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"I'm running to win" - Oby Ezekwesili
The stage is now set for a keenly contested Nigerian Presidential election slated for February 2019, as the two major political parties adopted their candidates for the polls. RFI's exclusive interview with presidential candidate Oby Ezekwesili.
OE: I am running to win. I have no place for failure in this race because I am not running alone. I am running with the Nigerian people who are fed up with a political class of the old order who have failed them in every sense of the definition of failure. So we are going to run. We are running. The citizens are running. And the person that is running with them is Oby Ezekwesili. Oby 2019. Oby for president 2019. Our campaign theme is Hope 2019.
RC: But ultimately, Nigerian politics very often is about money, and hundreds of millions of dollars we now know was spent on Muhammadu Buhari's campaign in 2015. And I imagine hundreds of millions of US dollars is being spent on his campaign this time around and also the campaign of Atiku Abubakar. How do you compete with this kind of money?
OE: So, one of the interesting things that is already happening is that women and young people are reaching out in droves to the camapign. I am saying this is our campaign. This is really about citizens who want to disrupt the political order that makes it impposible to show the potential of this country, saying enough is finally enough. So, this campaign is going to be a campaign of the people. They are putting not just their hope behind it but they are putting their resources. People are volunteering time, volunteering money, and saying "we are running", not "Oby is running".
RC: Another issue in Nigerian politics is that people tend to vote along religious and ethnic lines. How are you going to appeal to people in the Muslim north considering that two of the main candidates hail from there?
OE: People of the Muslim north now think that where you are from doesn't put food on the table for them. Where you are from doesn't preclude you from being killed because the government is not effective in providing security. Where you are from doesn't determine how safe you are. It doesn't determine how quickly you get out of poverty. So, they are now asking, like the rest of the country, for competent leaders, for leaders that have character and for leaders that are capable. And there is nobody in this whole election of 2019 that is more competent, more capable and has the pedigree of integrity that I have.