LAGOS, Federal Republic of Nigeria — Presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Engr. Martin Onovo has said that neither the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan, nor that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari could solve the country’s myriad of problems. He called on Nigerians not to vote for them.
In this interview with VINCENT KALU, published by The Sun , Engr. Onovo insists he is the best for Aso Rock, as he has the magic wand to reposition Nigeria for rapid development. Excerpts:
How did you emerge as the presidential candidate of NCP?
I emerged as the presidential candidate of NCP with about 72 per cent of the votes cast in my favour by our party delegates at our primary election during our national convention in Abuja on December 11, 2014. My opponent scored about 28 per cent. The process was transparent, free and fair. Voting was by secret ballot using a transparent ballot box in the full view of all delegates and observers. Three INEC officials observed the election. Most importantly, my opponent congratulated me.
Are you really prepared for the job at Aso Rock?
I am very prepared spiritually, mentally, physically, psychologically, politically and socially. I have been preparing since 1988 to become Nigeria’s president.
You are confident of winning, how?
We are confident of victory because, the National Conscience Party (NCP) is distinct as it is the oldest party and it was founded by the late legal colossus, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) in 1994, out of the popular struggles we waged against, abuse of power, injustice and lawlessness. Our commitment to the principles of integrity, justice and development, clearly make us distinct. Most voters have seen the need for good governance and prefer younger, stronger, more professional and ethical candidates to serve Nigeria better.
A proper evaluation of candidates based on vision, vigour, integrity, competence and national acceptability, confirmed me the best candidate. And most voters have rejected the old, re-cycled and failed rulers who led us to this national predicament.
Why do you think that the two leading candidates – Jonathan and Buhari cannot salvage Nigeria?
The two candidates represent the problems of Nigeria. They do not have what it takes to salvage Nigeria. Both have ethical issues. Both belong to the same class of old, failed, illegitimate and re-cycled rulers that led Nigeria to this predicament. General Buhari that in the absence of General Idiagbon, could not protect his government from the Babangida coup, and as a 72 -year-old man is now promising Nigeria that he can protect us from Boko Haram. Dr. Jonathan that made many false promises of employment, power and second Niger bridge, is here again making false promises. Nigeria needs a younger, stronger and more ethical professional as president to overcome our current challenges using global best practices.
What are the implications of either of the two candidates winning?
The implications are unimaginable. This is the time for us to choose the right persons for the presidency to ensure that we can make a u-turn on this path of corruption, insecurity and disunity. The loss of territory to terrorists, the level of corruption, the rising level of unemployment, poverty and crime, the looming debt crisis, etc., are abundant evidence of misgovernance that we can no longer continue with. Nigeria is ranked very high on the failed states index. With any of the two in power, anarchy may result.
What areas will you like to improve in the next four years if you emerge president?
We will effectively tackle corruption, using our 4Es (Enlightenment, Example, Empowerment and Enforcement) strategy. We will reorganise the EFCC, ICPC and Police’s SFU for improved effectiveness.
Our NCP government will reduce fuel price by improved domestic crude oil refining. We will increase minimum wage by reducing maximum wage, while maintaining the total wage bill. We will use about $9 billion to double power generation, transmission and distribution in two and half years. We will improve employment, food, health, housing, education, water, electricity, transportation, telecommunications and security.
Inadequate power supply in Nigeria is a major hindrance to industrial, infrastructural, economic, social and human development. We will address the issue proactively by: increasing generation capacity, building new gas power stations since natural gas is super abundant in Nigeria; gas power costs much less than solar or nuclear power and presents less safety and technological challenges. Revamp all existing hydro, gas and coal stations; upgrading transmission and distribution facilities; existing facilities may only need to be revamped, upgraded, modified and extended.
We will use about $9 billion to double power generation, transmission and distribution, in two and half years. Since 1999 we have spent $50 billion on power and got less than 1,000 MW additional power supply capacity but with an NCP government, we can double current power supply capacity in two and half years with only $9 billion.
What will be your policy on the petroleum industry?
We will increase domestic refining to boost employment and also increase our GDP. Then, we will reduce prices to domestic cost recovery levels to promote economic and industrial activities. Reducing petroleum products prices will reverse or at least, arrest inflation. Current importation of petroleum products subverts domestic productivity and energy security.
Many ethnic nationalities are disgruntled and feel marginalised in Nigeria, how are you going to address that?
All Nigerians are marginalised by our current rulers. Justice is a pre-condition for peace. We will be fair and just to all Nigerians and insist on the rule of law. As we all submit to the law and to due process the feeling of marginalisation will be checked as all will get their legal entitlements easily.
With the falling oil revenue, what immediate steps are you going to take to shore up Nigeria’s revenue?
We should prioritise the reduction of revenue losses because, even if we get more revenues and lose it to corruption, we will still lack funds for development. Remember the missing $20 billion oil revenue reported by the CBN. We have to increase domestic productivity. Our solid minerals may provide more revenue if appropriately exploited. Luxury tax appropriately structured may also increase revenues. We will also further expand the local petro-chemical industry.
How do you hope to reposition the Nigerian woman?
We will reposition the Nigerian woman by promoting family values.
What are your blueprints on education, agriculture and employment generation?
The other political parties have been copying our blueprints and presenting them as theirs. Education is key to human development, which is fundamental to social, economic and infrastructural development. The following proposals can improve literacy and ethical values: free primary education to ensure that more people have basic education to improve their skills and knowledge.
We are also going to modify curriculum to include moral instruction and civic education in the primary education curriculum. Discipline must be enforced at all educational institutions to promote sound conduct and ethical values.
Dilapidated facilities in federal educational institutions will be refurbished to meet modern standards. Adequate teaching tools will be provided. Institutions can be upgraded, teachers will be motivated and there will be effective supervision of teachers, and education administrators will improve educational standards.
On Agriculture, in order to ensure sufficient food production in Nigeria, a quantum increase in mechanised agricultural output is necessary. Strategies to increase agricultural production may include: increased local fertilizer production, which can be achieved by revamping and upgrading of existing fertilizer facilities and the development of new plants.
Do you believe in the electoral umpire in Nigeria as it is?
INEC has very serious performance issues that have been exposed at previous elections and with the current issuance of PVCs, it may not get it right. The administrative gaps must be identified and closed and the Hon. Justice Uwais’ electoral reform panel report should be reviewed.