Ils sont plus de vingt à se présenter aux élections présidentielles du Nigéria dues le 21 avril prochain. Mais, parmis le “top 10”, un canadien se trouve parmi eux (voir photo):
Isa Odidi, un scientifique et entrepreneur de Toronto, désire apporter les idéaux de son pays d’adoption à sa patrie natale.
S’il est élu, le directeur général d’IntelliPharmaCeutics Corp. a promis de réformer le système judiciaire du Nigeria, d’adopter une loi équivalante à la déclaration des droits de l’homme et de promouvoir la liberté d’expression et de presse. Il veut également développer le commerce entre le Nigeria et la Canada.
Vingt-trois candidats se présentent à l’élection présidentielle nigériane, et M. Odidi est considéré comme un des neuf favoris. Le père de cinq enfants, âgé de 50 ans, reconnaît toutefois que son voyage risque d’être dangereux. Dans ce pays d’Afrique occidentale riche en pétrole, les élections sont sujettes à la violence et à la corruption.
M. Odidi, qui partira dimanche [hier] de Toronto pour aller faire campagne sur le terrain, se fera accompagné par une équipe de gardes du corps.
They are more than 20 to run for president in the next nigerian elections due for April 21st. But, among the top 10, a Canadian is among them (see picture):
In a country fraught with corruption, human rights abuses and violence, Isa Odidi is hoping to lead by example.
The dual Canadian-Nigerian citizen is a research scientist and entrepreneur who wants to become the next president of the oil-rich west African nation.
Odidi longs to bring the ideals of his adopted country to his homeland.
The 50-year-old will fly from Toronto [yesterday] to Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, on Sunday to campaign for Nigeria’s presidential election April 21.
If elected, the chief executive of Toronto-based IntelliPharmaCeutics Corp. said he will seek to reform Nigeria’s judicial system, adopt legislation similar to a bill of rights, push for freedom of information laws and protect freedom of the press.
“I consider Canada home seriously,” Odidi said, noting he fought and won in court to keep his Canadian citizenship when Nigerian officials suggested he had to give it up if he wanted to run for the presidency. “It’s one of the strong reasons I am actually running because I think there are a lot of values I can bring to the situation in Nigeria.”
Odidi said Nigeria – a land rich in oil, minerals and agriculture where friction often erupts among its Muslim, Christian and tribal populations – has much to learn from Canada’s take on democracy, economics and multiculturalism.
But Canada, he said, could also benefit from stronger ties with Nigeria.
“I’m a very strong believer in Canadian business and I think Canada should look for more opportunities on how to grow the GDP (gross domestic product),” he said. “I think (Canada) should look for new markets and those emerging markets are in Africa, and Nigeria has 140 million people. It is a big market for Canada.”
Odidi said Canadian aid for Africa is a “drop in the ocean” and should extend beyond mere dollars and cents. Building relationships between Canadian and African companies and promoting foreign investment, he said, would create a “win-win” situation for everybody.
“Canadian companies win by making more money… creating more jobs, paying taxes, growing the GDP,” he said. “Nigerians are happy because we learn from the skills of Canadians who are trying to do business here.”
While Canadians might have a hard time electing a leader who resides outside the country, Odidi said his New Democrat Party was founded by Nigerian ex-pats from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia who feel the current government’s eight-year reign should end.
Though president Olusegun Obasanjo was considered a marked improvement over his tyrant predecessor, his government has nonetheless developed a reputation for corruption.
Obasanjo attempted to change the constitution so he could serve a third term and, when unsuccessful, critics say he sought to ensure the victory of his handpicked candidate.
Odidi said Nigeria is now at a “tipping point” and many citizens are beginning to realize the country needs successful people with the right skills and experience to come into the country to help.
Considered among the top nine candidates out of a pool of 23, the father of five admits the journey could be difficult and dangerous as elections in the country are often plagued by violence and corruption.
Odidi said he will continue his practice of sticking to the issues rather than playing on people’s emotions and that he will be accompanied by a security team.
“If it’s really a free and fair election, people go out and vote for who they want to vote for. If that happens, I strongly feel I can take that ticket,” he said.