—2019: Saraki Declares to run for Presidency [Full Speech]
SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT A DIALOGUE WITH YOUTH AND YOUNG ASPIRANTS HELD AT SHERATON HOTEL, ABUJA, ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 30, 2018.
1. Let me say, once again, how wonderful it is to see so many talented and purposeful young people at this first edition of the Public Dialogue Series with Political Parties on Youth Candidacy and Party Primaries. Looking at you, I see future leaders who present themselves as capable and worthy to take on the mantle of leadership in this country, and this gladdens my heart.
2. From my interactions with many of you, and with your contemporaries across the country, I can see that we are blessed with a determined generation that stands ready to join with us to power a Nigerian renaissance. The quality of people I see here today affirms my belief that, indeed, you are Not Too Young To Run.
3. I deeply appreciate this opportunity to share some of my ideas about where we are as a nation, as well as the challenges before us as we approach the great decider that is the 2019 General Elections.
4. It is widely acknowledged that ours is a relatively ‘young’ country bursting with tremendous energy, ability and potential. More than 70 per cent of our population is under the age of 40. You are indeed the future of this country. Ordinarily, such a young population would be the envy of many Western countries that are faced with ageing populations, but the dire state of our affairs tarnishes the youthful advantage that we have.
5. 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. Our young people lack opportunities. The necessary education facilities and system to equip them for the future simply do not exist. We are not creating the jobs needed to usefully engage them in order to grow our economy. And too often, the youth feel shut out, prevented from having any say in the direction of this nation.
6. The harsh conditions of extreme poverty faced by the people, fuels the state of insecurity all over the country. Hunger, lack of education and lack of opportunities push many Nigerians into criminal activities including terrorism. Many of our communities are paralysed with fear – due to incessant communal crises, kidnappings and other social ills, as well as the threat of terrorism. We are failing abysmally to tackle the problems of today and to prepare for the future.
7. Our economy is broken and is in need of urgent revival in order for Nigeria to grow. 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.
8. 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.
9. We must ensure the security of lives in Nigeria. As things stand now, no one is safe in this country. No one feels truly safe. We must restore the sanctity of the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions in order to build a just, fair and equitable society for all. We must rebuild the trust of our people in government. We need a new generation of leaders that are competent, with the capability to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. We must pull this country back together and rebuild, block by block, with dedication and commitment.
10. You will agree with me that this is an urgent task that requires the concerted efforts of each and every one of us. If we look around today, what do we see? What is the condition of our citizens? Where are we as a nation? How are we perceived locally and internationally? Why are we not making the expected progress? Why are we not growing? There is no time to waste. The time is now, to come together to stimulate growth in Nigeria, especially in the national economy.
11. 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.
12. 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 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.
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