I want to leave a legacy and a foundation for the rise of the “New Nigeria”-2019 Presidential Hopeful Sam Okey Mbonu

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Sam Mbonu says it is time for a new Nigeria
Sam Mbonu says it is time for a new Nigeria

“If the corrupt politicians will set aside their greed, the people will drive Nigeria into the 21st-century,” says Sam Okey Mbonu as he touts his credentials in warm up to the 2019 presidential elections in Nigeria. The Nigerian born, Washington, DC, trained head of the Nigerian –American Council says doing nothing is not an option when inept leadership continues to plunge Nigeria into a spiral of economic stagnation, religious intolerance, and militancy. Interviewed in Washington, DC, by PAV, Sam Mbonu says the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under his administration.

Who is Sam Okey Mbonu and why is he in the race to be the next President of Nigeria?

Sam Mbonu:  I’m Nigerian-born, and a Washington DC-trained professional.  I attended American University Washington DC, as a Visiting Scholar, and received my JD in Law from the District of Columbia School of law.  Post law school, I worked briefly as Senior Advisor for a US Government Contractor, before being appointed “Commissioner, Housing Authority, PG, Maryland”.  At the end of my term in government, I leveraged my exposure to Housing policy, to enter the private sector; before shortly co-founding the think-tank NAL Council, whose focus was on US policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa policy.  I have since become a highly sought after expert, providing strategic advisory to US public and private institutions regarding Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Why are you in the race to be the next President of Nigeria and may we know the thought process that led to your decision?

Sam Mbonu:  Firstly, I’ve been preparing for this race for the past 8 years (may be longer).  There were times I contemplated just settling into a good life in the US and tuning out all the cacophony of strife in Nigeria; however, the whole world has progressively become one village, and what happens in one region affects other regions, whether it’s insecurity or public health issues. 

So I figured since the need for public service that will positively impact a greater number of people is greater in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria.  Therefore, I decided that I would follow my passion for human upliftment, and public service, to help lift Nigeria out of the chaos the leaders have foisted on the people. 

Secondly, the whole world has watched as Nigeria has descended hopelessly into strife, religious intolerance, militancy, and economic stagnation, which leads to a circle of arrested development; which was caused by recent incompetent leadership. 

It is my mission to prove that Nigeria can be salvaged.  I will do this by bringing my world-class credentials, experience in US public service, expertise in Sub-Saharan Africa matters and relationships in the US and around the world over the past 3 decades, to run Nigerian competently and move the country into the 21st Century.

What is your assessment of how Nigeria has fared under President Buhari?

Sam Mbonu:  Terrible, terrible, terrible!  I, like many other people in Nigeria’s 37th state-the Diaspora, had great hopes that President Buhari will not only stem the tide of corruption, which was already running rampant, but would also reposition the country for economic growth, through the roll-out of sufficient infrastructure, especially in Electric Energy among others.  However, what we and the world has seen is a nation that has slid so dangerously to the edge, that insecurity has returned to a full-blown nightmare, especially in Northeast, and Northcentral Nigeria.

Economic growth has been stifled by a lack of political will to deliver on the most basic engine of a modern society-Electric Energy!  You can imagine how many things grind to a stop when there is a weather related emergency that disrupts electricity in the US; now imagine that as an everyday occurrence in Nigeria.  Nigeria currently gets 4-5 hours of electricity every day, 365 days of the year.  Imagine how true business productivity is limited to only about 4 hours every day; machines stop running, food cannot be stored, traffic lights go out, heat stroke killing people, industries shutting down, vehicles and machines that cannot be serviced because power tools are down, etc.

My campaign has also determined that because President Buhari is unfortunately begotten by a corrupt process, by way of his close circle, whether he claims that he is not personally corrupt or not; however, being hamstrung by corrupt people makes him a “fruit of the poisonous tree” as it is called it in American jurisprudence.  He or she who eats of the “fruit of the poisonous tree” certainly will not be immune from the poison that the tree will offer. 

Therefore, the only option is to avoid that tree.  That’s why my government will be the government to bring the true change, because we are not tainted by affiliation to the poisonous tree.

His supporters say he inherited a mess and has made progress in fighting corruption they describe as rampant in the PDP days, what is your take?

Sam Mbonu:  We have not seen the progress, and the world has not seen the progress.  The 2 big parties in Nigeria have seen an exodus from one party to the other, depending on who’s in power.  He’s actually leaving the country worse than he found it.  The president is seriously hampered either by poor judgment, or incompetence, and the greatest thing is that he’s not sensitive to the plight of Nigerians, whether they are northerners or southerners.  The man does not care at all.  If he was a caring president, would he hold a party one day after 72 people were massacred in Benue?  Or would he go to a lavish wedding one day after another 100 teenage girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram?  Would his police chief attempt to disarm everyone, except the herdsmen of Nigeria who actually carry weapons openly in Nigeria?

For all its potential , endowed with tremendous human and natural resources, Nigeria remains  giant with clay feet, how does Sam Mbonu plan to turn things around, tell Nigerians why and how you can turn things around when many other leaders have been unable to do so?

Sam Mbonu:  That’s straightforward.  In my administration, most critical infrastructure projects, including electric energy, water, and internal security, will be brought into the presidency as special projects.  That way, I and my presidency personnel can oversee those projects myself.  I will be accountable for those projects if government overseers fall short by compromising at the expense of the people.  I will have the political will to do what is right.  I just want to leave a legacy and a foundation for the rise of the “New Nigeria”.  The old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration.

Let’s try to dwell on a few policy perspectives now if you don’t mind, how do you fight corruption differently from the PDP and now the APC has approached it?

Sam Mbonu:  That’s straightforward as well.  Those parties are hampered by the corruption baggage they already carry, they cannot offload the baggage even if they wanted to; because they are tainted, and tied in intricate ways to again the “poisonous tree”.  I am not tied to the poisonous tree, and I can walk past it.  I will have the political will to execute projects, without being hampered by ties to the “poisonous tree”.

Sam Mbonu was recently honored at an event at the “Airforce One Boardroom at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, USA
Sam Mbonu was recently honored at an event at the “Airforce One Boardroom at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, USA

The power crisis needs no introduction, how does The Mbonu Presidency address this, in case Nigerians were to give you the mandate?

Sam Mbonu:  The previous answer addresses this matter in part.  I will deliver electric energy via special projects that will be executed by the office of the president.  That way, I can be held accountable if I fail.

For all the talk from the APC, when they were in the opposition, and now in power, security remains a serious challenge with Boko Haram still running riot, in what way will you handle the crisis differently from the last two administrations?

Sam Mbonu:  There is no real political will to take out Boko Haram, because even the actual official campaign against Boko Haram gets embroiled in corruption.  I’m sure you are aware that each time the country is about to engage in election, the government seeks $1 or $2 billion USD in the guise of fighting BH, even though they are planning to use the money for political campaigns.  My administration will mop up Boko Haram for good.

Under what platform will you running for the elections and do you think is possible to break the hegemony of the APC and the PDP?

Sam Mbonu:  My campaign is in discussion with 5 different political parties at this time.  We will ultimately affiliate with the one that best suits our ideological bent.  The millions of Nigerian citizenry are so disenchanted with the APC or PDP that they cannot wait to throw them out at the ballot box.

Do you have faith in the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission –INEC to organize free and fair elections?

Sam Mbonu:  Elections have evolved in Nigeria and so INEC is not as bad as it used to be.  However, we have determined that we will deploy human and technological capacity to watch our votes.  Every INEC official in the entire 774 Local councils in Nigeria will be watched to a microscopic level, he or she who attempts to compromise our votes will have no place to hide, not under the ground, not in the skies; we will beam the eyes of the world on Nigeria, and there will be hell to pay.  A corrupt INEC official might as well commit suicide, because we won’t let them spend any monies or benefits derived from a compromised election.

We are doing this interview from the USA, what structures do you have on the ground in Nigeria as your work on this presidential run?

Sam Mbonu:  37 State offices are being rolled out; sub offices in 774 Local Councils will be rolled-out, in addition to whatever our chosen party has by way of structure.

In terms of cost, Presidential elections are no joke, where will the resources come from to sustain the campaign?

Sam Mbonu:  The campaigns will obviously cost in the $100’s of millions USD, we will find the resources, but the campaign will not necessarily be won by the candidate who spent the most money.  The richest candidate has never become the president of Nigeria.  It almost happened in 1992 when Abiola was running but that got scuttled.  The “will of the people” is an equation that is ultimately more fundamental than money.  We will win this election, whether we spend in the $100’s of millions USD or not.

with former President  Goodluck Jonathan at the US Congress,the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration,says Sam Mbonu
with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the US Congress,the old Nigeria where nothing gets done will be history under my administration,says Sam Mbonu

Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters who should be of the same generation like you has expressed interest to run as well, could the 2019 elections shape up as the revolt of the younger generation in Nigerian politics?

Sam Mbonu:  Maybe; I do not know Sowore personally, I only know of him as an Activist Journalist; his role as an activist has its place in any democracy, I welcome him to the race.  However, only one of us has the world-class credentials, to salvage the heart and soul of Africa’s largest democracy; and only one of us has been tested in public service, in the most rigorous democracy in the world, the United States of America. However, Omoyele Sowore has been a voice in rooting out corruption in Nigeria and it would be a shame to lose that independent voice, but, I enjoy competition. I believe, we see the issues in the same manner. I suspect we would agree on more things than we disagree upon.

Mr. Mbonu, one last question on the future of Nigeria as you see it, what gives you hope and what are your fears?

Sam Mbonu:  No fears, just the belief that the African giant will emerge under my administration to be a net contributor to the prosperity and security of Africa and the world at large.  That vision is as real as day follows night.  I have seen the light, and Nigeria is not going back to the darkness under me.  If we as Nigerians want to go back to the stone-age, then we will all have a say in the matter.  I assure you, we’re not going back to the stone-age.

Thanks for talking to Pan African Visions

Sam Mbonu:  You are welcome!!


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