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Edosomwan: NDCP will declare war on poverty

Published by The Nation on Thu, 24 Jan 2019


Dr. Johnson Edosomwan is the presidential candidate of the Nigeria Democratic Congress Party (NDCP). He visited Vintage Press Limited, publishers of The Nation, to explain his quest to be president. Dr. Edosomwan, who hails from Edo State, met with some members of the Editorial Board. Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI was there.At what point did you decide to contest the presidency'I made up my mind one morning, after I had a divine message to come back home and help my country. Here I am, trying to do just that. I have been to the North, to the East and to the West. I have seen a common thread. Quite, honestly, there is suffering in the land. Not only that; we have been embedded with a lot of corrupt practices that has permeated three generations. I have spent the past two years touring the entire nation. Everywhere I go, whether it is in the North, the East and the West, the road conditions is the same, electricity condition is the same. For instance, some of our roads are 50 or 70 years old and we are still taking those narrow roads to go from point A to point B.What prepared for the job of Nigerias presidency'I grew up in a very poor family. When I was two years old, my father died and my mother took ill and subsequently I became a houseboy. I worked in different places and was able to return to school, to do my WAEC. After that I was able to save about $300 with which I found my way to the United States of America. In the US, my first job was as a dishwasher; they were paying me 65 cents an hour. With this, I saved up money to go to college. From there I made my way to the Ivy League schools: from the University of Miami to Columbia University and George Washington University. I have two doctorate degrees and 18 certifications in different academic disciplines. I have also been an apostle to nations; I built churches all over the world. I have served in up to 62 countries and I have worked for every large agency in the US. I have been involved with over 45 countries, trying to help them with best practices.What is your vision for Nigeria'I have a 10-point agenda. The first is to expand the economy. We have relied on oil for too long and one of the things I will do is to expand the economy beyond oil; into manufacturing, service, healthcare, education and so on. Ninety-nine per cent of our cars are from abroad; motorcycle is from abroad and we dont make anything anymore. A nation that does not make anything of its own will always wind up in deficit. Right now the value of the naira to the dollar is 360 to one. When I saw a publication in one of the newspapers about our deficit I was troubled. We are now indebted to many nations. After we have expanded the economy, oil will become number 10. We want to preserve those resources and we to expand the economy to provide seven million jobs per year. We have youths that have graduated 10 to 15 years ago without any job. Our goal is to create seven million jobs per year, to erase that deficit. We can do it with all the contacts we have all over the world. Our agricultural sector, I have been to all of them, met different farmers. They have nice, organic food, but there is no transportation to ship them and as a result there is no market access for them. Therefore, all the food rots away at the end of the day. Our job is not only to provide mechanized farming, but to help those people working in agriculture to expand, to where we can open new markets for them to supply their goods.On healthcare, we would provide a single healthcare tax system for Nigerians, through which people can have access to medical care. I have met the rich and the poor, they face similar problems. When I was in my state, the richest man there was flown to South Africa when he took ill. He even owns a university and teaching hospital, but there were no equipment and qualified doctors there to treat him. The single healthcare tax payer system would be for all Nigerians and people would be made to pay based on their income. There are only seven major healthcare issues that Nigerians have to deal with. They are: HIV, malaria, polio, diabetics, etc.We would deal squarely with corruption. The institution of government needs to be strengthened, to ensure that no one is above the law. Secondly, you must pay workers minimum and affordable wages that they can live on. For instance, when you are paying a police officer a salary that cannot sustain him on a monthly basis and he probably has three or four children, how do you expect him to feed his children' So, to effectively tackle corruption, you must strengthen the institution of government, pay people decent wages and give them the tools to do their job. In the kind of society we live in, less than one per cent of the population control the wealth, everybody else is in the bottom. Our goal is to create a middle class that will make this country vibrant.We will bring in investors to Nigeria. How are we going to do that' We will do that by creating tax incentives, by lowering the tax bracket for investors, so that they can come and invest; and providing them electricity. The reason why a lot of people have taken their business away from Nigeria is because there is no electricity to produce. The productivity of the Nigerian system today is at 15 per cent and that is the lowest productivity in the world. Our population is close to 200 million, so that productivity cannot sustain us.The roads that we have were not specifically analysed for the growth of our population. Some of the roads are 50 to 70 years old and we are still taking those narrow roads to go from point A to point B. We would build high-speed rails that would take you from point A to point B in few minutes. We want create electricity through solar energy, wind energy and nuclear energy for the purpose of electricity.Education needs to become competency based. By being competency based, I do not mean where you get a PhD on a piece of paper, but you have nothing in reality. I once met a lady who studied computer science. When I asked her what brand of programme they used in her classes, she said she has never used a computer during her classes. This is somebody that studied computer science. So, competency based means that as an electrician or an electrical engineer, I should be able to practicalise that and be able to generate the electricity that works; not just that I am an electrical engineer on paper, but I dont know what fluorescent light means and how many wattage it produces. When I am an electrical engineer or a civil engineer, I should be able to design bridges. Right now, we have a lot of qualified people, but there are no jobs. I just met with a group of youths roaming the streets, because there are no jobs. Some of them have Masters Degrees and PhD and some of them are riding okada, just to make ends meet.There is serious suffering in the land. So, we are going to declare a war on poverty. In 18 months, we should be able to assess how far we have gone. That war on poverty will take people from welfare to work. We will train people and give them the skills, so that they can become self-sufficient. I was telling people, the politicians will come and give you a bag of rice, give you two or three thousand naira and then you will be happy. But they will go and loot the treasury. Then, in the next four years they will come back and do the same thing. No, people should be given a job, so that they can fend for themselves.In summary, my vision is to create a solid, democratic nation, with a multidimensional economy that would no longer rely solely on oil. A multidimensional economy can provide multiple millions of jobs. Doing that entails providing tax incentives to attract investors. Secondly, there is need to revise our constitution. The 1999 Constitution is biased because it was put together for us by the military. We need to get a constitution that truly represents us as a true democratic nation. That vision is to make us one of the best countries in the world, because we have the talent.How would you tackle the growing insecurity in the country'We have been toying with insecurity for a long time. National security goes beyond fighting Boko Haram. Under my administration, we will give Boko Haram two choices: We will give them the opportunity to acquire education and join the economy and become good citizens or confront them head on, if they want to fight. We will fight them with all our partners from all over the world and push them underground. Enough is enough. We have heard about people stealing the money meant to acquire weapons to fight Boko Haram; weve heard about herdsmen killing people because of cows. This is ironic, human beings are meant to eat cows and cows are not meant to eat human beings. Those are problems that are meant to be defined across different disciplines. We would make sure that the people that are in cow business are within their boundaries and licensed to do their job. This perpetuated crime rate needs to stop. We would decentralize the police, by allowing for the establishment of community police, which would exist side-by-side with federal police. We would begin by selecting three or four states in different geo-political zones to start the implementation and whatever lessons we learn in those states would be used to transform the entire country, so that people can live in communities that are safe. Those community police would not be controlled by the governors; they would be run by citizen-controlled board. When you have them under a citizen controlled board, which would be elected by the people, they would no longer act with impunity. This has been tried in other countries and it has worked successfully.As a nation of diverse people, there is the need to run an inclusive government. I was ordained at 17 and I became an apostle of nations and built churches all over the world, in addition to my professional life. I have the power to work, to being Moslems and Christians together, so that we can solve the problems together. This election is not about religion or about tribe; it is about competency and the progress that Nigeria needs to make.
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