Alhaji Mumakai Unagha , a Warri-based legal practitioner, was the Pioneer Vice President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria in the South-South and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State. In this interview with journalists, he opened up on why he has decided to contest the 2019 presidential election on the APC platform.
JUSTICE IYASERE brings the excerpts:
You were once President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s core loyalist, what informed your decision to contest the 2019 presidential election against the incumbent?
Well, I have taken the decision to contest after painstaking appraisal of our party agenda anchored on change. I have resolved to contest so as to add value to the change agenda. Yes, the President has tried in the area of war against corruption, economic recovery and tackling of the security challenges in Nigeria.
However, more needed to be done hence I am out to contest so as to add value to the change agenda of the APC. The president has not told Nigerians especially his APC members that he will contest 2019 election. Those around him are the ones clamouring that he should contest. Even at that, he has not made up his mind. I can assure you that Baba will not contest and I am seeking his blessing to continue from where he will stop. He should anoint me to continue the good works he has started.
I mean after I had won the election, within three months, I shall constitute all Federal Boards and Agencies not leaving it to the mercy of PDP members. You see it is appalling that APC faithfuls who worked consciously for the partyâ€™s victory are wallowing in poverty and uncertainty, while PDP members are controlling most of the Federal Agencies. I canâ€™t imagine why it is taking Mr. President so long before constituting boards and the new ministers he promised have not be appointed too. It is sad that up till this very moment, APC faithful have nothing to show for their intense struggles that brought this government to power.
If President Buhari make up his mind to contest in 2019, would you still contest with him?.
Definitely I will. This is because some of us outside the boxing ring are seeing those in the ring. Yes, he has tried; Iâ€™d like to add more quality and value to it. What I think we should do is to throw away sentiment away, he is from a certain area. There should be a level of playing ground. However, he is like a father to me. He should hand over to me. He should send me, and I shall not fail him.
This is the time for him to rest. He has made his mark as a world leader. He should not be pushed like as I have said before in the foregoing paragraph. APC should send me, Nigerians are prepared to back me.
Are you saying that Mr President has not done enough?
Iâ€™m not saying so. All I am saying is that Buhari should rest after putting more than necessary to serve the nation. I want to take over from him, and I need his support and blessing. I can assure Nigerians that given the opportunity, there is no doubt in my mind, Nigeria will be great again. Mind you, there is no zoning in our party APC. The presidential ticket is open, and it is not limited to an individual, zone or ethnic group. I have offered myself as one of the best candidates in Nigeria come 2019.
As a legal practitioner with vast experience, I shall nurture the political economy of the nation to an enviable position that will be envy of the international community. Like as I have said, I shall re-organise the Oil and gas, Aviation, Transport, Education sectors to enhance the growth to the economy. Insha Allah, within three months of my inauguration, I shall hit the ground running by constituting all the Federal Government agencies including Boards of parastatals to boost the activities of government. Apart from separating the lumped Ministries into full fledge ministries, I shall re-design the security network to nip the activities of Boko Haram on the bud as well as kidnapping.
The activities of militia youths across the country especially in the Niger Delta shall be addressed with dispatch. I shall also tackle the power problem facing the nation by revisiting the privatisation of the power sector. These are some of the areas and many others that I shall urgently address.
Have you weighed the financial implication of this venture considering its magnitude?
Iâ€™m aware, and that is being taken care of. My presidency is a Nigeria project and Nigerians are eager to support me financially. They are the ones asking me to run, therefore, the money will certainly come from them.
There is a growing speculation that the APC will soon suspend you for daring to declare for the presidency or challenging President Buhari. How true is it?
Iâ€™m not aware of that yet. It is just a rumour. I donâ€™t think is true. I have not done or committed any offense that would warrant my being suspended. Perhaps it is because of my presidential ambition. Well, for me there is no going back. Iâ€™m convinced that Mr President will demonstrate statesmanship not only as a ruler but a world leader to serve one term and hand over to me. It is my appeal for him to follow the steps of Dr. Nelson Mandela (Madiba) of South Africa. If Iâ€™m elected come 2019, I shall only serve a tenure of four years. APC is a party built on the fundamental principles of democracy.
Since the emergence of All Progressive Congress (APC) at the centre, democracy has taken its course in this country. For example, the elections conduced so far using that of Anambra State as a case study are very credible devoid of interference. In the same vein, I do not see our party All Progressive Congress (APC) acting to the contrary to my political ambition of contesting the presidency. As a chieftain of the party, I am eligible to vote and be voted for.
The Presidency just left the South-South in 2015 and the North may be eager to retain the position for more years. Do you think Nigerians will consider a Southerners when president Buhari or the North has not completed eight years in Aso Rock?
To me, they will vote for me, because what you just said is not in the manifestoe or zoning arrangement of APC. It was PDP arrangement which is not acceptable to APC. APC believes in credibility and integrity which is why president Buhari was brought in and was elected. It is the same credibility Iâ€˜ll showcase. The prevailing atmosphere of unity in the country will be sustained and the restructuring agitation will be looked into under my watch.