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Donald Duke Ex-Governor officially declares to run for president in 2019

The former Cross River State governor has joined a long list of aspirants trying to become president in 2019.

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Former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, has formally expressed his interest in contesting the 2019 presidential election.

The 56-year-old made the announcement at the annual Law dinner of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in Enugu, on Friday, June 8, 2018, while speaking on the topic, "Nigeria in clear and present danger".

Donald Duke to run for President with SDP, dumps PDP play

Donald Duke

(Donald Duke Organisation)

He said he was no longer going to sit back and allow the country to continue sinking under its current leadership, and further urged young Nigerians to stop being mere onlookers.

He said, "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."

Duke says Buhari's government stuck in the past

While speaking further on his ambition in an interview with Deutsche Welle Africa published on Friday,  Duke said the country's current leadership is stuck in the past.

When asked what he thinks he can do better than the country's incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, he said the current administration is totally out of tune with the current realities of Nigeria.

He said, "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.

"We can't go on this way and keep complaining. Someone has to take the bull by the horns and I intend to do that."

Buhari was unprepared for leadership - Duke

When asked during the interview what he thinks has been the major failure of the present Buhari-led government, Duke said it was a lack of preparation on their part which has also led to failure to fulfil campaign promises.

He said, "They were not prepared for leadership. Six months to set up a cabinet? Where'd we hear that? President Buhari campaigned for office in two planks: corruption and security.

"Now let's take the scorecard. Corruption is not dead. Persecuting corruption is dealing with symptoms and not the problem. The real problem is you've got to create jobs for people. You've got to pay them adequately. You've got to strengthen your institutions that it makes it almost impossible for you to engage in this set of activities; and should you engage in it, you're sure that there are consequences.

"I could reduce Nigeria's problem to one word: consequences, and the lack of it. People get away with anything, and so it's not picking a few largely in the opposition and name and shame them in the press then thereafter nothing happens and they have found a way of now declaring for the party in government and everything peters down. That's one.

"Security, where are we? Despite the fact that the government has on two or three occasions announced that the war is over and Boko Haram has been defeated, we know it has not been defeated. We know it's still reigning supreme in the north east; there's still suicide bombings and kidnaps and all that. And if you visit any of the IDPs, you will appreciate that we're breeding the next generation of very disgruntled people."

ALSO READ: Donald Duke says he doesn't believe in Biafra

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.

ALSO READ: Pulse Opinion: Nigerians should be worried about Obasanjo's 'Third Force' in 2019

If he wins his party's primary election, he'll face stiff competition from others like incumbent, President Buhari; former vice president, Atiku Abubakar; former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Moghalu; management consultant and leadership expert, Fela Durotoye; Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore and a host of others.

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