Vice President Osinbajo’s presidential declaration speech – Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

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Fellow Nigerians, a few moments ago, I met with President Muhammadu Buhari. I informed him that I wanted to succeed him as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Though it is not my life-long ambition, it has become imperative that to rescue Nigeria, we need someone to build on the achievements of President Buhari. I have looked around; I do not see anyone better suited to carry on that solemn assignment than my humble self.

As a great father of the nation, which Buhari is, he wished me well.

I took this bold step after a wide-ranging consultation with Nigerians of various ethnic, religious, and economic hues. I listened to market women and men, I sat down with the young and old, I heard from students and intellectuals, I broke bread with the unemployed and the underemployed, I accepted the counsel of traditional rulers and kingmakers across Nigeria, and more importantly, I weighed in the opinion of my wife and children. All the signals that I got were positive. Go PYO.

Unlike all those who want to rule you as their subjects, I offer myself to serve our great country, Nigeria, with utmost humility. Growing up in Lagos, I did not know that I would be where I am today – one heartbeat away from the presidency of this great country. Having been here, having seen all parts of Nigeria from a close range, having worked beside a great but humble leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for almost seven years now, having interacted with leaders at federal, state, and local government levels, I have a burning desire in me to continue with Buhari’s master-plan for Nigeria.

The masterplan may not be clear to some of you, my compatriots, but there is a masterplan coming together. The worldwide economic downturn, COVID-19 pandemic, and decades of lack of investments in Nigerian infrastructure may have blurred what President Buhari has achieved. But trust me, he has taken Nigeria to a new height. Though you may not feel it, you may not honestly say that you are better off today than you were in 2015, but believe me, in things that matter most, values and sincere leadership, our country is in a better place. 

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My fellow Nigerians, trust me when I say that no matter how dark it looks, we are on the right path. The temporary disruptions that we see today, the blurriness caused by the dust in the air should not blind us to the long time gains of our investments of this day. I share in your pains of this day of cultivation. Inshallah, we shall all smile soon as harvest time comes.

The Nigeria of 2015 was an active erosion site, swallowing homes, roads, and farmlands. What we have done is to channel the floodwater away from the site. Though the gullies are still collapsing and expanding at some places, fundamentally, we have plucked the remote causes. I seek the presidency to begin the next level of the project, which is to fill up the gullies, recover our once lost land and begin reconstruction. In my time as president, you will see mansions rising in our fatherland once overrun by ugly gullies.

I have looked around the field of those aspiring to be president. Though they may be honorable men and women in their own right, none of them has what it takes to complete the job that President Buhari started. This is not the time to bring in people who were not there when the corpse was buried and have them start digging from the legs.

Those of you who watched with amazement what I accomplished in those few days that President Buhari handed power to me can attest that if I get only four years to be the steward of this great nation, I will turn Nigeria into what Ronald Reagan called “a shining city on a hill.” 

 

As we know, some people are born corrupt. Some people have corruption swimming all around them. I am clothed in a bright gown of integrity. Integrity is modest, integrity is humble and integrity never fails to accomplish and excel. I never have and will never steal from the Nigerian people. Those who steal are greedy. Period. They never change. Please do not believe them when they say they are born-again. 

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I am vast in the rudiments of nation-building and sustainable economic growth. When I come into my own as president, that skill set will make all the difference. It helps that more than all the pretenders in the political arena, I am hardworking, I am committed to my stated goals and I am determined to rise above all my enemies and my competitors. My vision for Nigeria is clear and simple. I want Nigeria that is great but just, prosperous but fair and progressive but united. Justice, fairness and unity are very close to my heart. 

I have never cheated to be where I am in life. We are where we are as a nation because we have allowed some people to cheat and steal their ways to what we call success. I made myself what I am today by converting challenges into opportunities. That is the philosophy that I will bring to my presidency. I will deploy this philosophy to lure back our compatriots who have lost faith in the Nigerian project. They will give Nigeria a second chance when they see my sincerity of purpose.

I understand the internal factors dragging down the economy of Nigeria. I have the foreign and nationwide connections that I need to speed up the economic renaissance of our nation. When it comes to security concerns, I will take decisive actions to quell the lingering security problems across Nigeria. As someone close to the beaming youth of this nation, I know how to inspire them to deploy their restless energy into productive ventures. I have done it on tiny scales in line with my limited portfolio as vice president. As president, I will multiply my effort by 100 million folds.

 

Those who know me well will tell you that I am like water. I have no enemy. I will carry every part of the country along in the journey of Nigeria’s emancipation. Yes, that is what PYO stands for – total and final emancipation of Nigeria. We are all children of God, and the God that I serve does not discriminate. I firmly believe that what is good for my children must be extended to the children of the lowest citizen of our country. 

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I believe now is the time to reverse this current system where we leave a great majority of our people to wait for crumbs to trickle down to them from the table of the rich and mighty. When I am president, I will ensure that the least amongst us have the first choice before the mighty. Having run “TraderMoni” and school feeding program, having worked with young entrepreneurs starting a business, I know the potential in them. I will not let that potential go to waste anymore. 

 

I know what most of you are waiting to hear. What about my great friend and benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (aka BAT)? As you all know, I have tremendous respect for Asiwaju, Jagaban Borgu. But in matters of the fate of 200 million Nigerians, we cannot afford to let emotions rule us. The situation of Nigeria today is so critical. We need a healthy, vibrant, and untainted leader to handle the situation, now that we still can. 

 

The same goes for other aspirants from all the other political parties. We have no room to play around anymore. We have no space for people who will learn on the job. We have no patience for those carrying a truckload of toxic baggage. The urgency of our situation is palpable. 

For this and other reasons, I offer myself to serve our great nation by declaring my interest in running for president. It will be the greatest honor of my life to serve you all.

 

May God bless you all. And may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include “This American Life Sef”, “Children of a Retired God,” among others.