A former Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Philip Salawu, in Abuja, Thursday, called on Nigerians to vote for a credible candidate in the 2023 presidential election, that would take the country to its destination.
He also expressed optimism that the 2023 polls would take place despite the election fever and security challenges.
Salawu stated these in an interview with journalists during the public presentation of a book titled, ‘The Blueprint for National Retrieval Project: A Handbook for Changing the Unpleasant Narrative of Our National Life’, written by Elder Ejodame Emmanuel.
Salawu noted that he was representing a former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd.), at the programme.
The author said the book presented a very unique opportunity “because the socio-political experiences of our time call for a solemn and sober reflection if the very lofty ideals and basic tenets of our brotherhood as a people with common destiny must be achieved.”
Salawu was reacting to questions about fears for the 2023 elections amidst security challenges and demands by Nigerians that the Independent National Electoral Commission should have extended the time for the Continuous Voter Registration to avoid disenfranchisement of more than 30 million Nigerians.
Salawu said, “The message to Nigerians is to choose the candidate that you know will help us achieve this destination, a peaceful and prosperous nation. Gowon has seen it all; he has no fear, there is always the normal periodic election fever. It is the normal thing. It will ease out. Nigeria will be stable, I can assure you.
“General Gowon is not fearful, he is confident the election will hold. All these are general election fever, we have seen it before but then nothing happened.”
Speaking on the recalcitrance of INEC to extend the CVR, the nationalist said he was sure that the commission had already registered enough voters.
“I believe we have enough pool of voters to determine a credible candidate,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Salawu said Gowon had devoted a large part of his life to nation building.
He said, “I am representing His Excellency, General Gowon, who is absent. He has devoted the rest of his life for the existence of Nigeria and he is out for anything that would benefit Nigeria. That is why he has directed me to be here to represent him.”
Delivering a keynote address, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Values in Leadership and renowned technocrat, Prof. Pat Utomi, regretted that Nigeria had not made tremendous progress, but, however, expressed optimism that there was still hope for the country.
He said, “It is a very sad statement about how little progress has taken place in our country, because in some ways, we have gone backwards since then. Sadly, things are much worse today than they used to be. This is not the much worse of old boys.
“In many ways some things are much better in Nigeria; but really and truly, so much is worse than they used to be. How did we get here? How did this great country of promise end up where we are?
“A number of things you can point to that show why we travel this sad part. But my message for you is that there is hope. We can turn this thing around.
“Part of what I intend to do, in this conversation is about how others have done it, show exactly what they did and some of the thoughts going down and going around by how this can be done, in Nigeria of today.
“I think the first thing I will like to establish is that values shape human progress. Where we are is the function of a crisis of values and I say this again given many of the things I have lived through, and developed.
“Today, in Nigeria, there has been a tyranny that has come to overtake us, and this tyranny is a tyranny of drivers.
“What we find in general behaviour as a country is that the kinds of values that have come to define what we think are dear to us are the things that take us away from progress.
“The tragedy of our country is that we went into a crisis of value, which resulted in a collapse of culture. Because of the collapse of culture that we have experienced in Nigeria, we have ended up in the situation where as the author of book to be presented pointed out, we don’t have a compass, because we set out to go to Nasarawa, meanwhile we are driving full force towards Kogi, we will never reach Nasarawa.
“The faster we travel, the farther we get from Nasarawa; and that is what has been happening to Nigeria.
“I remember when President Goodluck Jonathan was about to host the world, in the World Economic Forum, here in abuja. The day before, he gave an interview that said, you know Nigeria has growing, developing and a good measure of that is the fact that we have the fastest growing private jet market in the world.
“Nigerians are buying more private jets than any other country in the world. I have no problem buying all the private jets in the world, but you have to earn the money. Don’t you? To earn that money, you will create loss of jobs.
“How can you be buying private jets and there are no jobs in the country? It means that we are producing nothing. It means that those fellows are just taking, put their hands in the till and taking the common growth for their personal interest and it is not sustainble.
“This kind of unsustainable situation is what has brought us to where we are today. Without any pay, I can tell you 25 years ago that Nigeria will be where it is today.
“I told you, I wrote them down, not because I am particularly wise but because there are simple trends that will show you where you will get to if you are travelling down this part.
“Nigeria can return, I can give India’s story, I can give other stories, but Nigeria will rise up again.”