Professor Adeolu Durotoye is a veteran journalist and professor of Political Science who has taught in many Universities in Nigeria and abroad. He is presently the Secretary of Global Intelligentsia for Buhari, a group of Nigerians in Diaspora with the aim of mobilizing and supporting Buhari for presidency. In this interview, Durotoye tells Funke Olaode why his group has confidence and trust in Buhari.
What is the mission and vision of your group, Global Intelligentsia for Buhari?
Global Intelligential for Buhari is not a political party but a group of Nigerians in Diaspora with the focus to mobilize and support the candidature of Buhari and Osinbajo and ensure that we have a change of government in Nigeria come February. The chairman of this group is former managing director of Daily Times, Chief Tola Adeniyi and I am the secretary of the group. We mobilize, educate and enlighten people to vote with their conscience.
But there is this impression by Diaspora people that Nigerians on ground are not doing it right and by the time they also come on board they (Diaspora) join the bandwagon. How does your group intend to erase this notion?
Even though I live abroad but I spend almost half of my time in Nigeria. The goal is not to rubbish what those who are in Nigeria are doing, but to be able to mobilize Nigerians abroad to contribute to the change that is needed at this point in Nigeria. The only thing that is permanent in life is change. And that change is now. We have had the PDP government in power for 16 years but yet to experience development as it should be. And because of that we need a change of someone who have better vision, better idea of running this country, and who is ready to move this country forward. I must tell you that this country has been stagnant since 2007. Between 1999 and 2007 we had a growth and development but in the past seven years it has been on the stand still.
Politics and mobilization is about grassroots. How do you intend to fit into the system to let them feel that you are part of them?
Like I told you earlier on, the chairman is Chief Tola Adeniyi who is on ground in Nigeria and I am the secretary who spends most of my time in Nigeria. We are also leveraging on the fact that we have contact abroad having lived overseas for a couple of years. We have the benefits of those worlds. We know what is going on now. We are part of the system and we understand what it is. We have lived here before we travelled abroad and we have been coming home in the past five years. The purpose really is that we don’t want our people abroad to be left out because this country belong to all of us. And that is why we are working out to mobilize the Diaspora for Buhari and Osinbajo and also, to mobilize our people back home for Buhari to ensure that there is a change that will bring about development, a change that will bring about growth, a change that will turn things around in this country for better.
What strategies are being put in place to ensure the objectives, I mean the ‘clamour for change’ by your group is realized?
One of the things we are doing is to educate our people back home about what to know about the present government , and the reason they must vote for change We have also intimidated our people (abroad and at home) on how to support Buhari and the APC by way of contributing funds for this campaign.
You said that the country had been stagnant for the past eight years. And it is a common knowledge that the problem with politics in Africa is bad governance and corruption. Considering where you are coming from where things work, do you think the APC has the magic wand to do things differently if elected next month?
That is exactly why we need someone who is incorruptible like Buhari and Osinbajo to take over. When you look at what is going on in Nigeria and the issue of corruption, it is alarming. Look at the oil sector. What is the problem of the oil sector? It is corruption. If you look at the power sector, it is still the same even with the privatization Nigerians are still living in perpetual darkness. But we have someone in the likes of Buhari who has stood the test of time by way of remaining incorruptible. His running mate, Prof. Osinbajo has also been able to distinguish himself in government to show that you can actually be in government without being corrupt. We need people who are going to deviate from the ‘business as usual’ approach to corruption and ensure that things move forward. If we are able to deal with the issue of corruption, Nigeria will save a lot of money to aid her development. Going down the drain, look at the oil subsidy. I remember in 2013, Oby Ezekwezeli told us that about 10 trillion Naira in reserve had been squandered by the government. We realised that except something drastic is done by way of change, ensuring that we have people in place who are ready to run the country, nothing is going to move forward in this country.
It seems you have so much confidence in the candidature of Buhari who was a military head of state over three decades ago. Now that we are in a digital era, do you think he still has the swag to rule a larger and complex society like Nigeria?
Honestly, I believe with someone like Buhari, wisdom comes with age. And at 72 he won’t be the first person that is going to contest and run the country. Mandela became the president of South Africa in his 70s and he did quite well. We have had people like Ronald Reagan who was in his 70s when he governed United States. Age really should not be a barrier. I believe whatever may have happened some 31 years back, Buhari has learnt, he has grown from it, he has developed from it because this is a different ball game, and this is a democratic experiment as opposed to a military regime. I believe he has what it takes to run this country. Considering the fact that he has been running since 2003 means that he must know why he keeps doing it. He has prepared a game plan, knows what he wants to do and I believe he has what it takes to do it.
Looking at the security problem and an alleged involvement of APC, don’t you think it can work against him?
Well, I don’t know the connection you are talking about. As a matter of fact a few days ago, Femi Fani-Kayode who is on the campaign team of President Jonathan said Buhari has no connection with Boko Haram. So there is no established contact between APC and Boko Haram. Nobody has come out with any facts and figures. As far as I know APC has got nothing to do with Boko Haram.
Desire for Change is the slogan of the APC. Do you think it can overwhelm the power of incumbency?
We are talking of democracy here. When we are talking about power of incumbency here we are talking about power to rig elections, and also power to manipulate and buy people over. But let me tell you it won’t work because Nigerians are educated, more enlightened, better exposed and above all, there is yearning for change because they are tired of stagnancy and the general cliché now is that we must move forward. Look at all the roads across the country. The only road that leads from the Southwest and the South to the federal capital Abuja-Lokoja-Okene road is in a state of disrepair. Look at Lagos-Ibadan express way that is now being repaired after how many years of neglect.
What has happened to people being tried for subsidy fraud in the last two or three years? What about the reserve that has been squandered? Even Femi Fani-Kayode wrote some stinker about this party and how they have not been able to achieve anything. Now look at different states of the federation where PDP has been in control. I took a tour of this country and realised that some so called states or commercial nerve center of some Eastern States are slums. And these governors are being given national honours. But if you look at where the APC are in control they have done well. For instance, Aregbesola has done well in Osun State. Fashola’s legacy of performance in Lagos is there for everyone to see. PDP has failed Nigeria.
Are you saying that the APC is a corrupt free party?
What I will tell you is that the APC has thrown up candidates that have remained incorruptible over the years. And because they would be in control when they are elected in February I believe that Nigeria would be a better place with people like Buhari/Osinbajo and with the APC in power.
From your political side of view, if you were to analyze both parties (PDP and APC) bearing in mind that not all the PDP policies are bad, how would you rate them?
What I would tell you is that APC has proved itself to be a party that is people focused, a party that is development focused and a party that is growth focused compare to PDP. I must tell you as a political scientist that the true test of democracy is regime change. And that is why if you are comparing Democracy you find that Ghanaian democracy is stronger than Nigerian Democracy because one has witnessed a change from one political party to the other. A situation where in the past 16 years there is one party in power which has not done well, and yet, that party kept on being in power tells you that something is wrong with our kind of democracy. Now, APC has come up with credible presidential and running mate candidates and with its remarkable development in states where APC is in power, I have no doubt that APC will give Nigerians the change they desire for the country to move forward.