Qualities needed in a person that wants to become Nigerian president – Salvador

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and a former chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Lagos State, Moshood Salvador, in this chat with MAYOWA SAMUEL, expressed his thoughts about the country’s politics and argued that age should never be an issue but the health of individuals when it comes to leadership position. He also gave his advice to youths on how they can attain leadership positions in the country as it will not be handed to them on a silver platter. Excerpts:

Uba Group

As PDP Chairman, prior to your defection to the ruling APC, Chief Bode George accused you of running the party like your private estate. You also said you will never be in the same party with him. What led to your fallout with him?

Chief Bode George is a brother and a father. But we must know that despite the closeness of the teeth and tongue in the mouth, they still fight. So, there’s no big deal about disagreements between brothers and sisters? It’s our personal issue.

Considering the recent defections from your party, the APC, do you believe this will be an advantage to the PDP in their quest to finally upstage the APC in Lagos State after over two decades of governance?

Don’t talk of upstaging yet but it’s an advantage for the PDP. If you are a good politician, the vote of one person counts. You don’t take things for granted. We have fundamental political problems in this country, that is why the press, the youths, even the technocrats don’t know what they really want. It is what is presented that they will start talking about, meanwhile, what they really need to help their lives is left discussed and untouched. It’s smart people that want to distract your attention that will take you away from what will help you and make you concentrate on irrelevant things. That’s why I feel sad for our youths. They keep talking of the 100-year-old statement “youths are leaders of tomorrow”. They should stop all that, it’s only if you make yourself a leader.

What about the ‘sit tight’ syndrome always exhibited by most politicians who refuse to give the youth a chance at power?

What is a chance? What are they talking about? What type of chance are they looking for? I was picked in my community when I was in my thirties to represent my people at the House of Representatives during the days of NRC (National Republican Convention) because I was making certain contributions to my community without expecting anything in return. I was doing it because that’s what makes me happy. Some time ago, a parent sent their daughter and son to the other side of the road to fetch water, a car knocked down and killed one of them. So, I started giving my community water free of charge, not because I wanted to be anything, but because of the sympathy for that tragedy that happened. I can’t be here and such a thing happens again. Besides, how much does it cost? A tanker of water cost N60 then, and I said they should be giving me two tankers every weekend, not even every day, one on Saturday, one on Sunday. Those that are not around on Saturday will be around on Sunday. They will bring out their drums and that solved that problem to a certain extent. I was just doing it, but the elders of the area were just looking at it, and they appealed to my mother to release me to represent them. That is the way to do it, not to tell somebody that you are a youth and you want to become a leader. It’s not served a la carte. I think my responsibility now in the community is to educate the youths, encourage and tell them what they need to do. They have to talk with one voice but how will they be able to talk with one voice? If you try to assist them, they will misinterpret it. That is why I don’t talk in favour of any political party, except if they do something good. I do politics because of people, I never found myself in politics because of a political party. I found myself in APC simply because of this disagreement we had in the PDP and I don’t want such a fight to continue, so let’s stop it. If I’m not there, there won’t be a fight, that’s why I moved. On getting here, once my people are not taken care of, there will be a fight again. And we disagreed, that’s why I have my parallel exco too. The main exco who call themselves Asiwaju exco, what are they now benefiting from? It’s only their leaders that are benefiting. As for me, it is not to gain anything, but for the people to have it at the back of their minds that even if we don’t have anybody, at least, we have Salvador, that’s all.

You talked about the youths a while ago. Many have blamed President Buhari’s slow pace of performance on his age. Also, looking at the ages of most of the major presidential contenders, they are in their 60s and even late 70s. Do you think age should be a factor when political parties select their candidates and when electorates vote for their leaders?

Age really doesn’t have to be an issue, but health should be an issue. You can see Baba Ayo Adebanjo at 93, he can still coordinate himself. He can talk of events and happenings of forty, fifty, sixty years back eloquently with figures. Look at Pa Edwin Clark, he never misses anything whenever he is speaking. My mother died at the age of 106, if she talks to you, she will talk about what happened 75, 80 years back without missing a word. She will even be singing the songs of that time, how something looks like then, how they sat down, the pictures are still in her brain. Therefore, a 60, 70-year-old person is still a small boy when we talk of the presidency because what you need him for is not for him to go to the farm, it’s not for him to go to the construction site for the ministry of works, it’s not for him to go to the mining site for the ministry of mines and it’s not for him to be an engineer, it’s not for him to be a doctor for health, it’s not for him to be in any professional aspects but to have experience and be able to make valuable decisions, but not to be pushed. These are qualities we need in a person that we want to make a president. If you shy away from the truth and reality, you’ll not be able to shy away from your suffering. You will be punished and suffer for it. You will cry and just be shouting. After putting him there, four years later, you will cry and he will still use his office to get another four years, even if he dies there. He doesn’t care because it’s not him but some people that are benefiting from that very office which we always call cabal. You’ll not leave that problem. The youth you are talking about, their percentage in this country, if you want to see the value of their percentage in the electoral formula of this country, it’s almost 60 per cent, if not even more than that. I will fault that because we have not defined what we call youth. When I was doing my MSc in Political Science, I researched, I put the youth of Nigeria before 24 years because at that age, you will either be at 300, 400 level or just graduated. If you are studying medicine, you could still remain at the university. Whether you are in or out of university, you are no longer a youth, that was my definition then.

Today, a 24-year-old is still asking his parents for permission to go out, asking for feeding money, asking for transport fare, meanwhile, at 21, I had started renting a house of my own. I can vividly recollect, we got out of secondary school at the age of 16, 17, Dare Akinyemi was 15 when he finished that time. If you can remember, some of us, after finishing secondary school, two years later, you will just hear that one is married and has a child, working with a company. We are still talking of 1992, 1993. By the time the guy is 22, 23, 24, even if it’s a woman, she must have had the three or four children she wants to have in life and face her career, that’s what they normally do. Your parents are there, you will be working, taking care of them and your children. But now at 24, some are still struggling with JAMB. Therefore, defining the youth is another topic entirely. We must agree on that before I can tell you what the percentage of youth in Nigeria is. People that are just saying 60, 80 per cent, I will ask them to define what youth is first before you tell me what their percentage is. Let us even put it at 28, the quality of what comes out of their mouth is so low because of what they are facing. So, we can change their orientation, mindset and give them confidence that they can succeed. Forget about these leaders and thieves. Once they get that confidence back, I can assure you, the quality of our youths will improve gradually. Today, you can get somebody that is 23, 24, 26 that has no focus, that doesn’t even know what he wants to do in life, somebody that finished university, read economics, read engineering and finds himself at the motor park as agbero. When you people start talking about Yakubu Gowon who became head of state in his 30s and the likes of Awolowo, how many lawyers did we have in the country then? What was the population of your country then? How many politicians did you have then? How many people were in competition with them? You are talking of a country of over 200 million people while you are comparing it with when the population was just about 50 million. We have to put reality into what we are saying. We don’t just talk and allow our statements to override reality or else, we will not get there. We have fundamental issues on the ground, the youths are supposed to come out to contest if they want to build their future. The electoral bill you are seeing is the fundamental solution to their problem.

“A 60, 70-year-old person is still a small boy when we talk of the presidency because what you need him for is not for him to go to the farm, it’s not for him to go to the construction site for the ministry of works, it’s not for him to go to the mining site for the ministry of mines and it’s not for him to be an engineer, it’s not for him to be a doctor for health, it’s not for him to be in any professional aspects but to have experience and be able to make valuable decisions, but not to be pushed. These are qualities we need in a person that we want to make a president

On that, President Muhammadu Buhari has again refused to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill, as he did before. He frowned at direct primaries which ironically made him, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and others who they are today. What’s your position regarding his rejection of the bill?

That’s why I said I pity all of you, you are chasing shadows. What have direct primaries got to do with the democratic tenets of Nigeria? I have an MSc in political science; let me put it this way for you because I was ready for that question. The electoral amendment bill is the major change to enhance the real democratic goal and the major change in real democratic goals in Nigeria. How the amendment bill will help him is this. The direct and indirect primary election is mainly for the selection of the best candidate out of the lots of aspirants within a political party while the electronic transmission of results is the real amendment that changes the rigging or manipulation of results to get the real result and gives you the will and choice of the people as the result. The old/current system is the collation of results from the polling booths to the ward collation centre, to the local government collation centre, then to the state collation centre. All these collations are done by mercenaries of evil and corrupt politicians. These are the main reasons that made elected officers careless about the electorates because their votes don’t count. When they are now talking of the electoral bill, you people are then talking of direct primary which is just within the party. I will tell you that it is not as relevant as it is being taken, it’s only discretionary. At this point, ballot boxes can be snatched at the point of these collations by those electoral evils, ballots then changed at every collation centre in favour of every power that be. Electronic transmission of results removes all these corrupt and fraudulent collations at the centres and services of these agents of evil to get these results direct to the final point. It has so many advantages that go beyond all these. First is time; the results that normally take about 24 hours to the state or national collation centre, will now take five to ten minutes to get to all collation centres simultaneously. Just the way you send your mail and copy others is just the way you send it to national INEC and copy state and local governments. They will be getting it at the same time in just five to ten minutes. Loss of lives and property, shooting, killing, house burning, ballot box snatching, result changing, will not be possible because human involvement has been removed from technology. About the economic effect of this, it is that it will cost the government less than ten per cent of the normal election cost because one, the cost of printing ballot papers will be eliminated because you are to touch the electronic screen to cast your vote. In terms of logistics, the cost of carrying results from one point to the other will be eliminated. The cost of moving election materials with police and soldiers that are supposed to be guiding electorates will no longer be necessary. Also, the election results can be announced on the same day of the election.

When you talk of direct or indirect primary, you don’t need to force it on political parties. This is what will teach all political parties a lesson, whip them to integrity in the electronic voting and the result transmission. If a party imposes an unpopular candidate and the popular aspirant is confident of himself and the community really wants him or her, he or she can go to get the people’s mandate with another political party. If he or she wins, the political party will learn to stop imposition, you don’t need to bother yourself about it. What you need to bother yourself about is the electronic transmission of results. They are now using that one to discourage Mr. President that is why they are talking about that. They are taking advantage of Mr. President, I’m telling you this. The ruling party, giving more emphasis on direct and indirect primaries is to distract the attention of Nigerians from the good effect of the bill. It is mainly to discourage Mr. President from seeing the beauty of the electoral amendment. They are all deceiving Mr. President. The president means well and is ready to give a better electoral law because he has suffered as a result of bad electoral law more than three times. It is not too late for Mr. President to assent to the law for Democratic dividends and growth in Nigeria. The politicians that are also supporting, lack education and don’t know what they are talking about. They always follow the people that are making money out of their sweat. That is why grassroots politicians should get up to support the amendment bill because it will return their grassroots power to them. They are no longer relevant at their various wards, local governments and states because their grassroots votes don’t count again. This amendment will return their relevance such that the governors, council chairmen, president, senators, House of Reps and State House of Assemblies will give them their due recognition, respect and reward before getting to any office because they know they are going to work for them. It is this amendment if signed into law that will bring compulsory democratic dividends and succour to Nigerians, or else, business as usual will continue. Surprisingly, Femi Adesina was asked a question on this; he said have they forgotten that 70 percent of members of the House of Reps are APC? Are you talking of APC, PDP or KKK? We are talking of Nigeria, you can be proud of it, there is nothing bad in that but we are talking about what will be good for Nigeria, not what will be good for PDP or APC, that is where they are getting it wrong and that is where I will always disagree with them. Once you are voted into an office, you are in that office for Nigerians, you are not in that office for the party, that’s the difference.

The PDP congress ended in disarray, and that of the APC didn’t fare any better. With the defections here and there, do you think politicians’ personal agenda is hampering the development of this country?

If you have aspiration in your life and you see that the aspiration cannot be fulfilled where you are and the system is faulty because they are not fair, that’s when you see such defections. A situation where members cannot dream to be a member of a state or local government exco or ward exco, some people will go into the room and write it, it will never be taken. That is why APC Lagos should be very careful. They should take it as a point of advice from me. I am not to become state chairman, I am not interested in any office but I’m interested in my people. Once you don’t allow them to have their say in the political party they are running up and down for, I don’t think they know the meaning. That is why they are working against the electoral amendment bill because it will not be business as usual.

“The ruling party, giving more emphasis on direct and indirect primaries is to distract the attention of Nigerians from the good effect of the bill. It is mainly to discourage Mr President from seeing the beauty of the electoral amendment. They are all deceiving Mr President. The president means well and is ready to give a better electoral law because he has suffered as a result of bad electoral law more than three times

What new and effective approach do you think the government can adopt to address the country’s insecurity?

A different thing to be done is not quite in their character. We have to be sincere. I just explained the fundamental problems to you. Imposing candidates, the people you impose candidates on will never be happy. These are part of the problems causing insecurity. I will cite the example of Imo, going to church to kidnap somebody. It’s just because it was open, if not, they could have killed the guy. We thank God that He gave us this social media, as soon as you do something, before the twinkle of an eye, the whole world has seen it. The way they took him from the church, putting him inside the car, everybody was looking at it, asking what the cause of all these was? Is it because in the primary, somebody that was number 4 in the APC primary was made the governor? Was that enough to do that? You have to appreciate and thank Almighty Allah for picking you from the fourth to where you are now, you just have to call the others and make them your family and friends. Appreciate what God has done for you, but not to think that since power is with you, you want their heads. Just like Goodluck Jonathan from deputy governor, did not even finish his term to become vice president, also did not finish that particular term before he became president. In fact, before Buhari got there, they didn’t finish voting, he’d already thrown in the towel. Now, they are still considering that he should come back, this is the beauty of it. I don’t even pray to be governor, the only way I can be governor is just to give them the leeway, two years, I will sign an agreement and leave the place. What’s wrong with them in this country? If you keep having that, they will never pray for an electoral amendment bill because people that are not popular are trying to be leaders and once it continues like that, you have not seen missiles, you will see more than that, like what is happening in Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna. In Kaduna, they tried to do the right electoral system, see how many local governments APC lost and with that, you can see the level of sanity and peace in that state, because the peace emanates from the grassroots. Where are the bad boys? Where are they living? They are living on the same streets with us. But once it’s the popular person that is there, yes, it is their man that is there, they will never want the government to fail. Once you change it, you will be their enemy perpetually. You cannot watch them, you cannot catch them, you cannot see them. Police will be their enemy. If you want the police to be their friend, do the right thing, so that they can work together with the police. Wherever they see them, they will want to attack them, it’s because of what you are doing. Budget N1 trillion, you are wasting your time. It’s not a matter of money, you are just budgeting for people to steal away. You are only empowering the devil and these dangerous people to have more money to manipulate. I will keep telling you the truth, I will keep telling the nation the truth and I will keep telling the youths the truth. It is now left for them.

The president has consistently been borrowing loans. How do you see the effect of this on the next administration and ultimately, the future leaders when they assume office?

When you talk of borrowing, it’s a contract. The terms and conditions of the contract, I don’t know, so why should I be talking about it? What about if the terms and conditions of the money is to take any amount you want, we have it, we are ready to help you, pay it anytime you have the money without interest, then won’t you take more than what you want? If the term is take the money but you will give us crude oil for one year, we will take care of what we want, you will do the exploration yourself and they will give them. Then, what is the problem there? What effect will that have on your economy? Before I talk about this, I will need to see the terms and conditions whether it is favourable or not. If it is favourable, I will ask them to borrow more. We are taking our reparations.

Come 2023, what political position are you nurturing?

It is not possible for me to take any political position with these nonsense settings, I don’t deceive myself. It is only when you do this electoral bill that people like me will give it a thought. Without any sign of sincerity, I’m not even asking you to be very sincere, just sign of sincerity, forget it, I can never do that. I would rather stay with my business that is booming, that is going on fine, doing a series of research in my farm and enjoy my life a bit.