… Nation’s leaders mustn’t be elected based on religion, region
By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Prince Adewole Adebayo, a trained Lawyer and Business man, is the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
In this interview, Adebayo said religion or region should not be used as yardstick for performance, rather, he says, Nigeria and Nigerians should check records of all candidates in the coming elections, which, he believes, would give the electorate a better perspective about the kind of person they want to vote for.
Excerpt of the interview is reproduced below:
Q: In the midst of the discussion going on about balance of both faiths for all political parties in the coming presidential elections, has your faith ever been questioned.
A. The person who questions my faith the most is me, because I know the precept of what it takes to be a Christian. As Christians and Muslims, it is our work, in terms of what we do in private and public life in service that should speak for us. We should not use religion to claim employment, votes. Religion should be used as moral guidance. A former President of the United States once said that the presidency is a lonely place that sometimes, your last recourse is to be on your knees.
Q. Perhaps that’s why President Buhari said he is eager to leave the office.
A. We saw it before you guys saw it.
Q. Who is your Vice Presidential candidate and his faith?
A.The faith of my vice presidential candidate isn’t the reason. Let me tell you how the SDP behaves and our perspective to it. We do not question people’s religion , but we are sensitive to the country, because we are a diverse community. So, you have no shortage of good people, men and women and different faiths. In SDP, we believe that Nigeria is not only about Muslims and Christians, we also recognize other faiths. We respect everybody’s sensitivity,i identities and beliefs. It is our hope that one day, we would not push this argument to a ridiculous point where people will begin to ask that are you the only two people here. I am happy to be a Christian because it is religion I have serious faith in, and I grew up in an environment where half of my cousins are muslims, so it is not an issue for us. As a lawyer, both here in Nigeria, America and other places, I have met very good Muslims and very good Christians. And I have prosecuted very terrible Muslims and very terrible Christians. My message to Nigerians on this issue is that we can raise this argument only for one reason, to judge the ability of that person who is going to hold the public office to have a sense of sensitivity, because that’s the only reason with which you can judge him. The first duty of a person who wants to be President is the choice of the vice presidential candidate.
Q. That’s why I am asking: who is your vice presidential candidate and his faith?
A. We would announce that, because my party must be there when the announcement is made. What I want you to understand is that since we came in 1999 into civil rule, Christians have ruled, Muslims have ruled. In fact, both have ruined us. So, we should not use religion as a major criterion.
May be 10%,15% parameters of choosing our leaders should be to show whether this person has the broad based sensitivity to a diverse environment like ours.
Q. Why are we fixated about politics of region such that its becoming one of the parameters before one can aspire to rule Nigeria?
A. In politics, whatever argument you want, it’s available in abundance. What politicians do is first locate their interest, when the argument is found, it then helps their aim, but when you are working for the people as I am doing, I don’t have permanent interest other than good governance, making sure we have an accountable government, and as Black people, Nigeria should not be the headquarters of shame in the world. I always ask myself: why are we concerned about politics of region? I see that the fear could be because of marginalisation. Secondly, people have been wrongly educated or I should say miseducated into believing the presidency is a reward. It is a very difficult job. So, it is my mission in politics to interact with people who have this kind of primordial perspectives to say, yes it is important for identity sake.
Q. What exactly are you offering Nigerians because you said we should focus of job creation, National security including food security?. You just returned from tour of the US, what exactly should we be focusing upon. What are we doing wrong?
A. What we are doing wrong is that we don’t have a government. We are having incumbents who spend 4 years and go and are replaced by their friends. They don’t do governmental functions. A functioning government, first of all, will secure the people.
Q. If you were the President and the Kuje Correctional Facility was attacked, what would you do differently.
A. It would not be attacked if I were president. The first thing a government does is to have intelligence. Secondly, is to have ability to process the intelligence. What they are doing is that they are not spending enough time on government time. They are doing all sort of things in the villa. They don’t have time to pursue intelligence, process intelligence because their recruitment is faulty. They are not even complying with the Terrorism act 2011.
Q. As per the military generally, would you be tinkering with the security architecture if you were the president.
A. When you elect me, you have made the greatest change because you have elected a commander in chief. With utmost respect, President Buhari isn’t doing 2% of Commander- in -Chief’s job.
Q. You mean despite being a former Army General?
A. You know in this country, we don’t examine records very well, we examine titles. When you examine records very well, you will know that what is happening now was bound to happen.
Q. Nigeria has a revenue problem. How do you intend to fix that.
A. Quite simple. Nigeria has honesty problem, because they are stealing the revenue accruing to the nation.
Q. Is there facts to buttress this?
A. Yes, I have facts. For the past 3/4 months, I have been shouting that 80% of crude oil being sold by Nigeria is being stolen.
Q. Your party isn’t attaching any state as its own, besides, it not really popular like others. So what are your chances of emerging president in 2023.
A. Our chances are quite bright. Let me tell you why we are not making noise. We have refused to become a refuge camp for the decampees. Even the people who went to Labour came to us first. Peter Obi came to SDP first. We set exams for all of them but they all failed the exams. Peter obi failed our exams. Bola Tinubu failed the exams.