“I know you are tired of empty promises, so I will make only one promise to you today. The only promise I make to you my friends, fellow citizens and Nigeria, is to promise less and deliver more if I am elected.” – Jonathan

“The 2011 presidency is crucial to the survival of Nigeria. Given my age, experience and history of involvement in the affairs of our country, my renewed desire to participate in the political process is motivated by very compelling challenges which confront the country.” -Babangida

AFTER what appeared an endless wait, President Goodluck Jonathan, on Wednesday, declared his intention to run for the office of president in next year’s general election.

Commenting directly on the issue openly for the first time in postings in his Facebook account on Wednesday, he said that he took the decision after consultations with a wide spectrum of Nigerians and beyond. He will, however, declare formally on Saturday, September 18 and speak with Nigerians later through the print and electronic media.

Also on Wednesday, braced by thousands of his supporters, General Ibrahim Babangida formally declared intent to run in the 2011 presidential election.

IBB, at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the declaration, said his emphasis, if voted into power, would be on economic prosperity, social justice, youth and women empowerment, revival of Niger Delta, and return of Nigeria to prosperity.

While President Jonathan had maintained a studied silence over his ambition, his footsoldiers had left no one in doubt that their principal would eventually declare his candidature.

While Babangida was preparing to declare his intention at the Eagle Square, President Jonathan released his declaration through a social network, Facebook, early in the day.

Why he declared on Facebook
President Jonathan, it was learnt, declared on Facebook, early on Wednesday, because he had promised his over 200,000 Facebook fans to feed them back on the result of his interactions with various segments of the society of his ambition after the Ramadan.

Jonathan, in the statement, chronicled events that led to his emergence as president following the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua about four months ago, stressing that “providence placed me at the leadership of our country, following the untimely death of our dear former president, my brother and leader, President Yar’Adua.

“Today, I confirm that after wide and thorough consultations spanning the six geopolitical zones that make up Nigeria, with members of my family, my party, the opposition, civil society, the private sector, members of the Labour Unions, religious leaders, youths and student groups and our revered traditional institutions, I, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, by the grace of God, hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of president in the forthcoming 2011 elections.

“In presenting myself for service, I make no pretence that I have a magic wand that will solve all of Nigeria’s problems or that I am the most intelligent Nigerian. Far from it.

“What I do promise is this – If I am elected president in 2011, I will make a covenant with you, the Nigerian people, to always do right by you, to tell you the truth at all times, to carry you along and most importantly, to listen to you, fellow citizens in our communities and also those of you on this page. I do not want to win your affections by giving you promises of things I would do in the future which others before me have given and which have largely been unfulfilled.

“Rather, I would want you to judge me by my records. Since God Almighty and yourselves permitted me to serve you in the present capacity, I have busied myself with setting Nigeria on the path of peace and progress.

“My team and I made no promises on adequate fuel supply in Nigeria. We simply did what was expected of those who govern, we delivered it, and you are living witnesses to that. We made no promise to revamp the textile industry. We delivered a bailout package worth N150 billion that is being dispensed as I write. We made no promises of securing the highest US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation clearance, the Category 1 Certificate which enables Nigerian registered airlines to fly to any US city. We delivered. We made no promise to give Nigeria a brand new INEC under a proven God-fearing and incorruptible leader. We placed Nigeria first and delivered. We made no promises of protecting your loans, deposits and investments in the banking industry over and beyond what is covered under the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). We delivered it via AMCON.

“Rather than tell you what we could do to improve power, this administration demonstrated it by initiating a brand new national Super Grid as well as launching a concrete road map to the power sector with realistic goals tied to realistic dates. I understand from some of your mails that there have been some small improvements in electricity supply in some communities.

“We met an economy that was beginning to slow due to the global recession. Today, the economy has verifiably grown by seven per cent this half year ending in June.

“I know you are tired of empty promises, so I will make only one promise to you today. The only promise I make to you my friends, fellow citizens and Nigeria, is to promise less and deliver more if I am elected. I call on you to join me to work together in harmony and synergy to forge a nation where we understand our differences instead of pretending they do not exist and work towards a perfect union founded on transparency, equity and justice.

“A nation that is on her way to repairing her international reputation and project to the world that things have changed and the people of Nigeria have now taken Nigeria back from a few into the hands of her people who are eager, very eager to pull her weight in the forward movement of the African continent and the world in the pursuit of peace, prosperity and happiness.”

President informs FEC
Also on Wednesday, Jonathan formally informed the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of his intention to declare to run in next year’s presidential election on Saturday, September 18.

The Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, disclosed this in response to questions from State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting in Abuja, on Wednesday.

Babangida declared that he had all it took to lead Nigeria out of the woods, as well as solve all the problems which, he noted, had been confronting the country over the years.

The former military president said the programmes he initiated during his time as military president remained unsurpassed and unbeatable by successive governments in the country.

He listed these to include the introduction of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRI), People’s Bank, Community Bank, Better Life for Rural Women, among others.

In his words, “the 2011 presidency is crucial to the survival of Nigeria. As a loyal member of the PDP, I, Ibrahim Babamosi Babangida, hereby declare my ambition to run in the election.”

He said he was still imbued with ideas to return Nigeria to its glory days, noting that Nigeria needed a leader with courage, fortitude, foresight, resourcefulness and determination like him.

He said the socio-economic programme that his government would introduce would place the Nigerian youths and women in strong contention, as he stated that they constituted the largest part of Nigerian population.

IBB laid emphasis on the development of Niger Delta, promising to fully implement the recommendation of the Ledum Mitte Committe on Niger Delta set up by the past government of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, if voted into office.

He praised the recommendations by the Mitte Committee which, according to him, contained every idea on how the government of Nigeria could revive the oil mineral producing zones of the federation.

The former president also said the emphasis by his government would be on addressing the problem of the power sector.

He said his determination to run in the 2011 election was to bridge the disconnect between the Nigerian government and the people.

Who’s Who at the rally
Contrary to speculations that 22 governors and many other important dignitaries would attend the declaration, only three governors were at the event.

The Niger State governor, Dr Babangida Aliyu, led his counterparts from Adamawa State, Air Vice Marshal Murtala Nyako and Zamfara State, Alhaji Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi, led supporters to the venue of the declaration.

Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, who chaired the occasion, was also present alongside former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’abba; Senator Kanti Bello; Senator Nuhu Aliyu; former governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure, and some members of the House of Representatives.