Those who believe the forthcoming Presidential election is a two-horse race between President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be in for a surprise as Gbenga Olawepo- Hashim, presidential candidate of the People’s Trust( PT) is prepared to give the duo a run for their money.
Given his robust campaign so far, his manifesto and his wide acceptance amongst the youths and those looking for an alternative to the old order, many were surprised why Olawepo- Hashim’s name was not listed among the presidential candidates scheduled to take part in the debate scheduled for January 19.
Speaking with our correspondent, Usman Sheu, a chieftain of the PT and an ardent supporter of Olawepo- Hashim said he is unfazed by the development as the powers that be “are doing everything possible to blacklist Olawepo-Hashim so that he does not appear on the ballot”.
“ At first I was a bit surprised when the names of the candidates scheduled to participate in the debate was released and I saw names like Oby Ezekwesili , Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu but Olawepo- Hashim’s name was missing. But then I remembered that some powerful forces, for reasons best known to them have been trying to do all they can to prevent him from getting the ticket of any of the political parties”.
“We all saw what played out in the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN). He was only lucky to get the PT’s ticket and even till now, the attacks against him has not ceased. So, debate or not, his messages are getting to Nigerians and his profile keeps soaring every passing day” he said.
In June 2018, the influential Middle Belt Forum had shortlisted Olawepo- Hashim alongside former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana; former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia; and former Plateau State Governor, Senator Jonah Jang as their choice for the forthcoming presidential election.
Feelers from the region revealed that Olawepo- Hashim has been endorsed as the candidate of forum which is an important section in the determination of the nation’s presidency. The announcement will soon be made public.
Also in November 2018, groups of youths from the North endorsed Olawepo Hashim, as their preferred alternative to President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar.
Stating their reasons, National Coordinator of Matasan Arewa Na Dimokradiya (All Arewa Young Democrats), Samaila Garba Garri said they were perturbed by the choice of presidential candidates of the two major political parties, who have anything new to offer the country.
Garba said they were thrilled by remarks made by Olawepo-Hashim on the plight and future of Nigeria and Nigerians, because “he has the idea to make Nigeria a much better country than what it is presently if given a chance.”
“Mr. Olawepo-Hashim is a successful business man, who has always been with the poor. He has been engaged in philanthropic activities and hardly spends a day without putting smile on faces. From Hashim’s remarks on that occasion, we understood he knows so much about the Nigerian economy and how to improve it. He is knowledgeable about the Nigerian people, more than the sitting president and PDP’s flag bearer.
“We also see him as a third force to be reckoned with. He is a bridge builder since he has biological link with the North. We have no reason to forsake him. We have every reason to deny others our vote in 2019, because it would surely be a disappointment at the “next level” and the implementation of a selfish “policy document” he said.
Olawepo-Hashim’s trajectory in political activism began while at the School of Basic Studies where he was elected as General Secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Association, Youth Solidarity on Southern Africa. In 1988, he was elected one of the leaders of the very active National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS).
He was incarcerated under the Detention of Persons Decree 2 of 1984 (as amended in 1989) for his leadership role in the 1989 anti-Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, protests and his pro-democracy activities. He was consequently adopted by the Amnesty International as a Prisoner of Conscience in 1989. A notable pro-democracy figure in the then Global Pro-Democracy resistance of the late 80s and a respected youth leadership voice from Africa, Olawepo-Hashim played a prominent role in the 13th International Festival of Youths and Students in 1989 in Pyongyang, North Korea.
In 1990, he became the national administrative secretary of the National Consultative Forum led by the indefatigable patriot and democrat extraordinaire, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Alao Aka Bashorun.
The group had in its fold the technocratic group led by Alhaji Damshida, Chief Tayo Akpata and Chief Phillip Asiodu, among others. It also had a political group led by former Zikist activists such as Chief Kola Balogun, Chief RBK Okafor, Senator Mahmud Waziri and Alhaji Tanko Yakassai. The group was the first to canvass the imperative of power devolution and the convocation of national conference as a programme of democratisation of Nigeria under military rule.
Olawepo-Hashim, a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos and Masters Degree holder in Global Affairs from the University of Buckingham, United Kingdom, received mentoring into partisan politics under the progressive leadership of the late Chief Solomon Lar and the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi; and, worked actively in the years of the G-34 initiative at the group’s secretariat where he was in charge of publicity.
Following Obasanjo’s election as president in 1999, he had, in the intervening transitional period, served as member/secretary, Youth and Women Development sub-committee of the General T.Y. Danjuma-led Policy Advisory Committee with the late Hajia Laila Dogonyaro as chair of the sub-committee.
In 2003, Olawepo-Hashim was appointed as a member of the Political Advisory Committee to the President (in the office of the Political Adviser.
Today, as the candidate of the Third Force movement, Olawepo-Hashim, born of a Yoruba mother and a Hausa father from Kebbi, has launched an audacious presidential enterprise on the PT platform with which, together with Nigerians of like-minds, he wants to galvanise national oppositional momentum against the APC and the PDP that had both failed, according to him, to provide good governance.
Speaking with Daily Independent on why he is seeking the highest office in the land, Olawepo- Hashim said “What we need now is a new generation of leaders. We no longer need the cabal anymore. We cannot accept a situation where we accommodate multiple pension-receiving individuals. I mean those who have been living on government expenses in ages. It is good to retire these people and the time to do that is now.”
“It is time to retire these people. It is time to retire them from politics and then drive Nigeria on the new part of creativity. My mission is to stop political recycling and we shall achieve this, by the Grace of God”.
“The nation certainly needs fresh ideas on how to develop the economy, unite and secure the country, which the political elites recycling themselves in power have not been able to offer. 2019 must be the breaking point from the legacy of poverty and misery which politicians represent”.
Also speaking on the raging insecurity in the country, Olawepo Hashim chided APC-led administration for failing to contain internal security breaches, promising that he would overhaul the security architecture to make Nigeria a safer place for all. According to him, “security is not just a question of spending bigger budgets; it is about having the right structures and strategies”.
“As it is, the armed forces is over-stressed and distracted by deployments for internal security operations. I think it is time for Nigeria to have a National Guard. I’m going to put up a National Guard as a President. My reasons and justifications are self-evident. Our internal security questions have graduated to the level of insurrection. We are now having well-trained militias, perhaps having more training than the police but probably, you may not need full scale military action to handle them.
“That is what a National Guard job is, an intermediate force between the regular armed forces and the police. Nigeria needs a well-trained intermediate force that is going to act between the Army and the police, which is the National Guard”.