The President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday declared to run for the office of the President of Nigeria.
This came about 24 hours after his Senate colleague, Rabiu Kwankwaso, also declared to run for the same office at an elaborate rally in downtown Abuja.
Messrs Saraki and Kwankwaso are among about a dozen presidential aspirants of the main opposition party, PDP.
Mr. Saraki made his declaration at a public dialogue organised by the #NotTooYoungToRun Movement, a youth-based group that successfully lobbied for the passage of a new law that reduced the age of qualification for political office across the country.
The event, themed: “Youth Candidacy and the Future of Nigeria Beyond 2019”, is a series of political engagement aimed at broadening the political participation of young Nigerians ahead of the elections next February.
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were invited as part of the series on Thursday, with Mr Saraki being asked to deliver the keynote.
“Your generation does not deserve to live in the poverty capital of the world,” Mr. Saraki said to a cheerful audience.
Saraki promised to lead the fight against poverty and employ every God-given resource available in turning things around as he declares to run for president in 2019.
“I am determined to grow Nigeria out of poverty. We will stimulate the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as one of the ways of energising the economy and to create wealth for our people, especially the youth.”
But the shocking aspect of the appearance came when the Senate President declared his intention to run for president.
“I have decided to answer the call of teeming youth who have asked me to run for President,” he said.
“Accordingly, I hereby announce my intention to run for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the coming General Elections in 2019 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
“I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Mr Saraki had been rumoured as a potential 2019 aspirant for several weeks, making Thursday’s pronouncement more ceremonial than remarkable.