Distinguished citizens of our great nation, Nigeria: elder statesmen and stateswomen; political leaders from across geopolitical zones and party lines; policymakers and bureaucrats from the national and subnational levels of government; representatives of civil society; private sector stakeholders; the intelligentsia, opinion moulders and thought leaders from various institutions of knowledge; students and youth, the posterity of this great nation; Nigerians at home and in the diaspora joining us via various media platforms; friends of Nigeria across the African continent and the world; Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press: It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this distinguished gathering.
The Dreams of our Founding Patriots
Today, we converge in our nation’s capital to collectively take a historic step towards the realisation of a possible Nigeria. When our founding patriots resolved to live as one nation under God, they had a dream of a Nigeria whose diverse peoples would be knitted together though tribes and tongues may differ; a nation bound in freedom and peace, and a people united against the common enemies of poverty, corruption and insecurity; a Nigeria where the little boy in Abeokuta where I was born and the Almajiri in Sokoto where I lived as a child would find common ground in the quest for a future worth looking forward to; a Nigeria where the fisherman in Okpoama Kingdom in Bayelsa State, on whose creeks I was once hosted like a brother, would find common purpose with the cattle owner in Kano, in whose city I have built enduring friendships; a Nigeria where the enterprising men and women of Onitsha, some with whom I have built businesses, would have the absolute liberty to build successful enterprises anywhere in the country; a Nigeria where the Christians of Jos and Southern Kaduna, several of whom I have sat with and prayed for in the search for justice and reconciliation, would live in peace and harmony with the Muslims in Jos and Northern Kaduna with whom I share a common Islamic history.
The Realities of Nigerians
In the course of decades of diverse nation-building engagements with the Nigerian people across the nation, from representing individuals and businesses as a lawyer trained by Chief Gani Fawehinmi, GCON, SAN, and Chief Rotimi Williams, SAN, to building businesses across diverse sectors including manufacturing and aviation, from bearing the burdens of individuals and families and speaking truth to power as a pastor, to improving healthcare delivery in communities and facilitating transformation in education outcomes, from leading reformatory civil society movements on the platform of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) across the states of the federation and mediating in interethnic and communal clashes in some of Nigeria’s conflict hotbeds, to campaigning as a vice-presidential candidate in the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, I have seen enough to realise that the Nigerian dream is not yet the reality of most Nigerians with whom I am forever conjoined far beyond the bond of geography.
I can relate to the nine-year-old walking to and from the public tap every day to fetch sixty-four pails of water to make ends meet. I have been there, too. I recognise the relentless drive that propels young people to do odd jobs – from being a ‘washerman’ to washing plates at restaurants. I have been there, too. The man who lays his head under the bridge after a hard day is a kindred spirit; I have been there, too. I have walked in the shoes of those young men and women of Nigeria who were first in their
families to attend and sponsor themselves through university. I, too, have walked the paths of hunger, poverty and shame; that is why the vast majority of Nigerians who live with these realities remain my family; my brothers, my sisters.
I stand here before you today mindful of the realities, but hopeful enough to offer myself as a bridge; a bridge connecting the dreams of our founding patriots to the highway of every Nigerian dream; the ones deferred and the ones you still wake up to each morning; a bridge between today’s Nigeria and the one you know is possible. I stand here today to acknowledge that the realisation of my dreams was facilitated by Nigeria. I first saw the four walls of a classroom only because Nigeria footed the bill and asked me only to serve her with love, strength and faith in return. The bedrock for all I would become was laid by an inclusive free education policy that gave me a head start despite abject lack. Nigeria made many of the stories of my generation possible, so we cannot now in good conscience bequeath anything less than a New Nigeria in which every dream is possible.
Twelve Years of Engaging the Government
The inadequacies of the Nigerian experience have kept propelling me to seek lasting solutions, and have led me from the grassroots to Aso Rock in my quest to be a reconciliatory bridge between what was, what is and what should be. With the utmost fidelity to truth and integrity, I have remained committed to engaging the government at the highest level. For President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, not only did we mobilise Nigerians through the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) at a time of great confusion to ensure he became the substantive president of Nigeria, we also provided him with a framework to “Save and Transform Nigeria,” worked with him on efforts to reengineer Nigeria’s governance structure, and supported him through a difficult transition process in 2015.
As running mate to the then General Muhammadu Buhari in the 2011 elections, the current president and I designed a framework to rebuild Nigeria and make Nigeria work for every Nigerian. That framework was adopted as the manifesto of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and would form the bedrock for the manifesto of APC. The thrust of that framework was the reengineering of Nigeria towards the emergence of six geoeconomic powerhouses that can compete with world-class cities; a well-structured and well-governed nation that would guarantee the security and welfare of every Nigerian. It is not too late for this dream and others like it to come to pass.
The Challenges of Ongoing Efforts and A Path Forward
Fellow Nigerians, I am not here to gloss over your disappointments or ignore the fact that even the most genuine efforts of government over the decades have not taken away your pain; I, for one, can relate to the frustrations of Nigerian business owners as they lose around $29 billion annually to poor electricity,1 even as we count the gains of such projects as the Presidential Power Initiative. I cannot ignore the glaring reality that even my best intentions and modest contributions have barely been a drop in an ocean of possibilities. Yet, I have continued to rise to the occasion, I have continued to participate, I have continued to insist. Whether by running for the office of Student Union president as a young man at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), or by collaborating with eminent stakeholders at such fora as the 2014 Centenary National Conference, whether by propagating the promise of the New Nigeria from universities to think-tanks around the world, or by building businesses that employ Nigerians, I have continued to find ways within the limits of private citizenship to improve the status quo.
Today, I am offering myself to close the distance between the Nigerian reality and every Nigerian dream; to unlock the power of public policy to accelerate transformation; to infuse our young people with a surge of hope for what is possible; to roll my sleeves up and work to solve Nigeria’s most intractable problems; to build a cutting-edge nation at the forefront of innovation; to create a new dynamic of belonging in which everyone has a seat and a say; I am committed to the realisation of A New Nigeria for Every Nigerian in my lifetime. This is why I am formally announcing that I am running for the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 elections.
The Four Mandates of My Administration
As president, my administration will deliver on four mandates, namely
Peace, Progress, Prosperity and Possibilities.
The Peace Mandate
The Peace Mandate will achieve our policy thrust on Nationhood, Leadership, Governance and National Security. Through the Peace Mandate, we will reconcile and reintegrate the Nigerian people into true nationhood; galvanise a broad-based and competent leadership that can unify Nigeria and harness our enormous potential; lead our nation on a pragmatic pathway to governance structure reforms; end the scourge of insecurity; and guarantee the safety and security of every Nigerian within Nigeria’s borders.
We will address the grave wounds of the past and present and lay to rest the politics of suspicion. Towards achieving true nationhood, among other policies and programmes, we will establish the Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Rebirth whose Board of Trustees will consist of three eminent Nigerians from each of our six geopolitical zones. These eighteen Nigerians with bridge- building antecedents will include traditional monarchs, former Heads of State, religious leaders and statesmen and stateswomen, while ensuring representation of youth and vulnerable groups. The Commission will be mandated to, within the first one hundred days of our administration, engage every aggrieved group in Nigeria and secure their commitment to dialogue for true nationhood. Then, within two years, the Commission will acknowledge and reconcile every past and current national and subnational group grievance and foster the integration of the diverse sectional groups in Nigeria into true nationhood. Peace will not just be a word on our Coat of Arms; it will become the Nigerian reality.
To give Nigeria the leadership we need at this time, I will spearhead governance with adequate presidential political will. In relation to the legislative and judicial arms of government, I will respect the ideal of separation of powers while providing the presidential backing to legislative agendas that the constitution permits the president. I will also respect the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary; to act above the law would be beneath my office.
As the executive leader of the nation, I will not lead alone. Through decades of engagement as a nation builder, I have worked with diverse teams of Nigeria’s best and brightest across sectors within Nigeria and in the diaspora, drawn from every geopolitical zone in Nigeria. As president, I will create an enabling environment that stimulates and rewards passion and ingenuity.
I will also work with political leaders in our party and across party lines who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the national interest. In addition to this core team of technocrats and political leaders, we will mobilise a pool of competent Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora into a National Human Capital Database (NHCD). We will deploy these leaders to every sector of public governance with clearly defined performance indicators and evaluation metrics. Nigeria will be a nation in which the best, brightest, fittest and most competent are once again attracted into public service, from the highest office in the land to the offices in your local government. The youth of Nigeria will no longer be left out of leadership in Nigeria: My cabinet will be one of the most intergenerational in Nigeria’s history and my administration will also vitalise the Not Too Young To Run Act by instituting a Presidential Young Leaders’ Programme (PYLP) that will attract, train, mentor, appoint and back young Nigerian men and women to run for office.
As we embark on governance reforms, we will make Nigeria a Cutting- Edge Nation, a nation in which government is nimble and agile, proximal in impact, technology-facilitated, knowledge-driven, wisdom- governed, service-oriented and glocal in outlook. To achieve this, we will implement public sector reforms towards efficient and effective Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), leveraging existing studies and recommendations.
Furthermore, we will provide political leadership towards a pragmatic approach to constitutional reforms, with a view to decentralising governance, devolving powers to subnational governments, empowering local governments, strengthening the federal government’s capacity to facilitate national development, and empowering the Nigerian people to contribute to constitutional reforms through referendums. Fellow Nigerians, government will become more mobile and will come closer to you.
On National Security, first of all, I must acknowledge members of the armed forces including the military, the police, the intelligence agencies and the paramilitary and civil defence agencies who daily lay down their lives in the defence of our people and territory. To boost their effort, we will rebuild our national security architecture to adequately identify, anticipate and address our security threats. The new national security architecture will see the strengthening of the intelligence system to include an independent Office of the Director of National Intelligence that will coordinate all the intelligence agencies.
In addition, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) will be reconstituted into a more modern, fully equipped and technology-enabled National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) with federal jurisdiction. The federal policing architecture will be supported by subnational policing systems which will in turn be supported to form interstate Zonal Commissions. Furthermore, we will invest in surveillance technologies, deploy border sensors and drones, and harness the National Identity Management scheme to detect and prevent threats to national security. We will reactivate the blueprint for such world-class military training that once gave Nigeria highly competent armed forces as a newly independent nation. With our reforms, we will have a highly equipped, technology- empowered, adequately remunerated and highly skilled police service and armed forces for whom respect for human rights is non-negotiable. We will secure our borders, streets and highways, and lay the groundwork for accelerated progress.
The Progress Mandate
Through the Progress Mandate, we will cater to Human Development sectors including Education, Healthcare and Family and Social Development. Under the Progress Mandate, we will alleviate poverty in the short-term by offering safety nets to our most vulnerable while implementing long-term poverty eradication policies. We will also develop a healthy and highly skilled workforce that will drive our national growth and development objectives. Furthermore, under this mandate, we will protect the vulnerable and foster equity and social inclusiveness in access to opportunities.
As part of a broader range of policies, we will achieve the Progress Mandate by establishing, in each geoeconomic zone, a medical city with health industry clusters affiliated to the teaching hospitals as well as the secondary and primary health centres in each zone. This will improve the quality of healthcare delivery in tertiary, secondary and primary health centres across the country and will provide incentives for our doctors and nurses to practice here in Nigeria. In addition, we will broaden the scope of the National Health Insurance Scheme to ensure that no Nigerian life is dispensable. Our medical cities will give the primary school teacher access to the same quality of healthcare that is currently available only to those who can afford to travel to cities like Dubai.
Furthermore, under the Progress mandate, we will launch an Educate to Industrialise Nigeria (EIN) agenda, which will see a productive linkage between academia and the industrial clusters in each geoeconomic zone. This will boost research, attract funds to our universities and polytechnics and ensure that our students are equipped for the opportunities of the 21st century. The output of our institutions will be graduates who are equipped not only with degrees and predictable pipelines of jobs, but also with actionable and fundable business plans should they opt for an entrepreneurial pathway. In line with the EIN agenda, we will prioritise funding the education sector through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Intervention Fund.
In addition, under the Progress Mandate, we will ensure women’s representation that meets and surpasses the thirty-five per cent recommendations of the National Gender Policy in public sector appointments. We will furthermore adopt an inclusive policy that will unleash the multifaceted potential of the Nigerian youth, as well as harness the skills and competences of persons living with disabilities.
The Prosperity Mandate
The Prosperity Mandate will cater to our policy thrust on Economic Management and Infrastructure Delivery. We will achieve the Prosperity Mandate by launching the Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan (N-GDP) on day one of my inauguration as president. The Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan (N-GDP) is a new way of looking at our GDP; therefore, you would be right to refer to it as The New GDP. Guided by the N-GDP, we will rebuild Nigeria’s economy around six competitive geoeconomic zones, triple Nigeria’s GDP to $1.5 trillion by 2030, and industrialise Nigeria around the hub-and-spoke model of industrialisation. This will see the emergence of industrial cities in each geoeconomic zone made of several industrial clusters. The industrial clusters will in turn be linked to feeder hubs and enterprise zones in the respective regions. The N-GDP will guide our policies, institutions and investments across various sectors including Solid Minerals, Agriculture, Manufacturing, and SMEs.
Furthermore, as part of the Progress Mandate, on infrastructure delivery, we will align the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) with the Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan (N-GDP). We will consolidate ongoing developments in transportation by redirecting investments towards a systematic and multimodal transportation agenda. Through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), we will build a 10-lane 3,000km North-South superhighway which will be systematically linked to regional roads and subways feeding each geoeconomic zone.
Still as part of our infrastructure delivery agenda, we will execute a decentralised, private sector-driven electricity reform agenda that will see the generation of up to 100,000MW of on-grid and off-grid electricity by 2030 as part of the Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan (N-GDP). We will do this by broadening the national energy mix and harnessing geoeconomic comparative advantages in energy generation including solar, hydro, nuclear, thermal, natural gas, biomass, wind and other energy sources. To attract competent investors, the entire electricity value chain from generation to transmission to distribution will be integrated and progressively decentralised to allow for competitive subnational investments in the sector. Parts of the world are light years ahead of Nigeria; there must at the very least be light in Nigeria.
The Possibilities Mandate
The Possibilities Mandate will cater to our policy thrust in Science, Technology and Innovation; Foreign Policy; Sustainability; and Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Sports (ACETS).
The objectives of the Possibilities Mandate include Nigeria’s leapfrogging as a leader in the fourth industrial revolution as well as our emergence as a global hub of creative and cultural industries. It also includes projecting the elements of Nigeria’s national power in defence of our national interest, protecting Nigerian citizens across the globe, and providing leadership on the African continent. In addition, the Possibilities Mandate is aimed at conserving Nigeria’s national wealth and resources for the benefit of future generations, even as we meet the needs of the present generation of Nigerians.
As part of a wide range of policies aimed at achieving the Possibilities Mandate, we will adopt a two-fold Foreign Policy Thrust, namely the Trans-Saharan and the Trans-Atlantic thrusts. This two-fold policy thrust will roughly model the broad international influences that have shaped our relationship with the world since the precolonial era. Our foreign policy strategy will provide soft and hard power leverage in prosecuting the war against insurgency and terrorism.
To further achieve the Possibilities Mandate, we will establish regional Science, Technology and Innovation Parks in each of the six geoeconomic regions in line with the Nigerian Geoeconomic
Development Plan (N-GDP). In addition, we will institute an endowment fund and work with the private sector to turn our Arts, Culture, Entertainment, Tourism and Sports (ACETS) into our national assets.
Financing the Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan
To finance the Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan (N-GDP), as president, I will be the Marketer-in-Chief of Nigeria’s economic potential. I will lead Nigeria with the conviction that a clear-cut national vision can unleash our nation’s enormous wealth. A bankable national business model, creatively and passionately communicated, can alter the flow of wealth in the direction of any nation.
Through an aggressive focus on marketing the Nigerian economy that is based not on commodity prices but our enormous potential, on the viability of the Nigerian Geoeconomic Development Plan (N-GDP), and on the integrity and ability of my administration, we will attract $2 trillion worth of foreign and domestic direct investment to the Nigerian economy in current naira value in less than a decade.2
Imagine what we can do together when we mine real national wealth not merely from the oil fields of the South South or the bitumen fields of the South West or the coal mines of the South East or the gold mines of the
2 Nigeria needs about N348 trillion or over $800 billion to fund the Medium-Term National Development Plan which subsists until 2025. We will require more than double that amount to fund the N-GDP to achieve the desired geoeconomic development objectives within a decade.
North West or the fertile plains of the North Central or the gem fields of the North East, but from the cumulative ideas of the Nigerian people at home and in the diaspora.
By embracing the cutting-edge philosophy of governance which I will offer to Nigerians as president, we will, together as a nation, with the help of God, build A New Nigeria for Every Nigerian; where the individual capacities of our citizens converge towards the national interest because men and women of integrity hold office and lay out a highly compelling national vision; a new Nigeria where no one goes to bed hungry and no child is left out of school without access to quality education; where our homes, schools, streets, villages, highways and cities are safe and secure, and Nigerians can work, play or travel with their minds at rest, and go to bed with their hearts at peace; a Nigeria where our hospitals are life-saving institutions and every Nigerian has access to good quality healthcare; where youth are gainfully employed and our young men and women are job creators; where businesses thrive on innovation and made-in-Nigeria can compete anywhere in the global market; where homes and businesses have access to uninterrupted power supply and ideas are facilitated by functional infrastructure and cutting- edge technology; where no part of our nation – North, South, East or West – feels marginalised and every Nigerian is proud to say, “I am a Nigerian;” a nation that will become the Peace, Progress, Prosperity and Possibilities capital of the world.
Thank you for listening, and thank you for your support. God bless you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.