Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

Dr Obadiah Mailafia is the African Democratic Congress (ADC) presidential candidate for the 2019 general elections.

A native of Sanga Local Government of Kaduna State (the southern part of the state), Mailafia is an economist of international repute with a rich background in finance and banking.

As an economist, he said that he would build a one trillion economy anchored on four Ps – Peace and Security, investing in People, Power and Prosperity.

He discussed other issues in this interview such as Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) arrangement, APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole’s tirade and the Third Force. Excerpt:

What is your background?

My last position until two years ago was chief of staff, African Caribbean and Pacific States in Brussels. It is an international organization of 79 member-countries that works closely with the European Union to mobilize capital for investments in African Caribbean and the Pacific. I was the deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from 2005 to 2007, where I was responsible for monetary policy. We were involved in major banking consolidation of that period. Before then, I was a chief economist at the African Development Bank (ADB) based in Tunisia in North Africa. I was also in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The bank had to move to Tunisia during the Ivoirean crisis. From Tunisia I was brought back to Nigeria to serve in CBN.

With such a rich background as an economist, why do you want to enter into the murky waters of politics?

I am a development economist. I am a banker and an international development and finance expert. I have a very rich experience, which I can bring to this calling. Don’t see it as a job. It is a calling to serve. To serve my country; serve my people. What I have is a plan to build a one trillion economy if I am elected the president of this country. We recently enrolled our blueprint, which is anchored on four Ps. The first P is peace and security. The second P is People – investing in people, investing in skills, research and innovation. The third P is power. We are committed to an aggressive policy of electrification of this country and the last P is prosperity – how to build a prosperous economy. When poverty is reduced, jobs are created; we can get this country working again for mutual prosperity of all Nigerians. So, these are the four Ps and we are not just talking. We are committed to rigorous implementation. All our cabinet members and any head of department or director general (DG) of government will have a performance contract. This performance contract will spell out all the things they have to do. There will be quarterly reviews, annual reviews. Any one that doesn’t meet up to the standard of expectations will have to give way to those who are ready to do the job. It is not going to be business as usual. We are going to build a new Nigeria, especially on security and peace. We will not compromise because we know that without peace and security nothing good will happen. We have to tackle this from its roots by total mobilization of our armed forces, total mobilization of our people and our communities to confront headlong this terrible and catastrophic conflict that has continued for 10 years.

In fact, it is worse than the civil war. The civil war ended in 32 months. This one is getting to almost 10 years. So, it is no longer an insurgency. It is an international civil war fought on Nigerian territory largely by mercenaries coming from neighbouring countries and masterminded by foreign powers who have designed to destroy our country. We will confront them and in the language of Winston Churchill, we are going to fight them in the streets, we will fight them in the towns, we will fight them in the villages, we will fight them in the sea, we will fight them in the desert, we will fight them in the forest, we will fight them in the creeks. We will never surrender.

How much can you take to deny your ambition?

This thing is not about money. The value can never be calculated. I know what I have given out to do what I am doing. I know how much I have given out. And I know the opportunities I have given up. I resigned from a board of a multinational corporation two months ago to contest this election and there are other opportunities that are incompatible with being a politician. I have resigned from those to take up this political mission.

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Are you aware that Conference of Political Parties (CUPP) has adopted the presidential candidate of PDP as their flag bearer?

I haven’t heard officially from my party yet. I am just hearing it just like you and I in the newspapers and on television. I don’t think that is something to work with. I have to be officially informed. I am aware of a CUPP arrangement and I am aware of it and there is a process. We were told there is a laid down transparent process. It is important that it is clear to all stakeholders that we have that process in place and that all stakeholders are duly informed and carried along. This is what that business is all about.

If that is true what will be your reaction to it?

Well, it is a hypothetical question and I can only give a hypothetical answer, which is not going to be useful. Let’s wait until we cross the bridge.

Adams Oshiomhole used some derogatory words on Obasanjo, literally calling him a fool. How do you react to this?

I don’t think we should go to the level of cursing. I did not read that particular report where Honourable Oshiomhole was reported to have rained curses on Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

As you know, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is the patron of ADC. He is our father in this work we are doing. I don’t think it is right for Oshiomhole to cast any aspersion or any curse on him. We must move beyond the politics of bitterness. We should be more mature and more guarded in our utterances.

I think we should leave Oshiomhole with his conscience. From what we have seen he himself doesn’t have an excellent record. So, he should be careful how he attacks others. He is not coming from a very clean slate to put it mildly.

Before now we used to hear the Third Force. Is that political calculation still in existence?

There are still ongoing discussions. Politics is a dynamic process. It is not a static process. There are still groups talking to one another and all the permutations are still ongoing. So, we can only watch and see how things will unfold. I cannot sit here and tell you conclusively how things will turn out. There is a lot of discussions going on at various levels with various stakeholders. What people agreed is that we need a new Nigeria and we need people who understand the imperatives of 21st Century leadership, which should be servant leadership. Not the old politics, not the old corruption. The youths of this country are tired and fed up. They want something new. And if we don’t offer them something new, sooner than later we are going to have a revolution on our hands. It is that serious.

Where are the catchment areas of ADC?

ADC is almost 10 years. So, it is not as new as we think. I hear people ask me what are your structures and so on. ADC is the most rapidly-growing party. We are already rated number three after PDP and APC. Our base is mostly the youth and women. By the way, they are in the majority. Youth that are disenchanted with the way our Nigeria is going. Youth whose future has been mortgaged. They need hope. They need a sense of purpose and a future. This kind of young people are standing up to be counted. And I can assure you we have a representation at every state, all the 774 local governments and in every electoral ward in this country we have representations. We may not have offices everywhere. When people talk of structures, they are not wood and furniture and buildings. People are the most important structures anybody can boast of and with regard to that we have our people in place.

Our strongest holds are believed to be in Ogun, Osun, Oyo and to some extent Lagos as well. People have opened campaign offices for me in Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and the home state of the president – Katsina. People I don’t even know. The kind of support we are getting is extraordinary and we feel very encouraged. There is a lot of hope and the future is very bright.