Why am I running?
1. Frankly, I am running based on the strong conviction that somebody needed to do this – I mean somebody ordinary, a true representative of the people. Over the years the rich and powerful have been consistently pushing the rest of us to the periphery, and far too many citizens of this nation have ended up falling off the edge. Politics has become a family business, with men ensuring their continued influence within that arena by ‘donating’ their wives and children to the cause. We have equally heard it over and over again: more than 80% of our resources is employed at the service of less than 20% of our population. That cannot be just, by any standard.
2. As a clear demonstration of what is stated above, witness the lavish spending that typically accompanies the political campaigns of the major political parties. Over N21 billion was raised at a single sitting for President Jonathan’s re-election campaign – and this at a time when austerity measures have just been announced to the country and some workers are being owed several months of salaries. Clearly, our resources are concentrated in the hands of a small group of people who, in their own eyes, are at liberty to do with it as they please. The Punch newspaper, in its editorial of 23rd December, 2014 characterized this development as “impunity taken too far”, given that our electoral laws stipulate that “the maximum election expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential election shall be N1 billion” while the maximum donation from an individual must not be in excess of N1 million. We cannot accept such conduct from our elected officers.
3. It is time for us to have leaders who will devote their energies to the business of governance – not spending so much time singing their own praises after every little achievement or attacking those who are perceived to be in opposition. A leader does not need adulation for doing that which he or she is elected to do; that is his or her duty. Leadership is an issue I have thought long and hard about and which has been explored in many of my writings, especially in my three books: A Trust to Earn – Reflections on Leadership and Life in Nigeria (2010); Igniting Consciousness – Nigeria and Other Riddles (2013); Daybreak Nigeria – This Nation Must Rise! (2014).
4. The pressure to satisfy different interest groups within the political party often prevents even a well-intentioned elected officer from working effectively for the good of the people. Positions to be filled by appointment are therefore multiplied (assistants, special assistants, special advisors, senior special advisors, etc.), depleting available resources. From our experience as a nation, it is clear that certain interests within the big political parties become extremely powerful and manage to exert a stranglehold both on the elected officers and the people they are supposed to serve, thus ensuring our lack of development. The time is probably ripe for a whole new breed of leaders who will be able to face squarely, without any interference or distraction, the important task of governance.
5. Our people deserve better than they are getting. Nigerians are a hard-working and resilient people, but far too many of them suffer all forms of deprivation and exclusion. It cannot be that hard for our people to be provided with the basic necessities of life – if only there is the will to do it. It is the role of government to serve the interest of all the people, not select a few to whom largesse is shown (e.g. through the distribution of pepper grinding machines, motorcycles, etc.). It was Mrs. Hilary Clinton who said that Nigerian leaders “are able but unwilling” to make life better for their citizens. That is a serious indictment. It needs to be reversed.
6. Finally, my decision to run is also about the image which the nation seeks to project at this time. There is no doubt that Nigeria’s image has suffered considerable damage in recent years, due primarily to the actions and inactions of our leaders. I believe we stand at a very crucial moment in our history as a nation. We have a choice to make. We could continue with what we have always known, recycling the same old people who are actually mostly responsible for putting us in our present predicament. Or we could choose to seize the opportunity of the moment and take a bold step forward, making a clean break with the pervasive culture of extravagance and impunity at the leadership level by electing people who, by their words and their personal lifestyle, will be able to inspire the generality of the people to give their best to their fatherland and thereby prove that the pursuit of our collective prosperity is far more beneficial on the long run.
7. There is no doubt that some progress has been recorded in certain sectors of our socio-economic life. However, the prevalence of corruption within the system seriously undermines the impact that such progress could have made in the lives of the people. It is time for those who are fed up with the current state of affairs to seek to play their part in bringing about the real change they desire. That is why I am running, and I invite like-minded people to come, and let us “run” together.