With a little over a year before the next general elections , and just a few days after a former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo asked the incumbent president not to contest next year and that the proverbial ‘horse rider’ to dismount honourably, the race to succeed the All Progressives Congress, APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, was officially flagged off inside the London Hall of the Double Tree Hotel in Docklands, in East London, on Thursday night.
At the event, the Presidential candidate of the newly registered All Blending Party ABP, Archbishop Samson Benjamin, was introduced to members of the Nigerian community .
As if responding to Obasanjo’s letter, where the former president called for a coalition to come out and challenge the APC government, Benjamin told the diaspora :”no one party , no one man can solve the problem of Nigeria. That’s why ABP is an all inclusive party,” who “ wants to bring the young generation into the equation,” noting that “only less than 1000 people have been ruling the country,” since the return to democratic rule in 1999.
Benjamin, who had a few hours earlier, met with two British politicians – Lord Sheikh and Ash Zaman, MP, Member of Parliament , at the Milliband House, in Westminster, as part of his European consultation and to gather international support , said it was time the political elite who continue to ‘recycle’ themselves step aside and make way for a fresh blood ,whose age is less than Nigeria’s 58 years.
Although details of the meeting at Milliband House was not revealed to the media, but his aides – Martha and Dayo Adegbite – said he was consulting and already thinking of garnering international support for his bid. However, at the hotel where he was officially unveiled to the Nigerian community, the soft spoken 48-year old, Lagos- based, Benue –born, man of the cloth , told the audience that :”being a man of God does not mean one can’t be a politician.”
Benjamin, who spoke for around half an hour and had the about 30 members of the audience glued to their seats till just after 11.30pm – when the event finished – gave the rationale for throwing his hat into the empty ring , saying :” I’m doing this because Nigeria has a very bright future,” and also “because our best brains who have been drained out of the country due to lack of opportunities,” at home, need to return to their fatherland to contribute to the nation’s development.
He cited the example of the young lady who, a few years ago, broke the jinx at the University of Benin , by becoming the first first class graduate of the Law faculty, who is still unemployed till a few weeks ago when he spoke to her dad. This , he said, is despite the brilliant lady being awarded a scholarship to top up her degree with a Masters at Harvard University by the former Delta State governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan. He promised the audience that “If we win the election in 2019, we’ll tap into your brains, and won’t be like those who use you and dump you.”
Continuing, Benjamin said:” “If Nigeria must come out of its current state, it needs a selfless leader , someone who puts his country first,” like the founding fathers – such as the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikwe. Nigeria, he added, “has the capacity –and human capital – to become one of the best countries in the world. During the interactive session, he fielded a couple of questions, including on restructuring and the party’s ideology.
On the latter, Benjamin responded, noting that “ we have not practiced democracy in Nigeria, but a government of a few rich people, by a few rich people and for a few rich people.” As for restructuring, he said ABP – who already have structures in the six geo –political zones of the country since being registered alongside other 20 parties last month – “believes,” it is necessary. However, he was quick in pointing out that it is not just restructuring that the country needs, but amendment of various parts of the constitution as well. “ABP will look into restructuring carefully,” he added.
Responding to another question from an attendee, who is concerned about the dirty perception about politics. The Archbishop replied, arguing that :”you need clean people to come into politics to clean what you say is s dirty game . We need honest and sincere people to come and clean up the dirt .”