I’ve no reason to be grateful to Jonathan – Ribadu

Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and presidential aspirant on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has been speaking on his chances in the April polls, declaring himself God’s candidate.
In a Boxing Day interview at his Abuja residence, the lanky ex-cop, also threw punches at those who think he has little experience in politics to aspire to the nation’s highest leadership position.

He also spoke on the alleged ‘deal’ leading to his return from a two-year self-exile abroad, insisting he has no reason to be grateful to President Goodluck Jonathan under whose dispensation he returned.

Ribadu was asked if he felt comfortable being in the same party with Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and ACN chieftain, who he reportedly once listed among the nation’s alleged corrupt governors. His answer? Wait till you turn the pages of this explosive interview.

The former EFCC boss also spoke about his narrow escape from death, the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, former Vice President Atiku, Abubakar, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as, his agenda for Nigerians if he is elected president.

You have never been a politician. You have been a lawyer. You have been in the police and you have also been in the public service. So, how would you describe your experience so far on the political turf?
Very interesting. Also satisfying. Not disappointing whatsoever. I am very happy and pleased with what has been the case so far. I was born into politics. I am from a political family, although I had never practised it. I decided, out of my own choice, to go into public service and I remained there all through my working life. My point of entry in politics now has opened up a new chapter altogether, a new experience. But the most fascinating one is the unbelievable interest, enthusiasm, which I have got. What I see daily, those that I meet on the way; the taxi drivers, the gentlemen at the airport, inside an aircraft…

Only yesterday (December 25, 2010), I was on my way back from Port Harcourt. Two people brought me cheques and said: ‘Nuhu, please, this is my own widow’s mite to help in this (cause).’ Those things have touched me. Unbelievable. They made me to believe in it more than ever before and it has also made me to understand that politics is not about money. It is not just about bad people who have always been at the forefront of it. It is about what people are yearning for and people are looking for the right thing and the good thing and they will come all out to support it. It is a massive encouragement. It made me to have new absolute faith in our future.

You mean you are shocked at the reception you have been getting?
Yes, pleasantly shocked. I never imagined that, because of the belief was that you must have money to do certain things. Or you have to be somebody with very deep pocket for you to make it. I had nothing when I got in, but we have achieved so much so far. I have seen people coming to donate property when we were looking for offices. An individual will come and say, ‘take it, I am not taking a penny from you.’ I have seen owners of property saying, ‘ok, pay only just half (of the rent) if it is your own office. I have seen young men and young boys, young guys coming in thousands, thousands and thousands all over the country for the first time in the history of Nigeria. You will see educated young boys, majority of them graduates, coming to give their time, their energy, their resources into this project, at no cost. If you go to my office, you see them 24 hours, not just in Abuja but also across the country. And there are so many of them in thousands and daily, it is improving; the Team Ribadu Group. So, these are all interesting.

And you never expected this?
No. Absolutely no. But you know, it is not just about the young men, even the older people. Our parents themselves are included and they are all shouting Ribadu! I met an old man who happens to be a colleague of my father in the parliament of the 60s. He said, ‘Nuhu, we are so proud of you. It means that everything that we did has not come to nothing. Please carry on. That was our dream and that is what we hope will become a reality. We have seen the hope in you, in what you people are trying to do.’ That, touched me. It shows that it is not about the young men and the future; it is also about those who attempted to do what was right and did something that was proud of. It is about the seed that they planted. They suddenly see it germinating. So, those things are issues that will be interesting and very pleasant.

Why did you decide to join politics and the presidency? Was it an inner conviction or you were dragged into it or you saw that the time was ripe for it?
It is a combination of so many things.

At what point did you decide to take the gauntlet? Was it when you were at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or was it when you were abroad? At what point did the presidency thing and politics come?
It was actually 2010. I might not say this is the specific date, but it is 2010.

After you came back?
Maybe about the process of coming back. But it all started a long time ago and it started with my resolve to go into public service. I made up my mind in 1985 to go into public service, not to go in the pursuit of money. I said that what will make me happy is that my calling will certainly be to serve; do what I consider the common good of all our people. And on my own, I chose the opportunity to be of public service. That was in 1985 when I joined the Nigeria Police after qualifying as a lawyer. I had several jobs; I had the option to go into private practice. I would have joined the multi-nationals. I had amazing opportunities to make money if that was what I wanted. I could have got out of the country. I had all these, but I said no, I think what will make me happy is public service. That was when I made that decision, but that decision was not to be a politician. So, I served in the Nigeria public service for 25 years, but it was terminated about two years ago abruptly.

Was it a very sad event for you?
Yes, yes.

You felt so bad?
Yes, because I thought it was not justified. I thought that there was no reason for it and I genuinely wanted to continue to contribute and help and work all my active public career life and it was stopped…

You were retired when you were not tired?
Absolutely. I was certainly not tired. As you can see, I am still not tired.
Well, it was stopped and this opportunity came now.

And then you went abroad?
Yes. Well, I cut off that part. Actually, Umar Yar’Adua stopped my own public service when he said he dismissed me, but I challenged it in court. The final nail was when this government retired me, which is this year. So, at the point of retirement, I will have to do something.

We heard that your coming back to the country was part of an agreement between you and the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan?
(Cuts in) Never.

The story was that they would get you back and then make you special adviser on narcotics, drugs and all that and that they will retire you. Was it part of the agreement?
(Cuts in) No.

What agreement did you reach with him when he met you in US?
I never reached any agreement with him. Not at all.

But the presidency believes it did you a favour by bringing you back when Yar’Adua drove you out of the country?
Which favour? Did he (Jonathan) say so?

Well, that is the insinuation everywhere; that ok, he brought you back…
No. I am a Nigerian. You don’t bring me back to my own country. It is my own country.

So, you are not grateful?
No. It is not a matter of being grateful. What is it? I am a Nigerian and nobody said I have committed any crime or offence. So, you have to commit an offence, in the first instance, for you to be granted…

So, the pardon means nothing?
Nobody pardoned me. You pardoned me for what?

But you couldn’t come back for two years plus…
This is because they attempted to kill me.

Are you saying it was real?
Well, if you can go now, you will see… You have to go and take the picture of the bullets on my vehicle now. When we get out of here, you must take the picture. I survived it and I left the country on my own, voluntarily.

You haven’t told us how you left, whether it was through another route or through the famous National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) route?
(Cuts in) Of course, through the NADECO route. It is a democracy route. You need to go through it for you to qualify (laughs). So, I went out because if I had stayed, they would have killed me. No doubt about it.

Why did they want to kill you?
Well, I don’t know. I mean, there are so many people who were killed. It is not I alone. A lot of people were killed in this country.

You were removed as EFCC chairman and sent to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS)…
(Cuts in) They did everything you can imagine.

And got you out of the graduation ground and now you say they wanted to kill you? What is it that Nuhu Ribadu actually did? What, in your mind, did you do?
I think you need to help us to ask them. It will be good and interesting to find out because there are still some people who might just explain what really was the cause of that, but for me, I don’t know. I really don’t know.

And you came back?
I came back. I mean, it is my own country. Maybe it was God that made it possible. It is God, not anybody.

Since you came back, you started thinking of politics?
Certainly, as I was going to get back to the country, I do have fairly a wide network. I know people in this country a lot. I have friends and people who are close to me, know how much concern I have about my country and how interested I am to be part of whatever that can improve this country. And I have had a lot of people telling me ‘well, Nuhu, it is only right for you to be part of the process that will improve our country, to continue to bring the change that is needed.’ So, as I was going through that, of course, you know it is a transition year. And if you want to continue with public service and you are retired from the civil service, there is only one option and that is the only way you can go. It is only through politics that you can get an opportunity to contribute. So, that was ongoing and then. I still believe, a lot of people are talking about it, including myself, the need for this country to change. But we need to have a new beginning, to start afresh, to do things properly and correctly and I believe I am one to make that possible. I stand as a symbol of this change in my country and every opportunity for me to take a stand to help bring this positive development in our country, I will be the first person to take it. I will always stand by the Nigerian people. I will always take the challenge to help our people.

While this debate was ongoing, transition time, I came out, I was there in the United States (US). I had the opportunity to interact and work at that level. I knew what is needed for us to move forward as a country. I had a period of reflection; everything came together at the same time and I said, God, be by my side. God, you know my intention; God I want to continue to serve. Whatever that you have given me, in terms of my own education, in terms of experience, knowledge and network, God I want to continue in service. I want to continue to serve you, to serve my people; to serve my country is service to you as well. I want to take that opportunity in my belief that what matters most in this country today, is the position of leadership at the highest level. That is the greatest challenge. Ability for us to get a leadership that can do what is right. To lead with honesty, transparency, accountability, with respect for people, compassionate at the centre, listening. Leadership that can pull this country together and build unity. Leadership that can be a difference and not the one that we have had before. That is the biggest challenge at the highest level; the leadership that can bring this desired change that I am talking about and I am absolutely convinced and confident that I can provide that leadership because on the basis of what I have seen, what I have done, my own experience, I can do it. That is all I have got.

All my life, I have always taken challenges. When I joined the police in 1985, a lot of people, except those who knew me, were very, very angry saying, ‘Nuhu, how could you ever get to the police? What is in you that has anything to do with the police? Nobody in your family ever joined the Nigeria Police. This and that, you do not physically look like one. A qualified lawyer from northern part of Nigeria opting to join the police, is very unusual but something inside me was telling me to go for it, that it was the right thing to do. And I wanted to contribute my own part to the promotion of justice and fairness in my country. I wanted to fight injustice, whether in a very small way or in a big way. So, my mind was ready. The same thing happened when I started the EFCC. Everybody was saying how dare you? Heads of states tried it and they failed. Some of them got killed because of their attempt to address or fight corruption.

Who are you? How dare you? But something told me that I could do it. And I went for it and did it with fear of God and honesty and the rest is history. Nigerians know what happened. So, it is the same feeling that I have. God be my witness. I am getting in with His own fear and love for Him and love for my country and my people. I want a chance to pay back for what my country has done for me, to help rescue these our people. Not just me alone, but there are so many Nigerians with dream and this expectation. God count me in.

Did God answer you?
I believe so. That is why I am where I am today, because if it wasn’t so, I probably, would not be where I am today. With no resources, nothing. And it is daily growing and it is being taken very serious daily and I am very much convinced in God’s work.

Some people would have thought that if you are going to primary two, you start from primary one and you progress. How come there are other offices in the country and you just say look, I want to start from number one position, the presidency? Because people are saying oh, why can’t he run for other positions? Why can’t he go to the Senate or become governor? Why do you think you should be president of this country?
I have heard people saying that. One of the reasons I have decided to do this, is because that is where I think I will play my best role. I am a federal person. One of the reasons we got things wrong was because people who were unprepared for positions got in there. If you are a state man, you won’t know what the dynamics and the intrigues of the Federal Government is all about.

Are you referring to the late President Yar’Adua?
Yes. There are so many people like that because they didn’t know how the Federal Government is run. I have been a federal person for 25 years of my life and I am an international person. I fit in perfectly there. I have been an executive person all my life. So, if it is a matter of choice, it is better I go to the executive line than the legislature and I know where the problems are and where the solutions could come. The fastest way to solve the problems is the executive responsibility. You need a good person who is honest in that position.

Some people talk about political experience and they say look, this is not about police, this is not about security, this is not about EFCC. That you don’t know how the dynamics of government work. I mean, being in the executive position in a political setting. That how can Nuhu Ribadu think because he ran the EFCC, a small unit that is not up to a division in the Nigeria Police, he can be president?
My goodness! You need to be honest and be fair to me and look at my own history; what I have done in life and compare it with even those who have been president in Nigeria before and who even want to be president. First and foremost, I am a lawyer. I was a qualified lawyer before even starting my public service career. How many were lawyers who ever became presidents of Nigeria? Or even graduates? How many people served for 25 years of their lives before becoming president of Nigeria?

Not a single one ever. I put 25 years of my life into public service. Public service at the Federal Government level before aspiring to be president of Nigeria. Look at the history of Nigeria. Is there any single person with that history? How many people were, for example, prosecutors? In the world today, if you ask for leadership, whether it is Tony Blair or Bill Clinton, almost all of them went through this process in being lawyers, practising lawyers. I was a practising lawyer in Nigeria for years. How many had the opportunity to create an agency of government from the scratch? Look at the people who want to be president and all those who were presidents before. EFCC is not just about fighting corruption; it is about creating an agency that delivers; a government agency that has remained central to the remaking of Nigeria.

It is a household name today in Nigeria and outside the country. It is one of the most important outfits that changed the course of our history in this country. I created it. How many of them were in the economic team that managed the economy of Nigeria? I was a member of the economic management that rebranded the economy of Nigeria from A-Z, with very positive reserves. How many of them were fellows of such universities or any university in the world? How many of them went to Harvard University? How many of them have master’s degree in Law? How many of them worked at the international level? I worked at the Centre for Global Development. I addressed parliaments in the world, including the biggest democracies in the world. I did all that. How many of them would tell you that they have records or results of fighting corruption, which is our biggest problem? I want any one of them to come and show me on ground, put it on the table, their records or what they have to show for fighting corruption. Any one of them, all of them, including even people who claim to be men of integrity. Integrity is not just talk. It is what you see. I will tell you what I have. I will tell you the results of the work I did in fighting corruption. So, integrity is your greatest credential?

I am grateful to God for that. And it is not by mouth. Anyone who says that he has integrity, let him bring it on the table for integrity test. I can tell you, people gave me money, I took them to court and charged them for that. I tell you that after I left office, they came and checked me for many years. My enemies took over the EFCC and they could not get one pin as an evidence of my own wrongdoing. People tried everything on earth to get me.

Even if people don’t say Ribadu is corrupt, they say you were excessive during your stint at EFCC, pursuing people everywhere, that Obasanjo was using you?
Yeah, they will always say so. When you fight corruption, they will always say things like that. When they cannot get anything to nail you, they will always claim this and that.

Now, between you and I, did Obasanjo try to use you?
No, no, no my brother.

Was it coincidental that enemies of Obasanjo also became the targets of the fight against corruption?
You see, the point about fighting corruption did not just start today.

Was it coincidental?
Let me tell you. When General Ibrahim Babangida staged his military coup and removed General Muhammadu Buhari, the first thing he accused Buhari of was that he was selective. That was it. It is the same thing, but you have seen the result of what happened after that. It is not different from my own. Anyone who came to fight corruption, they will tell you that. They accused Murtala Muhammed of the same thing, of being selective. So, there is no difference in my own. The only thing I will tell you now is that anyone I brought to justice, please, let him come and I will tell him the reason I did what I did and Nigerians will judge. I have all the evidence with me up till now, in terms of what really happened. It is not about being selective at all. If you fight corruption, you will always, especially, if you are able to overcome those basic things, for instance, if you are not corrupt yourself and you could not be swayed away from doing the right thing, the cheapest and easiest thing for them to say is that you are selective and without even supporting it with evidence. I have been consistently telling Nigerians that anyone who says he was selective, let him come. I am waiting for him to come and I will still share with Nigerians why he was brought to justice and the reason we had to take the steps we took. There was nothing personal.

Almost all the people that I brought to justice, I swear to God, a lot of them are my friends because they knew and understood clearly that it was not personal. And honestly, it was not personal. It is a very difficult job. You needed to do it. Someone must do it, very tough one. But it has to be done. So, I did it. My job as EFCC chairman, if you do it honestly, you must really do those things. You must. There is no way for you to avoid it.

So, Obasanjo didn’t tell you to go after anybody?
Never. Even if he did, it never worked. The point about it is that if you are like that, you will never get result. That was the reason we succeeded. And we succeeded because the EFCC had a solid foundation.

But you made some mistakes also?
Yeah, let me just get to that point. I wanted to explain to you that the EFCC is standing today because of what we did. You will not succeed unless you avoid two fundamental things. We worked and got results. The results are for the whole world to see and they have seen them. You will never succeed if you are corrupt yourself. You will never succeed if you are selective. It would not work. These are the two things you must avoid. And if you are selective, I am telling you that others will not come along because it is not an area that you decide alone. The judiciary is out there. The judiciary will never come with you if they know you are selective. They will never. We succeeded in getting this conviction simply because they understood what was going on. The evidence we assembled were brought before them and they decided themselves. It was not we that decided those cases. I had over 90 per cent conviction record.

Well, your predecessor, Mrs. Farida Waziri, would dispute this claim. We heard that you did not do much, that it was only on the pages of newspapers you fought corruption. They said there was nothing to the noise about Nuhu Ribadu doing this and that. They said there was no record of single conviction.
But you are in Nigeria. Are you not in Nigeria?

So, what is your own view about that?
Well, I asked the question. (Laughs) But the point is that I am not going to waste my time taking on the people who took over the job from me. It is waiting for another day because in the first instance, it is perceived as if I am an aggrieved person. And whatever I say might be misunderstood or misconstrued. So, I will rather leave Nigerians to judge. Nigerians will know those people who were brought to justice then, who were convicted. Nigerians will know whether public officials are being brought or challenged, like the way we challenged them. The international community will always decide. Almost every single case that is ongoing today, are my own cases. Every single case, I created them. I made them: Halliburton. It was I, personally. Siemens and Panalpina. International corruption cases, not to talk about Nigerian cases. Every single governor that is being brought to justice up till now is my own case. Not a single case came out since I left. So, what is it that I would talk?

We are going to leave the EFCC now because this interview is essentially not about that agency.
And I also don’t want to talk about the EFCC.

I understand what you mean. But I would ask this one last question on the EFCC and move on. For the records, did Atiku Abubakar bring you into the EFCC as he has claimed?
He did not. He did not bring me into the EFCC.

He said he brought you in; he identified you and they had to amend the EFCC Act to accommodate you since the position, by the Act, ought to be headed by an AIG or its equivalent. What really happened?
To be honest, this is not the right time for me to discuss this. I am going to simply say Atiku did not bring me to EFCC. The point is that those people who made it possible for me to be in the EFCC are still alive and please, endeavour to go and ask them. The reason I got into the EFCC was, first, because I was qualified and there were people I worked with. Before I joined the EFCC, I was literally responsible for almost all the most important cases in Nigeria. I was the one doing almost all the important cases in my country. Before I joined the EFCC, I was the one prosecuting the biggest names in our country. I was prosecuting the Abachas, Makanjuolas, the former speaker, Salisu Buhari, Oputa Panel. I was a member of the tribunals, almost all the tribunals; the religious disturbance tribunals and I was involved in the military tribunals that prosecuted coup plotters. I was involved in the failed banks inquiry. All these things, I was central. I was at the heart of all those things. I was central to the entire justice sector in Nigeria and I participated fully in all these things. So, in terms of qualification, when it came, when they were looking for someone to be the pioneer chairman of the EFCC, there was no dispute about it. I worked with Kanu Agabi when he was Attorney- General. I worked with him during the failed banks in the 90s and those were the things that made them to appoint me.

Now to your party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). The leader of your party, Bola Tinubu, was governor of Lagos State and somebody brought it to my attention that he was one of those you listed as being corrupt at the National Assembly. How comfortable are you being in the same party with the man you allegedly once labelled as corrupt?
(Cuts in) I did not say so.

Ok, for the records, did you say he was corrupt?
Never, I did not say so.

What happened? Was he listed among those you were investigating for corruption?
Well, let me tell you, in fact, what is going on in my country today. You know, it is Bola Tinubu they are trying to get at. Whoever is doing that, I just want to look at it as a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) propaganda. This is an individual who fought PDP and refused to allow PDP to take over Nigeria completely. He stopped them at Lagos gate and he gave chance for the opposition to re-organise themselves and they are coming back to free Nigeria from this unbelievable strangulation of the PDP. He is their number one enemy and they are fighting him tooth and nail, everything. And when I joined the ACN on the basis of a party with so many people, like him who fought for democracy, who fought for democracy and have something to show for it, right from the NADECO days up to this one, fighting PDP is the biggest contribution towards addressing the problems of this country.

Therefore, they want to continue this fight in a different way. So, whoever is saying that, I am telling you, he is either a PDP man or a sympathizer. Or unwittingly, you are helping the PDP. So, that is not the case. When it comes to the issue of what I said before the National Assembly, I can assure you that I did not say that he was a corrupt person. No. Go back to the records and see. It was the National Assembly, the Senate specifically, that called me to brief them on the investigations going on then. And I went through it state by state and when it came to the turn of Lagos State, I said the investigation of the governor of Lagos had an international dimension because, at that time, I knew the Metropolitan Police of London were investigating him. I said that investigation was ongoing and that was it. I did not say anything other than that. And I am very happy. You see, God has a way of working out things for you. I believe that nobody could influence the Metropolitan Police. If they are doing an investigation, no one could stop them because you will not say you are used or misused by them or you used them or misused them. And whatever they do, it will be something that they can stand and defend and they have a justice system that works. At the end of the day, with all their investigations, I have not seen any action that they took against Bola Tinubu. He still goes to the United Kingdom (UK) freely; he transacts business there and certainly, it is not that they have anything against him. If they have had it, by now they would have brought him to justice. This is all I said with respect to Bola Tinubu, which is now being twisted simply because they want to continue the fight against him for what he did to PDP. And then, unwittingly, Nigerians are just being deceived.

For me, in fact, I thought Nigerians would even understand who Nuhu Ribadu was by simply looking at what happened then. He was the greatest enemy of the PDP and I was working with the government of the PDP. He was formerly the greatest enemy of the Federal Government, in terms of political enemy, that is what I mean, but nothing happened to him during my days. This just go to show about the issue of being selective. At that time, so many PDP people were being brought to justice. That tells you about me. I am what I am.

What’s your attitude to wealth? Is it that you don’t like money?
I am not a material person by nature and I am grateful to God, I have a simple life and I am ok. A little thing takes care of me. I am not really by nature, a material person and I am grateful to God. And I am not even impressed with anything material.

And you claimed to have rejected a whopping sum of money from your friend, James Ibori, the former governor of Delta State?
Of course. I mean, there were several others. James was one, but we rejected from several others and we even used it to show how public servants should be, could be and must be. And that is why when people are talking about integrity and fighting corruption, these are features Nigerians must pay attention to.

How do you feel now that he’s in a legal cul de sac? He’s going through a hell of a time.
Well, I feel sorry for James because he is a human being. I am not celebrating the fact that justice caught up with him but justice is justice. There is nothing I can do about it. But as a human being, I do not really celebrate such a thing, no. No, no, no. I have nothing personal against James Ibori. Honestly. If I see him today, I will shake hands with him. And he knows that.

Now, you are in the race. What are the three critical factors, three critical problems you will address if you are elected president of Nigeria? What are the three basic things Nigeria needs now to get working in your order of priority?
Very good. Which means you have to do it in the context of what you need to be, who you need to be and how you want to do it for you to achieve those things. You need to do absolutely, good governance. Change the way government is run. Are you getting me? Let it be a different thing all together the way we manage ourselves. And if you succeed in doing that, if you stop wastage, you know, corruption and mismanagement, those are the fundamental things we have to achieve, but it is not something Nigerians will see so soon. It is not something that you can take home now. The basic things that Nigerians would want to see, an improvement in their lives. For example, basic thing like power. It is something that can be achieved in no time, to get electricity to every home and industry in our country. We can get it done quickly because it can be a foundation to growth and development.

How long will it take you to do that?
Give and take, one to two years. Yes, you can achieve that to the level of saying we can provide electricity and Nigerians will see the difference in their lives. It is very possible. You can also address this problem of poverty. Honestly, people are extremely poor. You and I don’t know that but get out of Abuja, even five, 10 kilometers and see how people live there. The distribution of wealth is very unequal. So, many people are having a good life, too much good life. And these are a few people, but it is difficult for the rest to eat; to eat is a problem to them. So, we need to provide those basic things immediately that can give relief, like food security. We need to improve it quickly. We need to also provide security. Security means for you to live in peace and you are not afraid of the next person to you or you will not get into your house and be afraid that somebody will come in or afraid of kidnappers or afraid to get into town.

I was just on my way yesterday to spend my Christmas in Jos and suddenly, we encountered a terrible scene. Those are things that we need to sort out immediately. Security. The insecurity problem is big. From Niger Delta down to everywhere. That can be addressed immediately, so that Nigerians will not totally be in captivity of armed robbers, kidnappers, of religious mad people, crazy people who do not get it right at all.

You can fix it?
Oh yes! It is a priority. And likely for me, I am qualified to do that more than anybody. I can comfortably tell you that. I can beat my chest. I can do that. I can solve power very quickly. I can provide security because I am qualified to do that. The reason we messed it up so badly is that people who do not know what internal security is all about are managing us. The head of state is the most important. We have had military heads of states, whose only training was to kill enemies.

That is not their primary training?
No. Not to provide peace, stability and security. I mean enforcement of laws. This is what security is all about. They were not trained for that.

So, you believe when ex-soldiers say they can provide security they don’t really know what they are talking about?
They don’t know what they are talking about. I am telling you they don’t know. Nigerians are not their enemies for them to fight. When it comes to internal security, it is a specialised sector.

They can only compound it?
I can tell you that. I can assure you of that. And also, you do not pick people with no experience, who are never exposed to the Federal Government’s structure or establishment because security is the responsibility of the Federal Government. Part of the problems we have is that we have had consistently, either stale people or military people coming to be in charge. I was shocked when I got into government at a very close range, when I realised how empty, the lack of understanding of the basic security system and structure at the highest level of our country. People didn’t know and they still do not know, particularly the soldiers. They don’t know.

What’s your message to the young people of this country?
It is about their own future. It is the future of the young men and young women today, who are growing in our country. Everything that we are doing today is about them. It is about their own future. And it is the motivating factor. It is the reason we just have to do it. What do we have for them? It is their own country; it is their own resources. They must be given opportunity to participate, to be involved, to contribute to make Nigeria work. They are denied this chance today. They are not part of the system. They have been removed out of the scheme of things. Our young men and young women do not have jobs today. The money is being wasted. A situation where probably about 75 per cent of our own money goes to recurrent and less than 25 per cent goes to capital development is bad. This capital development is what is supposed to create jobs, what is supposed to bring new things in our own country. There is no hub. The entire resources goes to servicing government, servicing people who are in government, whether they are parliamentarians, whether they are chief executives, civil servants, parastatals, all these incredibly huge monster called government that has nothing to offer or to deliver right now. No idea of how to create jobs. Let me give an example of Abuja today.

Look at Abuja. As rich as it is, we do not even have factories to employ our young boys and young girls. It is all about servicing big men. Any young man or young girl that comes into Abuja now, the only available job is for him to be a houseboy or a house girl to a parliamentarian, minister or to a big man. It is a tragedy. It is not right.
This is the point. We are saying that the time has come for this resources to be used to create jobs for these young men and young women; for them to be given chance to contribute in the development of our own country, to redirect the resources away from wastage, going into small group of people, into few hands for the common good of all of us. To diversify, to give them opportunities for their own dream to be a reality. This is about the future of Nigerians. They are the ones who will make it possible. If we have the chance, that will be the priority.

You asked me the things I needed to do. Three things: you know I talked about power, security and job creation. How to get jobs for these young boys and young girls; these Nigerians who are also entitled to contribute, who it is also their legitimate right to participate in governance, in the affairs of our own country. And we can create jobs quickly. We can diversify; we can encourage private sector development; we can bring capital to help support initiatives. We can improve. For example, you know there are areas where our young boys and girls are doing extremely well and can compete at the international level. For example, the entertainment industry. It is a sector that can employ so many if it is well supported. There are other areas we can support. We can improve the agricultural sector to also provide jobs for the rural young boys and young girls.

If I become president, I intend to make sure that in every school, primary or secondary, will be provided something, like bread and egg for every child going to school. Through that, you don’t know how many jobs you are going to create. It is a continuous chain because through that, you are going to give bread, you will have the bakers and then you will have poultry and continuously, the chain and at the same time, you are also encouraging young boys and young girls to remain in school. And even parents to bring their own children to school because they are assured of this meal. These are some of the things, smart things that you can do to make a difference. I do intend to build houses. My intention is to repeat what UK did after the World War 11 when they embarked on building houses, mass housing. With this mass housing, you can imagine the number of jobs you will create. And if you manage it very well, it is not going to cost you a lot of money. It is not like what we have had before, where they will take billions upon billions, maybe only 10 or 20 percent will go to the real work. Invest five billion dollars into houses today and you will see the jobs you will create in addition to getting houses for our people to free Nigerians from this continuous fight with landlords. Imagine if you have one million houses in Abuja in the next two years.

And it is possible. I am telling you. It is not even possible, it is going to happen because I see myself as the next president of Nigeria and it will happen. You will see what is going to happen. Those are things that can easily convert these our resources into jobs for our boys and girls. And the economy will grow through that.

Somebody said you were like David fighting Goliaths, in terms of your opponents in the race?
And David succeeded. (Laughs).

You don’t subscribe to this issue of zoning or no zoning?
Yes. The job of a president should be for the best we can get in the country and it must be a constituency that is one constituency called Nigeria. Wherever you can get the best, I think we should go for it.

So, it doesn’t matter whether he is from North, South, East?
Absolutely. I am running as a Nigerian, who wants the best for Nigeria. And that is what matters and that is what is going to make a difference for our country. We need competence; we need people who can deliver. We need people who are unifiers. We will never do well if we end up with a sectional person who is going to become a national leader. My belief is that if you do not have Nigeria first, you will not have northern or southern Nigeria. Northern and southern Nigeria is there simply because there is Nigeria. And a president of Nigeria must be a president of Nigeria.

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