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How I Plan To Make Nigeria Work Again – And It’s No Joke – Tope Fasua

Tope Fasua, the founder of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) and one of the outliers in the forthcoming 2019 presidential race, did not mince his words in expressing utter disappointment with the present system and why he has thrown his hat in the ring

Tope Fasua/Photo Credit: Tope Fasua
Tope Fasua/Photo Credit: Tope Fasua

Tope Fasua, the founder of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) and one of the outliers in the forthcoming 2019 Nigeria Presidential race, did not mince his words in expressing utter disappointment with the present system and why he has thrown his hat in the ring.

Was your decision to contest presidency informed by disappointment in our leaders?

Certainly. But not only that. I did vote for Buhari in 2015. I thought he would live up to his reputation, which in my view is now a myth - all that talk of anti-corruption and discipline. None of that came.

I was shocked when he started out denying any and every of his campaign promises, including that he will declare his assets openly and cause his appointees to so do.

The brazen manner he and his team went about that left a scar in my heart. He showed quickly that he was just another oppressor.

Given the huge structure and financial muscles of the PDP and APC, many see next year's election as their game, dismissing vote for outliers like you as waste. Do you agree with that?

Unfortunately I have heard even supposedly well-educated people say such things. How can a vote be a waste, except it is not counted? The involvement of guys like me, is consequential and therapeutic.

Nigerians must begin to learn how great societies are built.  We must begin to learn that failure is a necessary part of success. As for those parties with financial muscle, people should find out how the muscles were obtained.

In the first place these parties were funded massively by the Nigerian state when they were formed. And now that they have consolidated themselves by sitting on society and milking it, new parties are given license but with zero funding.

"We are not providing what is called PUBLIC GOODS for our people. We allow them to live worse than wild animals. We should be taking 50-70 million people out of poverty."

Your party, ANRP, fielded candidates in two governorship elections - Osun and Ekiti State - since it was founded. And its performance in the elections was poor. Why? 

Tope Fasua/Photo Credit: Tope Fasua
Tope Fasua/Photo Credit: Tope Fasua

Ekiti was a peculiar case. We put in all we could muster. But in Ekiti, Election Day became a charade, a joke. I don't know what happened. We scored a mere 125 votes, but we scored the highest of all new parties in our category.

So, we forge on with great hope. As for Osun, we went in with faith. We didn't even do a tenth of what we did in Ekiti. Yet we scored 532, and more than any new party in our category too. Seriously. Please do the research. We came in at 17th out of 35 or so in Ekiti, but 19th out of 48 in Osun.

You are arguing for a N15 trillion national budget for Nigeria in 2019. How do you hope to practically fund such a budget?

"Unfortunately I have heard even supposedly well-educated people say such things. How can a vote be a waste, except it is not counted? The involvement of guys like me, is consequential and therapeutic. Nigerians must begin to learn how great societies are built."

We actually have the lowest budget to GDP ratio in the world. In the world I repeat. And that is quite an achievement. When Nigerians ask me how should it be funded I refer them back to my petition we where I listed six broad ideas for funding.

I will take the liberty and post the link to my petition again. I am even floating the petition on Change.org and over 3,000 would have signed by the time you publish this. Or even more.

Those who want to read details of that petition can check it on Linkedin. Those who want to support the petition can also do so on Change.org.

Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) ended up as a joke. Most of the candidates pulled out before it finally came up with Fela Durotoye as its candidate. Do you still see the possibility of outliers collapsing their support base to form one strong font to fight the presidential election beyond 2019?

Tope Fasua/Photo credit: Tope Fasua
Tope Fasua/Photo credit: Tope Fasua

It was an eye-opening experience. Nigerians should stop asking for a simple solution like 'we want only one person'.

The Nigerian crisis is not a simple one. If it was a mathematic question, it is not a linear equation, but a quadratic, trinomial equation with a couple of lemmas (unresolvable issues).

Given this, it is time for the Nigerian to wake up to this very difficult issue, not ask that they be served a la carte. Again we are faced with a situation where the average Nigeria expects all his problems to be solved by someone else, or by miracle. That window of opportunity has since closed.

What and how would you have done better if you are Nigeria's president?

Everything. The economy. It should grow at 15 per cent year on year. Youths should be engaged fruitfully in employment from the time they leave secondary school.

There are jobs even in the public sector - we employ only three per cent of the workforce in the public sector as against 17 per cent in the USA, 21 per cent in the UK, 35 per cent in Norway, 18 per cent in South Africa etc. This means we are not providing what is called PUBLIC GOODS for our people.

We allow them to live worse than wild animals. We should be taking 50-70million people out of poverty. An anti-poverty revolution is going on right now in India. China had its own years ago. China wants to eradicate poverty by next year.

But here our leaders are deaf, dumb and blind. I come with a difference. We will 'torpedo' this system.

You and other Nigerians have criticised the government for borrowing too much and plunging the country into huge debts. The government has insisted that it is borrowing for infrastructural development and not for recurrent expenditures. Do you agree with that narrative?

"The Nigerian crisis is not a simple one. If it was a mathematic question, it is not a linear equation, but a quadratic, trinomial equation with a couple of lemmas (unresolvable issues). Given this, it is time for the Nigerian to wake up to this very difficult issue, not ask that they be served a la carte."

Well, I believe even the IMF and World Bank has told them the same. There is no way we can sustain $76bn debts and growing. By this year end, our debts may have hit $85bn. What did Nigerians do to Buhari to deserve this?

If the debts hit $85billion this year, that means his government has added a clean $50bn in less than 4 years! Why oh why? So infrastructure is not an excuse. Bill Gates was here to tell them that their focus on infrastructure is wrong-headed. What more do they want to hear?

Fighting election is capital intensive. What are your plans to raise fund? Or are you relying on some money bags? 

I will use my savings. If friends assist I will also thank them and document. I don’t know any money bag. I don’t have any godfather except God the Father. Wherever my resources finish, I will roll my mat and go home.

On Election Day, what I get is what I get. As our people say on the streets 'I cannot come and go and kill myself.

"There are jobs even in the public sector - we employ only three per cent of the workforce in the public sector as against 17 per cent in the USA, 21 per cent in the UK, 35 per cent in Norway, 18 per cent in South Africa etc.

What do you say to those who still dismiss you as an inexperience politician - joker?

I ignore them. For those who take me serious, I give them red carpet. As for experience, maybe if they mean experience from other climes. But if it is Nigerian political experience, all they have done with it is learn how to steal. I am glad I did not have that experience.

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