By Ishola Balogun
When Rev Chris Okotie announced his candidacy for the presi
dency in 2002, not many took him seriously. He most probably knew it was not going to be easy but he was convinced that his quest for the exalted position was driven by a divine call to duty, to salvage his beloved country from the shackles of what he called â€œcorrupt and purposeless leadership of the ruling People Democratic Party, PDP.Â
The results of the 2003, and 2007 presidential election notwithstanding, he has continued to keep faith in that divine message hoping that most probably, the time has come.
At an elaborate press conference few days ago, he declared his intent to vie again for the third time to the office of the president.
He said â€œI am motivated by a patriotic zeal and love of my country to be at the vanguard of a much needed change to transform our nation into a viable, self accounting, representative democracy where everyone is free to enjoy the full dividend of democracy. Without any doubt, I remain fully persuaded that only the emergence of a credible, visionary and progressive government can usher in a new Nigeria of our dream.
And I am confident that I represent these ideals and, with my fresh agenda, we can create a new nation, a new Nigeria, which would take its rightful place in the comity of nations.Â I stand before Nigerians today to offer myself as a new man for the job. I represent a new beginning and a new hope for the good people of our great country.â€
Going by his antecedents, as a musician, a lawyer, and above all a clergy, who may not have the the polical experience and combat to match with norms of the game, some pundits have therefore continued to say his enlistment is more or less an experiment to fill a gap of the multitude of those who will remain aspirants to the office.Â He shoved it off as a weak and unintelligent argument pontificating on the manner to which God executes his plans on individuals and a nation.
For him, it was another step in a journey rich with historic possibilities and divine intervention.
Fielding questions from newsmen on a related question, he said, â€œthe difference between politics and leadership is that politics deals with the state while leadership deals with the people. He continued, â€œRev Okotie is going to be focussing on the people.
The people comes first.Â Our greatest wealth is not the natural resources that we have but the people of this great nation.Â Our problem in this nation is the PDP.Â The party is a conglomerate, a disjointed assemblage of men and women without identical philosophy and no ideological connectivity.â€
He reiterated that his call to duty is divine adding that there is no exact time given but he believes it is now.Â â€œIâ€™ve said this call is a divine mandate, it might take a while but when God says this is the time, everything will give way.Â This is our philosophy and our stronghold.â€
On whetherÂ God gave him the exact time this mandate will come to pass, the Fresh Democratic Party presidential aspirant went pedagogical saying, â€œYou see, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things you do not see. Unless you are able to understand the difference betweenÂ the concrete and the esoteric, you will not understand the language that I speak.
When God speaks, he does not give you a future, he gives you a now. So when I say the same thing, those who do not know might think it is going to manifest the next minute, it goes beyond that, it is a function ofÂ faith.Â Iâ€™m a teacher of the scripture, and I understand the language of the Bible and this is what the Lord said, that Iâ€™ll be.â€
On those traits he believes will endear the electorate, he said, Iâ€™m a Nigerian, a Christian, but what is important is my character and ability, do I have the intellectual capacity, what is it about Chris Okotie that will appeal to the electorate?
The two traits which I have and you will not find in PDP are honesty and compassion. And you see, Iâ€™ve not done anything other than my job on the pulpit.Â After every election, Iâ€™ve gone back to the pulpit. Iâ€™ve never been involved in any kind of coalition, because my principle cannot be compromised.â€
Speaking on the zoning system being canvassed by the ruling People Democratic Party, he said, â€œI think the Zoning system is a PDP aberration. It has nothing to do with FRESH Democratic Party I think we â€˜re seeing the last vestiges of these behemoths who have taken Nigerians to ransom. If the PDP is going to give Nigerians a new constitution through zoning, it is not acceptable but if they say they have their own constitution within their political party, to my mind, it has nothing to do with the Nigerian people.â€
On state of the nation, the Fresh Democratic Party aspirant said, â€œSince the PDP led Government rigged itself into power in 2004, we had expected that its much advertised 7-point Agenda would provide solutions to the nationâ€™s multifarious problems. Instead, the socio-economic and political situation has gone from bad to worse in every sector of our national life since the subversion of the popular will in the flawed elections of 2004. We could see for ourselves that the portend are indeed, frightening.â€
â€œThe crises in the power, Oil and Gas sectors remain unresolved with a noticeable deterioration of power output and aggravation of corrupt practices in the all important oil industry.
Today, the on-grid power generated is about 2/500 MW out of which about 2/000 M\N comes from Shell, AEI and Mobil, while the PHCN produces a paltry 500MW. The failure of the much touted National Integrated Power Project, NIPP, underscores the dilemma of a nation whose economy continues to run on generators.â€
He stated further that even if the entire NIPP is fully operational, which is highly unlikely before 2011, the total generation capacity is about 4/800 MW, a far cry from the estimated 10/000 to 15/000 MW needed to ensure adequate power supply in the interim.
He lamented that private individuals and corporate bodies using alternative energy sources like diesel-run generators, produce about 5000-6000 MW to keep their factories running and meet the power needs in private homes and institutions.Â This he said led to some blue chip companies and multinational corporations closing down daily and relocating to neighbouring West Africa countries where stable power is reasonably assured.
He said, â€œthis accounts for the growing unemployment and its by-product of diverse crimes, prostitution, drug trafficking, kidnapping, illegal migration and ethno religious unrest rocking the nation. Sadly, after almost 12 years of PDP government, Nigeria remains a mono-product economy.
We still depend mainly on oil for our national income, such that any slight slump in world oil market immediately impacts negatively on our national budgets and fiscal projections, leading to abandoned projects, delayed payments to contractors, late allocations to government agencies in all the three tiers of government.â€
He said he would not reveal his programmes for now, but reiterated that he has a solid manifesto and a young, vibrant team of patriotic Nigerians who are ready to give all to the country.