Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says growing up in a poor family puts him in a position to know what it is to go to bed without certain kind of meals.
The minister said this in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, while declaring interest to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amaechi said having spent 23 years in public service, he is qualified to lead Nigeria.
The minister, who admitted that there were quite a number of challenges in the country, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for investing heavily in infrastructure.
“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 spiraling poverty.
“These problems are however not the exclusive preserve of Nigeria. We live in a troubled world. The reality we used to know has altered in nearly every nation. I admit that Nigeria’s problems did not begin today.
“And they will not be solved overnight. But they are not beyond the capacity of our people to solve. Fortunately, that process has already started.
“On reflection, the notion of running for President would have been far beyond the imagination of the young lad running around the streets of Diobu or our small compound in Ubima. Not to talk of the young indigent student leader, mobilizing peers at the University of Port Harcourt.
“But my aspiration is not about fulfilling any personal ambition. I am contesting for office because I believe that it is my moral duty to give what I can in the service of my country.
“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 both as an executive – as Governor of Rivers State and as a legislator – as Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
“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.
“I do not come from a privileged background. I grew up poor. I understand how it feels to go without some meals in a day. I know the pain of lack and the agony of want. I know what it means to see your parents toil just to keep a roof over your family’s head.
“I know what it is to feel the weight of expectation when you are the only one in your family who enjoys the opportunity to attend university.
“I look forward to meeting you in your towns, villages, cities, campuses, and creeks. I want to hear your desires, needs and pains. I want to know what matters most to you. I want to listen and learn.
“I will be coming with one assurance: I will be welcome everywhere because the blood of every Nigerian flows in my veins. I shall be the president of all and every Nigerian.”