Dr Mike Omotosho was the governorship candidate of Labour Party (LP) during the 2015 general elections in Kwara State. He was recently elected as the National Chairman of the party. He spoke with journalists in Ilorin on a wide range of issues. Hammed Shittu was there
War against Corruption Will Succeed When Government is Able to Provide Basic Needs
What is your view on the anti-corruption fight of the present administration?
The current administration’s fight against corruption is a step in the right direction except that more needs to be done. Corruption cannot be fought without an effective judicial system; consequences must be enforced irrespective of social class and party affiliations. Additionally, another way of fighting corruption is to provide safety nets for the people, by this I mean the issues pertaining to insecurity, as it relates to poverty, unemployment and provision of other social welfare. These safety nets will assure the citizens of a better life and can guard against corruption that stems from frustration and fear. Then, the fight against corruption will make a meaningful impact.
What do you think can make the fight against corruption?
The fight against corruption will achieve significant outcomes when the government is able to provide the basic needs of the people. People will refrain from corrupt practices if their future is secure. Imagine knowing that your children will attend school, have access to adequate healthcare, can afford to be fed tolerably and you can commute as required, the tendency for you to engage in corrupt practices will be drastically reduced if not eliminated. The government must, therefore strengthen our institutions and provide safety nets for the welfare of the citizens.
Do you think the economic hardship faced by Nigerians is avoidable?
At the presentation of the 2017 budget to the National Assembly in May last year, the President named it a budget of economic recovery and growth, which was meant to help the nation recover from the economic crisis and engender growth in critical sectors of the nation. He listed some of the priority areas as agriculture and food security, Industrialisation and SME development, macro and micro economic stability, energy sufficiency in the power and petroleum sector, as well as transportation. A critical look at these areas shows that a lot of progress is yet to be made and execution of government’s agenda has largely fallen below expectation. The road to recovery may be long, but there is always a way out, individual States in Nigeria must begin to seek ways to generate revenue innovatively, civil service reforms, building the middle class, ease of doing business, etc.
Recently, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics claimed that the country is out of recession what is your view?
Our economy is still in a dire state, despite exiting recession by 0.05 percent is a few months ago, and the relative stability of our naira to the dollar. The microeconomic and real sector is yet to feel the impact of the acclaimed improved Macroeconomic situation. Many businesses are still closed and more are closing, with many workers rendered jobless. The unemployment rate is high, and money has reduced in circulation. Many believe that the proffered economic solutions are mere rhetoric that may not be capable of revamping the economy. I must, however, congratulate the government on moving Nigeria 24 steps to 145th position for the ease of doing business, these reforms will definitely add to the ripple effect of development.
What efforts are you making to reposition the Labour Party ahead of the next general election?
We are restructuring the Labour Party in a number of ways but I will share the three most important. First; We are relaying our foundation at state, local government and ward levels, Competent men and women of impeccable character are being elected into leadership positions and are taking up selfless responsibilities to build excellent structures that will win elections. Secondly, a technical working committee is about to unveil a more robust, responsible and revolutionary manifesto that will strategically drive sustainable development in Nigeria and clearly define the hopes and aspirations of every Nigerian. This will serve as our blueprint. Lastly, The Labour party has initiated a unique membership drive, a campaign to draft like-minded Nigerians that are tired of the mediocrity and degeneracy of the state of affairs in Nigeria to build a party for the people to ‘stop the mess’. Nigeria is a country that is blessed with intelligent minds and hard-working populace, we are pacesetters and innovators, Therefore, there is no reason why Nigeria should be tagged a third world country.
What are the current challenges of the party?
I am glad you use the word challenge and not problem. The challenge the Labour Party has had in the past is a lack of enforceable party ethics. Under this new administration, our aim is to build a strong membership commitment that will drive party strategy rather than individual agenda. Defectors from other parties seeking a platform for temporary gain will no longer use our party because party loyalty is critical for creating the revolution we desire. Presently, another challenge we plan to take head-on, although not unique to the Labour Party, is the increasing sense of anxiety and hopelessness of Nigerians in the multiparty system. We shall restore the hope and confidence of every Nigerian again.
What are the chances of LP in 2019 general elections?
There is a popular saying that ‘we cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.’ It is crystal clear to Nigerians that the two big political parties have performed abysmally below expectation. Even though we term them as ‘big’ they lack strategy and structure to govern, based on principles but rather on personal ideologies. This is where the Labour Party differs from the norm. We are competitively positioned as a party where party principles supersede individual beliefs, and where it is imperative for us to build strong sustainable institutions that are uniform across the board. So, 2019 looks good for the Labour Party because Nigerians are ready for an intelligent intervention. So, for those that are ready to walk the talk, young, middle-aged or old, male or female, the Labour Party is where you will be given a seat at the table.
What’s the plan of LP to get the country out of the present economic challenges?
I have always noted that the challenges of the country, including our economic challenges, stem from lack of good, visionary, proactive leadership with innovative ideas to harness the abundant human and material resources already available to confront our economic challenges. Labour Party will look for such men and women both home-grown and in the diaspora, bring them on board and harness the vast potentials of the country. It is time to begin to put round pegs in round holes and explore the creativity of youths. The over-dependence on oil must stop.