By Sunday Ani
Ahead of his formal declaration on Tuesday, May 3, presidential aspirant, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has maintained that he is in a better position to unite the badly fragmented country.
In an Iftar dinner in Abuja he hosted for chairmen of the party from the six states in the North Central geo-political zone and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), he said: “Anyone who grew up in the North Central zone where about 86 ethnic groups live would have learnt one or two lessons in diversity and those lessons will come in handy to cement the nation’s diversity for greater strength.
“The North Central is where I have made home. And that is why my consultation is starting from here. You can see how difficult it is for us to pick the host chairman at this meeting. Is it my brother Haliru Jokantoro, chairman of Niger from Bussa where I did my primary school and still have strong family ties or Prince Fagbemi, chairman of Kwara, a state where I equally grew in, did my secondary school and built a huge political following or FCT chairman from Abuja, where I have lived since 1996 and currently vote from?”
The meeting had Haliru Jokantoro, Niger; John Mamman of Nasarawa; Sunday Fagbemi, Kwara; R. D. Bature, Plateau; Austin Ajade, Benue and Abdulmalik Usman, FCT and some critical stakeholders, like Makanjuola Ajadi from Kwara and Miko, the 1999 House of Representatives member representing Ogoni, Rivers State in attendance.
He explained his mission and informed the gathering of his intention to formally declare for the race on Tuesday, May 3. The choice of the date, he said, was informed by the need to allow “our Muslims brothers and sisters to conclude the observation of the holy month of Ramadan, which will end on April 30.
He noted that the country was “really divided along ethnic and religious lines” and re-emphasised his intention to run an inclusive since “it is very difficult for any party to even produce a candidate right now that can win in more than four zones out of the six zones of the country because of the division in the country.”
He said at his declaration, he would release to Nigerians his perspectives on important matters they want answers to, including security, jobs, availability and affordability of petroleum products, stable electricity supply, how to tackle corruption, health, education and infrastructure.
He maintained that the solution to national security, the unemployment problem, high cost of petroleum products and basic items requires new and fresh approach to handle, that those who have never paid for anything they consume in the past 23 years cannot understand.
Ajadi applauded the sterling qualities of Olawepo-Hashim who he said is a credible aspirant for the party’s position for the office of president, adding that “if the challenge is to fix the country’s problem, we have a man in this room who has the capacity to do the Job.”
Miko, on his own part, noted that Olawepo-Hashim is accomplished and untainted.
Since his activist days more than three decades ago, Olawepo-Hashim has done many things in politics and in business. As one of the earlier political leaders after the military departed in 1999, he was deputy national publicity secretary of the ruling party and chairman of the party’s Group of 54 NEC members which he formed.