Senate President Bukola Saraki has formally declared his intention to run for presidency in 2019.
Saraki, who made the declaration at a dialogue with youth and young aspirants in Abuja on Thursday, recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
According to him, “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 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians,” he told his audience.
The Senate President thereafter, outlined his plans for a better Nigeria thus:
“My Plan for Nigeria has inclusion in all aspects of the country’s affairs as a central pillar. 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. No matter who you voted for or what your convictions are, government must work for you.
“Your generation does not deserve to live in the poverty capital of the world. It is no longer an issue of how we got here, but how do we get out of this situation? I promise you that I will lead the fight and employ every God-given resource available to us in turning things around. I am determined to grow Nigeria out of poverty. We will stimulate the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as one of the ways of energising the economy and to create wealth for our people, especially the youth.
“I want to see the youth play major roles at all levels, not only in government but also in the private sector and indeed in every area of Nigerian life. This will be a government driven by youthful energy, innovation and a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit. Nigerian youth will be given all the opportunities to realise their potential to the full within a national framework that guarantees inclusiveness. For youth who have ideas and capacity, we will make sure that there is funding for their ventures; and we shall build on the Made in Nigeria legislation as part of our job creation drive.
“My plan is to secure Nigeria by redesigning our national security architecture, while adequately equipping our security agencies to fulfil their primary role of protecting lives and property.
“I will address our infrastructural deficit through aggressive financing initiatives including mutually beneficial PPP arrangements, regular floating of bonds and other financial instruments, which will ensure stable, adequate and reliable funding to see to the completion of core projects especially road, rail and power.
“My plan is to protect all Nigerians and defend their constitutional rights and freedoms. I will stand for and uphold at all times the principle of the rule of law, which is the bedrock of democratic governance.
“Ours will not be a selective fight against corruption. The emphasis will be on strengthening institutions, with a particular focus on deterrence. We cannot afford to compromise our institutions with proxy wars against perceived political opponents. We see the fight against corruption as crucial to Nigeria’s economic development.
“I offer leadership driven by empathy. Where leaders are responsive to the citizens. Where they know that government cares. We will not be indifferent or turn a blind eye to the real concerns of our people. Every single Nigerian lifematters.
“For me, the leadership we deserve is one that will be a source of pride to all Nigerians, one that will be respected and admired in Africa and around the world. It should be a leadership that can hold its own and stand tall anywhere in the world. That is the type of leadership I offer.
“As a former two-term Governor and currently President of the Senate by the grace of God, I believe I possess a unique blend of executive and legislative experience to push for and implement reforms that will deliver real improvements in the daily lives of our people. I know what it takes to create jobs and grow the economy. I can make the tough decisions when it matters. I will spearhead a new agenda that can transform the lives of ordinary Nigerians in real terms.
“Believe me when I say that it will not be business as usual. This will be a dynamic government of action that will pursue the growth of Nigeria with doggedness, determination and conviction. I will lead a result-driven administration. We shall set targets with clear timelines to ensure that anticipated deliverables are met. You can benchmark us and hold us accountable. In short, I assure you that I will deliver on all promises. What I envision is a new chapter in governance in this country. We will be driven by what is best for Nigerians.
“I have deliberately chosen the opportunity of being here with you, my Number One constituency who I see as the future of our great country, to make my intention known. I believe the Nigerian youth are critical to rebuilding and growing the economy, and restoring our national pride.
“I therefore ask you and all well-meaning Nigerians to join hands with me in this noble cause.
“My brothers, My sisters, Let’s Grow Nigeria Together.”