The Presidential Candidate of the Nigeria Democratic Congress Party (NDCP), Dr. Johnson A Edosomwan last week in Abuja spoke with some journalists about his ambition and how he intends to govern the country when voted into power in the 2019 general election. Dr. Edosomwan whose slogan is ‘no buying and selling of votes, no rigging and violence’ said the election must be free and fair, urging other contestants to tow this part of election righteousness’ and fairness. TOM OKPE was there for The Daily Times.
Judging from your perspective, what are your views about the 2019 general election and the agitation for minimum wage for workers?
First of all, I want to set the stage clear as one of the candidates as well as NDCP, we want to make this clear to the Nigerian people and this is the pledge.
The pledge is no buying and selling of votes and there should be no rigging and violence. I have signed this pledge and I want you members of the press to take this to all of the Presidential candidates for them to sign.
We need a free and democratic system, one that is led by the people, for the progress of the people and designed by the people, this pledge is very important with the experience we’ve seen in Ekiti, Osun and around the country.
This needs to guide all the Presidential campaigns and it is time to show that we in NDCP are serious about no buying and selling of votes, no rigging and no violence. You can do anything that you will do but do it with peace and love.
The performance of the current government is left to the Nigerian people, but let me tell you the issue of minimum wage.
I have adequately read that the minimum wage needed to be extended to N300,000 per year index for inflation. Which means it can be more than $300,000 dollars per year based on the rate of inflation today.
When you are able to set that minimum wage based on that minimum amount, an index for inflation, at least human beings would have a decent salary to live on.
Whatever the current government is doing, you need to go and ask questions; can our senators or our governors, legislators and all those people in power afford to live on the minimum wage we are advocating, that is the issue here.
So, this should not even be an issue to be discussed at all. The people deserve this minimum wage, it needs to be granted right now, and then it needs to be approved right now, so that they can begin to get funds to be able to support their families, get transportation.
We don’t even have good transportation system, I met a lady at the bus-stop, she didn’t know who I was, I asked her, ‘where do you work’ and she said, I work in the Senate as a secretary, she was waiting for about two and half hours to get a bus to take her to a place which was like about 20 miles away.
So, that is the situation people are living with today and its reality, we need to deal with it.
I repeat, people deserve the minimum wage, and it needs to be index for inflation, there should be no politics about it at all. When we turn the economy around, that minimum wage will be increased.
When the economy starts producing, people will have livable wage. That is also the reason why we have a lot of production. But when people don’t have decent salaries, they don’t have the zeal to do the job, they are not trained, the institution of government is not secured, then people will be very corrupt.
What’s your take on the assassination attempt claimed by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwermadu?
Well, any assassination attempt is against the law, all of our leaders whether in the Senate or other legislative chamber, no matter whatever level they are, they need to be protected.
Secondly, those people trying to create difficulties for our Senators or other persons in power are also barbaric and needs to be put to the test. But there is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is the issue of national security which needs to be checked at all levels.
We have been doing this over the years; we keep saying the same thing. Recently, we had problems in Kaduna where there was a curfew and innocent people killed,
these are national security issues and at the communal level, people are not in control where area boys, area women, area police and area people are now running the government.
We have to take issue of national security as our number one priority. Our administration with the help of Nigerian people, and the help of the media, we should be able to do these at all levels, partner with all of our people all over the world to be able to create national security.
There is world class, whereby people have to do the job, we are able to remove the threat, and then Nigerians are no longer taken as slaves.
We have heard about this in Libya, and that is disenabling for Nigerians to be taken as slaves in the 21st century. Those are the things, these are national security issues.
Another national security issues are the debt. People don’t even realize that debt is a serious national security issue.
I saw a publication in Vanguard, where the debt in Nigeria has almost grown up to the roof and those are the National security issues we also need to address, including the physical security and that of man-power.
I really sympathise with the people that were going or went through the assassination attempt ordeal and we also recommend that security services and all the people involved, if found, be put to the test of the law and order, prosecute them up to the full extent of the law.
There is no room for those assassination attempts, we can discipline, and still be friends, we can have a dialogue and disagree with our senators, you can disagree with your governor but we need to have a fully peaceful democratic process.
How about the ongoing voters’ registration compilation by INEC?
People should peacefully march to INEC offices, and demand justice and get their voters’ registration intact. That is what needs to be done and you have to do that peacefully, no riot, not through violence, go there and demand that your PVC be given to you.
It is an entitlement to all Nigerians and we need to make sure that people have the right to vote.
That is why I said this pledge is very important and this pledge is going to define what 2019 Presidential campaign is all about, that is why I am sounding no voting by buying or selling of votes, no rigging, or violence. This is very important to us.
There was recently a confrontation between security agencies and Shiites Muslim Sect, in which some people were reportedly killed, should you emerge as the President, how do you intend to strike a balance between religion and governance?
Well, the campaign is tenured by the divided religion, tribalism, nepotism and all those like issues, Christians and Muslims, Hindus and Pagans all need to live in peace, period!
We are going to be looking for the most capable Nigerians that will be able to help us to a new Nigeria, to transform us from point A to point Z. This is why religion or tribalism needs to disappear.
Now, in terms of National Security, that will be investigated. The particular thing I want to say about national security, it should be addressing a domestic violence issues by focusing on needs, with every constraint, not just shooting at every plain blank without talking to the people.
Of course, we have citizens sometimes that engage in some things based on the situation. So, you cannot, as police officers or national security officers begin to shoot people around without facts.
Citizens also need to understand that there is respect for the rule of law, you have to respect our police, you have to respect our officers and then make sure that when they say, “do this”, you follow the law.
So, it is a two-way script. You cannot be pointing fingers at the National security people or pointing the fingers at the citizens. You need to make sure that there is a balance between the behavior of the individuals and the National security officer.
Borrowing for infrastructures, will your government do same, or generate fund locally for infrastructural development?
No, first of all, debt doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Part of the things we will do when we come in with the help of God, Nigerian people and with your help, is to find out all of the sources of our debts.
And who is it that we owe? And we need to go immediately under negotiation of those debts.
Secondly, we need to start producing things again, so, that in the end, we will reduce our debt. When you don’t make anything, you don’t sell anything and there is no access to National market, you don’t have anything to be able to do it.
Right now, we are relying solely on oil and gas and that is not a good thing for the Nigerian economy.
I have said in previous conference that the economy needs to be mortal at their nationals where oil and gas become number ten and we’re manufacturing services, healthcare.
All of these various areas become the things that bring our economy and also bring justice to the people.
Now, whoever we owe, we must negotiate with them. Also, we have to open up a new market access to all of the industries within Nigeria.
Other means in Nigeria will be that agricultural products will be winding up somewhere in the US, Rwanda, somewhere in UK, in India in China, whatever that is, we need to open wider market access to people.
We have to meet the farmers in the Middle-belt so that they can ship their products from point A to point B. Poor infrastructures; no good roads, no speed rail, no airport.
We cannot just be taking money from the people without any compromise. They will be giving us the kind of market access and we are going to negotiate with them.
I don’t care who he is, whether it is China, United States or UK, we need to take everybody head-on and negotiate those debts down and then pay them what we owe them, but they have to give us also concessions for the debts that were not negotiated properly. That is what we need to do.
As a Presidential candidate, are you worried with the development in the ruling party and the bigger opposition party, the PDP?
I am not test-running a political party nor concerned about this government, but one thing I can tell you here is that, NDCP will work with all political parties across board.
We will be looking for the best candidates to save Nigeria, we are going to be patriotic, there is not going to be tribalism, there is not going to be a test of religion.
Whoever emerges the best candidate that we will use in every position, that is what we will be looking for.
Our party structures gives us the way forward to win but when you govern, you have to govern to be able to serve in the interest of the entire people and that is what we intend to do.
So, whoever you are talking about, let them bring him on, we will contest and by God’s grace and by the help of Nigerian people, we will win.
The previous and present government promised Nigerians good roads, infrastructures and other facilities; what specifically are you bringing to help Nigerians out of distress?
First of all, there is need to have an emergency response agency with mandate of responding to our national crisis, whether the flood rain and all of those.
Nigeria has been blessed that we don’t have major disasters like earthquakes as you may see around the world. But when you have that kind of agency, it needs to be funded and it needs to be managed appropriately with technology.
What we will do is to institute that agency across the states and across every local community so that, the response agency will be able to address national disaster.
In terms of infrastructure, I have been in the North, South and West, to every location. You cannot drive your car and intend to have good tyres after 30 days.
Of course, the roads are so bad that the place that should take you five minutes, will take you hours.
From Bayelsa, to Sokoto, and from Enugu to Ondo, we will develop ten-lane roads and eight-lane roads and then high speed rail to move our goods and services across Nigeria. This is our promise to the Nigerian people. It will be done quickly.
This issue is not that Nigeria doesn’t have money to do this; we have been allocating money for these, months after months and years after years. Are you better off today than you were sixteen years ago? The answer is No!
Therefore, that is why you need to vote for NDCP and vote for Johnson Edosomwan to come and change all of these issues that we have because we have been voting money,
the money has been winding up in the pockets of the people and those monies don’t get used for infrastructures, it wasn’t used for trains, it wasn’t used for electricity, our productivity is 15%, it is laughable, we are driving away investors,
there is no one left, they have gone to other African nations, they have taken their money to invest in other African nations and we are standing still on the hole-back after so many years.
We need to make a decision on what this election is all about. It is about caring for the poor, the middle-class and encouraging people to invest on our infrastructures and on our economy.
I want to set the stage clear as one of the candidates as well as NDCP, we want to make this clear to the Nigerian people and this is the pledge. The pledge is no buying and selling of votes and there should be no rigging and violence. I have signed this pledge and I want you members of the press to take this to all of the Presidential candidates for them to sign. We need a free and democratic system, one that is led by the people, for the progress of the people and designed by the people