Why I want Buhari's job in 2023 – Moses Ayom – Daily Sun
By Fred Itua ,Abuja
Moses Chiahemba Ayom is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The 53-year-old businessman has interests that span real estate, hospitality, mining, construction, and interior systems. The Benue-born business magnate, recently struck a strategic partnership with SBM China Ltd to establish Africa’s largest mining processing plant to be located in Abuja.
Ayom in this interview speaks on his interest in running for the presidency of Nigeria in 2023. Excerpt:
Different regions are making a strong case for the presidency in 2023. Do you think the Middle Belt will have a chance?
Former President Shehu Shagari had it in the North, it went to the South to Obasanjo, and from the South it went back to Umaru Yar’Adua in the North. It went to Jonathan again in the South and Jonathan gave it to the North again. Now, there is tension in the country because the South is agitating that it is their turn. And as all these are happening, the Middle Belt is there, which has not had a taste of the presidency since democracy began in Nigeria. They keep passing the presidency over the head of the Middle Belt. There are reasons it should be the turn of the MiddlebBelt. For a long time, the Middle Belt has been the stabilizing factor in Nigeria . So, I believe that for justice, and fairness, it should be the turn of the Middle Belt. In terms of food security, it is the Middle Belt that has been feeding this country. In terms of mining, Middle Belt has been the biggest player. But beyond that, we are saying that we have people who have capacity, competence. In terms of the economy, Middle Belt people are saying that we have experienced and knowledgeable people who can manage the economy even better. We also have people with pedigree. It is time to have a leader with high level of moral stuff.
You talked about justice not having been done because the Middle Belt has not been given a chance to produce the president. What do you mean?
Like I said, there is a limit to which you can keep people in the sun. People say that even thought a goat doesn’t bite, if you push it too much, it will bite you. It might not happen now, but I am saying that this time is the best to allow Middle Belt to rule this country. If this is done, there will be a lot of peace. The other time, train was attacked in Kaduna; there are lots of threats to peace in Kogi and all that. The message we are preaching is that we should promote a sense of belonging for Middle Belt people by giving them this opportunity. We have done a lot for this country. So, it a time bomb if we keep dribbling the Middle Belt. In short continuously ignoring the Middle Belt is a time bomb.
You’re already a successful businessman. Why would you want to join the murky waters of politics?
First, I am a strong believer in the Nigerian project, the massive potential for wealth and growth that it holds not only for the privileged few, who despite systemic inefficiencies have thrived and succeeded, but for every hardworking Nigerian who is ready to be the best that he can be. I am also a firm believer in shared prosperity and a better life for all. So, for me it is not enough that I am stable and can take care of myself and my family and those closest to me. It is also not enough that I have through my philanthropic efforts sponsored the education of over 300 Nigerians to university level, organised annual health outreach for rural women and children for treatment of water-borne diseases and other self-powered development initiatives. All these are limited in scale and impact. And that is why politics, despite its many issues, remains for me the most potent platform for the mobilisation and allocation of resources that would foster widespread development that impacts my brothers and sisters all over Nigeria. Besides, the best way to change the system is to get involved and I am happy to have made that decision. The fact that Nigeria has all the natural and human resources that we, politicians, and leaders, can tap to build a country that guarantees a decent life for everyone, lead Africa and play in the top league of advanced world economies is well known. What we need is that visionary spark and sustained progressive leadership that will guide Nigeria to make that robust transition from our much-celebrated potential to the reality of being a great and prosperous country that is the pride of its citizens, a role model for Africa and the appeal of western countries. Muhammadu Buhari has laid a solid foundation in this regard, and I commend him for that. Since 2015, we have witnessed a strong focus on infrastructural rollout. This is key to catalysing economic growth and prosperity for the country. From massive investments in railway networks, roads, bridges, power and technology. These historic investments need to be sustained, consolidated, and built upon when he eventually wraps up his call to duty in 2023. As someone that shares in the Buhari vision for an economically vibrant Nigeria that is powered by a robust infrastructure that encourages manufacturing to grow, small and medium scale businesses to thrive and enterpreneurs to scale their operations, I believe that I would be best suited to succeed him in 2023.
What is the unique selling point you’re bringing to the table if given a chance to lead the country?
As an entrepreneur, global businessman and an active participant in Nigeria’s politics, I am clear about the challenges that have held us down as a country over the past several years. Inadequate and epileptic power supply, poor manufacturing base, bad roads, poor healthcare, weak educational system, lack of a social welfare system to take care of the poor and underprivileged and dependence on foreign imports for basically all our domestic needs, among others. The latest additions to these problems are the issues of insecurity. Since 2011, the Nigeria security landscape has been shaped by the war against Boko Haram terrorist group in the northern states in addition to increased cases of banditry and kidnappings in the Northwest and continued unrest in the Southeast resulting from separatist agitations. All these problems are related and a direct consequence of the priorities and competences of the various governments that have led Nigeria over the years. But they are not insurmountable. I am very clear on the solutions, measures, and strategies that we need to take to overcome those challenges and achieve greatness for the collective good of all, not just a few. Like I said before, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has made significant improvements at many key levels. Whoever succeeds him in 2023 must take a cue from him, set the right tone, and sends the right messages. Creating international development partnerships is key to ensuring a better future for Nigeria. Nigeria must leverage its relationship with other countries to bring development to its people. I always say that president has demonstrated remarkable leadership on this front by encouraging private sector players to leverage concessionary financing from others such as China to drive infrastructure in the country. For instance, it may interest you to know that in 2016, I was on the high-powered delegation of President Buhari’s maiden visit to the Republic of China. The delegation included Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other prominent Nigerian enterpreneurs. During that trip, Nigeria signed major transformative deals with the Republic of China. A notable one was the N720 billion currency swap deal. The Bilateral Currency Swap (BCS) agreement was to allow importers of goods from China to conclude their transactions in Yuan instead of the greenback (US dollar) and vice-versa. This was done to reduce the demand of the US dollar, reducing the pressure of the naira at the time, one of CBN’s many policies in managing the naira. Another one was the deal to support the Dangote refinery to boost local refining capacity and tackle the burden of fuel imports. The third was a landmark $55 million partnership between my firm, Granite and Marble Ltd and SBM China Ltd with massive potential to transform Nigeria’s mining sector. The deal provided for the construction and equipping of a massive granite mining plant in Abuja, Nigeria. The actualization of this partnership will lead to the creation of jobs, wealth, and inclusive growth for millions of Nigerians. These projects and their potential as catalysts for jobs-powered economy for Nigeria give a clear indication of what needs to be done and continued for peace and security in the country. When citizens have access to jobs, when citizens are well educated and have the tools to earn a decent living, there will be a corresponding decline in crime, banditry, and other forms of social vices. On a broader front, I believe that the path to Nigeria’s greatness can be mapped along the following lines. Forging national unity; securing the country from internal threats: insurgents, secessionists, kidnappers etc. Massive investment in social infrastructure including power, roads etc. Building a modern and sustainable economy that leverages advances in ICT and tech-innovation, human capital development, rapid Investment in education, vocational trainings, and healthcare systems. Building a Climate Resilient Future and an Effective Social Welfare System, among others. Achieving these no doubt requires a sound leader. One that is committed to stimulating inclusive economic growth, technological innovation, and entrepreneurship that creates jobs, increases the standard of living for every Nigerian. A leader that is religiously committed to the promotion of justice, equity, and representation to give all entities in this country a practical stake and deep and heartfelt sense of inclusion as well as prioritizing competence in public service where governance is seen as a tool for the service of all rather than an avenue for political patronage. With such a strong and development minded leadership and execution of a robust social support system where every Nigeria is cared for by the state, Nigeria can in the next decade experience sustained peace, robust economy that would help it to regain its status not only as an African champion, but also as a global economic powerhouse that could put Africa on the map of world leaders. My life’s story is that of transformation. From a village boy in a remote place in Ihugh, Vandeikya and now to a global business magnate. Even while I was growing up in the village, I knew that I’m global. So I see these possibilities very clearly. This same belief that drives me to succeed as an individual is the same belief and drive that I think is needed to transform Nigeria. I see these so clearly and I believe that if given the opportunity, will replicate the transformation in my life for Nigeria as well, despite its problems and current limitations.
The economy is at its lowest ebb. As a successful businessman, what’s the way forward?
The truth is that Nigeria has lost many years to sub-optimal investment in its people and infrastructure. A strong economy does not grow out of nothing. It has to be powered by infrastructure that works – including good road network, a resilient energy and power backbone, and people who are aware, educated, empowered, and motivated to do business. It also means having a strong manufacturing base with capacity to meet domestic needs as well as take advantage of the African and global markets, the growth of small, medium, and large-scale businesses, a conducive business environment that encourages entrepreneurship in all key areas including technology, the alignment of our educational system to produce graduates with market ready skills that can enable them tap from the global marketplace. The result of all these is jobs for the millions of unemployed persons and higher revenues from taxes for the government to deploy towards social development. That is why like I said earlier, fixing the economy must start from fixing infrastructure. For instance, when you fix power, fix roads, create a conducive environment for investment, you reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria and encourage manufacturing firms to set up big plants in the country. They employ Nigerians and reduce unemployment, produce goods to meet local demand, and also export and help Nigeria earn forex. It’s a circle. Besides manufacturing, we must also invest in human capital development. We must get Nigerians of all ages to learn soft and vocational skills so that wherever they are they would be able to apply themselves, create value and earn some money to take care of their bills.
Do you think your party, the APC will retain power in 2023?
I am positive that APC has done well, and that Nigerians will reward the party in 2023 for a job well done. Truth be told, no previous government has made the kind of massive investment in infrastructure development like the Buhari administration has done in less than eight years. This is even more remarkable when you consider the fact that the government came into power at a time when national revenues had fallen drastically as a result of the dampening global price of oil. Things are no doubt tough economically, but Nigerians understand that they are a result of decades of ineffective leaderships by past governments. They also know that the seeds of growth planted by Buhari would in no time germinate to ensure a better future for the country and an APC leadership is the best to succeed Mr. President for consolidation.
How do you intend to galvanise support from the different parts of the country to buy into your ambition?
What I have is a transparent conviction that a united, secure and prosperous Nigeria is possible. This message resonates nationwide, and I believe would be a rallying point for me nationwide. Everyone wants to live in peace, prosperity and harmony. This is what my presidency would mean for every Nigerian.
Do you think the powers that be will support your bid?
Of course, I do. Politics is about engagement. I plan to engage and consult widely with all stakeholders. And I believe that I have a strong message, a strong profile and patriotism and will to work on my side.
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By Fred Itua ,Abuja Moses Chiahemba Ayom is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)….
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