Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday formally declared his intention to contest for president in the 2019 presidential poll under the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).
Saraki had earlier this month given the indication in an interview he granted to Bloomberg at his Abuja residence that he was considering running for president. "I am consulting and actively considering it; I believe I can make the change", he stated. Declaring his intention yesterday at a one-day dialogue with PDP youth and young aspirants held at Sheraton Hotel Abuja, the Senate president noted that his decision is borne out of the desire to urgently fix the numerous challenges facing the country. Specifically, he said that the youths asked him run so as to ensure the growth of Nigerian democracy. Saraki declared: "You will agree with me that this is an urgent task that requires the concerted efforts of each and every one of us. If we look around today, what do we see? What is the condition of our citizens? Where are we as a nation? How are we perceived locally and internationally? Why are we not making the expected progress? Why are we not growing? There is no time to waste. The time is now, to come together to stimulate growth in Nigeria, especially in the national economy.
"The choice we face in the forthcoming election is either to keep things as they are, or make a radical departure from the old ways. To find a better way of doing things or keep repeating the mistakes of the past. To fix the problems or keep compounding them. "It is with all these in mind, and taking account of the challenges that I have outlined, that I have decided to answer the call of teeming youth who have asked me to run for President. Accordingly, I hereby announce my intention to run for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the coming General Elections in 2019 on the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians".
Saraki further noted that from his interactions with youths across the country, he is assured that Nigeria is blessed with a determined generation that stands ready to join to power a Nigerian renaissance.
Explaining his plan for Nigeria, he stated that he will dwell on inclusion in all aspects of the country's affairs as a central pillar, noting however that every citizen has the inalienable right to feel a sense of belonging, no matter their background or creed, or what part of the country they come from. Decrying the challenges confronting the country, Saraki said, "Up and down our country today, Nigerians are crying out for succour. Many of our children are hungry. Many people are dying of avoidable or otherwise treatable diseases. Many have fallen below basic living standards, and are now among the 87 million that sealed Nigeria's position as the country with the highest number of people in extreme poverty. Our young people lack opportunities."
He lamented that the necessary educational facilities and systems to equip people for the future do not exist and that the needed jobs are not created in order to grow the economy.
He continued: "The harsh conditions of extreme poverty faced by the people, fuels the state of insecurity all over the country. Hunger, lack of education and lack of opportunities push many Nigerians into criminal activities including terrorism. "Many of our communities are paralysed with fear - due to incessant communal crises, kidnappings and other social ills, as well as the threat of terrorism. We are failing abysmally to tackle the problems of today and to prepare for the future. "Our economy is broken and is in need of urgent revival in order for Nigeria to grow. GDP growth rate has declined. Diversification remains an illusion. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Businesses are shutting down. Jobs are being lost in record numbers, and the capital needed to jumpstart our economy is going elsewhere.
"Nigeria is perhaps more divided now than ever before. We are increasingly divided along regional, religious and ethnic lines. Nigerians are also divided by class, a festering gulf between the 'Haves' and the 'Have-Nots'. The fault lines of this nation are widening to an alarming degree. We must do something fast, and we must be brave about it." On security, Saraki said as it is at the moment, no one is safe in the country. "We must restore the sanctity of the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions in order to build a just, fair and equitable society for all. We must rebuild the trust of our people in government. We need a new generation of leaders that are competent, with the capability to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. We must pull this country back together and rebuild, block by block, with dedication and commitment," he stated. On the unity of the country, Saraki said Nigeria is perhaps more divided now than ever before and that the people are increasingly divided along regional, religious and ethnic lines, as well as by class, which has created a festering gulf between the 'Haves' and the 'Have-Nots'.
He stated that something must be urgently done to savage the situation.