Politics

I am a tired and very frustrated Nigerian – Ex-Cross River Governor Donald Duke

A former Governor of Cross River State Donald Duke

 “If I look good, it is God’s grace, nothing conscious. But right now I don’t feel good. I am tired and a frustrated Nigerian,” Donald Duke, former Governor of Cross River State said.

Mr. Duke who was governor of Cross River from 1999 to 2007 made this revelation when he was asked during an interview how he managed to maintain his good looks.

The 58 year-old former governor who was the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the February 2019 election, was interviewed by Mudiaga Affe and Mobola Sadiq (as published on The Punch).

According to Mr. Duke the Nigerian environment is very tiresome. He noted that if he could complain about the frustration in the country, one can only imagine what it would be for the hundreds of millions of less privileged Nigerians.

“If I look good, it is God’s grace, nothing conscious. But right now I don’t feel good. I am tired and a frustrated Nigerian. Because the truth is, we all know we can do a lot more than we are doing right now if the environment were favourable. I find the Nigerian environment very tiresome. And if I am saying so imagine what people less privileged are going through. You have a lot of young people bustling with energy. They can’t express themselves, so, they are looking for relief, either they are trying to leave the country or they easily take to crime, it’s all part of the frustration they are going through. I was speaking with someone about the drug problem in the northern parts of Nigeria. I put it down to frustration, the young folks out there are frustrated, they want to get out of their reality and thus take to drugs,” Ex-Governor Duke said.

The former governor also spoke about his aspiration and decision to contest for the Office of the President during the 2019 election.

Asked whether he was disappointed with how the election went, he said, “Am I disappointed? Yes, I am, but I’m proud that at least I got the ticket and I was on the ballot.

“You know, let me say something about public office. You seek it to make yourself available, give it your best shot and if it comes your way take it and make the best of the opportunity. If you don’t make yourself available, you will never get it. People sometimes say it is impossible you can’t get it. Nothing is impossible, but make yourself available and be realistic. I joined a party that did not have a national structure, but I just wanted to make myself available, you won’t believe but without spending a dime we won the primaries then we got embroiled in some nonsensical legal issues up to the Supreme Court. There was no way we could have raised the funding required in that environment. So, we had a lacklustre outing. Am I disappointed? Yes, I am, but I’m proud that at least I got the ticket and I was on the ballot,” he said.

Speaking further Mr. Duke explained why he is a very frustrated Nigeria. He noted that he believes that Nigeria can be better. According to Duke, celebrating payment of salary, road constructions are all mundane.

He revealed that between 1979 and 1983 when Nigeria’s population was just 80million, President Shehu Shagari budgeted $25billion averagely every year. But now that we are 200million, we are budgeting less, which is evidence that our society is in deep regression.

When Mr. Duke was asked if he would attempt for the Office of the President again considering the last experience, he said; “circumstances would determine that.

“Let’s see what happens and how things go. I ran not because I need to have the prefix, president, before my name, I’m a very frustrated Nigerian. I’m a Nigerian that believes that we can do better than we are doing and if we, the so-called elites don’t stand up to correct the flaws of this country then all hope is lost. I hope that circumstances would compel someone who believes in a loftier aspiration for the country, seeks and achieves that office.”

“Too many people that seek the presidency or governorship, local government chairmanships are content with the mundane. You have people celebrating payment of salary, upgrading road, etc, those are mundane, and those are the norm.”

“In another thirty years, our population would be about 400 million, we would have doubled, we are 200 million now, and we were 45 million when we attained Independence.”

“Let me tell you something, between 1979 and ‘83, President Shagari budgeted $25bn averagely annually for four years. Our population was barely 80 million, 40 years after we are budgeting about $24bn for a population of almost 200 million.”

“We are a society in deep regression and if that doesn’t call for some sober reflection, I wonder what would. What fundamental things have we achieved in our almost 60 years of independence? Next year we would be 60 and we are going to roll out the drums, the soldiers are going to march, school kids are going to march under the sun, governors and the president would take the salute. We should ask ourselves, over what are we celebrating? When will we celebrate the quality of our lives?

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