The Presidential candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) is worried over the lingering controversy over the issues of N30, 000 Minimum Wage stressing that if he is elected President of the country in 2019, he will energise the economy through massive investments in critical sectors that will generate decent jobs that will pay the least Nigerian worker N100,000 Minimum Wage. In this Interview with journalists during the official kick off of his presidential campaign, Sani says he will create cottage industries in each senatorial zone of the federation and exploit the natural and human resources of the states of the federation and make them more viable. INNOCENT ODOH was there.
Do you have confidence that INEC will conduct credible elections in 2019 going by what happened in Osun and Ekiti states?
Well, going by what happened in Osun and Ekiti, it will make one to have measured confidence on the ability of INEC to deliver on their mandate. But Presidential election is not like out of season or local elections like we had in Ekiti and Osun. The Presidential election is one election that I think will be different. If you remember what happened in 2015 elections, it was not the case of election taking place in Nigeria, it was election taking place in the whole because the whole world was interested, and is still in interested in what is happening in Nigeria.
Nigerians have the burden of correcting those mistakes that they made innocently when a dummy of ‘change’ was sold to them as the credible alternative, the change that we have not seen and will never see. So, what I am saying is that the international community will be effectively engaged from the beginning of the process to the end of it. This is also an election that Nigerians are so sensitized because of the kind of awareness that was demonstrated when a sitting government was changed to another government, which has become an anti-climax in any case in spite of whatever you call it, the power of incumbency, money power, still a change was effected.
In fact the change that we want now is even more necessary if this country must survive. This is because the most highly respected institutions in the world have spoken. They have passed a vote of no confidence on the President Buhari government. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has sounded a note of warning that our country is on a roller coaster and where it lands is anyone’s guess. The Hong kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the number one private financial institution in the world, in fact even left because as a private organization, they cannot afford the calamity that will be visited on this country if we allow this government to continue for another four years. I heard that a former UK top official has said that people should not bring their investments to Nigeria. This is to tell how bad the situation is and is also to tell you how interested the International Community is in what is happening in Nigeria. So, INEC more than anybody is aware of what is ahead of them. But that is not to say that Nigerians do not have what we need to do.
During elections, other countries are never swayed by pittance; they don’t sacrifice their future on Election Day like we do here in Nigeria. Though I sympathise with Nigerians but if you go through the hardship of this administration and you can still answer your father’s name, and not be lowered by this money they dangle, then I salute your courage and I ask Nigerians to stand up and be counted in 2019. We will not sell our future, our conscience, our country to those who cannot save the country. So, time has come for this new direction, time has come for this credible alternative and for us to stand up to rescue this country, rescue this economy, rescue the political space and show the rest of the world that we have what it takes to make it and we are going to make it.
Do you know that other countries that started with us in 1960, like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, were not as rich as we are? Some of them were coming here to borrow from us but today they have left us far behind. Their GDP is growing at arate that is everyone‘s dream. You know that we are better endowed in Nigeria such that there is no state you visit in this country that you will not see what will make that state independent economically. What is lacking is leadership. So I believe that not only INEC, not only International community but we are gathered here must carry this massage that time has come for that change, we must make change for the sake of our children, the International Community has warned us about the danger that is ahead and we cannot afford it.
Thank God we have our PVCs and we can cast our votes with our knowledge, with our conscience, with our dignity and rescue our future for us and our children. So I know INEC will not lose the essence of their mandate.
Elections in Nigeria usually involve a lot of money. Do you have the required amount of money to fight the big parties?
If you remember what happened in 2015, if you talk about money, I think a sitting government in a country like this has more money. I want to also say that they will use their money but we will use our heads.
Sir, to win elections in Nigeria you must also have structures across the federation like the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP. Do you have the nationwide structures to win election?
If you talk about structures, what you have in PDP and APC are those things really structures when they are jumping from one party to the others and fighting themselves? All they did was to divide themselves into these two camps and fight themselves to finish. But I can assure you that those structures will destroy them. The only structure that is available is the ADP and the other new parties who have answered the clarion call to come forward and be counted that is why we are here. We saw this coming, we knew that time like this is coming that is why we want you to join us to save this nation because we are a laughing stock, and we cannot afford this.
In ADP, we have the capacity because we are a credible platform of discerning Nigerians who have come together to form this party. If you know the number of people coming to ADP today you will know that we have that capacity that you are talking about because Nigerians are wise now. We believe that we have the capacity and we have Nigerians who are more informed than before. People have seen the killings, they have seen the hopelessness, and they have seen also the promise of this country. That is our capacity.
There is usually a deluge of promises by politicians when they are jockeying for power but as soon as they acquire power, they hardly keep to their promises. How different will yours be?
We will keep our promises. If we do not I am sure we would not only have disappointed you but, we would have disappointed ourselves. In Nigeria the problem is that we sold a democracy without political parties and we realized the fact that you cannot dream of a democracy without political parties. You cannot also call these ragtag organisations that we have as political parties. You need to have those fundamentals like accountability and party supremacy meaning that all of us are accountable to this party’s rules and regulations. You must have all-inclusiveness; the President’s immediate staff must not come from his house or relations. This country belongs to all of us. You must also lay the foundation for the youth and women of this country; they are the promise of this country all they want is to be given opportunity. And our party’s constitution said that we must allocate 50% of executive positions in our party to the youth and women. Going forward they will be the ones to sit on the round table to take decisions on who governs the country and how.So, we are going to keep our promise that is the promise we also made to our creator.
Sir, the issue of Minimum Wage is in the front burner. When you become the President of Nigeria, what will be your Minimum Wage for Nigerian workers? Secondly, how many jobs will you create in one?
The Nigerian economy has the capacity to give N100, 000 Minimum Wage to the least paid worker in Nigeria, we have the capacity. What we are losing is the leadership. Nigeria is country that is number six among the crude oil exporting countries in the world; a country this is number three among the gas exporting countries in the world; a country that has the largest population in the continent of Africa; a country that is the next frontier in terms of where the resources of this world are deposited; a country that has the youngest population, the youngest workers, the youngest capital.
With the kind of potential that we have,Nigeria cannot be paying N30, 000 to its workers, it is too small. What is happening is that the day we start growing our economy,that day you will believe me that we can pay more than N100, 000. For instance, why should we be importing petroleum products? Why should we be importing cloths that we use for uniform for our children from China? Why should China that 20 years ago was also a developing country be giving us jumbo loans to now make us slaves may be in ten year? This country can do better than we are doing now. So, let take this new direction, accept this credible alternative and you will see wonders.
On jobs, one of our policies is that we must have cottage industries in each senatorial district. If you go to any state in this country, you will find either a cash crop or solid minerals or oil and gas deposits or something that the state can export and earn foreign exchange. That is what China that we are trying to follow today in SMEs has done. So I believe that we can create jobs and if you ask of the number, we can create 5 million jobs per annum in this country. Why? Because the agriculture potentials of this country is unmatched by any country, our GDP can grow at a faster rate than even America that has 70% of their GDP from agriculture.
How will you relate with the National Assembly and how early will you submit the MTEF and other Budget documents to the National Assembly to avoid delay?
My representatives in the National Assembly will have no choice but to toe the party’s line because we believe in party supremacy. The only reason why you have this commotion, this fight among the three arms of government is because there is no party in charge. It is intended in the constitution that the institution should supervise and superintend what is happening in the governments from national government to the state. A governor cannot say that because he is the governor he is the leader of the party, that will be standing the pyramid on its head. A President cannot sit in his house and said they are having caucus meeting and the chairman of the party is just one of the invitees. You can see how we stand the pyramid on its head. Definitely our National Assembly members will toe the party line they have no choice.
On budget delay, do you know why we have budget delay? It is because we have introduced laziness in the system of budgeting in this country. In this country they say we can spend up to our last budget without bordering about what the National Assembly or anybody is doing. That is not the system of productive and forward looking countries like the US. There they have time frame for budget. Once the budget is not passed nobody gets paid, everything stops. So if we have a budget system that stipulates that nobody gets paid until the budget is passed, everybody will be on their toes and the budget will be delivered on time because National Assembly know that they cannot spend, government know they cannot spend, private sector know they cannot spend , so everybody will be on their toes to deliver the budget, that is what we are going to introduce in this country.
Tags: 2019 Presidential election
, Minimum Wage