Chief Kenny Martins is a politician and an activist. He is also the Grand Patron of Legacy Initiative International, otherwise simply known as Legacy, a group that has saddled itself with the responsibility of returning Nigeria to a path of godliness in leadership. The group is working with religious leaders across board to enthrone a set of political leadership in the country that will emerge with the fear of God in mind. In this interview with PATRICK OKOHUE, Martins speaks on how his group is working round the clock across the country to achieve its goal.
There is so much uncertainty in the politics of the country and you recently launched a new group, Legacy Initiative International, aimed at redirecting the peoples’ outlook on politics, approaching politics with the God factor in view, what do you aim to achieve with this?
Well, in your introductory statement you said that nobody knows the direction that the politics is going, well I will say that the politics is going towards 2019 election and there is a lot of clamour, we got here because of the clamour for change,
but as we speak there is still further clamour for change, but change in which context? Because if it is just change in the context of political parties you will see that won’t take us far,
because we have had almost 20 years of democracy now and we have had two major parties that have come into contention and taken power, yet our clamour for change has not abated, which means something is just not right,
so we believe that this evasive solution since independence will not be solved by further political party change, but it can only be changed by a comprehensive national re-orientation, redefinition of leadership qualities and those who will be entrusted with power. Until this is done we can’t get it right.
Fortunately or otherwise, you cannot manufacture new Nigerians, that means the actors cannot change, so we believe that the only thing that we can bring that can change the situation is for Nigerians to finally turn to God and find God fearing leaders, those who will think of God first, the nation and the people next and then think of themselves in the context of rendering service and delivering the dividends of democracy.
There is no doubt that democracy is the panacea, that is what we know. Since independence we have tried regional governance, having regional leaders, we have tried military government who rule by decrees and in the last 20 years we have tried democracy, full blown democracy, but nothing has changed, instead we are worse off in 2018 than we were in 1960.
That is why we have gone round the country and talked to those we consider the custodians of the people’s conscience and belief, that is the religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims and told them that we all know what is wrong with this country,
we don’t need to start doing catalogues or start writing thesis over the problems of Nigeria, we all know them, we live them, we dream them, those problems, but can we proffer enduring solutions, can we work out a template whereby if our leaders get to power they will learn to deliver.
What separate Nigeria from the United Arab Emirate for example, when Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Murtala Mohammed dreamt of the relocation of the national capital to Abuja, the same time, the leaders of those emirates got together, Dubai, UAE and the rest of them and they also dreamt of a nation where everything works.
Today for instance Nigeria is closer to Abuja that works in terms of infrastructure, security and other things, but have we been able to create a country that works? No. We can also see the standard of roads built in Abuja today.
There was a little time towards the end of Abacha’s government when there was effluence, which was waste on the street, it was quickly corrected and by the time Abdulsalam came in and Obasanjo came in that was totally eliminated, all the waste in Abuja flows down to one central place, kilometers away where it is processed.
I don’t know about Abuja now and boreholes, as for power that is a national problem. In essence if Dubai can work from scratch, UAE can work from scratch where they now have Qatar Airline, Emirate Airline, Ethiad Airline, all of them coming out of that same decision, that time that those two leaders took that decision,
while we took a decision for just Abuja, now our national airline is gone, our security is gone, our infrastructure is gone today, what is wrong? It is simple, it is the quality of leadership, we have resources as they have,
we have the manpower like they have, we as a people have the dreams, the yearnings and aspiration like the rest of the league of nations globally, but how come we cannot realise our own dreams?
That is why we are challenging these crops of leaders, the Christians and the Muslims to look at power and good governance, not about partisan politics, no they will not be part of PDP, APC or whatever, but let them join in choosing the right leaders when these parties have come up with their candidates.
You can see the problem of choosing leaders in this country, you do not have to be a President until you have a billion dollars, that cannot work, you cannot think of being a governor until you have at least N100billion, that cannot work,
you cannot think of being a senator until you have at least N10billion, that cannot work, ditto for councilors and local government chairman.
When those people get to power the first thing they want to do is to recoup their money, so we believe that with these kinds of leaders, the Christian and Muslim leaders looking into all these parties and interrogating the candidates chosen,
who can be pointed at the grassroots, those the people believe in and they can assist in the emergence of these ones into position of leadership.
But, when it gets to a point that people raise their hands in surrender and say God help us, it seem defeatist, have we gotten to that point? Secondly, when you talk of turning to religious leaders, it is generally believed that Nigerians are very religious people, but not necessarily godly, how do we reconcile this?
When you look at all these countries that are working and that have worked, you can cite UAE, you can cite Saudi, they run based on the fear of God.
Even America, the constitution says a nation under God, you hear a million times in their constitution and their national dynamics they don’t hide the fact that it is a godly nation.
Go to the UK, you cannot separate the state from the church, from the royal house you cannot, in our own case we have pretended and tried as if God does not matter and that is a mistake.
We are a very highly religious country, from the mosques, the churches and its various denominations, very religious, but it also says in the Bible and also in the Quran, faith without action is zero, so it is time we bring the practicality of those things we preach in the pulpit into governance,
let us create a template through these men of God of what it takes to run this country and what we expect of our politicians, let them be governed, let be interrogated, let them be measured, let them be scored and marked by those templates against their performance.
As neutral arbiters, as conscience of the nation, let those leaders score those people and where they have done well allow them to go on and show them red card when they are not performing, let us have for ones the dynamics of this country, let us have consequences in politics, for now there is no consequences in politics.
If you become a governor and you rob your people, the worse that can happen is you lose election, you will not even lose your election, you won’t lose that second term, you will just pack your bags and baggage and defect to another party and take the things you have taken to offer the people peanuts and because they don’t have guidance,
nobody is chaperoning their choices and motives and they are hungry they take your N10,000, N5,000 to N2,500, like some people paid so much money in recent elections up to N500,000 to voters and delegates
and they vote and sell you their conscience for the next four years and you rob them for another four years under another party platform or same party and nothing happens.
So, let us start questioning and querying our leaders, not necessarily the ICPC, EFCC, Police, SSS, no, let’s leave all those ones, let them face the more challenging issues of security, let us become the conscience of the nation,
which is what Legacy is saying, let us by ourselves query these people and we can only do that by putting the right people in power abinitio, those you have tried and trusted.
But when you have people, charlatans, not charlatans because they are poor, not charlatans because they lack quality upbringing, not charlatans because they are not educated, no,
but those who have predetermined before coming to power and offer billions to win the election, because they are determined to recoup it billions of times over, we need to put a stop to that and there is a way we can do it.
There is a concern because in recent times, perhaps some of the political leaders pre-empted this kind of idea, because you see them going to some of the popular religious leaders, going to camps and all that to kneel before those ones for prayers and when that happens there members seem to see it as endorsement, so how do we ensure that with what you are spearheading, that politicians don’t take advantage of the people because of their religious beliefs?
We will even encourage those politicians to come to all those camps and get the religious leaders to endorse them, but when you come you are presented with a template, with a charter of the people.
You have come now for endorsement, we are praying for you, but as we are praying for you, this is what it takes and when you get there and you fail we will be watching you from this church as your constituency, you will never get our votes again if you fail us.
Before now they just pray for them and they go and you don’t even have a way of talking to our people to vote for them, but now those religious leaders are saying we cannot be giving you our blessing without some conditions,
even in the Bible there are condition, when God said you shall be my people, it said provided you shall do this and do that, so it is now we input those proviso,
but these religious leaders are now saying, we shall bless them, we shall anoint them, but we shall also put a caveat, that you are going but these are what we expect of you and if you fail you should not expect our blessing next time.
Because you can’t change the actors, you can’t manufacture new people and the churches cannot become political parties, no.
Four of you can come and the church can now decide that based on this and this we pray for all of them and they will say it openly, that based on ABC, X is the best as God is leading us and as we have seen, so our people, we blessed all of them but X is the factor.
So, it is time the church, the Mosque takes decision and even traditional religion people are saying they should not be left behind, as they believe their own get results faster, so it is getting interesting.
So, the leaders of faith, those leaders who are godly are now getting together to say we will not stay aloof, stand back and look from a distance,
we shall monitor what is going on, because ultimately we are responsible to God and to the people, just as the leaders are responsible to God,
this time it is even higher, because they are responsible to God and to their own conscience, so they can’t stand it anymore because the cry of 200million people is getting to them,
things are not working, Nigeria of 2018 is worse than Nigeria of 1960, its worse than Nigeria of 2000, its worse than Nigeria of 2012, why?
You talk about a template, how well are you mobilising with the religious leaders across the divide to put together this template, because there is need for a unified template or isn’t that right?
Yes, we have gone very far, we have had rubbing of minds with most of the critical leaders of the church and also among the Muslim world, the likes of the Sultan of Sokoto, the Etsu Nupe, the Emir of Kano, the Emir of Zaure, very eminent people like that and they are all waiting for when this round table between the two religious bodies will happen,
because in the Christian world we have talked with people like Bishop Oyedepo, Baba Aladura of C and S, Prelate of Methodist, Primate of Anglican, the Cardinal of the Catholic church, Arch Bishop Onayekan and so many others, the CAN president, the PFN president, a lot of all these people, we have been in Ibadan, in Abuja,
we have gone round the country and incidentally we even have very vibrant and viable diaspora arm, because those externally are enamored by what is going on and they believe there is a possibility of is a critical change and we are building that critical mass that will finally deliver the true change in this country in terms of selection of true and effective leadership, so we are working on that.
How ready are you to protect your vision to ensure that politicians don’t infiltrate your ranks to sing their praise to the leaders of these groups to ensure that when it is time for endorsement they are favoured?
We have conveyed a round table of Christian leaders and we will soon convey a round table of Muslim leaders, thereafter there will be joint meetings of these two leadership groups on a table and we name that table altar of spirituality and on this altar of spirituality these people will agree on a template that they are all commonly working on,
of the their expectations of the political class and political leadership in terms of goods delivery, dividends of democracy, performance and all these indicators will be spelt out, leaders will be expected to adopt this charter.
What do you want to buy over in that and even if by any chance you buy it over and you come and lie that you will perform, you are going to take the position and time does not last, four years is already up now for the people in power,
so if you think you have fooled them your performance will reveal who you are, the opinion of the people and the leaders will say who you are, your own constituency will reveal who you are and once you have failed them there will be no decamping anymore,
because it will be tough for you to decamp from party ABC to party XYZ because you have failed on ABC platform, you won’t be able to take your loot into another party because the people will say no we want somebody else,
so I believe it is a near full proof approach to ensuring emergence for a crop of leadership that can be called truly tried, tested and proven,
whose ultimate aim is to deliver to God, to the nation and to the people and naturally by themselves, that is why we talk about legacy, what legacy are you planting and leaving behind, what legacy?
When you look at all these countries that are working and that have worked, you can cite UAE, you can cite Saudi, they run based on the fear of God. Even America, the constitution says a nation under God, you hear a million times in their constitution and their national dynamics they don’t hide the fact that it is a godly nation. Go to the UK, you cannot separate the state from the church, from the royal house you cannot, in our own case we have pretended and tried as if God does not matter and that is a mistake.
Now those religious leaders are saying we cannot be giving you our blessing without some conditions, even in the Bible there are condition, when God said you shall be my people, it said provided you shall do this and do that, so it is now we input those proviso, but these religious leaders are now saying, we shall bless them, we shall anoint them, but we shall also put a caveat, that you are going but these are what we expect of you and if you fail you should not expect our blessing next time