Fela Durotoye’s audacious attempt to become President
By Timeyin Mammah
Fela Durotoye, known to many as a motivational speaker, has under the umbrella of the newly registered Alliance for a New Nigeria, ANN declared his intention to contest for the presidency in the 2019 polls. And as is to be expected, his declaration has been generating both optimistic and pessimistic reactions in the public eye.
The question many Nigerians are asking is who is Fela Durotoye?
I will give a short summary of his stellar and impressive CV. He is far more than just a motivational speaker many constrain him to. He is the CEO of Gemstone Group, a leadership development initiative aimed at raising leaders of tomorrow. He is one of Nigeria’s leading strategists and business consultant with influence in the sphere of banking and finance, oil and gas, manufacturing, telecommunications and government.
Fela holds a Bachelors’ degree (B.Sc.) in Computer Science & Economics along with a Masters’ degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
He is also an Alumnus of Kennedy School of Government Executive Education program of the prestigious Harvard University, Boston (Massachusetts).
He is a Pastor at House on the Rock Church, Lagos. He is married to Tara Durotoye, founder of the House of Tara and together they are blessed with three sons: Mobolurin, Demilade, and Morolaoluwa.
Odds and Possibilities
The important question this piece hopes to reveal is how good are his chances of Fela winning the 2019 elections? It is surprisingly amazing that some Nigerians have already written off his chances at the 2019 elections without even giving him a chance to impress, yet these same Nigerians are the ones still bitterly complaining about the ineffective recycling of the same old leaders since independence into power. Buhari’s administration has been a painful ride and Atiku Abubakar who is obviously about the most serious of all the other potential contenders that has been revealed yet is not trusted to do much better should he win. Yet these same Nigerians who are calling for a chance for the youths will shoot themselves in the foot and discredit the new aspirants who are braving the odds and coming out to contest for high posts in the country.
I recall that when I posted Fela Durotoye’s declaration on WhatsApp, a youth read his credentials and said “This man cannot win.” I was puzzled and asked why, to which he simply replied without giving any details: “he just can’t win against Buhari and Atiku.”
The outcry for youths to be given a chance is good and Nigeria should follow the path of France but it should also be remembered how Dimeji Bankole, the former speaker of the House of Representatives entered into office as a youth only to spoil the image of the youths with allegations of corruption. Many will point to this and some more instances like the Salisu Buhari issue but also the elders aren’t clean also and it would be wrong to label all youths as bad and corrupt.
The youth in Nigeria are not united and there is a need for the voice of the youth to have a larger say. The votes of the youths as a united bloc should be enough to determine who gets to be the next President. Will the youth vote for a younger candidate like Fela Durotoye or would they stick to the tried and unconvincing old elites?
Another odd against Durotoye is the odd yet peculiar political situation in Nigeria. In Nigeria there is an unwritten rule about power sharing among the different geopolitical zones and it is believed that 2019 is the turn of the North again. Nigerian politics hasn’t overcome its regional games just yet. Can Durotoye prevail over this handicap given that he is a Southerner?
Another odd is that he is running under the platform of a relatively new political party, the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN), and one with no deep political experience and massive support base as the two major parties in Nigeria today: APC and PDP. The ANN outreach to Nigerians is so far small and ineffective as many Nigerians haven’t even heard of the ANN. Can such an unpopular and clearly resource-limited party contest and win against the more popular PDP and the ruling APC with their rich array of resources?
Another odd against Fela’s ambition is his lack of widespread popularity. Many Nigerians still don’t know who Durotoye is and even with widespread outreach to more and more Nigerians about his goal to become the next president, it is difficult to compare his popularity to that of the seemingly ever present Buhari and Atiku!
It is impressive that many younger people are declaring their intentions to run for President in 2019. Other than Fela, the others include Kingsley Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River and Omoyole Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters. Their chances in 2019 as many Nigerians and political analysts would agree are slim but who knows, 2019 might be a year of surprises?
It is important for these new candidates to imbibe the lessons from the previous attempts by Chris Okotie, Pat Utomi and many more who have bravely dared the odds and failed. For Fela Durotoye, this attempt might not get him elected in 2019 but unlike other new styled presidential hopefuls who lost and gave up, his likely defeat should spur him on to start early preparations for the 2023 elections by taking more steps to increase his popularity and national acceptance, mastering grassroots and street politics, and above all, creating a stronger platform and voice for the next election. For Fela Durotoye he can only go up and gain more votes and should not be discouraged if his audacious attempt fails at this first trial.
Durotoye and other new candidates should also learn from their mistakes and those of their predecessors one very crucial lesson, namely; the need to start their presidential campaigns early. This way they would be able to cover more grounds and gain increased popularity than if they come out towards the end of the timeline for the elections as seems to be the case now, and suddenly declare their intentions from out of nowhere. A better plan clearly needs to be hatched: declare your aspiration quite early and leave doubters with no room to double guess your capacity to put up a great fight!
It should be remembered that the current President of Liberia, George Weah also lost on his first attempt but however went on to grow his profile and capacity to win which he succeeded in doing after several years. Also back home in Nigeria, our own President Muhammadu Buhari failed three times to become President, contesting and losing the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections and finally won the 2015 election. For Fela Durotoye, these examples show how possible it is to turn an audacious dream into an inspiring reality. Let him therefore not be discouraged!