With just about two years left before the next presidential election, the question on the mind of every Nigerian is - who will become the next President of Nigeria? The country seems to be at the edge of the precipice, and many believe that the outcome of the 2023 presidential election will be the decider of Nigeria's future. That means, if we get it wrong in 2023, then we are afraid of what may become of this nation. And now the bold truth that is facing us in the face right now is - we cannot afford to get it wrong in 2023.
Nigeria is currently going through one of its toughest phases - the country has hit an all-time low in the area of insecurity. From the North to the South, East to the West, what we get almost on daily basis are tales of killings and kidnappings, banditry and arson. Last year, Nigeria was ranked the third most terrorized country in the world, after Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Global Terrorism Index.
Killer herdsmen now hold sway in different parts of the country, and their clashes with residents of the communities have led to ethnic profiling and hatred. Unemployment is on the rise. Many young people seem to have lost faith in the country they grew up to call their own, and would do anything just to leave in search of greener pastures in foreign climes. Several things seem to be going wrong, and what hope do we have that the country will get out of this quagmire?
2023 election - change of leadership! That's the single hope of many Nigerians today. That means, in 2023, there is no room for mistakes. We need to get it right!
So what kind of leader does Nigeria need in 2023? The country needs a unifier, a problem-solver. A leader who will mend all the broken bridges, tame the hostilities and bring everyone under one umbrella of progress. A leader who will draw a new plan of salvation for the country. There is no room for experimentation, we need a leader who has a record of vision and progress.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and the person that comes to my mind everytime is the former governor of Cross River State - Donald Duke. Such a fine leader, with an exemplary track record. But what marvels me is - why is nobody talking about this man as we edge closer to the 2023 election.
For those who have followed the political trajectory of Donald Duke from when he was the governor of Cross River State, then you would agree that this is the man Nigeria needs in 2023 to turn things around for the better. A man who transformed Calabar from a somnolent city to an El Dorado before leaving office, and turned the entire state into a place that the indigenes were proud to bring their friends to.
For someone who came into power as governor of Cross River State at 37 in 1999, with the "Lagos boy" tag, and created so much impact that generations of Cross Riverians will never forget.
One of the first things he did when he was sworn in as governor was to deploy an Economic Blueprint, which stated his agenda and vision for the state. The blueprint was a definite set of what development entails. Donald Duke believed that if the government provides education, infrastructure and training for the masses, and also keep them healthy, they will become productive.
In terms of agriculture, he was not found wanting. Under his watch, Cross River State grew in terms of large scale commercial farming, and became a major producer of pineapple, cocoa, cashew and palm oil.
The same drive was felt in other areas of development - education, urban regeneration, infrastructural development, tourism, health, etc. The aim was to turn Calabar into an "Oyigbo village". Calabar became the cleanest city, and the road network and modernity of the city was something the indigenes were proud of.
Tourism was one of the hallmarks of his administration, and he came up with several projects that would draw people to state. The Calabar Carnival was birthed, which was tagged " Africa's biggest street party", an annual event that was created with the aim og making Cross River State number tourist destination for Nigerians and other tourists across the world.
Photos from Calabar Carnival:
Obudu Cattle Ranch was revamped, and played host to international events like the Obudu Mountain Race.
Obudu Cattle Ranch:
Tinapa Resort was birth, and several other projects that have made carved his name in gold in the state.
On 28th September 2006, BBC News reported that Donald Duke was the only governor named by Ribadu as not being under investigation by EFCC for corruption. That shows this is a man who had zero tolerance for corruption.
In 2018, when Donald Duke emerged as the flag bearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the 2019 presidential election, his manifesto appeared to be what Nigeria needed to solve its wide range of challenges.
In 2018, while featuring on a programme known as "On the Couch with Falz and Laila", Donald Duke spoke about the areas that he would concentrate on if elected President, and they included - that he would deal with the "civil wars" across the country (terrorism in the North-East, and the herdsmen crisis), and also ensure that Nigerian soldiers get proper welfare so that they can be motivated to execute their duties.
Speaking about his plans for the education sector, he said that Nigeria's curriculum is outdated and needs to be worked on, and that a secondary school leaver should be able to have a requisite skill to get his/her life moving even though they are not able to attend university.
He also spoke about electricity, that Nigeria wastes useful gas everyday, and that he would create an environment for all that to be turned into power.
He said that he believes in state policing, and also believes that the salaries the legislators are receiving are exorbitant.
Looking at his entire manifesto, one could see that here's a man who understood the texture of the problems Nigeria is facing.
For a man who has so much to offer, and who had proven himself during his time as governor of Cross River State, I think this is the kind of person the country needs in 2023. A man that can solve Nigeria's problems. There should be no room for experimentation, the country needs a leader that has the right record.
But with such a sterling track record, it is a bit surprising to me that people are not talking about this man ahead of the 2023 election. Several politicians have been tipped for the 2023 election, but I have not seen Donald Duke's name in the mix. For a man who seems like the panacea for Nigeria's problems, yet people are not talking about him for the 2023 election.
So it makes me wonder - does it mean people do not think he is fit for the job? What do you think could be the reason people are not talking about him ahead of the 2023 election the way they are talking about some other politicians? Do you think he cannot solve Nigeria's problems if elected as President? Tell us what you think about this, and please share the article too so that others can also benefit from your contributions.
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