By Obinna Chima with Agency Report
A former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, Tuesday said he would still take another shot at the presidency, if the opportunity presented itself.
Duke spoke at a programme, “The Nigerian Symposium for Emerging Leaders,” held in Lagos.
He said though he once aspired to the position but did not emerge the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he would still contest for the highest office in the country at the appropriate time.
Duke explained that it was because of his preference for the presidency that he did not vie for any federal legislative seat after serving out his terms as governor.
“I do not have the flair for the legislature; standing up and sitting down at the chambers to raise a point. That was why I did not contest for the Senate but the presidency, after serving out my term as governor.
“I have contested the presidency before; I will still give it a shot when the opportunity presents itself. I believe I still have the energy in me,” he said.
The former governor canvassed for the reform of the country’s political system to accommodate wider participation and good governance.
He suggested the review of the electoral law to allow for independent candidacy.
Duke said the country’s democracy would fare better if young people, who form the larger portion of the population, took a more active part in its political process, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He said most developed countries have had young people as their leaders at one point or the other in their democratic history.
The former governor, however, said power was never given easily, urging young people to participate in the political process and use the prime of their lives to add value to the country.
“I want to urge young people in the country not to see leadership as if it belongs to some people and do nothing positive to be part of it.
“You can only make a difference in the prime of your life. You can actually add value now, not when you are above 50.
“So, you need to be part of the political process and play your part. It is your right to be there; nobody is doing you a favour.
“You represent more than 60 per cent of the population, you don’t have to beg for it.
“Just make the effort to make that change and contribute your quota to nation building,” he said.
Duke also took a swipe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying as president, the latter was disconnected from reality.
Citing Obasanjo as example, Duke said the former president was disconnected from the economic and political realities of the country.
This, he said, made him (Obasanjo) to appoint his peers as ministers and advisers.
“There is a disconnect among old people in government and the realities on the ground. Obasanjo, for example, was disconnected from reality.”
He said Nigerian youths must demand representation in government rather than begging to be included.
“We must demand answers from our leaders. It is important that leaders remain accountable to the people. There should be consequences for every action, but in our system that is not the case.
“Our leaders are protected by immunity which has done more harm than good,” he added.
Duke urged governments at all levels to be accountable and challenged the governed to demand more from their leaders.
Also speaking, former Anambra State governor Peter Obi decried the absence of transparency and accountability in government.
He said the situation was responsible for the level of corruption in the country and poor delivery of the dividends of democracy.
Obi said the way out of the quagmire was for leaders to carry the governed along in budgetary spending and plan for effective tracking.
“The way forward is that governments should make their budgets more explicit and they should be published. The plan and money to be spent on them should be clearly stated.
“That is when people can track and make comparative analyses with previous budgets and then we can achieve some transparency,” he said.
The former Anambra governor also asked Nigerians to show more interest in the budget so as to keep leaders on their toes.
Mr. Seun Onigbinde, Chief Executive Officer, BudgIT, an organisation with a focus on promoting accountability in public finances, further urged Nigerians to demand accountability from their governments.
He also called on governments at all levels to always carry the people along in their budgetary proposals and implementation to achieve accountability.