Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), says he is not a "politician" in the Nigerian sense despite standing for election at this month's poll.
Speaking on 'Politico Politica', a political affairs interview anchored by fast-rising presenter Isabella Akinseye, Sowore described himself as a "political activist".
Asked by Akinseye how he would marry his new image as politician with his previous sttaus as a unionist, active in the struggle for democracy, Sowore responded:
"I don’t want to be looked at as a politician; I’d prefer to be looked at as a political activist; and I’d like to stick with that.
"The reason is simple. People who are called politicians in Nigeria in local parlance are people who are dishonest, people who take advantage of others and the country, people who are corrupt, people who are wheeler-dealers. I don’t want to be looked at that way. Of course I struggled with that, but I think at this point people are very clear about my reason for joining politics; it is to clean up the political space, which is what I’ve always been doing as student activist fighting the military, as a media activist fighting corruption, helping to broaden the democratic space."
Sowore also talked about the role of bad leadership in the country's decadence.
“I found the level of failure of leadership of the so-called Nigeria project as something that is unacceptable and the level of decadence must be contested until we found a project that is working," he said. "It is a leadership problem. The moment you get it wrong with leadership, there’s nothing that can work.”
He promised to transform the country through "innovative and very radical leadership", adding that his government would bring very competent leadership to the country.
Responding to a question on whether he would drop his activism and radicalism if elected President, Sowore said he would never compromise and would not tolerate corruption under his administration.
“There are compromises that I will never make," he said.
"I’m not going to pay or bribe somebody to do their job, I’m not going to steal or let people steal things that belong to the public under my watch. I’m going to ensure that people get what they deserve — education, healthcare, food security — and have a country that is thriving.
“I’m saying because I know it is possible. It’s possible even around us, in countries like Rwanda, Ghana and Kenya, they are doing well. It happened because leadership did not remain as leadership; it got to a point that it became transformational and innovative and that is what is absent in our current political reality.”
Asked whether he would stop seeking elective office if he is not elected as President, Sowore asserted that the battle is one that cannot stop until the goal is achieved.
“We have to keep doing what needs to be done until we get it right. This is not just about me; it’s about a generation of people, young people particularly, who definitely know that the current level of political abuse, corruption and incompetence is not sustainable," he said.
“So, I’m not even contemplating losing; it’s a battle we can’t afford to lose otherwise our generation will go into extinction and I know I won’t be part of those that will let that happen. This is a battle that cannot stop.”