By Olayinka Ajayi
Lady Angela Johnson was the presidential candidate of Alliance for United Nigeria, AUN, in the 2019 poll. In this interview, she spoke on the state of the nation and offers the way forward.
Her take on the state of the nation
Nigeria’s current situation calls for concern. From insecurity, infrastructural deficit, wholesale poverty, educational backwardness, disoriented civil service and epileptic policy regime, it is worrisome to put it mildly. I am particularly concerned because the current Nigeria is not the Nigeria of my dream. Over time, we have offered free and sustainable advice to governments which were not adopted by successive governments.
That technically informed my involvement in the 2023 presidential race to right all the wrongs coupled with God’s divine instruction to me to go and rescue Nigeria that is bedevilled by coefficient inequality and organic administrative failure.
You contested the 2019 presidential poll on the platform of the defunct Alliance for a United Nigeria, AUN. What was the experience like?
The experience was good. I had everything in the right place to have won the election but we were constrained with time. In 2019, my party, Alliance for a United Nigeria, AUN, was among the last registered parties in August 2018. That left me with just six months to prepare for my presidential election. We did our best but because Nigeria is a very large country, the time was too short for us to cover all the corners of the country. This time, nothing is going to stop us from winning.
But the party has been de-registered
We are in court and we have high optimism that before the end of the year, that de-registration will be reversed. However, we have a very robust relationship with other political parties and alliance could be a way out for me to contest. Besides, I am getting involved in the emerging Third Force. So, platform options are many.
What was your experience based on the gender sensitive aspect of a female president?
Initially, I did not consider gender as any issue, what was on my mind is how to emancipate Nigeria. Having said that, many people were not ready for a woman president then, people were more interested in monetary gain than listening to what will secure their freedom from businessmen politicians bidding to control the liberties of Nigerian citizens. The stakeholders were afraid to invest in women. I realised that the system is unlike the UK where your policies, character and knowledge give you a lead way to becoming the Prime Minister. Nigerian politics is more of cash politics, the person that floats more cash wins in Nigeria.
On President Buhari’s routine medical trip to the UK as Nigerian doctors plan to embark on strike due to the sorry state of the nation’s health sector
A true leader leads by example; President Buhari embarking on a medical trip to the UK shows his inept attitude towards his government. The doctors have the right of expression to strike, however, they should remember that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Our citizens are going through pains and whatever anyone, including the doctors, can do to alleviate the sufferings is highly recommended. Our opportunity to elect a credible leader is right before us, 2023, we must all do the right thing.
What do you see as the way forward to save Nigeria from the brink as secessionists across the North, East, West and South are seriously calling for the regions to go their separate ways?
True federalism is the way forward. The government should adhere to the application of principles of need, fairness and equity in the distributions of government appointments and projects across the federation. We are one people despite our cultural and religious diversity. No Nigerian is less a citizen than the other.
On lingering insecurity, what are your thoughts?
The government should follow the rule of law. The constitution was made as a guide to navigate the nation and should not be ignored. The government should smoke out the bandits; if possible; engage foreign expertise to direct operation. Sheik Gumi’s idea of negotiating with the bandits is a no, no and not advisable. Banditry should not be seen as religious tolerance but threat to lives and property and the nation is at the brink of collapse. If the nation is at war with another, there shall be need for mediation and negotiation, not with deliberate law breakers. The high level of insecurity is already affecting our economy, farmers and traders are no more safe to carry out their normal businesses. Foreign investors have ceased coming to invest. The government should wake up from slumber and deal with the menace.
On agitation for power shift to the South, major political parties in Nigeria are divided on this, what is the way forward?
The sovereignty of our nation is under threat due to politicians’ greed, nepotism and selfishness. Since zoning is an individual political party agreement that is not in our constitution, electing a president should be based on the party manifesto and character. You don’t elect a criminal simply because you want power to remain in a particular region. Elections should be based on merit, knowledge and accountability. However, considering the fact that since 1999, no president has emerged from the South-East, it will be advisable that the nation channel their efforts to elect a credible President from the East who will have the ability to unite and move Nigeria forward.
The APC government said that the issues of insecurity and unemployment are global phenomenon not peculiar to Nigeria. What are your thoughts on this?
The failure of the government to protect lives and property, which is their primary responsibility, has given rise to insecurity and unemployment in the country. This government failed woefully in providing adequate facilities, fair salary structures and maintenance for service men/women that are sent to combat the bandits. Our Police Force is treated in the most inhuman manner compared to other countries. Joblessness has become the norm amongst the citizens, this has led to many lives being lost in the sea amongst those trying to migrate to other countries for greener pastures. Government saying the situation is a global phenomenon is a show of incompetence and negligence on the matters on ground. The government failed to create jobs for our youths and graduates, failed to provide modern equipment with full intelligence to monitor activities for our forces.
The government failed to reshuffle security heads that are not performing when needed, adequate training coupled with desire to work will bring insecurity under control.
There are also calls by some for state police as a solution to banditry and kidnappings across Nigeria, what are your thoughts on this?
The support for local policing is overdue. The state should be empowered to pioneer their state’s police. However, some states governors might take undue advantage and not sponsor or properly train their state police accordingly. The federal government should sponsor the basic professional training for all Nigerian police forces and then send them to states, this will help curtail divisions. Skill and professionalism is needed in all our security forces.
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Source: Vanguard News