As the race towards 2023 enters a crucial bend, a former Presidential candidate and chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has cautioned that Nigeria’s problems require a fresh and patriotic perspective as we search for who leads the nation in the next presidential election.

In a release by his media office in Abuja on Wednesday, Olawepo-Hashim explained that national ailments such as insecurity, unemployment, poverty and infrastructural decay that constitute most important challenges confronting Nigeria, cannot be solved by politics as usual, but through fresh and critical thinking.

He maintained that the brand of politics without ideas that is centered on selfishness, propelled by greed, mediocrity and sycophancy must now give way, if Nigeria is to regain her greatness. He also argued that Nigeria’s politics must be rescued from the stranglehold of the corrupt and the inept whom have in the past twenty years developed audacity and sense of entitlement to rule.

In line with President Buhari’s remark in Abuja recently that ”there are  many among our elites for whom profit remains the only motivation for any and every enterprise”, Olawepo-Hashim added that “sadly, our politics has declined from one predominantly driven by public interests and developmental objectives in the First Republic, to one that is largely anchored around parochial and self-interests of political operators, and narrow interest groups, which has brought only backwardness to the people and disorderliness to our country, he said.

According to him, this year (2022 is the decision year, not 2023 when Nigerian voters will be filing out to elect their President, Senators, Representatives, Governors and Assembly members. “2022 is when flag bearers of political parties will emerge, and once that process is completed, it becomes easier to predict who will be what. 80% of the decision would already have been made.” he added.

Thirteen months to the Presidential election, not less than fifteen aspirants across various parties and geo-political zones, have directly or by proxy, signified their intentions to enter the ring for the 2023 presidential contest.

He lamented that despite the hype in the media, “the planning and permutations by the various power centres are not about national interest or development. “It is not about how to grow the economy and bring prosperity; not about how to secure the country; not about how to give jobs to the teeming youths, but how to grab power and then wonder how to rule later. In a democracy, elected officials should be servants of the people, not their overlords.”

Olawepo-Hashim therefore enjoined every adult Nigerian to stand up to be counted as 80 per cent of the decisions concerning the political future of Nigeria will be taken as parties head for their primaries. Nigerian elites, he said, must be more responsible, the middle class must be more transformative and move out of their comfort zone to be more empathetic and connect with the abject condition of down-trodden, who are over 60 per cent of the population.

He equally maintained that at this point in the nation’s history, “we need leaders not, rulers. We need patriots and national unifiers, not tribalists. We need modernisers, and not those who will take us deeper backward into darkness.

“Our ancestors built a democracy that in eleven years, became one of the best examples in Asia and Africa. My generation ended military rule that aborted the dream of our founding fathers of the first Republic. Therefore, we can also put an end to the reign of the political locusts that are making nonsense of our hard won democracy”.

While noting that we might not get flag bearers who are saints, Olawepo-Hashim counselled that “we can at least, insist that politicians with proven records of corruption cannot lead us. We can also insist that politicians who see themselves as our emperors, and the rest of us as their vassals, will further endanger our democracy. We must insist that we are citizens not subjects”.

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