The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on Thursday formally declared his intention to run for president in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The public declaration which was done with fanfare at the Chelsea Hotel, Abuja, is in spite of the PDP’s position to zone the presidential ticket to the north.
The event witnessed the attendance of a number of party loyalists amidst tight security.
In his speech, titled, “We Can Do It, We Will Do It”, Mr. Fayose said his intention to run for president in 2019 on the platform of the PDP “is without prejudice to our party’s position.”
“Most importantly, despite that the party has zoned the presidency to the North, it may interest you that no one has come out in this manner to show interest and our party should not wait or beg anyone to fly its flag,” he said.
“Do we now say that if no one comes out from the North, the party won’t have a candidate?”
Justifying his declaration despite the zoning of the ticket, Mr. Fayose argued that late Abubakar Rimi and Barnabas Gemade vied for the ticket in 1999 and 2003 respectively despite the fact that it was zoned to the south.
“Also in 2007, some party members from the South did not only declare their intention to contest, they also showed interest and obtained nomination forms. Those from the South were Chief Victor Attah, Dr. Peter Odili, Dr. Sam Egwu, Dr. Donald Duke, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, Owelle Rochas Okorocha among others. This, in itself, assisted in deepening democracy,” he argued.
The governor said Nigerians were desirous of a president with the capacity to change their fortunes.
“Furthermore, we must be mindful of the fact that our party needs a candidate like me, with a penchant for defeating incumbents,” he added.
He recalled that he twice defeated incumbents to become the Governor of Ekiti State and expressed the confidence that he would defeat the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, in a free and fair election.
“Let me state that in Ekiti, God has used me twice for our party to regain power from the opposition and I believe same feat will be repeated at the national level,” he boasted.
“I do not stand before Nigerians today to present myself as one with the answers to all our national questions. Rather, I present myself as one with the required knowledge, understanding, competence and, above all, the political will to coordinate the human and material resources that we have in abundance to achieve national greatness.”
He also noted the country’s economic situation, saying the story was better when the PDP ruled the country.
“Scarcity of food last experienced when President Buhari was Military Head of State between 1983 and 1985 has returned to the country, with Nigerians going to bed daily on empty stomach,” he lashed out at the present administration.
“Regrettably, a bag of rice that was N7, 000 when PDP was in government is now N17, 000!
“Allocation from the Federation Account to the three tiers of government has declined to such a level that most states can no longer carry out the basic obligation of paying workers’ salary.
“Under the present government, our economy recorded its second worst investment inflow in 10 years. Exchange rate that was N197/dollar in 2015 is now over N360/dollar.”
Mr. Fayose also used the occasion to criticise the federal government for what he described as the worsening security situation in the country.
According to him, Nigerians are being killed by Boko Haram insurgents while villages are being attacked in the North-east. He added that herdsmen were killing Nigerians and destroying farmlands with reckless abandon and that kidnapping is on the rise.
“Most worrisome is the fact that our country is now more divided than ever before, with the unity of the country being threatened due to nepotism, religious bigotry and favouritism of the present government,” he said.
“Unemployment has risen to an alarming level. Instead of creating three million jobs per year as promised, millions of jobs are being lost daily, with many companies folding up. This government has successfully wiped off the middle-class.
“Like they lied to win election, the APC government of President Buhari has been deceitful for over two years and an end must come to this deceptive government by 2019.”
Mr. Fayose said he was capable of leading the country to economic revival and return the economy to the path of progress that it was before the APC came to power.
He said he will not travel abroad for medical attention when he becomes president of Nigeria.
“As a governor, I encouraged my children to attend schools here in Nigeria and I have never travelled abroad for medicare. This, I hope to sustain as president of Nigeria by making sure that our schools and health facilities are of international standard,” Mr. Fayose said.
“We will ensure diversification of the economy through agriculture, adequate supply of power and massive industrialization, thereby creating employment for our youths. We can do it, and we will do it.
“With me as your President, you can be rest assured of a government that will be responsive to your needs.
“You are guaranteed a federal government that will relate with all Nigerians not on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political affiliations and the percentage of votes but on equity and justice as citizens of one nation, one people, and one destiny.”
He cited the developmental strides he attained in Ekiti State in the areas of education, agriculture and in the fight against corruption as evidence of his competence to govern Nigeria.
“My party leaders, I present myself to you as the needed vehicle for our party to move back to the presidency,” he said.
“I am doing so because I am confident that with God and all of you behind me, we can do it, and we will do it.”