Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River state, says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot zone his constitutional rights, stating that he has the right to aspire, win or lose the party’s presidential ticket.
Duke, who was governor from 1999 to 2007 says he had always wanted to be president since 2005, with the plan to solve Nigeria’s productivity problem.
He said about two thirds of the total population of the country — about 132 million people — are unproductive.
Speaking in an interview with Osasu Igbinedion on The Osasu Show, Duke said the lack of productivity is responsible for the insurgency, insecurity and unemployment in Nigeria.
Duke had in February 2017, announced his intention to contest the 2019 presidential election.
He said the lack of will by leaders is another factor responsible for the challenges plaguing the country, adding that he has this will to offer.
“I have had interest in the presidency since 2005. It has always been there. The reason is that there is a certain level of frustration; we seem not to be making the requisite progress we ought to be making as a nation and we all know that we are better than what we are today,” Duke said.
“And to me, the answers to our problems are not far-fetched. What I find missing is the will to make it happen and this is what I bring to the table.
“What I would like to do, to move our nation forward, we need to address the productivity of a Nigerian. Here you are, a nation of almost 200 million people. Two-thirds are not productive. Two-thirds actually depend on one-third.
“When you see the problems we are having, whether it is Boko Haram, the militancy, the kidnapping it is all born of the fact that …people are discontent and the discontent is a result of not being able to fend for oneself. So, we have to address the productivity. If every Nigerian were productive, believe me, we won’t have Boko Haram.”
Duke further said the statistics of unemployment and failure of leadership in Nigeria “is what fuels my interest” to run for presidency.
According to him, the education system needed to be reformed to provide for skill acquisition for every graduate.
“That is what fuels my interest. We talk the talk, we know what to say, we know our problems but do we have the will, do we have the strategy to make it happen. I went into the numbers. This is a developing country where many thighs ought to be done are not being done,” he said.
“So the reason for people not having jobs is a bit off because people should have a lot of jobs. For example, we have 20m housing shortage and that in itself can engage about 15m people.
“The four things that I would immediately address, we talk about education but in today’s world, it is more than just reading and writing. Education should leave you with a skill.
“So, for me, every brain must be trained because an untrained brain is a drain on the nation, because that brain will be dependent on another brain for its own subsistence. So, we need to invest heavily on education and skill development.”
He also said he would give priority to the areas of infrastructure, health and technological advancement.
Commenting on the administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Duke said the government is distracted.
He said the government was addressing the symptoms of the problems, not the problems themselves.
“This administration, I think they are being distracted. I think they came into office not really appreciating the totality of the picture and the fixation on corruption and security they don’t look at the broader picture. Those are symptoms of a problem, not the problem itself,” he said.
“There are two types of corruption: corruption of greed and corruption of need . corruption of greed, we can deal with it institutionally, having a strong judiciary but corruption of need, a policeman who has 8 children at home, a family back in the village and is paid a pittance will find a way of making money on the side. That you can’t stop. So, they didn’t think of the totality and this is a recurring problem, not just with this administration.
Asked his chances of contesting on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the party has zoned the presidential ticket to the north, Duke said: “ You cant zone my constitutional right”.
“I have a right to aspire, I have a right to win, I have a right to lose. How realistic is dependent on the electorate. They would realise my ambition. I believe there is enough frustration in Nigeria to take the scales off our eyes and say ‘look, who is gonna solve our problem’?
“If I run, I might lose, if I don’t run, I am guaranteed to lose. So, I will give it a shot, I will give Nigerians the option of Donald Duke. The worse that would happen is that I lose. For me, the bigger loss is not offering myself.”