…Says Nigerians now divided along ethnic, religious lines
Fred Itua, Abuja
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday, formerly announced his intention to contest next year’s presidential election.
Saraki’s declaration confirms Daily Sun’s exclusive report of Monday which predicted Thursday’s event.
He made the announcement at a meeting with young political aspirants, at the Sheraton Hotel. According to him, with the daunting challenges facing Nigeria, the country needs someone with the right qualities to surmount them.
He said as President, he will run an all-inclusive government, where every Nigerian will have a sense of belonging. He told the gathering that his government would work for everyone.
“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 youths 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 said.
Speaking specifically on his plans and what he intends to do, Saraki said: “ 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.
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“ 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 deploy 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 create wealth for our people, especially the youths.
“I want to see the youths play major roles at all levels, not only in government but also in the private sector and indeed in every area. This will be a government driven by youthful energy, innovation and a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit. Nigerian youths will be given all the opportunities to realise their potential to the full within a national framework that guarantees inclusiveness. For youths 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 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 freedom. 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 life matters.”
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Decrying the hardship and ethnic divisions in 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.
“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.”