Home People & Power CAA has come to rescue the nation – Ikeyina

CAA has come to rescue the nation – Ikeyina

Ahead of 2015 general elections, Social Democratic Party, Peoples Redemption Party, Fresh Democratic Party, Nigeria Advance Party, Peoples Salvation Party, Change Advocacy Party, United National Party for Development, Peoples Progressive Party and Action Party of Nigeria are forming a coalition Credible Alternative Alliance (CAA) to compete favourably, in this interview with  Ugo Amadi,  Senator Ebenezer Ikeyina talks about this group and other national issues.
Your party Social Democratic Party (SDP), recently formed a coalition, known as Credible Alternative Alliance (CAA), who are the people behind this coalition and what do they intend to achieve?
Thank you for that  important question because it is the defining essence of why we decided to come together. To be quite specific, a number of us who are boldly fed up with the slide in the fortunes of this great country Nigeria have decided to come together to rescue the country from the all time low it has fallen into. We are united by a common passion to arrest the decay and near collapse of values in the body polity. What we have in the country today is a crisis of leadership and we want to ensure that we get the leadership question right by promoting those  values that made us the envy of the world in the 60’s through to the 70’s. We pride ourselves in the fact that we have been there in the past having held various leadership positions and have come out untainted and unblemished. If you look at the quality of people behind CAA, you cannot but be impressed. These are gentlemen with distinctive attributes of honour, service, transparency and a keen sense of history. Chief Olu Falae, Balarabe Musa, Air-Vice Marshall Muktar and my humble self are the brains behind CAA. One common denominator that we all have is our integrity which has remained intact all through these years.
Would you kindly tell Nigerians, why they will go for CAA rather than already established parties like PDP and APC?
As the name implies, Credible Alternative Alliance, seeks to provide Nigerians a more credible alternative to the current sham political arrangement. We seek to elevate political discourse to move beyond mere rhetorics to providing solutions to the myriads of problems confronting us as nation. We will prove with our well thought put policies that leadership is about sacrifice and not the elevation of self above the common good. Our roadmap to the Nigerian renaissance will encompass an all round development anchored on security of lives and properties, zero tolerance for corruption, free education up to secondary school level for all, provision of functional primary health care, agricultural revolution, youth and women empowerment, massive infrastructural development and urban renewal programme, etc. In fact all that man needs from cradle to the grave. The current arrangement where you have two dominant parties that are clueless leaves much to be desired. After being in power for so long, the PDP government has worsened our situation as Nigeria continues to decline and regress on all developmental indices. It is indeed a shame. We cannot sit by and watch this country that we have invested so much to build to be destroyed by individuals who are already on the road to infamy.
What will make Nigerians believe that CAA, would not be the same as PDP and APC, if tomorrow the party is in position of power?
We are an assemblage of men with a very rich and distinguished pedigree. We have at one time or the other held national offices and we can beat our chest to say that we never had cause to cheat or be involved in corrupt practices. There is one thing you cannot take away from us and that is our integrity. Olu Falae was Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria and at another time Finance Minister but you cannot accuse him of corruptly enriching himself. He is today a poor struggling farmer. Alhaji Balarabe Musa was one time Governor of Kaduna State and he is also struggling financially. I was a Senator of the Federal Republic during the third republic and yet cannot be termed a money bag. Contrast this with our politicians of today even at the local government level. The level of corruption today and propensity to amass wealth is mindboggling. In addition given our ages, we are not interested in contesting for any elective position and so we do not seek power for the sake of placing ourselves above the common good. Rather, we want to bequeath to the youths a Nigeria of our dreams by promoting those values that make for the common good; values of sacrifice, service, patriotism, deferred gratification and a vision for the future. Today our body polity is afflicted with the following deadly sins: Politics without principles, education without character, wealth without work, commerce without morality, pleasure without conscience, religion without sacrifice, science without humanity.
We have sacrificed our yesterday for their today and we are willing to still sacrifice our today for their tomorrow. Our youths must wake up. This generation belongs to them. It was Frantz Fannon who said that every generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission; they either betray it or fulfil it.
How would you describe Jonathan’s administration, looking at the state of security, power, infrastructure, corruption, among others?
Let me start by acknowledging the fact that the Jonathan administration has made some modest progress in the area of infrastructural development, a whole lot needs to be done in this area. Again the appalling security situation predated his administration so; I will be less hard on him. Having said that, it is an incontrovertible fact that there is so much poverty in the land, so much so that many of our youths, who constitute over 60 per cent of our population, are unemployed. As the saying goes, an idle mind is the devils workshop. Perhaps more worrisome is the level of corruption which stinks to high heavens. It is no longer a secret that the dream of most young men going into politics is to amass wealth. We need a basic re-orientation of our values. How come we celebrate wealth so much in a country where over 70 per cent live below the poverty line? A lot needs to be done in creating employment for the youths especially, in agriculture by promoting the establishment of cottage industries on a massive scale. In addition, the power situation in the country remains a blight on our national development efforts as nothing can be achieved without adequate power supply. Does it surprise you that some imported goods are cheaper than our locally manufactured ones? This is because what others take for granted in other countries, we have to individually generate ourselves and subsequently pass on the cost to the consumers. How can a country develop this way? There is a lot more to be done.
You were a Senator, what will be your assessment of the Nigerian Senate; would you say there is improvement now than during the period you were in the upper house?
The hallowed chamber in my own time was a gathering of very patriotic Nigerians who had the interest of Nigeria at heart and I say this with every sense of responsibility and was not as money conscious as it is today. It should be borne in mind that the political dispensations under which we operated was different. So it would not be fair for me to pass any judgement. Having said that, I want to submit that given the resources available to the current senate, it would appear that they have sub-optimized and shifted their attention to more mundane things that do not have any meaningful impact on the lives of Nigerians. Efforts seem to be concentrated on allowing the party to continue without rocking the boat. If you look at the quality of discussions compared to the robust debates and what we were able to achieve during our own time, you feel sorry for this country.
How would CAA do things differently from other political parties?
Unlike the two dominant parties that do not have any ideological orientation, CAA is a social democratic movement that has man as its central concern. It is concerned with the totality of man’s needs, aspirations and fulfilment from the cradle to the grave. It is a platform that seeks to elevate the common good above base and primordial considerations. It is a movement that will help build bridges across the political, ethnic, and religious divides. CAA is a rallying point for all to realize their innate potentials as human beings and restore the dignity of man by pursuing policies that will benefit the greater number of people in the society. We will introduce social welfare schemes that will adequately cater for the poorest of the poor who are the most vulnerable members of our society. On no account must brilliant but indigent children not go to school on account of money. We will make man the centrepiece of all our activities.
Will CAA present any presidential candidate in 2015?
That is not impossibility, you can never say never. However, because of our desire to leave a lasting legacy for Nigerians, we are still shopping for men and women with the right kind of values and as soon as that happens, CAA will not hesitate to identify with such people in any capacity be it governorship or presidential elections.
We have had threats of hell being let loose should Jonathan contest, others say if he fails to win, looking at all of that, do you see a free fair and peaceful election in 2015?
Jonathan has every right to contest the presidential election because it is his right as an individual if he has met all the requirements for eligibility. We have not had a free and fair elections in the recent past and it is not a problem that is peculiar to Nigeria. It is part of the leadership malaise confronting us as a nation. However If the more recent gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States are anything to go by, we are beginning to see some semblance of sanity in our electoral process. One only hopes that the reforms currently going on will permeate our national consciousness. Whether the elections will be fair and peaceful depends on us as Nigerians. If we refuse to sell our birthrights and collective destiny for mere pottage and exercise our civic responsibility by voting the right people into power, there will be less acrimony and desperation among our politicians for elective offices. If truly people want to go and serve, the incentive for vying for offices will be to promote the collective good of all. But because our politicians have less than noble intentions, they steal, kill and destroy to get there. The ball is in our court and so whether the elections will be fair and peaceful depends entirely on us.

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