

I was tired of complaining and lamenting, like we all do, wherever two or more Nigerians are gathered, and I decided to run the Presidential race in 2011 but failed. I learned a lot of didactic lessons from it, one of which was that I needed a national platform to activate and actualise such a monumental project, the principal reason I’m in PDP today.

I believe we all know the problems confronting Nigeria today. We all probably know the solutions as well. What is strange and mysterious is why the positive change we all crave has remained nebulously elusive. I shall endeavour to answer many of the most frequently asked questions in this address.

What mileage does a Dele Momodu’s candidacy bring to the table? My answer is simple and straightforward. We often hear of “tested politicians”, men and women of timber and calibre but they have been largely ineffective, retrogressive and reprehensible. That is the bane of our present society and societal development. Most of the aspirants for Presidency today can be encapsulated in that phrase “tested politicians”. My view is that, sadly, whilst our politicians may be tested and experienced, they have only been tested, but majorly failed in all spheres. Their experience is one of failure and mediocrity, and it is about time that we moved away from these abysmally low standards and set new higher and fresh qualitative standards and ideals for ourselves.  

Indeed, majority of Nigerians are saying they want fresh faces with fresh ideas and refreshing ideals. That is where my candidacy is different and novel. I am that candidate who fulfils the yearnings and aspirations of the ordinary Nigerian people for a principled, talented, disciplined, visionary leader who is additionally imbued with integrity, resourcefulness and patriotism. I am bursting with ideas and solutions to the seemingly intractable problems that we face as a Nation. The good thing is that this is not new to me. I have consistently advised our various leaders about what needs to be done to turn the fortunes of our beloved country around. It is not rocket science, but you must first open your mind, be a bucket for the reception of ideas and be receptive to those ideas. That is a fundamental attribute that is lacking in most of our leaders. It is why we also sadly continue to promote mediocrity because we are left with no choice. 

The other gentlemen aspiring and one female aspirant in our Party are all distinguished people, but I bring the following uniqueness and uncommon pedigree into the race which reinforces the strength of my candidacy and why I should prevail over the other aspirants. 

With every sense of humility and modesty and without any fear of contradiction, I will say that I have laboured hard to attain a global superbrand status. The records are there. They don’t need embellishment or massaging. I have had solid theoretical and practical education, which has enabled me to acquire wide-ranging experience and exposure in the world of teaching, business, entertainment, lifestyle, advocacy, entrepreneurship, governance, networking, public speaking, academia, journalism, public relations, branding, tourism, information technology, foreign relations, hospitality, philanthropy and so on. I believe that I have accomplished a lot by successfully managing people and resources. The secret of my successes in different fields of human endeavours can be traced and ascribed to honesty, knowledge, discipline, humility, frugality, passion, comportment, charisma, affability, vision, audacity, tenacity, commitment, loyalty and implicit faith in God. 

I’m a child of diversity with a father from Edo State, with a strong Moslem background and a mother from Osun State with a strong Christian origin. I therefore have very strong ties to two of the three regions in the South and the two major religions in Nigeria. I also enjoy extensive links to the South East where I have been a major admirer and promoter of Igbo talents, culture, tradition, and incredible capabilities. Internationally, my job as Publisher of Ovation International magazine and Chairman of the Ovation Media Group has made it possible for me to have a face and name recognition everywhere in the world. I have operated in, and covered over 60 countries, on five continents. In my own right and personal accomplishments, I have met and interacted with Presidents, Vice Presidents, world figures, captains of industry, business icons, traditional and religious leaders, men and women of the armed forces, social crusaders, political chieftains, rebel leaders, philanthropists, and so many others in Nigeria and overseas. There’s no part of Nigeria I have not made friends across ethnic, social, political and religious divides.  

More importantly, I have touched lives of young Nigerians in all parts of Nigeria by directly or indirectly providing them jobs or self-employment opportunities. Notably, in the last few years, I have received over 66,000 applications for palliative support from every part of Nigeria, with the largest of about 8,000 coming from Borno State alone, closely followed by Bauchi State. I was able to disburse cash transfers, strictly through their bank accounts, to thousands of applicants without any form of discrimination. Since 2007, I have created new millionaire entrepreneurs every December during the Ovation Red Carol concerts. Before then, and till date, I have promoted and supported new talents in music, fashion, comedy, choreography, events planning, decor, food and beverage, deejaying, graphics, stage management, sound engineering, printing, lighting, social media and blogging, news reporting, photography and videography, hospitality, textiles and fabrics, carpets, flowers, car hire, security and others. I doubt if any of the aspirants would have had such direct impact on our youths. Not even those pwho have been in power almost forever. 

As an entrepreneur and businessman with an international outlook, I know what it entails to select, employ and appoint personnel strictly on merit. Nigeria can no longer afford to do things based on primordial sentiments of ethnicity and religion. Whilst we must always take our diversity into account, it must not be a primary or even secondary consideration.  I will be a positive role model for other political leaders, in principle and in action. I will downgrade the extravagant and outlandish lifestyles of our leaders who live like every day is Christmas. 

Clearly, the next Nigerian President must be the Chief Executive Officer of the Nation and behave as such. He must have the capacity to naturally attract love, and command respect, at home and abroad. He must radiate confidence, intelligence, brilliance, level-headedness, humility, clear-vision, discipline and business acumen and be cosmopolitan in nature. Nigeria urgently requires a measured and moderate leader. He must not be tempestuous, arrogant, intolerant, vindictive, condescending, old-fashioned and outdated. 

The world is fast moving away from career politicians to technocrats in politics. Our Party PDP must seize this opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past. We must demonstrate to our people that we are ready to offer a new vista of hope to our country men and women on the 30th anniversary of the June 12, 1993, Presidential election. We cannot continue to recycle the same politicians as if Nigeria has made no progress whatsoever in the past three decades. We must not belittle the remarkable achievements of those who have not been in political offices but have been major players and determinants on the world stage, not the arguable local champions that we presently have. We must resist and reject the notion and temptation of suggesting that power is the exclusive preserve of a group or class of people who have hijacked our common patrimony for their personal use. The time has come to challenge and change the unproductive,  retrogressive and reprehensible status quo. We must urgently retire our leaders of yesterday and yesteryears and substitute them with our fresh and innovative leaders of today in order to assure our citizens that our collective tomorrow will be much better and rewarding.  

I’m proud to say I have taken time to plan and prepare for this journey. And I’m very ready to lead our nation out of the doldrums. I will be a ready President and Commander-in-Chief from Day One.

What specific policies and programmes will I implement if elected, to diversify the nation’s revenue base beyond oil? Firstly, I must emphasise that, in the immediate future, we cannot seek to eliminate our dependence on oil as a major component of our national wealth. As we seek to reduce our dependence on income from crude oil, we must still embark on a wholesale surgical operation of the industry. One of the priorities of our government will therefore be to make the oil sector more vibrant by eliminating the massive corruption in the sector, building enhanced and efficient capacity and infrastructure, and re-energising the sector through technology and innovation. The deceit and fraud in subsidy claims will end by the policy of subsidy being discarded. Nigerians have paid for this scam for far too long. Every commodity in the world has a price but we’ve never known ours because of the abracadabra of the magicians controling the sector. The recourse to importation will not be a matter of necessity but one of last resort as local production will be ramped up to cater for our consumption and that of our neighbours. Pricing will be properly done to ensure the benefits of our being blessed with this natural resource is felt by all Nigerians and is not a curse or a cross for us to bear. The entire subsidy regime will be fully and forensically investigated by our acclaimed experts in the area, and any unlawful or shady dealings exposed, and the culprits fished out and handed over to the relevant agencies to prosecute. It is scandalous that Nigeria continues to run at a loss in most of our petroleum departments. No diversification of our economy can work if we do not keep our main cash cow very healthy. We shall need to make huge investments even in that sector as part of the diversification process. 

We must increase our productivity in the gas sector. We have lost so much time and too much revenue by wasting the limitless gains of our humongous gas deposits through gas flaring. Even now that we have recognised the significant and huge benefits of gas, we are yet to develop this as we should. Had we done the proper thing, we would now be one of the countries reaping the benefits of the Russia-Ukraine war, but instead we are like the unwilling spectator being forced to imagine and rue what might have been. We must never be in this same position again. We will crack whatever obstacles are in the path of harnessing our unlimited natural resources and additionally explore the opportunities and the potential of our extraordinary bitumen deposits. No country wastes the amount of fortune buried beneath our soils, like we do. I’m not unaware of the encumbrances of bureaucracy in our country, so I will be a hands-on Leader who will personally lead the war against the sluggishness in our civil service. One Leader must make the necessary sacrifice and be ready to face the consequences and repercussions, if need be.

Simultaneously, with rejuvenating and reforming the development and exploitation of our oil and abundant mineral resources, we will revamp the agricultural and industrial sector by emphasising the use of innovative and collaborative methods in order to exponentially increase production and output. All that is required is the proper education and a change of mindset and will. Mechanised farming must go hand in hand with food preservation, processing, distribution and marketing. This will definitely generate mass employment.

No nation can grow without true and sustainable investment in infrastructure, especially power. Any meaningful industrial and technological revolution can only happen when there is increased and uninterrupted power supply. Given the amounts so far invested, it is easy to give up and say any venture into that area is doomed because Nigeria is jinxed. I do not see it like that. I have already been indirectly educated about a major shakeup of power supply in Ghana. I know what must be done. Monopolies and Cartels will have to be broken up, but the window of opportunities that will be available because of increased power supply will be so tremendous that serious entrepreneurs and businessmen will immediately embrace the new possibilities.   

We must be prepared to spend and if necessary borrow wisely to achieve our goals. There is no merit in saving if you are poor or living like a poor man without mission and vision. There is no need to provide for a rainy day when you are presently being beaten by a deluge of poverty. There is no wealthy nation today that is not in great debt. The United  States is a good example but we can all see how the huge debts have impacted the world Leader. That is a concept that we are yet to truly tap into. It is why our population is like an albatross and weakest link when it should be our strongest and biggest resource. The institutions which make for security, credibility and integrity of debt as an instrument of wealth will need to be strengthened. The cost of borrowing must be greatly reduced if people are realistically expected to repay and fulfil their obligations. When this is done, we will have zero tolerance for recalcitrant debtors who refuse to pay their debts and endanger our entire collective economic and financial existence. 

How will my journalism and business experience garnered over the years help me preside over the affairs of the nation if elected? You must remember that many of our Nationalists and Founding Fathers had journalism backgrounds. Apart from knowledge and information, journalism affords me the opportunity to have global contacts and attract respect. The media will be a major tool for rebranding the battered image of our country. Through my very popular column, I have had the opportunity of analysing our major problems and challenges and I have proffered solutions. Had our leaders read me or listened to my regular interventions, maybe we won’t have landed ourselves in this quagmire. 

Journalism is my primary constituency. I do not see government owned newspapers as a big deal. As a matter of fact, government owned media companies should be urgently and transparently privatised while government should only retain nominal shares in them. It is usually in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes where you will expect government to be involved in the ownership of media and multi-media houses. It is an enterprise that should be the exclusive preserve of private investors. Freedom of speech and the independence and liberty of the media is compromised and weakened when government is allowed to participate, as of now. 

With respect to the welfare of journalists, that is an area that touches me a great deal.  However, it is not for government to intervene or wade into.  The practitioners, both owners and employees need to work together to create a better working relationship and environment. But I’m sure with increased activity and productivity, the media will enjoy better patronage unlike now when business is very slow. I will advise our media owners to urgently embrace the new media. This, after all, is the Fourth Estate of the Realm. 

From 1999 till date, successive administrations have made a lot of promises to turn around the mortgage sector with little or nothing to show. What will I do differently? No citizen of the developed or truly developing nations today can survive without credit facilities. Lack of serious and credible mortgages, personal and car loans and business grants have absolutely exposed Nigeria to massive fraud and corruption. I still find it difficult to understand how we can live with the fact that many of our citizens, who are all paid monthly, are required to pay rents annually in advance. It is also inconceivable that any uncorrupted civil servant or employee can buy a house or car cash down, as is presently the case. Our Governments at both the Federal and State levels need to urgently look into this matter. At the Federal level, we would certainly ensure that the relevant government ministries and agencies including Justice, Finance and the Central Bank liaise and collaborate with the National Assembly to come up with new laws encouraging our financial institutions in all ramifications to create and activate a more robust credit system on very reasonable and sustainable terms. That is only one leg though. Property owners and car dealers and manufacturers must also key into this initiative and must be encouraged to do so through legislation as appropriate. What is my take on consensus candidacy? I honestly do not think the consensus approach to the selection of candidates is democratic, particularly where it is not voluntary but imposed or coerced. If at all, it should have happened before nomination forms were obtained at such exorbitant amounts. The selection of candidates to govern our entire country should not be the exclusive preserve of a few putative candidates or party grandees. There must be a fair representation in the decision-making process. That is usually done through an indirect process by Party members, which is recognised the world over as being democratic without being unwieldy.  

How do I intend diversifying the revenue base of my political party beyond financing by its governors? Financing of a Party by its Governors is very corrupt and turns the Leaders into demigods. It cannot be defended because it is not a legitimately recognised source of funding for any Political Party. It also makes it possible for the Party to be hijacked by a group of people or even one man. I will encourage our Party to go all out on encouraging a massive registration drive including online registration and participation. This is a veritable treasure trove for Party financing. Similarly, the Party is expected to seek donations from businessmen up to the statutorily approved limits to boost its coffers. Party activities also serve as a means of doing this. There are several other ways. A Party of the future will continuously undergo re-engineering not just in relation to its policies and philosophy but also as regards its funding.  Members and the business community will be happy to cooperate with us once we run a visibly successful government. 

Should the 1999 constitution be subjected to further amendments or Nigeria should go for a brand-new constitution as recently canvassed by erudite lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola? Nigeria currently lacks the time and the required resources for a brand-new Constitution. In any event, it is unnecessary. The Constitution that we now have provides for a Federal system of Government which is the main grouse of many who complain about it. Therefore, the problem is not with the Constitution itself, but with those charged with implementing it.  No Constitution will ever be perfect. We shall dust up and review some of the brilliant and excellent work, done in recent conferences, that have not seen the light of day to see what areas of the Constitution needs further amendments or tinkering with.  

We must always remember that the Judiciary is also there to give purposive interpretation to constitutional provisions as the country and humanity evolves. That is why we need an independent, insulated and robust judiciary which is not financially or otherwise reliant on the executive or the legislature. A situation where the Chief Justice of the Federation or a State is casually and regularly summoned to State House for functions and meetings should not exist and will be stopped at Federal level at the very least. Respect must beget respect. Let the Judges face their duties. In truth, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, as the head of the third arm of Government, should be well equipped and respected. Likewise for the State Governments.

One area of Constitutional development that we must interrogate immediately is the opportunity for a second term for Governors and Presidents. This re-election syndrome has been one of the reasons for the failure of successive governments in Nigeria. After two years, most of our leaders become embroiled in politicking and other activities in preparation for a second term.  Their attention wanes and it is the nation that suffers. Given our history, population and circumstances, I do not see why a single term of 5-6 years is not enough for anybody to formulate and implement policies for the betterment of Nigeria. The next person can continue from there, accepting the good ones and embarking on his own. 
How will I fight insurgency/terrorism if elected President of Nigeria in 2023? 
Once we bring love back and treat every Nigerian with respect, we would have instantly laid a solid foundation for peace and unity. We will build on that foundation by doing the things that are necessary for the Military, police and the teeming mass of restive unemployed youths dotting our national landscape. 

We shall invest in the education, training and reorientation of our men and women of the armed forces. We shall adequately equip and safeguard them and give them pride to be involved in service to their Fatherland knowing that if they are injured or, God forbid, have to pay the ultimate price, they will do so with the assurance that they and their loved ones will be well taken care of. Apart from deploying all modern, sophisticated and innovative measures in the battle against the insurgents/ terrorists we will activate a robust welfare and insurance package that will give them hope and comfort. 

There will be respectable, viable and plentiful job opportunities for many of our graduates from every part of Nigeria. Gainfully employed people and those who have realistic prospects of employment do not have reason to engage in these kinds of dastardly activities. We will educate them and the rest of the people and create mass awareness which will be greatly helped by the wealth, comfort and security that our government will engender. As part of our efforts to create jobs, our government will intensify vocational education and training in our institutions. Even when there are jobs many of the job hunters are not presently employable.

Intel will become a major priority and we shall take advantage of the advancement of technology. Similar to packages for our Armed Forces, Our Police Force and intelligence officers will enjoy special wages and incentives, including insurance, free medicals and free education and regular trainings.

I believe that war is always a last resort. Dialogue can achieve a lot more. Even after war, there is always discourse. Therefore, I am prepared, willing and ready, if necessary, to meet with terrorist leaders on certain conditions, if peace and security can be guaranteed. 

May God save Nigeria…

DEBORAH SAMUEL: AN UNWARRANTED MURDER
My full names are JOSEPH AYOBAMI DELE ABAYOMI OJUTELEGAN AJANI JACOB-MOMODU… I have stated this deliberately because of the unfortunate religious intolerance, and the conflagration, that has just occurred in Sokoto, a beautiful city I departed just days ago… A lot of us Nigerians enjoy this special privilege of religious crossover in our backgrounds. That is why we are United and must remain United despite our religious diversity.

The bizzare, abominable and unpardonable killing of Ms DEBORAH SAMUEL, a student of the College of Education, Sokoto, for whatever reason is absolutely reprehensible, unjustifiable, condemnable and punishable!! It is not us, and all right thinking Nigerians must be resolute and unrelenting in demanding swift justice for Deborah. #swiftjusticeforDeborah.

I’m privileged to have had grandparents who were Muslims and parents who were Christians. Whilst being a devout Christian, I carry my surname of MOMODU, the name of our great prophet of peace, and our King of peace very proudly, as a true mark of my heritage…

No ignorant, misguided or extremist man or woman has the right or justification to summarily and inhumanly terminate life in the name of either Prophet Mohammed or our Lord, Jesus Christ…
May DEBORAH’s soul rest in perfect peace…