Kaduna based businessman and Chairman, Dialogue Group, Mahdi Shehu, says the choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket by the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will polarize the country further. In an interview with BABA NEGEDU, in Kaduna, the businessman asks Nigerians to reject the APC in February 2023 elections
We are going towards another round of elections and preparations are already in top gear. How has this administration fared?
Any government that comes into power through an election must have their manifesto and campaign promises. The current government has a manifesto; they have a blueprint; they also have campaign promises that are obtainable on the electronic sources, through magazines and other periodicals.
These promises are there. But even if someone cannot read all these, at least, we know that this regime came with the promise that they are going to make Nigeria safer.
They promised that they are going to make our lives more secured, our properties more secured, our integrity more secured. They also came on the promises that they are going to create job opportunities; they are going to minimize unemployment; they also came on the premise of building a stronger society, building infrastructure and making Nigerians happy.
In summary, these are their promises. So, the simple question that you can ask yourself; are Nigerians safer before 2015 or, they are more exposed to danger after 2015 till today. You know the answer; I know the answer; anybody reading this interview knows the answer. For me, I know the answer.
Speaking for myself, I feel more insecure. I feel more threatened; I feel more afraid now more than any other time in the history of Nigeria and I am speaking for myself. Let everybody speak for himself also. Number two, are we richer now in terms of purchasing power. The purchasing power has been severely affected negatively on the account of the loss of value of the Naira.
If you ask yourself another question, is the naira more valuable before 2015 or it has more value now and the answer is very clear. Even your dangerous enemy will tell you that the answer is that the naira has lesser value now than in 2015. So, these two cannot be counted as a success story.
Number three, what is the economic status of Nigerians currently? Is our economic status more appreciable before 2015 or is more degrading now and the answer is very clear. What you can use a thousand naira to buy in 2015, maybe, you can use about N4,000 to do it now-the same quantity. Therefore, the economic status of an individual is measured by his disposable income. In fact, the income now is even consumed and spent before it comes.
That is for those who have income. Our economic status is that our marginal propensity to consume is 100 per cent. It means your marginal propensity to invest is zero. Your marginal propensity to save is zero. If you cannot save, if you cannot invest in any economy, you name is to hell with you because decision will be taken without consulting you because you are not important.
But again another parameter, are we more united as a nation, as communities, as ethnic nationalities, as a region? Are we more friendly, are we more united before 2015 or we are better united now? Are we more disunited before 2015 or are we more disunited now and the answer is very clear. Nigerians are more divided between 2015 to date.
From what you have enumerated, we need leaders that can turn this situation around. Among the presidential candidates that we have now, at least, the four main ones, who has what it takes?
Let me go with the popular view. Some people are saying that none of the candidates is qualified, competent or has the capacity. Assuming, but without conceding, assuming that what they are saying is true.
We are being guided by a constitution and the electoral law. We are not going to have any party primaries again. So, if we are not going to have party primaries again, it then means we have to do with what we have on ground.
So, we go to the theory of the lesser evil. Who is the most likely, the least devilish among them and the less evil among them. Who is likely to have the credentials to deliver and there are objective parameters. Number one, we should look forward to the following qualities. Already, Nigeria is at a crossroad. We are on our knees. We are gasping for oxygen.
We are looking for someone who can take us out of this emergency. Therefore, we are not looking for someone who will use Nigeria as a Guinea pig. We are not looking for a learner.
We are looking for somebody who if we elect him today, he will start work today and you cannot get that except from someone who has an experience to share, that is one. So who among them has the capacity to manage Nigeria, not to manage a state, but because when you manage a state it is completely different from managing Nigeria.
So, we are looking for somebody who has proximity to power of managing the whole of Nigeria not managing a state. Number two, we are looking for somebody who was injured, who has several injuries on him in the cause of public service and he was able to heal himself.
Anybody who has the capacity to heal himself also has the capacity to heal the larger society. We want somebody who understands global politics, the one who can think globally and bring the experience to bear locally. We want somebody who can think locally and act globally. We don’t want a myopic person. We don’t want somebody with questionable character.
We also want somebody whose academic qualifications are very clear, untainted, someone whose genealogy is known. His family background is known, his educational background is known and his source of wealth is known. We are looking for somebody who bears only one name.
He is known by the same name in America, in Saudi Arabia, in Sokoto, in Zamfara and even in Kebbi. Multiple identities is what we don’t like. We want somebody with a single verifiable identity; no excess baggage. We are also looking for somebody who if he travels to the west, he is at home; if he travels to the East, he is at home; if he travels to the north, he is at home.
If he travels to every nook and corner of the country, he has friends to rely on there. We don’t want a religious bigot; we don’t want a tribalist. These are some of the qualities we should be looking for in determining who governs Nigeria at the National level.
What is your take on the controversy on the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ?
Everyone has a right to his choice. NNPP chose Muslim – Christian ticket; PDP chose Muslim – Christian ticket; Labour Party chose Christian–Muslim ticket; APC decided to go for Muslim –Muslim ticket. Do you know the meaning?
The meaning is that they are telling Christians we don’t need you; you don’t matter to us. They are saying that we don’t need Christian votes to win an election in Nigeria.
They have made a personal choice and it is at a consequence. If there is anybody in Nigeria today, a Muslim that thinks he can win election in Nigeria without the Christians, the person requires Psychiatric evaluation. Also, if there is any Christian, who thinks he can win an election without the Muslim votes, the person also needs Psychiatric evaluation. We have intermingling communities, tribes and religious influences and we must learn to live with those differences. We must learn to live with those intricacies; it is our source of strength, not our source of weaknesses. APC has made an expression but I am sure there will be a payday on the day we are casting our votes. Every right thinking person must not vote APC. This I say without any apology because besides destroying our country, they also want to polarize and destroy the country further after the 2023 elections. This country does not belong to any one religion. It belongs to all of us. The insecurity in the country is not abating. If it continues, what will be the implication for the 2023 elections? Except if something is done, I don’t want to be too optimistic that the election can hold peacefully. Unless, something is done urgently between now and the next two, three, four months, otherwise if the increase in the security situation continues in this manner, I fear that the election might be greatly compromised by the insecurity. Already, there is insecurity all over the country, not only in one section and the security agencies are being overwhelmed. They are under armed , they are underwelfared, they are under paid, they are under-cared for. Therefore, that zeal, that commitment,that Nationalistic feeling is gradually dying down. What is your take on the recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that he is tired and wants to go back to Daura? I expected the President to back that statement with an action, immediately after the statement to really convince us that he is tired. He should have resigned and go. The ovation is over. Democracy is about knowing when to let go. The moment the ovation is dying down, they are telling you please go away, we are tired of you. What I expected was that from the day he said he was tired and eager from that day, I expected him to resign. But Nigeria democracy is not tilted towards when you need to let go, but knowing when to stay put even when people are dying, people are hungry.