The 56-year-old former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, has formally expressed his interest in contesting the 2019 presidential election.
Donald made his intentions known while speaking at the annual Law dinner of the University of Nigeria, Anambra State on Friday (June 8).
When asked what he thinks he can do better than Buhari, he said the current administration was totally out of tune with the current realities of Nigeria.
“I see such obvious failings; I see a leadership that is steeped in the past and that’s really refused to evolve with a nation that’s predominantly a nation of young, aspiring people, and still doing the things the way they were done many many years ago and did not work.
“I think our leadership in the country today is totally out of tune with the current realities of our nation. There’s a disconnect somewhere. So, when you have a leadership that blames its young people, for instance, of not striving enough, or being lazy, it’s a disconnect because the tools to make them achieve their aspirations have not been provided.
“Look at the state of education. The state of education today is a far cry from what I received. So the elites amongst us try to send their children abroad; that’s a dream. They’re gonna breed a generation of children who are disconnected from home and from abroad.
“We had good schools here that could compete with schools anywhere in the world. We had some of the best medical facilities in the 60s and early 70s, all of that has gone to rot. The president himself receives medical treatment abroad. That is a sad state of affairs.
How I’ll save Nigeria’s economy – Duke
The presidential hopeful also disclosed that Nigeria’s economy has to grow at at least 15% annually for 10 years “to recalibrate the system.” To achieve this, if he’s elected president, Duke said he’ll take a two-pronged approach that’ll involve lowering interest rates and exploring alternative energy options.
When asked how he’ll do better than Buhari, he said, “Creating jobs, jobs, jobs. Boom the economy. I’ll take two simple items.
“First of all, you can’t grow your economy with the type of banking system you run where the interest rate regime is in the upper 20s. You need to have affordable credits and that will enable the small and medium scale businessmen borrow and expand their businesses. Thousands of businesses have closed down because they can’t afford their interest rate regime, and this is self-inflicted.
“Nigeria grew faster when we had some form of regulation on interest rates and the interest rates were in the single digits. Our economy did a lot more better than it is doing today.
“The second thing is you’ve got to grow this economy at at least 15% annually for 10 years to recalibrate the system. Nigeria ought to be a $2.5 trillion economy not the $3 billion or $4 billion economy.
“Here you are flaring about 2 to 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas daily and we’ve done this for about 30 years. That’s equivalent to about 25 million litres of diesel that we burn on a daily basis. Now, all you need to do is clean up that gas, have a network, pipe it throughout the length and breadth of this country and make it available to industry.
“That’ll free electricity on the national grid for residential and domestic use but let the industry, particularly the baked energy consumers, be on gas. And hey, you’re flaring the gas, give the gas for next to nothing. You can give it up for free because you’re flaring it anyway. That will be our subsidy due to industry. That will catalyse growth in the economy. That will create jobs for folks. That’ll pay itself back because your taxable return will be much higher than it is today.
“We import literally everything, we need to substitute. The things we can make here, we make them here but that would only happen if you have affordable credits and energy and, of course, the right policies.”
Despite his opposition of President Buhari, Duke supports his administration’s ban on rice importation, noting that it doesn’t benefit Nigerians in any way.
He said, “We shouldn’t import what we can easily provide. We’re developing the economy, we need to create jobs and importing rice is just creating jobs overseas at the expense of our people.”
Nigeria must restructure or get worse – Duke
Donald Duke also warned that it is important for Nigeria to restructure because it ensures progress. According to him, the country has always been restructuring since it started as three federating units, and must continue to do so without fear.
He said, “I don’t know why we’re worried about restructuring. Some people get very nervous when they hear about it.
“You restructure yourself everyday: you wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to do this,’ ‘I’m going to change this,’ I’m going to do this better than I did yesterday’; that’s restructuring. Corporate organisations restructure.
“If you don’t restructure constantly, you will stagnate and when you stagnate, you retrogress and when you retrogress, you’ll eventually eclipse. I believe we ought to restructure; it’s not the first time.
“We started this nation as three regions, federating units, then we had the civil war and it was restructured to 12 states, then eventually 19 and 21 and then 27, 36, or whatever, and we moved our capital. We shouldn’t be afraid of it (restructuring).
“I think the corner of the fear for restructuring is revenue distribution.”
Donald Duke’s party remains unknown
Duke failed to disclose on which political platform he’ll run for president next year, but he served as Cross River State governor between 1999 and 2007 and tried to run for president in 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, since the PDP has officially zoned its presidential ticket to the north, Duke is most likely to contest on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) which is the political party that has been adopted by the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) of which he is a founding member.
While speaking on the topic ‘Nigeria In Clear and Present Danger’, he explained that although he wasn’t yet sure of the platform with which he will be contesting, he was convinced that it was time to make a move towards addressing Nigeria’s.
He also stated that “will and strategy” are major components needed to ensure all-round national development.
“I am putting myself forward for the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I’m not going to sit back any longer and postulate. And I want each one of those young people there to be part of it. That’s why I urge them to go and get their voter’s card and be part of this society.
“Don’t be onlookers any longer, this is not a football match where you sit in the audience and cheer and grumble. Get unto the field and take part.
“I’m not going to sit back, I’m going to take part,” he asserted.
Mr Duke who is currently a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was one of those who welcomed the Coalition For Nigeria Movement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo In February.
He was also one of those who witnessed the formal registration of the former president (Obasanjo) as a member of the group, which he had called for to save Nigeria from the myriad of challenges it is facing.