Kenny Martins is a well-known politician and in-law of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. In 1999, he served as campaign adviser and strategist to Olusegun Obasanjo Campaign Organization before serving as Chairman of Police Equipment Trust Foundation. A co-founder of All Peoples Party, APP in 1998, Martins speaks on his new project and why Nigerians must wake up and face their political challenges.
Q: What is legacy initiative international all about?
A: It is about saying that enough is enough. It about saying that this a country of about 200m people made up of Christians and Muslims. This is a country that prays to God more than any other country in the world, so where have gotten it wrong? We got it wrong because we neglected God. We are talking of governance and power, yet we left God out of the equation. Out of over 67 years of independent, we have tried every other option except God. We have tried regional government, pre-1966. We had regional leaders, it didn’t work for us. We tried military government for about two decades, it didn’t work. Currently we have trying a full-blown democracy. I want to ask everybody if it is working.
I said somewhere before that if anybody says all is well with Nigeria, I dare to say that all is not well with the person. Then what is the solution?
We therefore believe that for this country to return back to normal, all the leaders in the Christian and Muslim faiths must sit down on a table to identify what is wrong with his country.
We are not going to run government of theocracy. We are just saying that we would run our politics and parties but that neither the Christian or Muslim leaders would participate in politics. We want them to serve as the good conscience of this country. They should seat together to determine who is best from all the candidates all the political parties have brought out, from the federal level down to the local govt level, select the best candidate for the people to vote. We can call them and interrogate them, give them the template of what Nigeria expects from them, when they have sign into it. Then those names we have adopted would be prayed for in all the pulpits and mosques in this country, party affiliation notwithstanding. With that, we believe that Nigerian will vote for the best for the first time. If they fail to perform, this people would also rise up to tell them they have not performed, even if they run from one party or the order. Hence, we get rid of money politics where candidate will spend billions as in the case of Ekiti state. It is time we put a stop to politics of money. I am saying this because Nigeria still remains a country where our yesterday is better than today. We are always yenning for yesterday because our today is so chaotic, our heart palpitates about what today stands for and we are scared of tomorrow. Nigeria is the only country that has no tomorrow, there is fear everywhere about tomorrow. We believe that with this system, entrenched decamping and politics of money will become a thing of the past and new leaders would emerge, who would face real consequences for not performing or deviating. And that consequence would be withdrawal of the mandate of the people for nonperformance.
Q; Do you think money can be separated from politics?
A: Yes. How much did Obama have? They spend money because people donate to them. But here you must have stolen or the state would provide you with it so you don’t owe anything to the people because they didn’t fund you. So, when these leaders emerge from Legacy International through interrogation by the people, the people can now support them. Those that raise money for them to run for the election would now be controlling them; this is what has created the anomalies in the Nigerian politics.
Q: What is your impression on Buhari’s regime so far?
A: The opinion of those in the government and my opinion don’t matter. The voter’s opinion is what matters. They felt that Jonathan wasn’t working and believed he should go. The only reason why my opinion matters is that I have for so long spoken for these people, they don’t have a voice. I resound the voice those people whom the system refused to listing to. Let the Buhari Government check their score card comparing what they were expected of. They should be introspective. Whatever you do, you can’t hide from the people and election would always reflect the mandate of the people. What happened to Jonathan would also happen to anybody who has failed the people. So, people are listening to me because I am echoing what is in their mind and I will say what nobody can say and nothing would happen.
Q: How can you rate Buhari’s administration so far?
A: Have you ever seen me rate anybody? I don’t rate governments, I tell the government to rate themselves and the yardstick is if you have sustained the popularity on which you emerged. This is a question you can ask the people on the street. I have said it somewhere before that what determined Jonathan’s election in 2015 was corruption and what would determine the election in 2019 would be security. Because without security nothing would work.
Q: Are you saying there is no more corruption in the country?
A: No. What I am saying is that corruption is no longer our problem. Insecurity is the biggest problem we have in the country, when paired with corruption. People are afraid to travel from one place to the other by road because so many people have been kidnapped and there are so many other security issues.
Q: As a patron of Legacy International, what do you have to say about the decamping from one party to the other in this country?
A: That is why legacy is born, enough of that. If you are performing in XYZ party and because you are not kicking back to the party leaders, they refuse to give you ticket for second tenor, leave the party to even a party without structure. The people are watching you and would give you their mandate again, irrespective of the party. And if on the other hand, they give you a ticket when you are not performing, legacy would leave you and the party would lose.
Q: Are you saying Legacy International is transforming into a political party?
A: No, we are not a political party; we are just the conscience of the nation. We are totally nonpartisan we want to be discerning, Buhari and other politician were like that before they became politicians. We need integrity and personality that is impeccable and we would back you, we don’t need money.
Q: Our political parties have increased to 94, what do you have to say to that?
A: That one doesn’t matter; it is an association of people. It is not an issue. That is the liberalization of the political space. It was a battle we won. It is in the UN Chatter that you can associate freely, it is in our constitutions too. But in a democratic govt, there are majorly two political parties wherein others take their roots.
Q: Do you still believe in redemption and salvation?
A: I believe there is something in this country that is worth fighting and dying for. If legacy succeeds with the support of the people, this country can be better in the next five to fifteen years, which will make it unnecessary for anybody to go abroad for education anymore. For instance, we have an idea to build five-star hospitals in each of the zones that would cost about $100M but there is no government that would sign the money but we spent about $2billions every year in hospitals abroad.
Q: Some people said that Legacy International has something to do with your in-law, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, how true is this?
A: Legacy International is speaking for 200m people, including Obasanjo, Buhari and others. We don’t have anything against APC or anybody. We are saying, let us for once, choose what is good for Nigerians. We are beyond Obasanjo, because we are speaking for 200m people. Even the president does attend our meetings sometimes. Both Buhari and Obasanjo are tired and should retire. Buhari is contesting for the second term because we have not gotten it right. If we had gotten it right, he has no business conversing for second tenure, although he is my friend. It’s just because there is corruption. Is it not a shame that the only award won by the president in the international community is that of corruption only, it means you are not working? He should have been winning awards on technology, how to get to space and how our economy is the one they are copying and duplicating around the world.
Q: What does National Assembly issues hold for our democracy?
A: Nothing. It was a mistake on the part of the government to send a bill so late to the National Assembly when they were closing. And when finally, they tried to get themselves together, impeachment became the issue of discuss, although that’s politics. In advanced democracies like America, there are times they shut down the government house for two to three months. They government should find way to fund whatever is critical till the National Assembly resumes.
Q: What does all the allegedly rigged election conducted by this administration portray for 2019?
A: Nothing. 2019 would come and go. The elections will come and the winner will emerge and nothing would happen.
Q: What is your advice for Nigerians because people are scared and skeptical?
A: No need to be scared. Just be educated about your life, register and get your voters’ card. Go out and vote, wait for the result, even if it is twisted, the fact would still come out.
Q: You are looking young, what is your secrete?
A: I just live by the day because I believe that God is in control. I can only do my best and live the rest to God. I am not scared and I have never been scared about anything. To me, there is nothing serious in life. I am a good student of history, since I know that those things would take care of themselves, I have nothing to worry about.