Being full text of the speech delivered by Chief (Barrister) Charlie Ugwu, KSJI, a distinguished attorney, entrepreneur and PDP leader in Enugu State, on the occasion of his declaration for president on Friday, April 15, 2022.
Fellow countrymen and women, nearly 62 years ago, our journey as an independent nation commenced. With hope and great expectations, our founding fathers, great men and women of the time, with great aplomb, took the reins of government. Their effort at grappling with the challenges of the nascent state did not meet the expectations of some youthful elements in the military, and so our first experiment with democracy was aborted, plunging us inexorably into a civil war. Bruised and battered with the misfortunes of death and strife, our country limped out of the three-year disaster.
In 1979, a bold move was made to return our country to the path of democratic governance. With so much hope, the National Party of Nigeria-led federal government was inaugurated with four other parties in control of various states. Four years down the road this effort was brought to an abrupt end by the military, once again terminating the nation’s attempt at democratic self-government.
In June 1993, the resolve of Nigerians to rejoin other nations of the free world in democratic self- governance was met with even graver and more fiendish fate, with the election of Chief MKO Abiola, the subsequent annulment of the election and his death in detention.
When, therefore, upon the equally dramatic demise of General Sanni Abacha, the then Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, a military moderate, emerged as Head of State, a lot of hope greeted his announcement of a transition to civil rule programme.
Then in 1998, our great party, the People’s Democratic Party was born and a year later, was inaugurated as the ruling party of an incumbent government.
In 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) government was elected. Since then, the fortunes of our great country have been on a progressive nose-dive. The exchange rate of the naira to the dollar sums up the state of our economy. No one in his wildest dream could have imagined this level of catastrophe. Inflation has exceeded the capacity of economists to calibrate it. Food scarcity is stretching the holding ability of our impoverished people to hang on to life. Education has collapsed at the tertiary level as ASUU is permanently on Strike. Healthcare has gone comatose as our hospitals have become worse than the proverbial consulting clinics. Boko Haram, herdsmen, bandits, unknown gunmen and separatist groups have all made life in Nigeria ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’, to quote from the LEVIATHAN, the legendary 16th Century English Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes’ treatise on the consequences of political misrule. In Northern Nigeria, entire local government areas are under the control of bandits.
The situation has become so bad that no man with capacity, material or intellectual, can watch while this state of affairs ravages our country. As a consequence of the prevailing situation, I hereby announce my intention to join the presidential race. I have already procured the forms to contest the presidential nomination of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
My fellow countrymen and women, I seek your hands of fellowship and support. Let us confront this state of our dear country with hope and determination. Let us for once pause from our collective despair and hopelessness. This task will be daunting, I dare warn. But with determination and total commitment, victory shall be ours. With God all things are possible.
To my Northern brothers in our great party, the PDP, the Constitution of our party provides that the party shall “adhere to the policy of the rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice ,and fairness.” The purpose of this provision is to guarantee inclusiveness, ensure equity in power residency and to encourage in perpetuity healthy political dialogue and engagement between the North and the South.
In this regard, it is noteworthy that in the 2019 PDP primaries in Port Harcourt, only Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Dr Bukola Saraki and Governor Tambuwal contested. This was in deference to the constitutional mandate on rotation which saw the entire Southern PDP not contest. With the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the flag bearer, the party entered the presidential election in 2019 with a Northern candidate but unfortunately lost to the APC.
Now, my country men and women, paying due regard to the foregoing fact, and the optics of eight years of a Northern president even though not of the PDP, wouldn’t it be proper that our Northern brothers in the party reciprocate the gesture of the South in 2019 by leaving the 2023 field to only Southern candidates in a true deference to our Constitution? Is it not said that one good turn deserves another? I hereby call on our Northern brothers to reciprocate the gesture of the South in 2019.
Long live the People’s Democratic Party, Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Chief (Barrister) Charlie Ugwu , KSJI, is Presidential Aspirant, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)