Nigeria: 2023 - Saraki Vows to Fix Nigeria's Security, Economic Challenges

13 May 2022

Abuja — Former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday promised to address Nigeria's security and economic challenges if chosen to lead the country in the 2023 general elections.

However, a day after his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) threw open the presidential contest to members of the party, Saraki yesterday formally declared to contest for the presidential ticket of the party, stating that he has the experience as well as the capacity

Saraki made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to join hands with him to make the country work again, vowing to provide leadership which he said had been the missing link in getting the country out of the woods.

Saraki said though the country's present challenges may be daunting, his administration will initiate the change that would ultimately reset the country.

Speaking during a breakfast session with journalists and friends in Abuja, to provide insight into why he was running for the office of the president in next year's general elections, the former governor of Kwara State, vowed to end insecurity, restore access to basic education, affordable healthcare, insurance as well as stimulate job creation among others.

Saraki, said, "The stake has never been higher for our country. This is the moment that we must put in everything we have to save this nation because what we have today is not our country.

"This certainly, is not the Nigeria of the dreams of our founding fathers and those who came after them."

He said, "In our lifetime, we have seen a Nigeria where everyone, rich or poor, was guaranteed education just by merely attending a school.

"In our lifetime, we have witnessed a Nigeria where children could wander far away from home, for as long as they wanted, and were sure to return in the evening.

"In our lifetime, we have witnessed a Nigeria where one could drive from Lagos in the night and arrive Maiduguri in the morning, without fear or misfortune.

"In our lifetime, we have witnessed a Nigeria, where a Fulani man, would arrive Enugu as a cattle trader and ended up as elected mayor of the city.

"In our lifetime, we have witnessed a Nigeria where everyone was guaranteed a minimum standard of living, where the middle class thrived, where jobs were available and predictable, where crimes were punished, where the civil service was efficient, where public utilities worked, and where Nigeria was the pride of every black man anywhere in the world.

"Where has this our Nigeria gone? How can we rediscover it and make it even greater for our children and for generations yet unborn? This is the reason I am running. I want to be president because I believe that this Nigeria is still possible in our lifetime."

He added that if elected president, he would raise the country's revenue from the non-oil sectors to the same level as current earnings from oil, adding that "as long as crude oil revenue remains the mainstay of our economy, and we remain so vulnerable to the volatility of international oil market, then the job is not done".

He also vowed to ensure strict compliance with the rule of law as well as guarantee consequences for crime, stressing that "as long as there are still people in this country who believe that they can break the laws of Nigeria with impunity; who think that crime has no consequences, then the job is not done".

Saraki, further promised to deliver 500,000 affordable housing units every year to the low-income earners and eliminate urban slums as well as invest massively in cloud computing, data analytics, programming and other such in-demand skills to drive innovation and competitiveness among the youths.

He said, "As long as Nigeria is not the tech hub for Africa, despite our incredible talents in this area, then our job is not done. And this is why I want to be president... "

He said, "We never lacked ideas in this country. We all seem to know what needs to be done. What we have missed is leadership; the ability to rally everyone and everything around agreed priorities, to set measurable targets, to be uncompromising in achieving results, and to accept no excuse or justification for failure.

"This critical vacuum is what I intend to fill. This leadership with a purpose is what I bring to the table, and this is what would make the difference.

"You may also ask; how long would it take to solve all these problems? I agree, the problems that we face are so many and so daunting that we may not solve them all in the lifetime of a presidency or even in our lifetime. But that is not the point. The point is not whether we would be able to solve all the problems; or whether I possess a magic wand that will turn our country into a paradise overnight.

"The point is that we can be the generation that starts it all. We can be the turning point generation; in whose time everything began to change. The generation that despite our differences, we are able to unite against poverty and hunger, because poverty and hunger spare no tribe or religion.

"We can be the generation that is ashamed to be labeled as the poverty capital of the world; and therefore, commit itself to do whatever it takes to remove this badge of dishonour on our country.

"We can be the generation that is collectively embarrassed to admit that we have more children out of school than any other country in the world and therefore, resolve to ensure that every Nigerian child, regardless of the circumstance of her parents, is guaranteed quality basic education."

Saraki also promised to develop targeted incentives to reverse the brain drain and keep professionals in the country.

He pointed out that "As long as some of our best and brightest brains still relocate to other countries to find fulfillment, then our job is not done. And this is why I want to be president".

He said, "I can do it. My portfolio of experience at the executive level, and at the highest legislative institution of our country, makes me a unique asset in democratic leadership at a time that calls for consensus building, cooperation and for compromise.

"I know how business works. I know how the goverment functions. And I know how the legislature operates. This diverse experience stands me out. And I will bring the experience to bear in getting the most critical constituencies behind the tough decisions that we must take if Nigeria must survive."

He said, "I will be president for all because I represent a Nigerian identity that is truly diverse, truly inclusive and truly Nigerian. I will be the bridge between the young and the old. I will be the bridge between Muslims and Christians and the public sector. I will be the bridge between North and South because I am the Nigerian for all Nigerians."

Meanwhile, in his declaration, Saraki said, "I will be President for all because I represent a Nigerian identity that is truly diverse, truly inclusive and truly Nigerian. I will be the bridge between the young and the old I will be the bridge between the public sector and private sector; I will be the bridge between Christians and Muslims and I will be the bridge between north and south and I am for all Nigerians.

"We can be the generation that commits to building a country on the principle of equal opportunity for all; a generation that gives equal chance to everyone; that is deliberate about policies that promote the inclusion of women and youth, as well as people living with disabilities; believing that we are only as strong as the weakest among us.

"We can be the generation that is determined to make ours the last generation in whose time people aspiring for public office would be judged based on the content of their character and their capacity not on which part of the country they come from, what language they speak or how they worship God."

The former senate president said that as long "as university lecturers still have reasons to embark on strike actions; as long our universities still rank outside the top 1000 in the world, then our job is not done.

"And this is why I want to be President, because I will ensure that our universities and higher education institutions are competitive and well-funded, adopting models and approaches that have served the most successful higher education systems in the world.

"As long as some of our best and brightest brains still relocate to other countries to find fulfillment, then our job is not done. And this is why I want to be President, because I will develop targeted incentives to reverse the brain drain and keep our professionals in the country."

"As long as a single village or forest in this country is controlled by terrorists, or bandits or any other criminal groups; as long as any of our citizen lives in fear; as long as our soldiers and other security agents do not get the right training, the right equipment and the right incentives, the job is not done.

"And it is for these citizens that I want to be President, because I will do everything to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian and everyone that live within our borders. I will ensure that all our men and women in uniform are well-trained, are well-paid and are well-equipped.

"As long as crude oil revenue remains the mainstay of our economy, and we remain so vulnerable to the volatility of international oil market, then the job is not done. And this is why I want to be President, because I will raise the revenue from the non-oil sectors to the same level as we currently earn from oil.

"As long as there are still people in this country who believe that they can break the laws of Nigeria with impunity; who think that crime has no consequences, then the job is not done. And this is why I want to be President, because I will ensure strict compliance with the rule of law and guarantee consequences for crime."

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