By Ozodinukwe Okenwa
This is a special day in the chequered history of our dear nation. I come before you humbly as a servant and not the ‘kabiyesi’. I come before you fully aware of the enormous responsibility I bear as the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). I come before you with a patriotic heart bearing neither malice nor ill-will against anyone, friends or enemies! As a leader, tested and trusted, I know that leadership entails doing good and taking hard decisions. What is paramount, however, ought to be the general interest of the people, the security of their lives and properties.
I recognise that politics in Nigeria is a dirty game but it is played by not only ‘dirty’ men and women but clean and honest gentlemen and women as well. Among us you can find reprobates but I dare say that paragons could also be found in our midst. In the world of politics everywhere around the globe there are no permanent enemies or friends but permanent interests. Nigeria is not an exception.
Today, I announce officially my candidature for the 2023 presidential election under the banner of my party, the APC. I had informed our President, Muhammadu Buhari, of my intention to succeed him in office come May 29 next year. And he had given me his blessings! Whatever insinuation being bandied about is none of my business.
Since that presidential visit to Aso Rock and down to Minna where I met and discussed with ‘Maradona’ in his majestic country-home many commentators, some ill-informed and others ignorant, had launched the ‘Asiwaju bashing’ as if they can do anything to stop me from ascending the throne when the old soldier retired to his cows in Daura.
I have endured enough vituperations, innuendoes and gossips because I remain the man to beat come 2023. It is forward ever, backward never for me.
Fellow compatriots, you would agree with me that I have paid my dues towards the greatness of this nation. If the measure I have given thus far should necessarily be the measure I would receive then I should ordinarily be crowned President. Without my support and mobilization, especially in the South-West, Buhari would not have become President!
President Buhari has indeed given his very best in a complex intricate situation for the past seven years. Those parroting his failure or inability to tame insecurity or improve the lot of Nigerians do not know how governance functions. A leader can only do his best leaving the rest for God. That is why leadership is described as a continuum.
No single leader can solve all the problems of our country and our people even if that leader happens to be a messiah or a dictator.
My fellow countrymen and women Nigeria remains a work in progress. Given our diversity and huge population it takes strong decisions and smart leadership to pull our country back from the brink, retaking her soul from the forces of separation and disunity. Together we can make Nigeria the giant of Africa we have all been dreaming about. Her greatness lies in our hands as patriots and workers!
Now that I have officially thrown my ‘Jagaban’ hat into the presidential ring the discussions around my ambition ought to be about my competence, ability or the quality I possess rather than my personal life and questions about my age, educational background and state of origin. The nay-sayers can go to hell!
I have what it takes to rule Nigeria as I did when I was the Governor of Lagos State. Lagos, under my command, changed for good. With vision and dedication to duty nothing is impossible to achieve. At the risk of sounding immodest or blowing my own trumpet I can say without any complex that Lagos is doing well due to the solid foundation I laid as the Chief Executive for eight eventful years.
Those that succeeded me and those that succeeded those that succeeded me had done a great job of positioning and re-positioning Lagos for the good of all. From Babatunde Fashola to Akinwunmi Ambode to the present Babajide Sanwo-Olu Lagos remains a reference point in Nigeria in terms of gubernatorial leadership quality. No state among the 36 could boast of a better score-card!
Upon assuming the national leadership of the country (following your massive votes, of course) I promise to tackle corruption without compromise. I promise to check the excesses of bandits and kidnappers. And Fulani herdsmen marauders. Boko Haram and other terrorists up north would be wiped out in a space of six months! Fraud at the public or private entreprises would be dealt with. Merit, reward for excellence and promotion of core traditional values would constitute our cardinal principles in power.
Compatriots, I promise upon being elected to work assiduously towards providing public goods and services; basic education, health, rule of law, security, power, roads and other infrastructural facilities. I will build on the solid achievements of the Buhari administration.
As a detribalized Nigerian with friends and enemies at every nook and cranny of our federation I believe I am a bridge-builder, a leader capable of uniting instead of dividing, achieving growth instead of embezzling what is already achieved. Your vote for me is a vote for a new Nigeria, one nation bound together by our collective love for her and faith in her capacity to lead the black race!
Critics are still talking about bullion van and other balderdash. I care less! Apart from the late Obafemi Awolowo, our political father, no leader from Yorubaland can claim any popularity near my profile. Not even ‘Baba’ OBJ! I challenge anyone (including the garrulous Ayo Fayose or Babafemi Ojudu) who says otherwise to come forward for an electoral contest.
Jagaban is never associated with failure anywhere. My determination to clinch the ticket of my party for the presidential poll of next year should never be in any doubt. Whoever the opposition put forward as a challenger would be trounced, mark my words! If the PDP makes the terible mistake of fielding Atiku Abubakar then the coast would be clearer.
Alhaji Atiku has more political baggages than myself. Maybe a national televised debate would expose the baggages and our line of defense. I recognise that I am not all strenghts. I have my weaknesses too!
It is not only money that would speak Hausa, Fulfude, Igbo, Yoruba, Efik or Ijaw but the ability to mobilize and organize your winning strategy.
With all due respect to the President and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces I am stronger health-wise and I am not yet as old as he is for God’s sake. The issue of life and death is in the hands of the Almighty. I can die tomorrow and I can as well live for another twenty or thirty years!
A kingmaker, I dare say, can be the king! And I intend to achieve it with all power at my disposition.
Please prepare your PVCs and get ready for a Jagaban ‘revolution’ come 2023. With God on our side victory is well assured in advance. You can take my word to the bank if you like.
Thank you for your time. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!