National Chairman of the newly registered, National Interest Party (NIP), Eunice Atuejide, speaks in this interview on the party’s vision and the 2019 general elections, among other issues. FELIX NWANERI reports
Now that your political association has been registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a full-fledged political party, what is its next move?
Our next move is to get our message out to Nigerians. We want Nigerians, particularly the younger ones to believe again in our country. NIP was formed mostly by young men and women between the ages of 17 and 40.
So, you can confidently say that through NIP, young Nigerians are speaking up; rising to the challenge, and partaking in rebuilding our country. We will use every platform available to us to reach out to Nigerians. We will invite them and renew their confidence and trust in our country. We will show them that NIP is a platform they can trust. A platform created by the hungry and suffering masses in Nigeria, for no other reason than to cure the menace in our society.
The political landscape is chacterised by numerous political parties jostling for space. How would yours cope amidst the already existing ones which have been there over the years?
The competition is good for us because Nigerians know that the parties in existence before NIP were created to serve the selfish needs of a particular class in our society. None of those parties have been able to show transparency, commitment to our country and her people.
The mess in governance that we have today is a clear proof of this assertion. NIP is a political party based in the cloud. This means that our members can live in any part of the world and still have direct impact on what is happening in Nigeria simply by partaking in intra-party activities online.
Nigeria has the highest number of brilliant men and women who have continuously broken every boundary abroad, but none of these people have direct access to, or control of any of our political parties. Our political parties are formed, led and maintained by the least worthy of us. NIP has ended that era, so the competition is in our favour.
What we have done at NIP is put a platform out there through which every Nigerian in any part of the world who is over 18 years of age can join in the rebuilding process. We are opening up the political landscape in Nigeria to include the very best of us no matter what part of earth they live or work. We have put something different on the table, so the competition as it is today does not faze us.
Indeed, we have created a sincere and transparent political platform which will help salvage the little left of our dearest country. NIP is a platform for honest, hardworkdeeding, and selfless Nigerians in every part of the world, who despite their own prejudices, are prepared to listen to and consider the opinions of the opposite sides before they take any decisions. Also, NIP will only work for candidates who despite individual excellence, accept that they must convince a majority of our members directly affected by their candidacy before they can emerge our candidates of choice.
There is no automatic ticket to contest any position; there is no delegate system other than that which applies in accordance to the region each person wants to emerge from. So, there is no opportunity to bribe anybody. Every party member is a delegate at each election that concerns them, and every contestant has a duty to convince each member to choose them.
Political parties in Nigeria are bereft of any known ideology. Is NIP offering the people an ideological dimension?
Indeed, we believe that government has a duty to its people and must introduce social reforms to make the lives of each citizen better. We also believe strongly that the private sector needs boosting to encourage development in our country. This puts NIP right in the Atuejide middle of the two sides. We are a central democratic political party so we are neither leftists nor rightists. We’re a little conservative and a little liberal, so we are right in the centre ideologically.
Nigeria as a nation has been bugged by the recurring decimal of gerontocratic leadership, giving no room for the youth to actively participate in governance. What difference will NIP be offering the people?
We are ending that. And we are doing it fairly. NIP was created by young Nigerians, but it does not mean that only young Nigerians will contest elections on our platform. It does not however mean that any kind of old persons will fare well under our platform.
This is so because we operate mostly in the cloud! You must be technology savvy to partake in elections through NIP and quite honestly, I doubt that many of our older class can meet this requirement. We are a political party highly reliant on digital technology.
This is new even to the average youth in Nigeria. In essence, if you are 95 years old or more and wish to contest any general election and choose to do so on NIP’s platform, you are highly welcome. However you must win the primaries first.
In other words, you must win the intra-party election involving other digitally savvy contestants, meaning you absolutely need to be light years ahead of your fellow contestants to endear yourself enough to the majority of us to get us voting for you internally.
I know of some people in their 70s who are terribly technology savvy, however, they are not in the majority. This means NIP will only produce the greatest minds of Nigerian decent in terms of drive and innovation no matter their ages.
Nigerian politics and electioneering involve huge financial layout.
What is NIP’s capacity in this respect?
The huge financial layouts is not synonymous with Nigeria, it is the same all over the world. In fact, Nigeria doesn’t spend a tenth of what most advanced countries spend for electioneering purposes, but the reason for needing the funds is what is different.
The problem with Nigeria is that most of the money is spent bribing delegates. We don’t need money to bribe delegates at NIP. In-deed NIP needs a lot of money – for publicity (TV Radio, Print, accommodation, transport etc), planned community service programmes to reach the grassroots, to organise and strategically plan the campaigns, to cater for our volunteers and permanent staff etc. NIP needs money for a lot of reasons, but not for the usual reasons political parties in Nigeria seek funding.
We do not charge fees for nomination forms, and we do not charge subscription fees, however we are hopeful that Nigerians will give us their money once they key into our vision. Once they see that they can trust us to do exactly as we say. Our only proposed source of funding is from the masses and for us, nothing is too small.
The 2019 general elections are almost by the corner. Being a newly approved political party, how prepared is your party for the polls?
NIP is very open to contesting the 2019 elections at all levels, and we hope to go very far. However considering that our registration happened really late, we are happy to field whatever number of really strong candidates we are able to screen before it is too late to join the race.
For us, 2019 is the experiment, and 2023 is the real opportunity. We have no doubt that provided we continue to work at the pace we have been doing since coming together in October 2016, we will be able to take real political power by 2023. Ours is a party of the future, so we’re not rushing into things for the sake of it.
Do you think that your party can turn the table against the old brigade politicians who have mastered the political terrain?
Yes! Absolutely! Nigerians are hungry for real change. We’re tired of presidents who spend half their tenures in hospitals abroad; presidents who appoint the dead people into parastatals. Nigerians at home and abroad are tired of the recycled political class and their protégés as they have refused to see beyond their noses.
Once NIP has the grassroots on its side, which we will use transparent measures to achieve. Once we are accountable to the people and work together in harmony despite our religious, ethnic, tribal and other differences, Nigerians will see us for who we are. And once they put their trust in us, taking down the old brigade politicians would be easy.
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