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.
Those who know me can testify that I have always been a straight talker. This trait has not always made me popular, but I speak truth with conviction. So, allow me to speak the truth here today. We are facing some very serious challenges as a country. These are problems of insecurity, challenges of greater accountability in governance, youth unemployment and the scourge of spiralling poverty.