Former lawmaker and Chairman of one of the newly- registered political parties, National Rescue Movement (NRM), Senator Saidu Mohammed Dansadau has lashed out at Nigeria’s senior politicians for being responsible for most of the country’s woes. In an interview with DAILY ASSET editors in Abuja, he explained that the National Rescue Movement was registered to chase elderly people from governance for the younger generation. Excerpts:
How would you describe your experience in politics?
I served in the Senate from 1999 – 2007. Back in the Second Republic in the 1980s, I was elected state Publicity Secretary of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), and in November 1982, I was elected State Secretary of the NPN before the coup d’état of December 31, 1983.
I am the National Chairman of National Rescue Movement (NRM) and under my humble leadership, the party has been put in place in collaboration with some patriotic Nigerians who are sincerely concerned with the state of affairs in Nigeria today; who are worried and disturbed about the level of unemployment in Nigeria.
The level of poverty; the level of insecurity as a result of which we came together and decided to give Nigeria and Nigerians for once, a party with ideology that will recruit those patriotic Nigerians who are committed, and resolute in serving this country in order to overcome those economic and socio-political challenges that have bedeviled this country for so long.
The essence of the formation of this political party (NRM), was driven by the concern that if people of goodwill refuse or fail to come together, and participate in politics in order to decide good governance in this country, nobody can guarantee the fate of this country.
We feel that it is a shame on our part, as Nigerian politicians, and for the first time in political history of this country that we have opportunity of civilian rule for uninterrupted consecutive 19 to 20 years; that Nigeria has generated revenue that it never had since independence, yet the nation remains grossly underdeveloped. Instead of taking Nigeria to the next level, instead of growing Nigeria’s economy, so that it would be on track in catching up with its peers in Africa and other parts of the world, we have been drifting, election after election.
So, in what area does the National Rescue Movement claim to have solution to these problems?
That’s why I have said we have given Nigeria a party with ideology. A party that will be committed to the rule of law; a party that will be resolute in ameliorating the social vices that appear to defy solutions of this country.
For us in NRM, all these socio economic and socio political challenges are surmountable. All it requires is to get people of goodwill and those with fear of God. People who see political power as a means of serving God and humanity. Today, at the helm of affairs, governance in this country, Nigerians should be rest assured that all these would become history. But the very interesting thing that Nigerians need to know at this point in time is that National Rescue Movement is quite distinct in all party ideologies, not only among newly -registered political parties, but among old political parties as well.
What makes the National Rescue Movement distinct?
One, we are set and we have planned to change approach to governance and more importantly, leadership recruitment in Nigeria polity.
In this party, there will be no godfatherism. The godfather of anybody who wants to stand election on NRM platform is his credibility, honesty, his fear of God and his acceptability by his people. That is the asset and money for anybody to get NRM ticket. Anything short of that cannot secure any Nigerian at any level ticket under NRM.
The national election is barely one year away. As a new party, how does it intend to warm its way into the minds of Nigeria electorate?
Honestly speaking, and like philosophers would say that truth is universal; good too is universal. Anything that is good is known. Anything that is truthful is also known. One may decide to reject it, but you know that it is good. The policies of the party that we have put in place and guidelines for leadership recruitment are our strongest instrument that will endear us to Nigerians within a short time.
It’s also up to Nigeria media without which nobody will know what is happening to publicize our programme. Through the cooperation of Nigeria media, we will pass across what we have packaged in this party for Nigerians that is quite distinct and unprecedented in the political history of this country.
What will endear us to Nigerians is what will make them accept this political party. Just last Monday, we introduced this party to Nigerians, and since then we have been inundated with calls from across the country. There are calls from states that they are identifying with us. People are now saying they have seen alternative party to contest elections. That’s our catch.
As far as we are concerned, one year to the presidential election is quite adequate for us to propagate our ideals and to enlighten the Nigeria people. Nigerians are politically enlightened.
In fact, you don’t need to enlighten them with regards to electing credible people. This is because Nigerians have learnt lessons in a very hard way. Nigerian voter today is desperately looking for credible people. Part of our approach which is novel is about convention of Nigeria politicians. Nigeria constitution has given Nigerians opportunity to belong to any political party of their choice. If anybody want to join NRM, he is welcome.
From the convention of Nigerians, only the negligible few have been acknowledged to be truthful and patriotic and committed. These are those that could secure NRM ticket to contest elections at all levels of governance. You know such credible politicians are few. There are within the range of 10 – 15%.
Apart from politicians, what are the categories of people this party might be looking out for?
They’re the religious leaders. I have spoken with quite a number of them that time has passed when politicians would come to you to say, pray for us so that we can win elections. What religious leaders should do is to be part and parcel of governance. We are not saying John Cardinal Onaiyekun should come and contest elections. We are not saying the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) should contest elections or the Sultan of Sokoto should do likewise. What we are saying is that they should bring their disciples, their children, their Church or mosque members to contest elections.
Those people that are credible, that are trusted should be encouraged by their spiritual leaders to contest elections in Nigeria.
Such people are available all over the country and they don’t have the kind of money we are saying to contest elections in APC or PDP. NRM is the alternative for them. The money they would use is their credibility.
Our next port of call is Nigerian professionals, Nigeria Economic Summit group, Nigeria Society of Engineers, Nigeria Bar Association, Nigeria Medical Association, name them. We would consult retired and serving professionals to get involved because we have seen that Nigerian politicians have failed. All hands must be on deck in order to rescue this country from hands of those who perpetrated atrocities against the nation in the name of politics and rendered majority of Nigerians poor.
Our next port of call is Nigeria Trade Unions, Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Staff Union of Nigeria Universities, youth groups and women society.
The youth should come forward. We want to groom our youth groups so that they could take the destiny of this country in their hands. Time has passed when it is said youths are the leaders of tomorrow. When will that happen? Somebody at the age of 80 or 70 said, he is contesting election, when will our children and grandchildren have opportunity? The youth should come forward.
In NRM, most of our governorship candidates in the next election will be between 35 to 45 years of age. These our policies and plans because we want to bring them forward so that parents will be at the background to guide them. If those of us at the age of 60 and above have been governing this country since independence and the state of the nation today is all that we can offer, then, we must admit that we have messed up this country. In that case, what do we do? We should give opportunities to the younger generation and that is what NRM was set to do.