The Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Thursday, a day after he met with Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, declared his intention to run for the office of the President of Nigeria.
Saraki, since his defection to the strongest opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been consulting past leaders. He visited former Head of State General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida; then former President Olusegun Obasanjo and recently he visited Ex-President Jonathan.
His declaration came 24 hours after his colleague in the Senate, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, declared to run for the same office.
The PDP presidential primaries could be apparently described as the main election considering the number of political heavyweights contesting for the party’s ticket.
Saraki will face Senator Kwankwaso who at his declaration on Wednesday shut down Utako with his followers who came in mass to show their support. Others seeking for the PDP ticket are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gomber, Ex-Governor Sule Lamido, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, and others.
The Senate President made his declaration at a public dialogue organized by the #NotTooYoungToRun Movement, a youth group that successfully lobbied for the passage of a new law that reduced the age qualification for political offices in Nigeria. The group had however distant itself from the senate president after his declaration.
“The movement wishes to express its disappointment with Senator Saraki for usurping a platform designed for young aspirants to dialogue with party leadership to advance his personal political ambition. We strongly condemn this act by the President of the Senate and dissociates ourselves from this political move,” the organizers of the #NotTooYoungToRun event said.
The leaders of PDP were invited to the event themed; “Youth Candidacy and the Future of Nigeria Beyond 2019,” with Saraki as a keynote speaker.
The Senate President in his address told the youth that; “Your generation does not deserve to live in the poverty capital of the world.”
He then said that he has decided to answer the call of the youth who have asked him to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I have decided to answer the call of teeming youth who have asked me to run for President,” he said.
“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.”
He further promised to lead a genuine fight against corruption and poverty and also use every resource available to turn things around in the country.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.”