My presidential announcement speech
Declaration of Intention to Contest the 2019 Presidential Election
At the World Press Conference,
Musa Yar’Adua Conference Centre, Abuja
February 28, 2018.
With love for our country and a fierce commitment to a vision of rapid progress for our more than 180 million citizens, and following wide-ranging consultations, I offer myself to serve you as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as from May 29, 2019. I therefore intend to be a candidate in the 2019 presidential election. I seek the opportunity to offer our country visionary, purposeful, competent leadership to build our future.
Nearly 60 years ago, our Founding Fathers Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo envisioned a great country that would take its pride of place in the world based on the talents of its citizens and a constitutional federation that would ensure justice, equity, and economic productivity.
Their vision and hopes have yet to materialize — military rule, oil booms and busts, and the successive leadership failures of our civilian political class have combined to rob us of what seemed our destiny at independence.
I am standing here today saying that it is time we shatter the downward spiral to nowhere.
I am here today, standing with the 110 missing girls of Dapchi and their grieving family, and with the traumatized young women of Chibok, those with us and those still in captivity.
I am here today standing with 180 million Nigerians, in addition to thousands of businesses struggling to share a measly 4000MW of electricity.
I am here today standing with the 100 million Nigerians experiencing crushing poverty, living on less than 300 naira a day.
I am here today because 33 million of our able men and women are unemployed or underemployed, nearly 15 million children are out of school, and only 60% of Nigerians are literate.
I am here today because our hospitals are understaffed and mismanaged death traps, and women are still subject to horrific prejudices and devastating early marriages.
I am taking this stand, here and now, because Nigeria today is divided by ethnic and religious conflicts, made worse by corruption. The government has failed in its very first duty of securing our lives as citizens, and we have lost our place in the world. The time has come for us to fix this.
We are collectively exhausted by these politicians who continually fall in and out of alliances with each other and care nothing for the ordinary Nigerian. They aggravate our fears in the hope that we will continue to keep them in power even though offer nothing new.
IT IS TIME for a radical change in the political leadership of Nigeria.
IT IS TIME for a visionary, competent and inclusive leadership that truly cares about our country.
IT IS TIME for a leadership equipped with the skills, intellect and competence to wage a decisive war against poverty and unemployment.
IT IS TIME for a Nigeria in which our youth can fulfill their full potential and our daughters can aspire to any opportunity they desire.
IT IS TIME for a 21st century leader to lead us into a new and different future.
What we need now is a REAL movement of the people, by the people and, most importantly FOR the people of Nigeria to move our country forward and break with our troubled past. I offer myself as part of that movement.
We are a nation of great people; as seen by the way Nigerians abroad are thriving. We hear the stories of those who leave home with little more than a hope and a prayer, change the world abroad.
Nigerians have smarts, ingenuity, drive, relentlessness, vision, and sheer force of will. We must be able to harness our strengths and make them work for us here at home.
My fellow Nigerians, to quote the immortal words of the late US president John F. Kennedy, “politics is too important to be left to the politicians.”
We must ask our government hard questions about the promises they made about our security, about power, about civil aviation, about healthcare, about women’s rights.
The world is changing: time and tide have in several countries swept away old orders and brought in new, more dynamic ones. Nigeria must not remain stuck in its past. We, you and I, can do it for our country too.
We need to modernize, and quickly. For instance we know that women in leadership and in government can accelerate growth for any economy, yet only 6% of our legislature are women. There are many, many competent, smart women who are more than ready to dig in and work together to rescue this country. We must draw them out and ensure that their voices are heard.
We must stop recycling failed politicians and regenerate our leadership ranks with competent and experienced young men or women. Youth who have prepared themselves with the relevant qualifications must take over the mantle of leadership because this struggle is about the future of Nigeria, not its past.
The battle to reorient Nigeria into a strong, capable country requires competence, capacity, and character. And as a citizen who aspires to be President I possess all three.
If it is about competence: my work as a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who played a leadership role in rescuing and stabilizing the Nigerian banking system after the global financial crisis speaks for itself.
If it is about capacity, my work in the United Nations reconstructing countries torn by civil war or reforming the internal workings of the world body is there for everyone to see.
If it is about character, well, talk to my colleagues, mentors, friends, and of course my family and listen to what they have to say. Strong, knowledgeable guidance is needed as Nigeria navigates these difficult waters, and I offer myself for service with a solid track record of leadership.
I’m not here to tell you that there are quick, easy solutions to our nation’s problems. Far from it. Decades of economic and leadership mismanagement cannot be undone in a few short weeks or months. Things will be difficult and painful choices will have to be collectively made.
What I am here to tell you is that:
TOGETHER, we can choose a NEW path.
TOGETHER, we can set a BOLD agenda.
TOGETHER, we can deliver for ourselves a DIFFERENT outcome.
Nigeria will achieve greatness.
I have not announced today the party platform on which I intend to contest for the presidency. My focus for now is the people of Nigeria and not on party platforms that have in the past been mere vehicles for capturing political power.
While I have been approached by a number of political parties, the movement that I am part of will decide which one we will join. That decision will be based on commonality of vision and the IMPERATIVE of a generational shift in leadership, and we will announce this decision in the coming weeks.
Based on such a decision, we shall seek to build a formidable coalition of parties for the presidential election that together will represent a clear and credible alternative to the failed political leadership class that has enthroned corruption and incompetence in the governance of our country.
It is important that we begin to focus more closely on the individuals seeking elective office in our country and their qualifications in terms of character, competence, capacity, and track record.
We have traditionally focused of platforms and structures that, though a necessary part of the democratic process, in our national experience have mainly delivered the wrong candidates. Naturally, those candidates have gone on to be failed leaders. It is good candidates that will create credible political parties. Visionless parties cannot produce the best candidates.
THE POLICY AGENDA My vision for our country is set out in my new book BIG (Build, Innovate, Grow) which was released two days ago. In summary, however, the agenda of a government under my leadership includes the following:
Leadership and Governance
· Compose a world-class, “first eleven” team based on merit and inclusive governance to drive government policy. We will be ready on Day One. The appointment of all senior officials of the Presidency will be announced within 48 hours. My government will enthrone evidence-based public policy, strategy and risk management as tools of effective and modern governance.
· Establish and propagate through the educational system a foundational philosophical worldview for the Nigerian state, around which all Nigerians will unite in a common purpose
· Lead a consultative political process, in cooperation with the National Assembly, to achieve a constitutional restructuring of Nigeria and return our country to true federalism for stability and prosperity by 2021.
· Implement a 50:50 gender parity policy in all political appointments — nearly double the ratio recommended by the National Gender Policy of 2008.
· Establish and implement a Diaspora engagement and return policy and strategy as a new, fundamental component of our national quest for development as has been the case in China, India and Israel. My government will build the Diaspora
Commission approved by the National Assembly into an effective, world-class institution to accomplish this important agenda.
· Fundamental overhaul of the Nigerian Police Force that will emphasize training, equipment, and boosting the strength of the Force by recruiting at least 1.5 million policemen and women, up from the grossly inadequate present force strength of 350,000.
· Establish an innovation-led economy, with intellectual property and commercialization of local innovation as its bedrock.
· Establish a Venture Capital Fund with a minimum of N500 billion as a public-private partnership to invest in the creation of new businesses by presently unemployed youth in Nigeria; the new businesses created with support from this fund will in turn create new jobs. The fund will be managed by private sector partners while the Federal Government of Nigeria will be a core investor.
· Reform energy policy to create an enabling environment for Nigerian households to be powered by renewable energy while industrial zones are served by gas and hydro-powered energy.
· Fundamental reform of Nigeria’s healthcare system to assure quality healthcare for Nigerian citizens and remove the need for medical tourism abroad. Healthcare will have 15 per cent of Nigeria’s budget in line with the Abuja Declaration of the African Union in 2001. A world-class hospital will be established in each of the six geopolitical zones at a federal university teaching hospital.
· Fundamental reform of Nigeria’s education system to create skills and human capital that will drive Nigeria’s industrialization and job creation. Education will be allocated 20 per cent of the federal government budget, with a progressive increase to 30 per cent over eight years.
I am here today because I want what is best for my country.
We have no godfathers. We are just ordinary Nigerians who want a future that is very different from the sad reality of broken promises and unfulfilled national potential that has been the lot of the Nigerian people for far too long.
But we know that, with your support we can bring about real progress in our country. To accomplish this, however, every citizen aged 18 years and above must obtain his or her Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and vote in the 2019 elections.
Fellow Nigerians, this movement of the people, the REAL coalition of everyone and not a select few, belongs to you. Because it truly belongs to you, it will be accountable to you, the people. For this reason, we need to crowdsource our intellect and resources to move this country forward. To support the movement, go to www.tobuildanation.com
We must refuse to allow the political elite to continue to intimidate us with the idea that no one can displace them. They boast they will outspend us and more.
But we say to them: Nigerians will not be taken for a ride yet again. The time to sit on the fence is past, ladies and gentlemen.
I’d like to end my speech by thanking my family. My lovely and ever supportive wife, who always challenges me to be the best man I can be. Thank you, dearest. To my sons and daughter, continue to be the amazing, talented people you are. I am so proud of you.
Nigeria, we can do this. Let’s get to work!