My dear countrymen and women.
On a day like this, when the world is being ushered into a new year, it is important that we take stock, appraise our collective performance as a country in the outgone year with a view to either improving on areas we did not do so well or consolidate on ones in which we excelled.
A day like this is one in which individuals, corporate entities and even nations make new year resolutions. These resolutions essentially centre on improvements-improvements that are made to make things better than they were in the past.
For Nigeria, our collective new year resolution will be how to improve the way the country has been run in the outgone year, and other years in the past.
We will all agree that there is a lot of correcting to be done in the way the affairs of this country have been run these past years.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the country has repeatedly teetered on the brink of collapse, especially in the last year when it had to deal with multifarious upheavals in virtually every sector of the economy.
The country oscillated between containing the Frankenstein monster insecurity had become with dealing with unrests in the power, health and educational sector.
On several occasions, the nation was thrown into darkness owing to persistent breakdown of the national grid, just as health workers threatened to down tools over suffocating work conditions.
Then, lecturers under the umbrella of ASUU threw their own agitations of better working conditions into the mix, thus grounding the country’s university system for over 8 months — a period that could conveniently have passed as a full academic session.
Add that to agitations by IPOB, OPC, Oduduwa and other ethnic nationalities making strindent and more aggressive cases for secession or self determination and what we had was a nation in turmoil and desperately in need of salvation.
These pockets of unsavoury events were further exacerbated by a galloping inflation which saw the value of the Naira plummet to dismal levels against the major currencies of the world.
The result has been a general disillusionment as hunger and poverty in the land reached an all-time high.
To be brutally frank, these are not the best of times for Nigeria. Anyone who was privileged to see the euphoria that greeted Nigeria’s independence from British rule in 1960 would cringe at the hopeless levels our fortunes as a nation has sunk 62 years on.
Yet, there were times Nigeria held a great promise as the giant of Africa and the pride of the black race as she luxuriated in economic boom with crude oil, rubber, oil palm, timber, cotton, cocoa, the famous groundnut pyramids in the north, etcetra, forming the pivot upon which our revenues from export rested.
Our refineries worked, our industries worked. Our hospitals worked and our educational system worked. The standards in the educational sector were so high that the Nigerian graduate was as good as his contemporaries anywhere else across the globe.
As a matter of fact, it was a taboo in those days for a Nigerian graduate to walk the streets without a job.
The Nigerian Naira was respected worldwide because it compared favourably with major currencies of the world. The economy in Nigeria was so good that nationals of other countries loved to come to stay, school or work.
Nigeria hosted the Festival of Black Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977, as well as staged the All-Africa Games to commemorate a beautiful stadium built in Surulere, Lagos to organise the event in 1973.
There were assembly plants for cars, motorcycles and engines in Nigeria. With Volkswagen and Peugeot having plants in Lagos and Kaduna, it was easy for Nigerians to own cars as they were affordable.
The fatness of our purse as a nation was what had encouraged our grandiose plans to embark on ambitious projects within and outside Nigeria.
The origin of expensive peace keeping missions, moral and financial support for African countries in need, building steel industries to hasten the process of the country’s planned industrialisation, wholesale adoption of the expensive American presidential system of government and many such other initiatives, no doubt, can be traced to this blossoming era.
I can go on and on reminiscing on these good times. I can spend a whole day romanticising about a long gone era we now only refer to in the past tense.
But we can’t wish today’s realities away. The fact is that the Nigeria of the present is far far removed from the Nigeria of those years.
But thank God, the job of recapturing that lost era and putting Nigeria firmly back on the track of economic recovery is not a hopeless one.
There is hope. And there is the will to make a change. As it is often said, “where there is the will, there is always a way.”
The year 2023 is not only a new year. It is a year we all must resolve to change the status quo. It is a year to change the way things have always been. It is a year to change the narrative of inept and directionless leadership that has stunted our growth as a nation, as well as pauperised our people on a grand scale.
It is a year to deliberately resolve to choose leaders with the heart, capacity, vigour and knowledge to come into governance at all levels from governors, senators, House of Representatives, State House of Assembly, and so on.
It is the year to consciously resolve to vote out old, recycled and expired leaders, to pave the way for a younger generation of leaders with fresh ideas to lead our country into the next millennium.
It is the year we must resolve to take our destiny in our hands by choosing right and voting right.
If we must follow the principle of not expecting anything different from repeatedly doing things the same way, then we must resolve, in this new year, to do things differently in order for us to reap different outcomes.
In this new year, we must resolve not to fall for the temptation of voting along religious or ethnic lines. We must be seen to vote only for Nigerians that we are convinced have the capacity to deliver on their pre-election promises, rather than for mere sentimental reasons.
In this new year, we must shun desperate politicians who will offer us money for us to sell our votes or voters cards, thereby selling our consciences. We must resist the momentary gratification of today and instead, look at the long-term benefits of refusing to relinquish our civic rights as bonafide citizens of this country by not agreeing to sell our votes.
My name is Professor Christopher Imumolen. I am contesting under the platform of the Accord party for the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in next year’s general elections.
Fellow Nigerians, I present myself to you all as that man who is patriotic, altruistic, capable, humane enough to offer you good leadership, using my vast experience and knowledge garnered from years of working in the private and public sector to turn things around.
I am offering hope where there is hopelessness, recovery where there has been losses and emptiness, succour where there has been pain and sadness, re-invigoration where there has been despair, and a new direction where we have wandered aimlessly in the past as a country.
As the youngest presidential candidate in next year’s general elections, I represent today and the future.
I represent the new generation of leaders now ready to change the status quo with determined and purposeful leadership.
While I am at my peak as a young man who will be 40 next year, I want to be given the opportunity to serve Nigeria and return her to the path of sustainable growth and development.
Four of my co-aspirants in the presidential race-Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso served in various capacities in government in their 40s.
Tinubu served as governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 in his 40s. The same for Kwankwaso in Kano State, and Peter Obi in Anambra State. They were also in their 40s.
Atiku, we are told, retired from the Nigeria Customs as Deputy Comptroller General at the age of 43 on April 30, 1989.
There is something magical about the age 40.
That is the time a man, a leader is at the peak of his powers. A time he has all the strength, ability and presence of mind to work and give his all for the development of his people.
I am also at the verge of reaching that magical age of 40 where I am willing, able and available to serve my people and leave a mark of quality leadership behind.
This is the time I should be allowed to use the next 8 years of my life to serve this nation and make it a better place for us all.
God willing, by the time I will be leaving office at the age of 48, I should be leaving behind a better and a more prosperous country.
A country with 24 hours electricity. A country where insecurity will be a thing of the past. A country that will have peace and prosperity. A country where persistent strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) will no longer be the order of the day.
A country where Nigerians would love to stay and work in their country, rather than emigrating to far-flung countries of the world in search of good jobs and the better life.
A country where all the different ethnic nationalities will find it more convenient to unite than divide because a new era of an all-inclusive governance had been ushered in.
A country where the youth will find positive avenues for expression as an enabling environment will be created for them to excel in their chosen fields of human endeavour.
A country where the welfare of each citizen will no longer be treated with levity. A country where corruption will no longer have an overwhelming foothold like it presently is because a digitalised system is in place to ensure transparency and accountability in the running of the economy.
A country where the concept of sacred cows and impunity would not be allowed a leeway because the rule of law will be activated and made to work in the true sense of the word.
A country where official red tape and excruciating bureaucracy will die a natural death following massive reforms that will be effected in the civil service.
A country where the welfare of our security operatives will be a matter of top priority. A country where our traditional rulers and religious leaders would be made to play more than observatory roles in governance because they form the grassroots support system in a growing democracy like ours.
A country where our hospitals, clinics, dispensaries and health centres will no longer be mere consulting facilities but places where Nigerians can truly get cure for their ailments and diseases.
A country where education will be made compulsory and free from primary to secondary school levels. A country where those who have worked hard to positively project the image of this country are recognised, feted and adequately rewarded.
A country we would all be proud to call our own.
OUR MODUS OPERANDI
Our commitment to the Nigerian project transcends mere whims or rhetorics. Our track record of service to humanity through various channels over the last decade and half is well documented.
Long before the dream to use the vehicle of politics to crystallise our vision of reaching out to the people on a massive scale was conceived, we had been known to invest heavily in human capital development by awarding scholarships to indigent, less privileged students all over the country. At the last count, over 500,000 Nigerians have benefited from the scholarship scheme in the last few years.
We have single-handedly bankrolled the award of loans and grants to farmers, as well as Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to grow their businesses and contribute meaningfully to the country’s economic growth.
We have built roads, installed transformers in some communities to enhance power supply, as well as sunk boreholes to help solve pipe borne water shortage in some communities in Nigeria.
The success of these private initiatives has since fired our belief that we can do more if we are opportuned to win the presidency in next year’s general elections.
I want to assure all Nigerians today that the zeal with which we have achieved so much success in helping Nigerians in all walks of life to achieve their hopes and dreams despite the odds, will be evident in the way we go about the business of governance at the level of the presidency come 2023.
The problem of irregular and epileptic power supply has been with us like forever. Despite trillions of Naira pumped into the sector in more than 20 years since Nigeria returned to democratic rule, the power problem has remained intractable.
It is one of the sectors in which my government will declare an emergency as we seek to find a lasting solution.
Just as we would be seeking ways to upgrade power generation from it’s present meagre 4000 megawatts to 10000 megawatts-the required amount needed to service the power needs of about 45million households-we shall also be exploring alternative energy sources like solar power and others.
We shall also be unbundling the National Electricity and Regulation Commission (NERC) in a bid to liberialise the sector and make it more responsive to our collective power needs.
Education is the key to illuminating the mind of an individual. This therefore means that an uneducated person is in darkness. A country that wants speedy development must make the education of it’s citizens a top priority.
That is why we would be paying serious attention to the country’s education sector in order to upgrade it to a level it can be the tool of enlightenment and self-discovery that it is meant to be.
Recent findings show that there are about 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria. Without a vigorous policy aimed at addressing this ugly trend, the country could ultimately lose it’s battle against illiteracy.
First, we shall be increasing the sector’s present 6.4% yearly budget to 20%, just as we would make education compulsory for all Nigerians that are of age. We shall review the current curriculum which is tailored more towards theory and paper qualification and adapt it to suit the demands of the present age of information technology.
My government will be re-introducing the bursary awards system to encourage learning and fast track the process of Nigeria’s development.
Finally, to enhance the quality of knowledge imparted to our children at all cadres of learning in the country, we shall make the provision of adequate welfare of our teachers and lecturers top most priority.
According to available statistics, there are at least 54,000 abandoned projects in Nigeria. Some of them are, sadly, economically viable projects which, if working at full installed capacity could have provided source of livelihood for hundreds of quality manpower now roaming the streets in search of jobs.
My government will leave no stone unturned as it works vigorously to complete these projects scattered all over the country and make them ready to contribute to the country’s economic growth.
Without doubt, our heightened security challenges over the last few years owes it’s origin to unchecked influx of foreigners into the country.
There are at least 4000 illegal routes into Nigeria. With insufficient manpower and the political will to effectively police these illegal entry points, the country has become highly vulnerable to external attacks.
Any wonder then that the cases of banditry and kidnappings has reached unmanageable proportions in recent times?
My government will not only be ensuring that these porous borders are effectively manned, we shall be introducing technology to fight the menace.
A poor health delivery system is the reason why more and more Nigerians troop to foreign hospitals these days to take care of their health needs.
It is bad enough that our hospitals are today mere consulting clinics with insufficient facilities or drugs to take care of the sick in our midst.
But the latest trend where our qualified physicians have been migrating to foreign lands in search of better working conditions is as disturbing as it is a threat to the continuous existence of a virile health sector.
My government will be taking a critical look at the health delivery system with a view to effecting a total overhaul.
Apart from equipping and maintaining existing hospitals, we shall be encouraging private investment in the sector to stimulate competition and make it affordable for the average Nigerian.
We have not been known to pay adequate attention to the issue of social welfare for our citizens since independence.
My government will reverse this trend by establishing a social welfare scheme that will take care of the aged, orphans, unemployed and persons living with disabilities.
It is our belief that a well structured social welfare scheme could go a long way in dousing some of the tensions which usually emanate from lack, or want.
A country’s development index is usually measured by the quality of infrastructure it has. My government will do all in it’s power, and within the limits of available resources, to build more roads, bridges and railways, maintain existing ones, as well as link up more communities to stimulate economic activities and ensure hitch-free movements across the country.
Corruption is the reason Nigeria have largely failed to fulfill it’s potential as a nation. But we believe that adopting a different strategy, we would be able to truly tackle this menace headlong.
My government will ensure that all sectors of the economy is digitalised. A digitalised economy will discourage corruption and sharp practises as there will be monitoring mechanisms that will act as checks in the system.
Our agenda and plans for the country is by no means exhaustive. It cannot all be captured in one speech alone.
But suffice it to say that our commitment to the Nigerian project is unquestionable.
We are moved by the desire to change the age-long narrative of bad leadership, a dysfunctional system that encourages unbridled corruption at virtually all levels, and redirect the country to the path of growth and prosperity.
We come to you, fellow Nigerians, with no baggages or track record of failure. We come to you in the belief that you, seeing how the country has been badly run, and therefore unable to deliver to you your rights and privileges as a bonafide citizen, you would make up your minds to make a clean break from the old ways of doing things and embrace a new one.
Fellow Nigerians, we offer ourselves to you as a fresh alternative to what you have always had.
Fellow Nigerians, with what you have witnessed in the last eight years, we believe you are wiser now to know that you will be better off by choosing a new set of leaders who are truly committed to your welfare.
By deciding to vote for Professor Christopher Imumolen of the Accord party, you will be choosing that different alternative, that will give you and your families a better deal.
Fellow Nigerians, no matter your affiliations or persuasions, you know that Nigeria today needs a leader that is visionary, knowledgeable and understands the dynamics of a fast changing world.
We present ourselves to you as we enter into a new year. Choose right, vote right.
I pray that this year we will all be wise to elect leaders whose manifestos shall manifest positive things into the lives and prosperity of Nigerians once again.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
God bless everyone of us