The political landscape is clearer now with the emergence of all the presidential candidates who are running for the exalted office of President in 2019. Most of the faces are familiar and the leading candidates who got their party’s nomination are well known political gladiators who have been in this race since 2003. There were no surprises, except the declaration of Rev Chris Okotie which came in dramatic fashion.
It was not his declaration that shocked the political class and made the elite speechless, but the unusual manner in which it was done. Rev Okotie sent three open letters to the chairmen of the All Progressive Congress APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the People’s Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, and the chairman of the Steering committee of the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The Letters conveyed a request by Rev Okotie to the three parties to field him as their Presidential candidate in the 2019 general election.
Clearly stated in these widely published letters are the reasons for this unusual request. The pastor- politician is seeking a broad mandate from the political class as represented by the APC, PDP, and CUPP, to implement his agenda which is for the restructuring of the country. In his latest article titled “2019: Time For A New Paradigm”, Rev Okotie, who is now the Presidential flag bearer of his Party, Fresh Democratic Party, FRESH, having been nominated at their Primaries in Lagos on September 29, 2018, defended his letter and quest to head an interim government.
Hear him: “I am neither asking to be a part of the PDP or the APC, nor am I asking to be their candidate in the 2019 presidential election. I am asking both parties and other political parties not to field presidential candidates in the forth coming election but they should subscribe their support to a model that I have advocated, which is to set up an Interim National Government. The mandate to restructure Nigeria shall deal with fundamental issues that beset us as a nation in order to prevent a catastrophe.
“However, irrespective of the parties’ agreement to my proposal, I will definitely pursue it because it is not dependent on them. It’s a divine mandate from God, which is why I have maintained the same stance all these years. There is a lot of skepticism in the world itself, even in the church. Remember, Moses went before Pharaoh several times before he yielded and it wasn’t because God didn’t send him from the outset. This has never been an issue for me because delay is not denial. I’m a man on a mission”. While other candidates are running on an amorphous manifesto with no clear cut objectives, Rev Okotie has come out with an agenda that seems to capture all Nigeria’s maladies in a decisive, highly focused manner. It is absolutely impossible for any subsisting government to restructure this country. Rev Okotie got the fact right. If he is now running on the agenda to restructure Nigeria and quit the stage, we should support him. The various military regimes of the past tinkered with the structure of the Federation by creating local governments and states, arbitrarily, hoping that the outcome would satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians, but they never did. Under the civilian governments, constitutional conferences and like assemblies were set up to recommend a workable plan to restructure Nigeria to no avail. The efforts were well meaning but the opposing interests of centripetal and centrifugal forces never allowed Nigerians to arrive at a consensus.
Rev Okotie’s plan seem to deal with all the inherent opposition to restructuring because he is seeking to come on board to restructure the country, fix all the fault lines and leave the stage. Nigeria is currently in a ditch. Another recession is knocking at the door, causing palpitations in the hearts of millions of our compatriots who are just recovering from the last recession. In fact, millions of our citizens have always been in recession. How can any of the other candidates hope to pull the country out of an economic quazmire, rehabilitate all the dilapidated infrastructure, resolve all the crises of ethnicity and religion in four years, and still able to restructure the nation? A government coming to power in 2019 has its hands full already. In view of Nigeria’s low level of development, no government can fix this country in fifteen years, let alone four and still embark on a reconfiguration of the political structures of the federation. Therefore, to move this country forward, an interregnum as advocated by Rev Chris Okotie is necessary and realistic at this time.
I want to end this article with this optimistic point from the Reverend’s article under review:
“There is a high level of resentment present in the nation today which is unprecedented. We must find a solution while our people are still willing to dialogue: a practical pragmatism which is necessary to engender a state where Nigerians are willing to continue in this entity that we call our nation”.
–Bello wrote from Lagos
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