Nigeria’s senate president Bukola Saraki said Thursday that the need to urgently reposition Nigeria for a better future was the major reason behind his decision to contest for the presidency.
Saraki joined another senator and former Nigeria’s vice president as the four members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party to have officially their intention to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Ahmed Makarfi, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Atiku Abubakar have earlier declared their intentions to run for the presidency.
Apart from Makarfi, other aspirants defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress, with the Saraki being the most recent defector.
Buhari has been widely criticised for his handling of the economy and spate of killings carried out by suspected herdsmen, especially in the north-central part of the country.
In his defence, Buhari claimed that the killings were sponsored by some politicians opposed to his government’s policies.
But in his address at the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, Saraki said Buhari’s performance as the president has been woeful.
“Hunger, lack of education and lack of opportunities push many Nigerians into criminal activities including terrorism,” he said.
“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.”
As Nigeria’s election seasons draws closer, Saraki said the country is faced with the choice of either maintaining the status quo or make a radical departure from the old ways.
Speaking to a youthful audience, the Senate president struck a tone of being in tune with the yearnings of Nigeria’s large army of young people, some of whom President Buhari referred to as “lazy youth”.
“A lot of them (Nigerian youths) haven’t been to school and they are claiming, you know, that Nigeria has been an oil-producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing and get housing, health care, education, free,” Buhari said.
But Saraki said his government will be driven by “youthful energy”.
He also promised to re-engineer the country’s infrastructure, reposition the economy and redesign the country’s “security architecture”.
Although he has been accused of being corrupt at different times without a conviction, the former Kwara State governor said he will launch an anti-corruption campaign that will not be selective.