Former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke on Tuesday said his desire to serve Nigeria at the highest level has not waned as he will still take a shot at the presidency if the opportunity presents itself.
At a time when it is fashionable for ex-governors to conveniently find political solace in the Senate after serving out their terms, Duke says the upper legislative chambers holds no attraction for him, except Nigeria’s presidency.
He also insist that Nigeria’s democracy will fare better with young people, who form the greater percentage of the population, becoming active participants in its political process as in other democracies.
Duke, who failed in his bid to fly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s flag as its presidential candidate in 2007, said at the appropriate time, he will still seek to occupy the highest office in the land.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the two-term former governor stated this at “The Nigerian Symposium for Emerging Leaders” programme in Lagos, explaining that preference for the presidency has informed his decision to shun federal legislative contests after serving out his eight years as governor.
“I do not have the flair for the legislature; standing up and sitting down at the chambers to raise a point. That was why I did not contest for the Senate but the presidency, after serving out my term as governor.
“I have contested the presidency before; I will still give it a shot when the opportunity presents itself. I believe I still have the energy in me”, Duke said.
The former governor, who proposed a comprehensive review of Nigeria’s electoral law to promote independent candidates, also canvassed reforms of the political system to accommodate wider participation and good governance in the country.
For him, it is important for young people, who form the larger proportion of the population, to be actively involved in Nigeria’s political process if our democracy must fare better; adding that most developed countries threw up young people as their leaders at one point or the other in their democratic history.
He however, said power was never given easily, urging young people to participate in the political process and use their prime to add value to the country.
“I want to urge young people in the country not to see leadership as if it belongs to some people, but do everything positive to be part of it. You can only make a difference at the prime of your life. You can actually add value now, not when you are above 50.
“So, you need to be part of the political process and play your part. It is your right to be there; nobody is doing you a favour. You represent more than 60 per cent of the population; you don’t have to beg for it. Just make effort to make that change and contribute your quota to nation building”, he said.
Duke urged government at all levels to be accountable and challenged the governed to demand more from their leaders.
Also speaking at the Forum, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi decried lack of transparency and accountability in government, noting that the situation was responsible for the level of corruption in the country and poor delivery of dividends of democracy.
Obi said the way out of the quagmire was for leaders to carry the governed along in budgetary spending and plans for effective tracking.
“The way forward is that governments should make their budgets more explicit and published. The plans and the money to be spent on them should be clearly stated. That is when people can track and make a comparative analysis with previous budgets and then, we can achieve some transparency”, Obi said.
He also urged the masses to show more interest in the budget so as to keep leaders on their toes.