Fellow Nigerians, it is my pleasure to extend my very best wishes to all Nigerians as we stand on the threshold of a new beginning. Indeed, we are grateful to the Almighty God whose mercies have kept us alive up till this point into the new year.
It is that time of the year when we all look forward to the prospects of the new year with anxiety and trepidation. Indeed, the last 50 years of our national life have been such a tough and traumatic experience. But change is coming. Better days are ahead. This is a new beginning for us all and there is nothing to worry about if only we commit ourselves to taking the right steps towards giving credible direction to our nation. As we celebrate the dawn of the new year, our time has come to brace up collectively to deal with the mounting challenges of our nationhood. Our dear country Nigeria is in a terrible mess today because we allowed irresponsible people to take control of our lives. Nigerians must kill the demonic spirit of always doubting that great things can still happen in our country.
Nigerians must encourage, support and embrace fresh, young, able, accomplished and incorruptible leaders. It is not true that they are not available in a country of 150 million people. I have humbly offered myself as one such person out of millions of silent achievers out there. And together, we must march forward and not backwards. We must be prepared to declare a resounding NO to those who want to exhume the ghosts of our past by asking us to vote for those who have been tested but were found wanting through massive corruption, fraud and abuse of power. Nigerians must resist the return of dictators to power in democratic disguises. And for those who play the ethnic card, it must not be reduced to the issue of the zone you come from. Rather, you must be among the best, the brightest and most credible from that zone. Most nations of the world are going for their most vibrant, accomplished and distinguished citizens. So we must borrow a leaf from the rest of the world.
Nigerians must fully participate in the electoral process. That is the only way to halt this apparent drift to destruction and catastrophy. More than 80 percent of Nigerians belong to no political parties. In fact, they abhor politics and politicians with incredible disdain. But the less than 20 percent in politics have held us all to ransom for so long. It is only reasonable that we wriggle out of their evil fists. The only way is to register to vote, queue to vote and wait patiently to protect our votes. Let the super riggers then attempt to steal our votes and see if Nigeria will not go the way of Bosnia, Ghana, and such places where useless leaders were ruthlessly dealt with. Even a perfect gentleman like Daddy G O Pastor E. A. Adeboye has warned that his congregation must prepare to fight for their rights. Why waste over N100 billion on elections if the outcome has already been pre-determined by some agents of Lucifer?
Nigerians must shake off the attitude that they are powerless and can do nothing about their backward living conditions. I say with all confidence that we can expel the Emperors in our lives who see and treat us as slaves on their sugarcane plantations. We must ignore those who abused power in any form in the past. If you know good candidates willing to contest elections nationwide, please refer them immediately to Team Dele Momodu. We are currently building the largest network and database of exceptional Nigerians at all levels.
Under our government, corruption will be drastically reduced because I will not be corrupt myself. One of the ways to reduce corruption is to ensure that the citizens are not over-burdened with issues such as paying two years rent in advance, and paying cash down for their cars. One of the biggest reasons why people have to steal money in Nigeria today is that they have to spend what they don’t have. No man, no Nigerian can live on his salary. If you want to rent a house today in Nigeria you have to pay two or three years rent in advance, whereas in some other countries in Africa and the rest of the world, you can still pay on a monthly basis or pay every quarter. So if Nigerians are required to pay three years rent in advance, are they going to collect their salaries in advance? So there must be corruption somewhere. Every developed nation in the world has a credit system. We will encourage our banks to set up mortgage departments with attractive interests. This will reduce the pressure of looking for personal cash to build or rent homes. We must put an end to the present system that compels most Nigerians to live beyond what their incomes can cope with.
We shall go all out to fix our poor infrastructure, power, roads, transport, water, etc. Our task is to speedily rebuild our archaic infrastructure and modernise our cities and villages. Model townships will be built out of some existing suburbs as was done with Milton Keynes in England. Industrial estates must emerge as we find in parts of South Africa, and in Brimsdown in Enfield, England. Priority power-lines will run through those estates to reduce the atrocious budgets companies have to run on to generate their own power supply; the reason our manufacturers cannot compete against foreign imports. Once our cities begin to bubble with activities, jobs will be available for the locals and outsiders whose expertise are required. The solution to this is to maintain fiscal discipline. The culture of waste we currently experience must be reversed immediately. No politician would be allowed to earn the type of ridiculous salaries and allowances we read about these days. We shall spend our resources on the people and not a few greedy citizens. We shall mobilise our best brains from all over the world to support the difficult task of restoring our infrastructure to its original glory.
No nation has ever developed without paying special attention to the issue of food and shelter. Every human being must eat and find somewhere to lay his head. Agricultural Banks and Mortgage Banks will be fully supported and monitored by our government. We shall seek urgent alternatives to our over-dependence on oil for revenue. Agriculture is one of such potentials that must be pursued with sense of responsibility. Youth Corp members who show interest in agriculture will receive incentives that will enable them pursue agricultural investments on their own.
Education is one of our key priorities. A nation of illiterates will never make any progress. The people will never know and demand their rights. They will never find good employment or attain the competencies that can help them create employments. And even when they get the jobs, they will fail to deliver competently. We currently have double tragedies to tackle; the burden of unemployed youths as well as that of unemployable ones. Both must be vigorously handled if our nation must join the comity of other nations in their march towards socio-political and economic emancipation. It is not an impossible mission as we have found elsewhere. Our government will put a halt to the politicisation of education where irresponsible governments are building mushroom institutions instead of upgrading existing ones. All private institutions would have to justify their existence through a rigorous examination of their facilities. School fees would have to be standardised and categorised according to school grades. We have all it takes to fix most of our problems as long as we can block the drain-pipes that were installed by our politicians.
National security is of utmost importance. I must seize this opportunity to commiserate with the families of fellow Nigerians who lost their lives in the recent outbreak of violence in Jos as well as in other parts of Nigeria during the past week. No nation can be respected if it cannot defend itself against internal and external aggression. A situation where our air force cannot fly and our navy cannot sail will no longer be accepted. Our police will be powerfully equipped to deal with criminals no matter how influential. We will also embark on an extensive re-orientation process for the police in our quest to deal with the burden of corruption which has deeply affected the efficiency of the force.
Our government will not tolerate the filthy corruption that has reduced our armed forces to toothless bull-dogs. It shall be our priority to bring our military up to world standards. They will earn good salaries and carry modern weapons of war. A nation must be able to defend herself against both internal and external aggression. We will invest heavily in the secret service where people can pass on information and they cannot be detected.
I have worked in over 60 countries and I know that one of the reasons our economy is in tatters today is the fact that people find it hard trusting our businessmen. They believe we are fraudsters, but that is also the mistake of the government as we have seen in the recent past where the government sets fire to an entire village in an attempt to catch a few rats. There’s no way all of us will not suffer in that process. We must begin to respect industrious people in our nation. Because of our experience with the military, what we had in the past was for bullies to come to power and take on the businessmen. Our nation’s economy will remain comatose as long as our local industries and manufacturing sector remains in a state of total neglect by government. Most of our local industries have been crippled as a result of government’s inability to give incentives to them, since it’s cheaper to import from China or India. My administration will work out all necessary incentives to our businesses as well dealing with the infrastructural challenges they face. It is more expensive to produce locally and the number one problem is the issue of power. If you are going to set up even a printing press in Nigeria today, your first investment will be about 30 to 40 million naira on generating electricity. We will put an end to that. Tax reliefs and other exemptions would be offered to manufacturers of certain categories of products. A credit system will be speedily established to enable our banks offer facilities to deserving Nigerian businesses with particular interest on our SMEs. What is mostly required is the political will on the part of the leader to do that which is right.
On the issue of the Niger Delta, the problem of the South-South is not just about resource control. The problem is gross underdevelopment. The road from Port Harcourt to Bayelsa today is in an appalling condition. This is supposed to be one of the richest areas in the South-South and yet, the reality is that it is the poorest. The roads are very bad, the schools are bad, there’s no water and there’s no electricity. One of the things that we must do is clean up our environment. A visit to major cities in other oil-producing nations like Dubai where Nigerians all love to visit these days leaves you in amazement at how they turned Dubai, a desert, into a paradise on earth.
Fellow compatriots, I do not agree with people who say we don’t have the resources. We have the resources but it is just that the resources go to a few people and their cronies; the God-fathers. Everybody is fighting to be the chairman or MD of NDDC but they won’t tell us what they are going to do for their people. That is why Nigerians need a leader who has run his own business and understands the nature of business. In business, when you have a problem, you must tackle it head-on. In governance, what we do in Nigeria is to give palliatives; anytime the boys complain, our government takes ‘Ghana must go’ bags to them. That would never solve the problem. The issues are way beyond resource control. It’s about making sure that the resources of the people are used for the betterment of the people.
Sports and Entertainment will be aggressively encouraged by our government so as to take most of our youths away from the streets. Sports and Arts Academies will be established to nurture the natural talents of our young ones. We will catch them young and take them to the zenith of their career.
Foreign policy is one of my very serious areas, because fortunately for me I’m one of those Nigerians who have traversed the whole world and everywhere I go I try to visit our embassies and it is such a shame that they are not properly funded. There was a time the property we were occupying in Ghana was totally owned by Senegal. Nigeria can do better than that. I have interacted with some of the African leaders and everywhere I go what they tell me is, “Mr. Momodu if Nigeria gets it right all of us we will get it right.” We play Father Christmas to these nations but we don’t get anything out of it. America will never go anywhere, fight the war and walk away. Our objective is reciprocity. People must reciprocate our kind gestures. We can’t just be playing Father Christmas all over the place when our own people are suffering. I have visited our troops in my private capacity in Liberia and in Sierra Leone, and I was always very sad when they tell me how they’ve been abandoned in the bush. Nobody asks after their welfare. Some people collect contracts for their food, for their weapons but nobody talks to them to find out how they’re faring in those places. And because of my personal interaction with them I’ve been able to learn a lot about how our foreign policy has not been the best.
Details of our manifesto are being worked out at the moment. Our manifesto will be released to the public when we obtain our party ticket later in January, 2011. We must harmonise our programmes with that of the political party that offers us the platform to contest.
Fellow Nigerians, it was Abraham Lincoln who said: “I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” As we step into the new year, it is my conviction that we will put behind us the sad memories and experiences of the last 50 years and embrace the possibilities of a new hope and a new beginning. It is in that spirit of a new beginning that I welcome you to the new year and congratulate you for being such great citizens of our fatherland. God bless you and God bless Nigeria.