Dr. SKC Ogbonnia is the Chairman of First Texas Energy Corporation. Before then he had served in other leadership positions at First Texas Energy, including Executive Vice President.
An adjunct professor in the US where he has taught leadership in the universities and colleges, Ogbonnia who has also declared his intention to run for Nigerian presidency under the APC shares his plans with The Interview…
You have been a Buhari supporter since 2003. We also learnt that you supported him financially in the 2015 election. What is it that has changed that you want to contest against him in the forthcoming APC presidential election primaries?
Yes, President Muhammadu Buhari gained my attention with his War Against Indiscipline (WAI) during his military regime far back in 1984. I might also add that God intervened in Nigerian politics in 2015 by using the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Buhari to displace the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from power.
I am now contesting against Buhari because, by all indications, he no longer has the capacity to lead Nigeria. He has done his part by wrestling power from PDP. He will be pushing his luck too far by attempting to stay in a job he is not equipped to do. Besides, a combination of poor health, old age, shallow leadership intellect and bad advisory might have rendered his democratic regime ineffective. Nigerians want serious change, and I am the best hope moving forward.
What’s your honest and unbiased assessment of the Buhari-led government?
President Buhari came with good intentions, no doubt. Considering the fact that he inherited an empty treasury, especially at a time when the oil prices crashed, Buhari deserves commendation in some aspects. There are improvements on the war against corruption and Boko Haram. There are also some good results in economy diversification, particularly in the agricultural sector and technology. Made in Nigeria goods are gaining traction gradually.
But that is as far as the good news can go. I can do much better. With Nigerian’s overflowing human and natural resources, I know exactly what to do to make Nigeria of our founding dream.
In an interview published in Vangaurd, you said “Buhari naively replaced the brain trust that brought him to power with primitive loyalists who have no clue. To whom are you referring and are you one of them?
That is an interesting question. But let us not worry about me and focus on some of the patriots who were more visible in the campaign that displaced PDP from power. For instance, if Buhari truly knew how he got to Aso Rock, the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), Senator Shehu Sani, Dr. Pat Utomi, and some of our finest brains will be playing different roles today.
Do you then agree with first lady Aisha Buhari that a cabal has hijacked the presidency?
First Lady Aisha Buhari was forthright. An unpatriotic clique has taken over the presidency. They took advantage of Buhari’s lack of broad knowledge on democratic power and a failing health to make the president appear naïve in important national issues. Put it this way: The cabal has turned Buhari into an EXPO President. He now looks clueless by being overly dependent on ill-advised advisers, most of whose visions seem to originate from 15the century imams and native doctors. As such, the president looks and acts fake, always gambling on issues. Today, he is acting like fish out of water, saying whatever they pass along to see which one could stick. But the examiners, the Nigerian people, are not buying any of the jazz.
Do you also believe that there is no single redeeming feature in Buhari’s government and why?
Buhari himself remains a redeeming feature. The redemption can come, if the president can rise up to the occasion and recognize that the future of Nigeria lies on the younger generation, my generation, a generation that can provide what Ibrahim Babangida termed Digital Leadership. Said differently, President Muhammadu is still capable to know that it is time to go. Anything less is begging a perpetual consignment with the wrong side of the history.
Don’t you think you are a feather weight politician who should start from the grassroots rather than going straight for the highest office in the land?
Interesting! Feather-weight? Well, one can only see me as a feather weight or, more appropriately, a zero weight in corrupt practices. In fact, the only area my opponents have better experience is primitive accumulation of wealth, and I thank God for that distinction. But I am a heavy weight in where it matters. I am a heavy weight in global economy and leadership. I am a renowned world heavy weight within the international community. I am also world heavy weight in understanding the Nigerian problems and crafting the solutions. Within few months in office, the Nigerian masses will definitely recognize me as the heaviest of the weights in the history of Nigerian politics.
As for where to start, yes, I can relate to the notion behind starting at the grassroots, for example, governorship or the senate level. But the Nigerian problem is not with the grassroots. The problem lies squarely at the highest office in the land. The objective fact is that the Nigerian masses can no longer wait. People are dying in millions prematurely. Parents cannot feed their children or pay for their school fees. The quality of education as well as healthcare is nothing to write home about. The youths are being sold as slaves because of the situation in our country. So, my question is: how can they continue to wait where I have the air-tight solution to Nigeria’s myriad of problems? The logical answer to that question says it all.
How do you hope to defeat Buhari in the primaries?
I will defeat President Buhari fair and square, if he dares his luck and imitates Mugabe instead of Mandela. See, APC leaders are not fools. At the appropriate time, they will be abreast with true direction of the political pendulum. They will recognize that the masses do not want an analogue president any more. That is why the likes of ex-presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida are speaking out. Members of the party will soon follow.
Also consider that our internal polling already shows us beating Buhari by a good margin. Let me also add that the poll also informs us that the shift away from Buhari is not directly related to my candidacy. The data show that the major factor is that the Nigerian people want a new breed at the helm. You can test the validity with your own polling. Even the international community - including our allies - want change. So, how can APC dare present President Buhari if it knows that such attempt will amount to not only losing credibility around the world but also losing power back to PDP? Think of that!
Moreover, 2019 is not 2015. We allowed many things to slide by in 2015—just to ensure that the corrupt empire called PDP did not continue in power. This time around, APC is set to experience a real presidential primary as well as presidential election. APC can also understand that, as we saw in 2015, the youths will reject Cash ‘N’ Carry politics. They may take the money but they will vote their conscience. They want a Nigerian of the younger generation who is truly equipped to lead. Unlike in 2015, President Buhari will be compelled to debate other candidates face-to-face on Nigerian problems and solutions. The time for Expo candidacy is over. So, Buhari is my least worry.
Your APC has been the ruling and opposition party since it was voted by Nigerians in the last election, do you think that Nigerians will give your party another chance?
First of all, we have only two national parties with the structure to win the presidency in 2019: APC and PDP. If the truth is told, which I always tell, the worst of APC is by far better than the best of PDP. What can PDP tell Nigerians that it did with billions of dollars generated during the oil boom? Further, which candidate can emerge from PDP that is not virally corrupt? Let me know when you get the answer.
More relatively, Nigerians will realize it is not about party. They are already realizing that SKC Ogbonnia is not Muhammadu Buhari. I am a new breed with sound credentials and democratic ethos. I do not have any linkage with any corrupt cabal. I can provide detailed tax report on how I made my money, which none of my potential opponents from PDP can boast of. I am also very prepared to lead with step-by-step bullet-proof solutions to Nigeria’s problems. So, with me as the APC presidential candidate, the Nigerian masses will have hope again.
You said you have “a bullet-proof solution to the country’s problems”, what would you do differently if elected to lead Nigeria? And how do you hope to achieve them?
When elected, unlike any president before me, I can define leadership and know its true meaning. Read my new book, “Effective Leadership Formula”. So, unlike these other expo candidates, I have truly invested so much resources researching Nigeria’s leadership problem and proffering solutions. The fact that I know the true problem and the solutions already sets me apart. The main problem, of course, is lack of effective implementation of very sound policies. This lack of implementation is rooted in the fact that the past presidents were produced by Nigeria’s corrupt oligarchy.
Therefore, unlike any president before me, I will demonstrate leadership by example. I demonstrate serious consequences for bad behaviour. Individuals associated with corrupt cobweb will not serve in government from the executive, legislature and the judiciary. The separation of power thing has limitations in presidential politics. Leadership is all about influence. Thus, I am coming in to influence the efficient implementation of policies with accountable manner.
With such unique political will and pedigree, I will revolutionise the economy with the Nigerian youth and tested professionals. Unlike past presidents, I am prepared and know exactly what to do on day one. For instance, the equipment to elevate some of our hospitals to international standard will arrive the country within six months of assuming office. I have already identified a team of some of the finest Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora who are committed to lead the project. The quality of our education will return to world standard. Teachers will be paid well to focus on teaching and research. The solution to the epileptic electricity supply and fuel scarcity is in my palm. There will be no long grammar.
On corruption, I will lead an all-out war on corruption. Let that heavens fall. Every Nigerian electoral ward will feel the impact of EFCC. There will be no hiding place. Those who colluded to loot our common wealth will be exposed without minding whose ox is gored. Where there are no consequences for bad behaviour, the bad behaviour typically worsens.
What are the top priorities in your manifesto?
Best question! One big problem with our leadership is long grammar in name of manifesto. I have truly researched the Nigerian problems. As can be gleaned from my writings, the problem is not lack of human or natural resources. The problem is not lack of the funds. The problem is squarely lack of implementation of very good policies. I have already reviewed these policies and ready to tackle them from May 29, 2019. The top priorities will border on implementing very sound existing policies on energy, education, health, and steel. I will tweak the policies, where necessary. I will also account for where the past funds budgeted for the projects went.
The world will know what happened to the trillions sunk into money-spinners, such as the second River Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the never-ending Ajakuta Steel project, $7 billion Mambilla Power Plant, $1 billion Kashimbila dam, and the over $25 billion said to be invested in the power sector, different NDDC projects and defense contracts that usually end up in private bank accounts, to name just a few. I am coming in to do what Buhari was elected to do but was hijacked to look the other way. Again, when there are no consequences for bad behaviour, the bad behaviour typically worsens.
You are a business man in the oil industry, what practical solutions would you suggest to end fuel scarcity and refining oil products abroad which the present administration has not been able to solve?
The endemic fuel and electricity problems are due to lack of the political will to implement existing policies in clear and accountable manner. The objective fact is that effective implementation has been resisted because it is seen as a proxy attack on crony capitalism. So, the fuel and electricity thing are a minor problem to me. See my works: The Politics of Fuel Stares at Buhari” and “Nigeria’s Electricity Crisis Is A Failure In Leadership”. I know exactly what to do to provide steady fuel and electricity with one year of assuming office. Similar to my game plan on healthcare, I have already identified the teams and the funding to get these projects under way.
What do you consider as the three biggest challenges facing Nigeria presently and how would you tackle them?
There are only two main problems. The first is lack of serious consequences for bad behaviour. The second is lack of efficient implementation of some of the finest existing policies. Any one telling you something else is pure baloney.
What do you think of what everyone is now referring to former president Obasanjo’s ‘Third Force’?
I just addressed the issue about a week ago in the piece, “Obasanjo Follows Good Intentions With Bad Actions”. Dr. Obasanjo must be careful before the Third Force becomes a poisoned chalice. The Third Force is already taking the shape of a political party. Another strong party will weaken opposition and lead to ineffective leadership by consequence. The Third Force, therefore, should emerge and operate as change agents within the two major parties. Its goal should be to provoke power shift to the masses, including new breed politicians and the youth, who are not part and parcel of Nigeria’s corrupt oligarchy. So, there is nothing wrong with the parties. The problem are the people in the parties. Moreover, jumping from one party to another does not demonstrate good leadership. True leaders do not run away in midst of crisis; they stay to make things better.
Further, as noted in the piece, with exception of a pocket of individuals, the roll call at inauguration of the Third Force was nothing but a collection of some of the ageless corrupt politicians that combined to ruin Nigeria.
Therefore, while the idea of Third Force is commendable, such force should exist within the two major parties. It should be made up of new breed politicians, including the youth. In fact, I pray that, once I am nominated from the APC, the PDP will toe our line and nominate another patriot, a new breed from their party. But my fear is that PDP, as we know it, is in enmity with candidates that are not corrupt.
Do you consider his recent statement on Buhari’s administration as self-serving as some have termed it or a timely and appropriate intervention by a concerned statesman?
The open letter to President Buhari by former President Obasanjo was very patriotic and timely. Recall that Buhari himself hailed Obasanjo when the Ota farmer wrote a similar letter to then president Jonathan in 2015. So, why the double standard? Tell me…
What motivates you?
I have a messianic will to transform Nigeria to greatness. My life has never been about me. I am a people person. I will never be truly happy unless the Nigerian masses feel happy. They will be happy when I become president. Moreover, the world is ever at risk with primitive presidents. That explains the popularity of my candidacy within the international community. Given my background, I am seen as a figure that can elevate the entire black race to the desired pedestal.
What keeps you awake at night?
The plight of the ordinary people. I thank God that I am blessed as an individual. I have a beautiful family. We are generally very comfortable. Yet, I am very restless. Even when I am at parties, my mind is hardly there. I am always worried—worried about the Nigerian condition. I am worried that most of our leaders do not consider the fact that the bad condition in Nigeria has placed every Nigerian blood on the line. At your convenient time, go and read my works: “Every Nigerian Blood Is On The Line” or “Every Nigerian Life Matters”. I truly want to honour my mother’s simple wish: “Make Nigeria Look Like America”. Instead of the youths leaving Nigeria, youths from other nations will be coming to Nigeria. Instead of staying put outside the country, Nigerians in the Diaspora will see true reason to take their talents back home and contribute to national development.
How does your family see your decision to fully step into the murky waters of Nigerian politics?
Interesting question! My wife, Nneka, is a very private person and somewhat apolitical. As such, she was reluctant for the expectant exposure initially. But something dramatic happened: My mother, Deaconess Esther Oligwe Ogbonnia. My mother had resisted all my past entreaties for political office, but not this time. Once I consulted her, she prayed and fasted on my ambition. It was thereafter that she told me to go ahead—to go forth and “make Nigeria look like America”. There and then my wife bought in. My son, Anaeze, who is a premed student in a Texas university and also a reincarnate of my father, Chief Ilogebe Ogbonnia, weighed in. And the boy said, “Dad, that is a good idea. Your victory will make things better in Nigeria, so I can go back and become the best radiologist I can be” Today, my entire community of Ugbo in Awgu LGA, Enugu State, has also prayed together and asked God to make me president, so that I can capitalise on my people-driven values to take Nigeria to the promised land.