Dear friends, as the presidential campaign draws to a close, let us talk – Nigerian to Nigerian.
My interactions with Nigerians from all over the country over the last few months have left me with an overwhelming sense of the expectations the citizens of Nigeria hold for the future.
There was a little girl who donated her savings because she believes in our campaign.
The young men and women at our campaign rallies who run after our motorcade, screaming ‘Change’.
The fisherman in Bayelsa who lost his livelihood because of the polluted Ogboinbiri River.
The welder from Ibadan who struggles under the weight of poor power supply.
This campaign has been about them, and millions of others who have been let down by their government. From Enugu to Edo, Cross Rivers to Kano, Ondo to Benue, and everywhere in between, Nigerians are tired of the status quo. Without exception, they want a more secure living environment, better economic opportunities, and a more accountable government, they want a country they can be proud of.
My experience has confirmed that there is no Muslim Nigeria or Christian Nigeria, no Northern Nigeria or Southern Nigeria. There is only one Nigeria, a country where citizens continue to forge ahead despite the challenges we face; a country that we all, both home and abroad, hope and pray achieves its full potential.
I have dedicated my life to the service and continued existence of this one Nigeria, both as a military officer and a civilian. In the course of this service, I have overseen the building of refineries and protected Nigeria from aggressors, both internal and external. My time as Head of State, was not perfect; mistakes were made. Some of you may not support me because of those mistakes but I assure you that I feel the pain of everyone who experienced undue hardship. Others like Lola Shoneyin and Tunde Thompson have been gracious enough to look beyond these mistakes and accept my offer of a partnership to build a new Nigeria we can all be proud of. My appeal to you is that you find it in your hearts to do the same.
As I said at Chatham House, being the leader at the time, I take responsibility for those mistakes and state again that before you is a converted democrat who has submitted to and will continue to submit himself to a true democratic process.
I talk about a partnership because to surmount the grave issues Nigeria will have to contend with, leading will require your commitment and cooperation. Our country is at an all-time low. Poverty and unemployment have reached unprecedented high, and insecurity threatens the lives and wellbeing of every single person within our borders—a situation that I myself have experienced directly. Still, nothing can erode my optimism about our country Nigeria. I believe this country can be great again. I believe that with effective and transparent leadership, the eradication of corruption and respect for the rule of law, things can change for the better.
Let me be frank, Nigeria is not going to change overnight. The damage that the PDP has wrought on this country is not going to change overnight. But if we want a country you can be proud of in the next eight years, in the next decade, then this is the time to stop the madness, this is the time to tell your leaders that they need to be afraid of you, this is the time to show that you won’t be taken for granted, this is the time to show the present crop that if they fail, they will be punished.
Even in voting for me, you will be sending me a clear message, that if I don’t fulfil my promises, you have the power to decide who leads you and how they lead you.
I have served Nigeria will everything I have, without taking anything that I did not earn. If anyone has evidence that proves otherwise, I challenge them to present it. Many lies have been circulated about my person but like I always say, while they continue to lie, we shall continue to reinforce the truth.
So, today, let me make you a promise that will not be broken.
The reason we are doing this is clear. This is about creating a Nigeria where you and your father and your mother and your children can be safe, this is about this is about creating a nation where children can go to schools where they actually learn and can compete in the world, this is about building a country where corruption and waste, and stealing and irresponsibility can be wiped out, so that government officials stop giving entrepreneurs and creative people handouts, but actually do the hard work of creating an economy that creates wealth for everyone.
This is about creating a country that is serious about compete g in the global economy. This is about creating a country whose passport will not be insulted whenever you leave our country. This is about building a nation where your child can truly be great, whether he is born in Abakaliki, or in school in Akure, or about to get married in Auchi.
I would like to thank everyone who has been on this journey with us, and thank Nigerians who received us with warmth everywhere we campaigned. On the 28th of March and the 11th of April, use your PVC to get the desired change that will enable you and your children to be proud of this country once again.
God bless you, and God bless Nigeria