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Nigeria dealing with challenges and reaching new heights

Interview - October 23, 2012
As the country continues to strive towards its Vision 2020 goal, the PDP is now looking to education as an important vehicle to drive the African state into the future.
Real GDP growth in Nigeria is expected to average 6.5% annually. Despite the global economic downturn, Nigeria is back on the right track and inviting the international community. President Goodluck Jonathan, former British Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair, former US Secretary of State Ms. Condoleezza Rice, and you, all concurred in saying that Nigeria will not fail. However despite Nigeria’s economic successes, only the country’s challenges – corruption, the Niger Delta crisis, Boko Haram, etc. – seem to reach the ears of the international community, creating a distorted perception. What is being done by PDP to address these ongoing challenges, and ensure that Nigeria’s presence in the international community is known for the right reasons?

Thank you. The greater the opportunity, the greater the challenges. Corruption and conflict hardly occur where people don’t have the opportunities that they believe they should exploit. What should happen in Nigeria in order to rise above those challenges and overcome them – which is what we’re doing – is to work on what Mr. Blair and Ms. Rice, and I concur that Nigeria will never fail. Not only that, Nigeria is on the ascendency. It is the last frontier of African dynamism on the continent. We are looking to be on the Security Council. In order to do so we must conquer the challenges that you just mentioned.

Nigeria is certainly on the rise, and in fact, Nigerians have trusted the PDP to rule the country since 1999. During this period of hegemony, Nigeria has seen golden years of development, being closer than ever to Vision 2020. The country has also established itself as a significant player in the global arena. How do you see PDP as one of the key institutions enabling Nigeria towards the ambitious goals of Vision 2020?

The PDP was founded on the philosophy of inclusiveness, meaning that everybody is a stakeholder, from the family, to the community, to the nation itself. That is one of the reasons why PDP represents acceptability. Of course there are always challenges, people compete, and try to find the best. We like that competition with other parties, because it gives us the opportunity to show that we can do better. If you are not challenged, you don’t know how far you can jump.

In your speech opening the Third Nigerian Investment Summit in NY recently, you said that Nigeria will not fail. The African Business Roundtable is ready to help the country look attractive to foreign investors who will come to do business. In an international context the German economy is characterised by sustainability. Despite the latest global economic downturn, Germany is backing up the entire European Union and is still the third-largest economy in the world. Is sustainable development a priority in vision for Nigeria? What synergies can be formulated with Germany in this regard, bearing in mind that Germany is a leader in technology and knowhow?

The German philosophy of “mentoring”; one great asset that Germany has is the trained capacity of its people, right from the lowest level, and helping them understand what they do and how they can do it better. This is what PDP really wants to achieve here in Nigeria. We believe that it is not an individual target. We want to target an institution, build it up, make it strong, and embody a sustainable philosophy that is ready to build capacity. Today Germany is lending money to the whole of Europe to survive, but after 1945, Germany had nothing. That is thanks to their determination, and we want to do the same here in Nigeria.

One of the most important spokespersons for Nigeria, both domestically and in the international community, is a businessman, politician, elder statesmen, entrepreneur, and an ambassador; an amorous husband and devoted father, with a truly impressive record of accomplishments spread throughout different sectors in business and politics, in Nigeria and across the African continent. This is you sir. If you could make one change that would transform Nigeria into a better country, what would that change be?

I would like to educate Nigeria. If Nigeria is educated, then we will understand all of the elements, and avoid conflict. That will bring development, technology, and all the rest. The fundamental thing for a human being is education. If we can educate people from a young age, they will continue developing their appetite to learn more and more and more. Learning is from the cradle to the grave. If we continue learning, we will continue doing things. If there is anything I want to do, it is to make sure that Nigeria is educated. Then all the rest will follow because there is this single necessary element, whether you’re working in land, water, energy, or the environment.