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Address by Mrs. Eunice Uche Atuejide on the Occasion of Her Declaration to Run for 2019 Presidential Elections Under the Platform of the National Interest Party (NIP), Valencia Hotels, Abuja, on Friday 20th July, 2018.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome and thank you indeed for coming. It is a pleasure and an honour to have you all here today.
Life is a journey for all of us and mine is certainly no different. My name is Eunice Atuejide, I was born in Iwaya, in the Yaba area of Lagos, to parents who moved to Lagos as teenagers from Ukehe town in Igbo Etiti LGA of Enugu State. My dad was a taxi driver and my mum, a petty trader. She sold literally everything. Food stuff, water, beverages, alcoholic drinks. She even ran a restaurant. I had to learn to cook everything from my mother at the age of seven so I could help her out when the hustle took her attention away from the hungry customers in our corner shop in Iwaya. Oh, I was always late to school because from age 9 to 14, I had to do heavy duty cooking from 5am to 8am every morning. I also had to clean up between 11pm and 1am. So, those of us who work with me and wonder why I seem to be awake 24/7, that’s the secret. I have been doing 16 to 20 hours average work-day since I was 7 years old. A lot for your average little girl, but I was a very happy child. I loved helping my mum. And over the years, I started enjoying helping many others. It is just who I became!
Growing up in Lagos was very exciting. It was definitely not rosy, but it was a lot of fun. Many would say I did not have time or opportunity to be a little girl, but the truth is, I did that too. Maybe not as others, but I played! Particularly when it rained. I would join other kids and we would dance around stark naked in the rains. And the heavier the downpour, the more exciting. There were the 10-10 games, boju-boju i.e. hide and seek, tug of war etc. I most definitely loved the moments of reckless abandon during my childhood, but I also enjoyed every moment of being a responsible adult in a little girl’s skin. I really liked taking responsibility for myself and others as a kid so, I believe I have my early days in Iwaya to thank for the woman standing before you all today.
I attended primary school at Onike Girls Primary School in Iwaya. My Secondary School was mainly at Reagan Memorial Girls Secondary School in Yaba, where in SS1 I took all the final year exams and JAMB as an external candidate, and then move to University. At the University of Ibadan I studied Agricultural Economics, however continuous ASUU strikes and pressures on me to marry early led to my decision to leave for Europe and further my education there. I left for France (via Cameroon) where I studied French language; moved on to Germany where I studied German language and Business Administration; the USA where I did Film making, acting and communications management; then the UK where I studied various degrees in law and then back to Nigeria to complete law school.
I set out to research for my doctorate degree on corporate governance as it affects political institutions in Nigeria, however the project was put on hold indefinitely because the decision to form the National Interest Party (NIP) and through NIP; help great Nigerians come to the forefront of political leadership in Nigeria took precedence. Alas, here I am now, one of the first few aspirants under NIP.
NIP is the political party of tomorrow. The only party which guarantees members transparency, fairness, accountability and a free and fair platform to compete for political office.
NIP is the first political party in Nigeria to do things predominantly online. All our structures are firstly digital, so that everything we have on the ground backs up what we have designed and programmed in the web. All our elections are programmed to hold online – including elections as important as Presidential primaries. All our aspirants and party leaders are screened to ensure we do not end up handing power over to the less qualified and less suitable amongst us. We do not charge a dime for nomination forms, as we do not want to fuel the system of the highest bidder takes the reign, as is the status quo.
We all know the problems of Nigeria – lack of basic amenities, lack of opportunities, poor health care, poor infrastructure, lack of electricity, injustices at all levels of the polity, insecurity, poverty, hopelessness on a large scale – the list goes on.
And come to think of it people, we all know the solutions to these problems. We do!
I can spontaneously ask 10 people here, and each one of them will deliver a perfect blueprint for salvaging this country in a heartbeat. In fact, I am sure that many of us who so far declared to run for the Presidency in 2019 have amazing manifestos – I do too. We all have amazing blueprints for saving Nigeria and these documents are brilliant! Even genius! But have we really stopped to consider how come our blueprints for saving Nigeria are exactly the same with those we have seen from all the leaders before us, yet we are still where we took off from at independence or even worse off? Have we at all stopped to look behind the curtains to see what is keeping us at a standstill in Nigeria?
Well, I have. And I tell you my fellow Nigerians, it is not lack of blueprints for saving Nigeria. It is not even just the lack of education, exposure or vision of the current leadership we have in our country – they can surround themselves with the right people if they wish. It is the problem of vested interests, and the lack of will power to fight back! So, to my mind, the only way to move this country forward is to give Nigeria good people without vested interest syndrome to take over our leadership. We need level headed people who will not focus solely on any person’s or group’s vested interest, but who will pursue our National Interest with all the tools available to them.
In offering myself to lead this country, my promise to you all is that I will always do that which is best for all the sides. My administration will not focus only on the interest of any person, tribe, religion, region, ethnic group, political group, campaign funding entities, businesses – none! Every person’s interest will be ably and properly represented, and each side will get that which is best suited for their circumstance in relation to the general circumstance of our dear country. I guarantee us equality on the negotiation table. No side is superior to any other side. We will all be heard, and we will together find solutions for all our problems.
I will bring to Nigeria a transparent and accountable government. A government where every day Nigerians who take an interest in our affairs can simply go online and call up any institution serving the public and investigate their cash inflow and outflow. A government where every public account can be scrutinised and our funds followed by our people. A Nigeria of little secrets. An open country. A country where the interest of the people is the only purpose of holding public office.
I tell you my people; Nigeria is indeed the giant of Africa. I have been around and I can tell you all, our people make an impact wherever we find ourselves in the world. We are go-getters, we are extremely industrious, we have attitude and strength, audacity and character, we are fearless in our endeavours and we ensure we add value wherever we are.
Nigerians are GREAT people!
We are givers. We help ourselves. We care for one another. We love like there is no risk in loving so fiercely and so fearlessly. We stand up for one another. We believe in the goodness of mankind. And we are this way despite the horrid State of Affairs in our country. Despite the deliberate attempt by our leaders to keep us at the bottom. Despite the wickedness dealt us by the same people we put all our hopes and trust in. The same people we vote to go into government and make policies for us to help us do well as a people.
I am a proud Nigerian. I love Nigerians. And given the opportunity, I will take us away from the evil clutches of these leaders and deliver us into the hands of better people. People from every corner of our country who are not only qualified to take care of the technical aspects of our problems as a country, but who will apply empathy in dealing with the pains of those who may lose out when adjustments are made that help our country achieve and grow overall. People who will pursue the greater good, but who would do so bearing in mind the pains of the few losing out so that Nigeria can achieve on a larger scale.
I vehemently disagree with the notion that Nigeria is too complex. That our people are too difficult to govern. That our democracy will not work. I vehemently disagree with the notion that we are doomed. I disagree.
I believe so strongly that the complexity of Nigeria can be broken down to a deliberate attempt to keep us divided by the men and women governing us till date. Men and women who are ruled by greed, and by an overwhelming degree of selfishness. People who go into government simply to “chop their portion of the National Cake”. People who go into government to pay lip-service to the manifestos they give the electorate to get them voted into power. People who are happy to turn us into weapons of destruction against one another because they have the power to do so. People who do not care about the present, plan for the future, or think about the next generation. People who go into public office to instantly become extremely rich in material possessions at the expense of our common growth and development.
Remove these people from power in Nigeria, and we will see how much we have in common. And how easy it is to live in peace and harmony with ourselves despite our perceived differences.
I am a mother to so many children – not just the biological ones who live with me, but so many Nigerian children all over this country and beyond who live off me – directly and indirectly. I struggle every day with the thought that they will have a future bleaker than that of most of us in this generation. Sometimes, I think that I could help build a brighter future for them. But when I think that, I sense this fear.
The fear of the unknown. That kind of fear that makes it necessary for me to remain silent. That fear that makes it right for me to look the other way. The fear that tells me to stay in my corner, to stay out of trouble because I cannot handle the pains, the embarrassment, even the losses that will follow if I refuse to look the other way.
The fear was real, but today I tell you all that I have conquered that fear. I am not afraid anymore, and I tell you my fellow Nigerians, there is nothing for us to be afraid of. We can achieve anything we set our hearts to achieve because we have been doing that all our lives. Rescuing our country is ours to do. Nobody will do it for us. So, I call on all of us fellow Nigerians. Wherever in the world you are, whatever your circumstances in life, whatever your hopes and aspirations, I tell you – TOGETHER we can do this!
Together we can save today and secure the future for our children. Please come with me my people. Today, I officially offer myself to run for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Give me your shoulders my people because on my own, I cannot do anything for all of us.
However, with you on my side, Nigeria will be our greatest pride, and the envy of the world in no time.
Join me my people so we can together build a Nigeria which works for all of us.