Imo West senator, Rochas Okorocha, has said he wants to contest for presidency in the 2023 general elections so he can bring Nigeria out of poverty and beat President Muhammadu Buhari’s record.
Mr Okorocha said while the president has done well for Nigeria and Nigerians, he intends to “beat his record” if elected president.
He said this at a press conference on Monday where he officially declared his ambition to run.
Mr Okorocha formally declared his intention to run for president on the day the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged him with allegations of conspiring with others to steal N2.9 billion from public coffers.
The senator had, last week, informed the Senate of his intention to run under the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
He had said Nigerians need a detribalized leader who can unite the country, a leader with a compassionate heart, who will care for the poor and downtrodden and a visionary leader who can create wealth for the teeming populace – qualities he said he possesses.
At the conference, the lawmaker who is also a former governor of Imo State, noted poverty as the major cause of complaints and chaos in the country.
This, he said, he will address under his New Nigeria agenda. This is even as he dismissed the view that the president and his administration is corrupt and deaf to the needs of the people.
“It will be wrong for anybody to say that Buhari is corrupt. It will be wrong to say he hates Nigeria. I have said it before; the issue is poverty. For every N1 billion problem Nigeria has, they have only 10,000 to solve it.
“The Nigeria of 2023 requires me as president. Because I am going to approach governance in a different way. Buhari loves the unity of this country but there are drums of separation and drums of war.
“…Poverty is the cause of chaos and calls for separation. Buhari has done well but he would not wish that he becomes the best, I want to beat his record,” Mr Okorocha said.
The senator also said police brutality in Nigeria is simply Nigerian youth brutalising fellow youth, because “the policeman accused of brutality is also a young person and his actions are borne out of frustration.”
To this end, he said the youth would be the bedrock of the country’s economy and they would be self-employed.
He also kicked against the zoning of political offices in the APC as he appealed to party leaders to allow a level-playing field for candidates no matter their region.
He said, “I hear people talking about zoning, I’m not a candidate of zoning, I am a candidate of justice. Maybe the South-East has not been able to present their matter very well before the rest of Nigerians.
“I appeal to my party – APC, to allow a level-playing ground. And the South-East must know that power is not given, it is taken. You must reach out to people who you want to vote for you. But let justice reign.”
Mr Okorocha joins a few other aspirants who have declared their intention to run for president on the platform of different political parties.
Among them are the National Leader of the APC and former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu; former presidential aspirant, former CBN Deputy Governor, Kingsley Moghalu; publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu; Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi; former Senate President, Pius Anyim, Sam Ohuabunwa and Khadijat Okunnu-Lamidi.
EFCC’s arrest politically motivated
Just as the lawmaker was making known his intention to run, the anti-graft agency, EFCC, was filing 17 charges against him on allegations that he conspired with others, including an APC politician and five companies, to steal N2.9 billion from public coffers.
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported that those accused alongside Mr Okorocha include Anyim Nyerere Chinenye (a current commissioner in Abia State), Naphtali International Limited, Perfect Finish Multi Projects Limited, Consolid Projects Consulting Limited, Pramif International Limited, and Legend World Concepts Limited.
Mr Okorocha described this as politically motivated and political propaganda.
He also accused the EFCC of carrying out arrests without proper investigation or confirmation, adding that so many innocent citizens have fallen victims because of the fake reports they get.
In an interview on Channels TV on Monday night, the lawmaker challenged the EFCC to prove that any of his properties belong to the Imo State Government, which the commission claimed he stole during his tenure as a governor.
“I say it ten times more, there is nothing I have that has been traced to Imo State government when I was in office.
“You remember one of my wife’s properties that was seized by the EFCC and the Imo State government and another Rochas Foundation property sealed…that is just dirty politics and wickedness of mankind.
“…And those who say I was broke, they are liars. That’s a fabricated point,” he said.
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