Davidson Isibor Akhimien is a prominent member of the newly registered Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN). In this interview with select journalists, he bares his mind on the state of the nation and the manifesto of the party. BODE GBADEBO was there for LEADERSHIP Friday.
Given your military background, what do you think is the solution to the various crises bedeviling this country?
One of the problems we have as a nation is that we are not able to look at the fundamentals. You see our approach to security threat has always been a wrong approach. As a government, we need to be proactive. When GDPN comes to power in 2019, our approach to security will always be proactive. We have been doing reactive security, after the facts when things happened. No! That’s wrong, we need to have proactive approach to security. Some of the foundations of security problems in Nigeria stem from what you called pervasive injustices in the land. Most of the security challenges that we are experiencing today would not have been on the table if not for these pervasive injustices. Wherever there is injustice, I am telling you even the best security measures will not hold sway. So what am I saying? I am going to address the problem of insecurities using two approaches. The first approach is to ensure there is justice and equality in the land. We are going to look at the foundational problems. There is what you called structural conflict. What are the causes of structural conflict? We want to look at them from foundational stage. By the time we are able to close those rifts, we would have done 50 per cent of the job. Then we will now be doing the direct approach which is probably bringing in deployment of forces as the case may be. But fundamentally we must look at the causes of structural conflicts we are having in the country and the injustices pervading the land. By the time we do this security problems will die a natural death.
Recently Nigeria has been described as the world capital of poverty. We have economic crisis for years. What is your take?
Don’t you think it’s a misnomer of sort that a country so highly endowed in natural resources, a country so highly endowed even in human resources, a country that has been the sixth producer of oil since 1958 and almost still so even as I speak, a country that has earned more money in term of revenue than most of the African countries put together to be referred to as world poverty capital. It is a misnomer, it is unacceptable. True as it may be but that’s not the true picture of the Nigeria of our dreams. That goes to tell us that we have a problem and the problem is highly identifiable. It is the problem of harnessing and management of the quantum resources that we have been blessed with as a nation. And that is why you see the present government having one of its thrust policies as the fight against corruption .We are all privy to the information from the media, both the traditional media and the social media of the millions and billions, trillions of money in different currencies that are being recovered from politicians. Primitive accumulation on the part of the politicians. You can’t even begin to fanthom how a human being can do away with public funds of that magnitude. It is crazy. How can we not be the poverty capital of the world. When the rich continue to do as they wish why are we not going to be the poverty capital of the world. There is no two-way about it. It is not rocket science, you don’t have to do any tabulation, just refer back to your arithmetic HCF – Highest Common Factor. The Highest Common Factor in Nigeria is corruption. Corruption does not discriminate between Igbo and Hausa and even between Yoruba. Corruption does not discriminate between parties – SDP, PDP, GDPN. It is the highest common factor in the Nigeria’s political space. And we are looking at it and we are not doing anything about it. Some of us condoned it, some of us have this mentality that it is Turn By Turn Nigeria Limited. That, it is their turn, our own turn is coming. And that is why I say to the President and gave him a tap in the hand for the fight against corruption. It should be sustained. However, it should go beyond that our society need real moral re-engineering because these political leaders emerge from this society, so we need to do a clean sweep to do a retrospection for us as Nigerians. It is not only politicians that are involved in corruption. Even in the civil service there is corruption. In the institutions there is mass corruption. Corruption pervade the entire society. We must begin to look at corruption holistically. We need to fight corruption holistically. When a teacher receive money from a parent to score the student higher marks, both the parent, the teacher and the student are corrupt. When the woman that is selling rice in the market hit the under of the ‘mudu’ in order to sell half measure for you instead of full measure, that is corruption. Corruption of the mind leads to the corruption of the outside. We need a moral revolution in our country. We will continue to remain poor when you cannot manage the resources you have, no matter how much you are endowed with. Our country will continue to remain poor. For my party, our fight against corruption is going to be holistic.
You party, GDPN is a new party and unknown?
Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria. I just want you to listen to the word Grassroots. How does it sound to you? In those days, when you talk about grassroots, reference to the grassroots people is made of rural dwellers. When you want to refer to the people in your village, you say the grassroots people. But now we use economic parameters, you find out that grassroots people are not only the rural dwellers. Grassroots people, using economic parameters will be referred to as many people as in the fringes of the society. They may be living in the urban areas but they don’t have the empowerment to maintain a worthy lifestyle. A man that is in Ikoyi area of Lagos but sleeps under the bridge is a grassroots man. What I’m saying in essence is that grassroots has transcended rural dwellings to lack of economic empowerment. And so for us at Grassroots Party we represent these mass populi. And I can tell you on good authority that over 85 per cent of Nigerians will fall within this category. For us we say there is a yawning gap and we come to fill that gap.
Your party is a member of the CUPP coalition. What confidence do you have in that arrangement and how hopeful are you that you are going to win the coalition’s ticket?
We are a member of the coalition and like we normally say in GDPN, we are not in politics to compete with anybody. We are a movement. What you called a tender plant that is ushering in a new paradigm into the Nigeria’s political space. We are in the coalition, if we make it this time around, to God be the glory. That means we will start the work now. If we don’t make it this time around, there is another time. It is a journey, it is not a destination. My country will not remain the same. As long as the GDPN has been birthed, we are not competing with anybody. The creator of heaven and earth will see this seed nurtured and bring forth fruits if not today, then tomorrow.
How do you see the last voter registration exercise?
From my experience with the electoral body, I’m aware that INEC has done a lot to expand the number of voters that should vote in 2019. To that extent, I think they have tried. Now, talking about the records at the level of the INEC is another thing altogether. For me I will like to see a more transparent INEC processes where information will continually be given to the public as to the number of registered voters as updated from every state. Then again, investigation into the allegations of underaged voting especially in certain parts of this country must be thoroughly investigated and the outcome of the investigation must be made public. That will be a show of transparency by INEC. I say again for emphasis, allegations of underaged registration in certain parts of the country should be thoroughly investigated not only by INEC but by a third party possibly international bodies and the outcome of the investigation made public. That is when we will be showing transparency about INEC and its processes.
How do you see the rencent gale of defections by politicians?
Truth be told, a lot of political parties exist and more will still be thrown up but only God knows the motives for the establishment of political parties by the founders themselves. Some have said political parties are set up for pecuniary reasons. So that they can be used as bargaining chips. Some have said patriotism has not been what has driven setting up of some political parties. Political associations will continue to exist. And in all associations where human beings interact, definitely offences will arise. There will be polarisation. Some people will be for while some will be against. However, I think political parties should come up because of certain ideologies they hold close to their heart. And if a political party has a sound ideology and adhere to it and people are hooked to the party because of ideology, you will not find much of these defections as you have them today. An ideologically based or focussed party is the party that will go far. Our party, GDPN is founded on the principle and ideology of the elevation of the living conditions of the grassroots people of Nigeria who are in the mass majority. Indeed our ideology is the reduction of if not complete elimination of rural-urban migration which we are going to do with industrialization of the rural areas. Bringing in rural development like you have never known it before.