Editor’s note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, makes a case for a Donald Duke presidency. She points out that beyond his good looks; he has a track record - stemming from his tenure as Cross River governor - that makes him an excellent choice for president in 2019.
There are not many times that I get excited about events in the Nigerian political scene. This is because we live in a country crowded with uninspiring, self-serving, largely unintelligent politicians running our affairs; people who win seats not based on the will of the people, but via back-door maneuverings; people who are usually unprepared for office; who, to a large extent, make no tangible positive contributions to the political space.
However, there does come a once-in-a-lifetime kind of politician who appears on the scene, and brings in a true breath of fresh air. We had that in Lagos with the Fashola governorship – eight years of great governance, inspiring leadership, tax rejuvenation, infrastructural development and environmental-friendly ventures. Thankfully, Ambode is also continuing in that light.
And then, Cross Riverians also had a similar experience of outstanding leadership with the Donald Duke administration; and Nigerians may just have a chance to experience that, on a national scale, if the former Cross River governor is propelled into the highest office in the land in 2019.
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On Saturday, June 9, Donald Duke finally announced that he would contest for the 2019 presidential election, and my heart literally leaped with joy.
There are so many things about the man, Duke, that gives one hope for the future; and they are not just based on his looks and charming personality.
Yes; even though the man has a face fit for the big screen, there is more to Donald Duke than just his physical features. And this is important because as our people say: “last last, no be fine face person go chop”!
So, what else does Duke have to offer? I’ll tell you.
In Donald Duke, Nigerians have a chance to be led by a young vibrant mind that recognizes the need to adapt with the times we live in, and the country’s current demographic. Duke recognizes that Nigeria is a nation of predominantly young people who aspire for a better life, and are yearning for the tools and opportunities to make their dreams come true.
In that regard, he also recognizes the immense importance of education as a pathway to a better future, and a need to improve the educational sector and make it more competitive. And that was evident in the exasperation he expressed recently.
In his words: "Look at the state of education. The state of education today is a far cry from what I received…We had good schools here that could compete with schools anywhere in the world!”
And when Donald Duke speaks, he is not just belting out the usual talking points, but speaking from a place of experience…experience based on his track record.
As governor of Cross River, Donald Duke put in place, a free primary education scheme which printed out and distributed text books to students. His administration also recognized the value of teachers in national development; and created tax-exemption packages for them, as well as difficult station allowances and mobility allowances.
Duke’s economic blue print was modeled on a ‘sound mind, healthy body’; recognizing that if government provides education, training and infrastructure for the people and keeps them healthy, they will become economically productive.
People say that Nigerian leaders have a problem with saving; but Duke began setting aside N50 million every month, for emergencies - a practice which he passed on to his successor.
As governor, Duke was particular about the health situation in the state. When he came into office in 1999, the state had one of the highest HIV/AIDS sero-prevalence rates in the country; but by 2005, he ensured that it dropped to 6 percent. He did this by launching a massive re-orientation programme and improving healthcare delivery.
Talking about Duke’s achievements in Cross-River usually makes one sound like a broken record; but that’s because the man truly made a change.
Today, everyone wants to go to Tinapa and the Obudu cattle ranch; but it took Duke’s vision to birth these tourist attractions.
Speaking about both ventures, Duke once stated: “The living conditions of a people will never improve until leaders learn to create huge dreams and gigantic activities that would ultimately generate jobs and opportunities.”
Nigeria has consistently been led by people with no track record of spectacular performance in public service; and that model has not helped us.
In 2019, we have a chance to get it right; to move beyond sentiments and elect into office, a person who is truly prepared…I believe Donald Duke is prepared.
I believe he is prepared for the task and prepared for the times…with an awareness that this would be no easy feat.
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In my opinion, Duke will also be a worthy ambassador of the nation, and would improve its battered image on the global scene.
I will conclude by saying this: There are many who want the number one seat in 2019. We cannot always be sure of people’s motives or what they would transform into, once they get elected. However, if we say it’s quite possible to foresee a man’s future by the decisions of his past, then I would hedge my bet with Duke.
Beyond the good looks, fluent speech and boyish charm, the man has a track record that speaks volumes…positively!
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
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