A 33-year-old Nigerian based in the United States of America has thrown in his hat to run for the presidency in Nigeria come 2019.
A trained Accountant who graduated from the Texas Southern University, Omotosho who is from Ekiti State, was a Fellow with President Barack Obama's Presidential Organization, Organizing for Action, where he helped in organizing African-Americans towards a successful second term for the first Black American Presidency.
In this interview with Pulse, Omotosho who has been very vocal on the political terrain in Nigeria, gives an insight on why he wants to become the President of the most populous black nation and what he would offer the country.
1. Why did you decide to throw in your hat for the presidency of Nigeria?
I did this because Nigeria has been ruined by people with no agenda but just there for selfish and unnecessary reasons.
There is only so much material stuff, one and one's family needs. Nigeria needs someone that has a proven record of selfless service and that is not a thief.
2. Do you think you have the requisite experience to rule a nation like Nigeria?
I do. Since I was a child, my dad, who spent most of his life serving Nigeria as a civil servant and finally retired with the title of a Director from the Federal Ministry of Finance always emphasized to me that serving country is one of the greatest virtues ever.
As a child and while on holiday from school, I sometimes went to the office [secretariat] with my caring father who loves me so much.
I met former Head of State Sani Abacha during one of those experiences [specifically during an event organized by the Nigerian military government at the time].
By the way, my dad partly grew up in Europe, Hungary, to be specific, due to scholarship that was granted to Nigerians at the time.
He told me he did not complete secondary school in Nigeria but went on to get his Bachelor's degree till he got a Ph.D. at a university in Hungary.
I earned a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from Texas Southern University, where I was trained with the requisite and practical skills of using precise analytical thinking to solve big problems.
Out of that passion, we founded the NGO, Nigerians Saving Nigerians, ran it for 6 years till now with no financial support from anywhere other than my finances, a few friends that naturally supported me, and a 50 dollars donation we received from a Nigerian via PayPal.
Most of my education was in private school but I insisted on attending public school, Festac grammar school for a semester because I was always curious and my dad also enrolled me in public schools, Government Secondary School Bwari (GSS Bwari) and Army Day Secondary School Sani Abacha Barracks, Abuja.
While in GSS Bwari, I was exposed to Northerners, Easterners, Southerners, and Westerners, all Muslims and Christians; we all ate together and lived in boarding school together, peacefully and as friends, even brothers.
I don't know where the division among Nigerians across tribal and religious lines are coming from but I will bring Nigerians together.
3. How do you think you can warm your way into the heart of Nigerians coming from where you are based?
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria on March 27, 1984. I am from Ekiti state, Nigeria. I was raised mostly in Festac Town, partly in Abuja then came to America at 18-year-old.
I speak broken English [as we call it in Nigeria], English language, and Yoruba. Nigerians will accept me because I was born in Nigeria, came to America at an age where I am relatively impressionable, and I still remember home to the extent of thinking about wide-ranging changes instead of just focusing on my immediate needs and my family members.
I have been a substitute teacher at a local school district in Houston, Texas, U.S.A (what we call the secondary school in Nigeria) for 6 years so I am by no means lacking a career or funds for my upkeep. My presidential aspiration is totally selfless.
4. Some Nigerians on social media think you are just looking for relevance. How do you react to this?
I am indeed looking for relevance. Those Nigerians are right. I accidentally got involved in public service through an unprecedented experiment I started when I decided to start a political non-profit organization that gets involved in politics out of ideas and ideals not just for financial gain.
Nigerians gravitated to my blog posts on the website of Nigerians Saving Nigerians and I rarely indicated on those blog posts that I was the writer.
When I accepted a position as a Fellow with President Obama's presidential organization, Organizing for Action, when I was almost on the brink of giving up regarding my active political write-ups due to lots of personal problems then, I realized maybe this is my destiny:
Let me tell a brief story of how I got involved with President Obama's organization; I heard about the application for the fellowship with the organization of the sitting President at the time but I was like, "no way will they choose me;" my personal problems didn't give me enough confidence at the time.
The deadline for the application passed and I was still thinking about the opportunity then I decide to check the application and it was still open.
I am a person that believes in fate and my instincts, so at that moment, my instincts told me this was something good, I sent in my application, received a call from President Obama's staffer with Organizing for Action, accepted a position as a Fellow, then the rest is history.
I went ahead to join the staff of the League of Conservation Voters, an organization that advocates for a cleaner and healthy environment.
And my political training gave me the tools needed to be involved in politics anywhere in the world. I chose Nigeria because that is where God decided I should be born in.
So, yes, everyone involved in any kind of work that involves the public, may the person be an entertainer, athlete, politician, etc wants to remain relevant. I am now involved in political activism, social entrepreneurship, and politics.
5. What would you say stands you out as the desirable candidate to run for the presidency?
I am 33-year-old with the wisdom of a wise 70-year-old. I have also been exposed to a functioning political environment and society here in America so I think that's a plus. I am empathetic.
One crucial question I asked my dear, loving, and selfless mother as a child sticks with me: I asked her, "Why do we have food and others sometimes beg for food?" She found it difficult to answer but smiled and felt it was just the "normal" curious and talkative Lolu [Lolu is my nick name].
6. What do you think stands you out from other candidates?
Other candidates are part of the Nigerian political establishment. They may be neck deep in the pervasive corruption that has bankrupted Nigerians and the Nigerian people. I am a new and young face.
7. What would you do different from what the current president does?
If I was sick for such a long period of time, I would resign. I will FIX electricity even if that will be my major focus during my term as President.
I will encourage every level of government to be transparent regarding spending public funds, I will encourage the National Assembly to pass laws that will guarantee free and fair elections at all levels of elective positions, I will choose a team not just based on loyalty but on competence.
I will be inclusive in my political appointments, speech, and posture as President. So much to enumerate.
8. What are your political antecedents that can enhance your quest for the presidency?
I was a member of the National Association of Black Accountant (NABA) at Texas Southern University, which required members to serve our community, be active as professionals that aspire to be leaders in the accounting field and work with our leaders to accomplish goals.
I volunteered for a nonprofit organization (Niger Delta Restoration of Hope) that wanted a cleaner environment in Nigeria and was the volunteer organizer of an event by Niger Delta Restoration of Hope in Houston, Texas; the event held in order to promote and spread education about the legacy of Nigerian activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa.
I managed a nonprofit organization, Nigerians Saving Nigerians, that sought to tell stories that need attention with Nigerians and seek solutions to Nigerian problems.
My political views have been published on the platforms of notable media organizations like Premium Times Nigeria, Pulse Nigeria, Sahara Reporters, Naij, and I appeared live on BBC World News discussing #BringBackOurGirls and Boko Haram.
My political views have independently given me more visibility. But I need to be a politician and be elected to public office in order to implement my agenda.
9. Give us a brief manifesto on what you would hope to achieve in the first six months if you are elected Nigeria's president?
I will appoint credible, empathetic, and competent Nigerians from diverse backgrounds with non-interference regarding personal relationship to me in order to implement an agenda that will help develop Nigeria.
I will order that the security services of Nigeria should be adequately professionalized and supply the adequate financial resources for the men and women risking their lives daily to help keep Nigeria safe.
I will call on all Nigerians from different spheres of life to sit down and let's talk as brothers and sisters about what pains us and what we desire. I will implement a campaign across Nigeria that preaches tolerance regardless of our political, religious, and other beliefs.
I will advocate for human rights to be respected and I will advocate against domestic violence against women or men. I will start working on how to provide 24-hours electricity.
10. Do you think you have what it takes to manage a multi-country like Nigeria?
I do. My experiences of interacting with Nigerians from different tribes in Nigeria and here in Houston, Texas, with a considerable amount of Nigerian population demonstrates that I do not make friends based on just tribal and religious affiliation.
I will implement those interpersonal skills as President of Nigeria.
11. How would you tackle the endemic corruption in Nigeria?
I will aggressively bring together an economic team that will set policies that help private companies to grow and hire more Nigerians.
I will continue and enhance the efforts of the current Buhari administration to provide free food to the most vulnerable Nigerians and I will try to provide monthly financial stipends to the most vulnerable Nigerians meaning the disabled, elderly, very poor, and I will care for children.
I will also make sure that as I provide these social guarantees, I provide a way for these good Nigerians to be able to fend for themselves if possible. I will enunciate to Nigerians that as President, the law will take its course without interference from me regarding legal cases of corruption.
I will help strengthen the judiciary as President [and I know the Judiciary is an independent arm of government].
I will encourage the National Assembly to pass tough laws against corruption. I will order strong technological internal control systems across the gigantic bureaucracy in the Federal Government of Nigeria and encourage State and Local governments to fight corruption.
12. Are you affiliated with any political party in Nigeria?
No. But I can run on the platform of the PDP, a new political party or form my own political party when I am of age to legally run for the office of President of Nigeria [remember I am still 33-year-old.]
I didn't mention the ruling political party, APC because I do not think they like me.
13. What is your take on the long absence of the president from the country on medical vacation?
It is wrong. I campaigned for President Buhari when he was running in 2015. This is not what I campaigned for.
I saw him as a good patriotic Nigerian. Someone that will put his needs for power below the general good of Nigerians and the Nigerian state.
14. The APC came into power on the promise of a change. Do you think that change is being achieved?
Yes and No. There is corruption within the ranks of members of APC and President Muhammadu Buhari chose to look the other way.
Mr. President has tried with the campaign for a Nigeria free from corruption and the fight against corruption but that fight must start from the political elites, not the Nigerian masses that are already suffering and struggling.
President Buhari has tried with the fight against terror but he needs to be pro-active and active regarding the fight against violence across Nigeria. Nigerians don't like herdsmen violating their rights.
But in general, with regards to the economy and development of Nigeria, I give President Muhammadu Buhari a score of 20 percent. He disappointed me. His priorities are misplaced.
15. Tell us a bit about yourself?
Laugh out loud (Lol) I love this part. As somewhat now gaining public attention and being a political activist, quite a number of people apart from my close friends and family have a misunderstanding of who I am.
When people meet me then they are like, 'He is "normal"; he is not so rigid.' I love music; from Small Doctor, 9ice, Timaya, YCee, Burna Boy, Flavour, Northern Nigerian rapper that also previously lived in Houston, Godwon, Bob Marley, Nas, India Arie, my friend Seun Kuti, Fela Kuti [I love the entire family], my Festac brothers, 2 Face Idibia, Black Face, Faze [you know I love the community that raised me, right? Festac Town], The Roots.
I listen to the track, Loke Loke, by Sean Tizzle almost daily, Olamide is cool, upcoming Nigerian rapper, Bilz, that is also based in Houston, Texas, is also awesome (too many musicians to name).
Every Nigerian loves football so I do too but soccer as Americans call the sport is not really popular here [American football is loved here].
I also love basketball. Well to relax, I love listening to people perform poetry [spoken word performances], I write poetry also, not so sure if I am a well-spoken word performer, lol.
I have a spoken word performance I recorded at home years ago on YouTube called "Dark Purification", history is awesome, world history, American history, etc especially learning more about Black/African history, fun conversations, I go to bars sometimes, and my friends often say I am a comedian and I am funny."
Do you think this young man stands any chance at becoming Nigeria's president come 2019? Or is he just making himself relevant in the scheme of things? Only time will tell.