The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, formally declared his intention to contest for the presidency on Saturday, even as he promised to tackle insecurity and hunger in Nigeria.
Amaechi spoke on Saturday during a special thanksgiving organised in his honour by the All Progressives Congress at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Igwurita, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, a facility he built while he was the governor of the state.
He specifically said he had enough experience to lead Nigeria as the next President, recalling that he had served as governor, minister and speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Amaechi, in his speech titled, ‘Forward with courage’, explained that “hope is around the corner”.
He said, “I stand before you today to declare my intention and submit my application to serve as your next President. I did not come to this decision lightly. I have served our nation for the last seven years as Minister of Transportation. For eight years before that, I served as governor of Rivers State.
“In the preceding eight years before that, I was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. These 23 years of service have equipped me not only with great experience in governance and public service but also compassion for the ordinary citizens of our dear country.
“After more than two decades in the public arena, I had wanted to go on holiday and spend more time with my family before charting a new course outside politics. But at 58, and a member of the generation born after independence who has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Nigeria, I am compelled by the urgency of our present challenges to place my experience and proven capacity at the service of the nation at the highest level.”
The former governor stated that it was his moral duty to give what he could in the service of the country, adding that his aspiration was not about fulfilling a personal ambition.
“My aspiration is not about fulfilling any personal ambition. I am contesting for the office because I believe that it is my moral duty to give what I can in the service of my country.
“To sustain and intensify present efforts at solving our national problems, our democracy must ensure the emergence of a leadership that is equipped with broad experience in governance to ensure stability and continuity.
“To sustain our democracy and preserve our unity, we need a steady hand and a passion for success in a nation that remains united to pursue prosperity for all Nigerians. It is this combination of experience and patriotic passion that I bring to the table. I have been in the political arena for 23 years.
“I have served at every level of government – local, state, and federal. I have served both as a political appointee and an elected official. I have served as an executive – as governor of Rivers State and as a legislator – as Speaker of the State House of Assembly,” he stressed.
The minister added, “In these capacities, I did not just fill vacant posts. As a Speaker, I managed the legislative process in a difficult transition from military rule. As governor, I defeated mercantile militancy and restored security. As a minister, I can modestly claim to have justified the trust of Nigerians.
“Today, I stand as an aspirant to the position of President because of that same passion for people; that same drive for results. More than ever before, I am burning with the zeal to make a decisive difference in the lives of all Nigerians.”
Amaechi, who implored the gathering to observe a minute silence in honour of those, who died in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, rued insecurity, unemployment and hunger in the country.
“We are facing some serious challenges as a country. These are problems of insecurity, challenges of greater accountability in governance, youth unemployment and the scourge of spiral poverty.
“Poverty has become a challenge all over the world especially in the developing world. The Covid crisis has placed unanticipated burdens on the budgets of nations and put pressure on available resources.
“No matter the darts and arrows that come my way, I will remain steadfast because the stakes are too high. We cannot afford to fail. We cannot afford to veer off-course.
“I pledge my heart, mind and soul to the task of building a Nigeria in which every child can go to school, every young person can find work or support to start a business, every citizen can travel safely around the country and sleep at night knowing that law and order prevails and every Nigerian feels included, heard, and respected.
“The road ahead will be long and arduous. But we go forward with faith,” Amaechi stated.
In his speech, Plateau State Governor and Chairman, Northern Governors Forum, Simeon Lalong, recalled that one of the zonal campaigns when APC was first created started in Rivers State.