Edozie Madu is the presidential candidate and national chairman of the Independent Democrats (ID). In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ Kunle Sanni, the businessman turned politician proudly recalled how he supported the futile bid by Sani Abacha to transmute to a civilian president in 1998.
Mr Madu also spoke on current issues, including the preparation of INEC for the elections, the agitation for state police, the incessant strike by Nigerian university teachers and what his government would offer as national minimum wage.
PT: Tell us more about the role you played during the Abacha military government.
Madu: I was one of those people who supported former Head of State, General Sani Abacha, to come back to power in 1997. I am proud to say it and I would stand by it. But Abacha died and that dream collapsed because our objective then was that it was good for Abacha to transform to a civilian president
So since then, I have been in politics. I was in PDP from 1999. Before then I was the National Chairman for the Federation of Nigerian Youths in 1998.
I was in PDP during former President Obasanjo years and I left PDP in 2011. I was also the National Chairman of a political party, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). In 2013, we formed the Independent Democrats party and it was registered in August 2013. We have 3.2 million members and 68 per cent of them are people between 25 and 40 years.
PT: So why do you want Nigerians to elect you as their president?
Let me tell you what I would do when I become president. I would abolish the issue of landlords. I am a businessman locally and internationally. I have done quite a lot of public relations jobs for multinational companies all over the world. I live in Abuja but I hail from Anambra State, Orumba South Local Government. I am also a director of so many companies as well. So apart from politics, I do business as well. I am married, I have four kids and we all live in Nigeria as well.
PT: What is the progress of your campaign?
Madu: Very well. The response is good. We have grassroots mobilisation, it is going massively and it is going on around the country. My manifesto contains the provision of infrastructure and jobs, which will resolve the major issues affecting the country, with more emphasis on solving the problem of electricity by crushing the cabal that wants you and I to be buying fuel and diesel every day. They constitute 65 per cent of the problems we have today with electricity.
PT: How prepared do you think INEC is ahead of the general elections?
Madu: I think INEC is prepared. But when you look at the previous elections conducted this year, I just have a problem with the collation of the results. And that takes us back to what I have said before on why I want to become president. I want to link up all these PVCs to BVN statistics. We have done the arithmetic that 73 per cent of people that have PVCs do not have bank accounts and that makes it now mandatory for you to have PVCs. Go to the polling units and exercise your franchise. What happens is that the rigging goes on at the collation. Also, I would make INEC truly independent to a point political parties would not be able to manipulate it.
That makes it now easier for you to Go to the polling units and exercise your franchise. What happens is that the rigging goes on at the collation. Okay, this local government is having this figure and let us go to this local government and rig this election or add the votes or places they feel is a stronghold of a particular political party. So this is one of the innovations that we want to bring on board. Also, I would make INEC truly independent. The political parties would have to nominate their own people to work at INEC as well as the appointment of state commissioners. Because when you do that, that is when people would feel they are part of what is going on. As far as I am concerned, the INEC Is appointed by the president.
Aside from the collation of results, every other thing is perfect. With the distribution of materials, I think INEC has done well. Also in terms of improvement with the card reader with what happened in 2015 to what is happening now.
Another issue I have is the issue of security agencies going to stop voters in areas they feel a particular candidate is popular. It happened in the just concluded Osun election. We only have to look again at our Electoral Act; how we are going to get the police involved during the elections and define their role as it concerns monitoring the elections.
PT: What do you think about restructuring and what are you going to do about it?
Madu: Restructuring is just rubbish. Instead, we should create equal states in the zones. Like South-east have five states, while some zones have six or seven.
PT: What do you intend doing differently when you become president?
Madu: Some politicians keep saying ‘I would do this, I would do that.’ The question people do not ask is how do you intend to do this? We cannot be talking about the economy without talking about infrastructure, because infrastructure provides jobs. Basic infrastructure naturally gives jobs to the people. You cannot be on TV and you are not president already and you are already talking on the number of jobs you are going to provide. I would bring back the toll gates. The money generated from the toll gates is going to be used to maintain the roads. Monies collected through the system would be monitored with a camera. Not when you make an estimation and employers cannot account for the money. There is another job through the system where on 28th and 29th of every month, an audit department comes to take the video to look at what has happened from the first of that month and another accounting department looks at how many cars passed through that toll gate and how much was generated. How can you be talking about electricity when government offices do not pay for electricity?
We have done statistics in the last eight month and realised that our government is going to pay N110,000 minimum wage. How? By cutting down the cost of running a presidential system of government. Just a state commissioner has about five aides while the governor has over 200 aides and a minister has 25 aides. They take all the money from government and still they cannot pay civil servants, teachers that have taught everybody to what we are today and you can pay politicians millions of naira every month. The presidential system of government takes about 65 per cent of your budget. You can quote me. We have to come back to the basics. You switch on your TV, you hear them talk about restructuring. These same people talking about restructuring, they were in the government at a time but they never did anything on restructuring. Now they are talking about it.
I have the plans to make Nigeria better and if Nigeria buys into my manifesto, they are going to vote for me. And I can tell you what we have like what they have in America; the undecided voters. They are comparing the 16 years of PDP and the three and a half years of APC, thinking should we try the PDP after 16 years when they did nothing or the APC? When they came in they promised to change and they did nothing. The people are wondering; is it not better we have a president of Nigeria who would provide standard mega health centres in all the 774 LG in Nigeria? I can do that as president. Remember there was a time we had a government in Babaginda’s regime that built party offices in all the local government areas in Nigeria. The NRC and SDP party offices. So why can’t a government build 774 standard hospitals in all the local government? It can be funded by the bank tax. It can equally fund tertiary education in Nigeria. Bank tax is if a person is charged N500 at the opening of an account as bank tax for funding of all this. Multiply that by 60 million people. But these banks sit down every month, they deduct N400 from our account and we don’t bother. At times, 200 multiplied by 60 million people. So you see the amount of money these people are making. So it is a must we establish bank tax on these banks at the opening of account so we can get funds to provide the institutions and health centres.
PT: Taking money from the banks, is it legal?
Madu: The banks that are taking money from the people, what they are doing is not legal. In Nigeria, we need to implement strong laws to get the magic working. We run a country were other zones in Nigeria has six, seven states. Southeast, where I come from, has five. It is an imbalance. What they need to as president is to send an executive bill to the national assembly to create one more state in the South-east no president has done that.
You talking about legal or illegal. I have travelled all over the world. Even in Afghanistan, there is no place where you would have things like banks making so much money and they don’t pay something to government coffers.
PT: Should political parties be given grants?
Madu: Nothing wrong with the government giving grants to political parties. But it was abused by some parties to the extent that people were just forming parties just to get the grant from government. Parties with genuine membership can generate money from membership dues. In that way, it makes the party strong financially and not hijacked by a few moneybags.
PT: What are your plans on security?
Madu: We do not even know how many people we are in this country and there are no Identification cards for the people in Nigeria. We have to go back to the basics. No biometrics. When you get to South Africa, they have eyelash identification system. You are passing through their airports, you put on glasses at the immigration. You are asked to take off your glasses. All these things do not cost a lot. The money which Nigeria used in building the runway at Abuja airport is what South Africa used in building Oliver Tambo Airport. I am not castigating anybody. I am here to talk about what I want to do for Nigeria as president. President Buhari has done his bit considering the circumstances. After 16 years of looting our money, he came on board. I can give him credit in some areas. The only place that Mr Buhari has not woken up from slumber is on the issue of electricity. There is a cabal that wants Nigerians to be buying fuel. They are the people holding us down from solving our electricity problem. As president, I would make sure they do not operate. In Nigeria, we have a strong workforce and they do not have health insurance. All this would be put in place if I emerge as president
And you say you have workers that cannot use N2000 to buy a bus ticket for one month. If you are a civil servant, you should be able to buy a bus ticket for the one month. Government should be able to provide the infrastructure for the civil servants. If we do not go back to the basics we cannot move further even if the oil booms 25 times. I have the master plan to move to Nigeria. Look at the National Hospital that was done by Mrs Abacha. Look at the hospital now. It was supposed to be a world-class hospital. Are we supposed to be going out of Abuja with that hospital? No maintenance.
PT: Will you support state police?
Madu: I will not support state police because all the state governors would hijack it for their political gains. Because I know what goes on between the governors and the commissioners of police. You can imagine when the commissioners of police are now officially put under the control of the governors. The truth is that state police will make a mess of what the police is now. The governors control the commissioners of police in their states. They take directives from the governors which are wrong. As president, I will put a stop to it. However, what do you expect when state governments fund police by providing them with vehicles and communication gadget? It also means the federal government has failed in its responsibility by allowing state governors to now do their job.
PT: What are you going to do to end the incessant strikes by university teachers?
On ASUU I would make sure their salaries would be reviewed and put under the essential services payment scheme. Cut down on the money spent in paying political office holders and channel the money to education which covers payment of university lecturers and all.