by Segun Odeleye
Following the announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), of the 2014 election timetable, the ball is now in the court of the politicians and some are wasting no time in pushing their case.
One person who not a lot of people were expecting to declare for the highest office in the land was the pharmacist turned publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah, the founder and publisher of Leadership Newspaper. Nda-Isaiah has however become the first person to formally kickstart his campaign under the banner of the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Nda-Isaiah is a vehement critic of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, consistently using his Leadership newspaper Monday column to lambast the president over his actions and inactions. In 2013, some journalists from Nda-Isaiah’s Leadership newspaper were charged to court by the federal government over a report they published which the FG insisted to be false. The FG later withdrew the case from court.
Yesterday in Lagos, Nda-Isaiah said that he was ready to contest in 2015 against his political mentor, Muhammadu Buhari, if need be. He said he was not worried about people insinuating that the reason he has been critical about Jonathan was because of his own political ambition, saying that he had been critical of previous administrations. According to him, his only commitment was to speak the truth.
In a visit to Thisday newspaper, Nda-Isaiah said that though he was yet to begin a full-blown campaign in compliance with the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), his visit was to consult and talk with the people.
He said that he had discussed his ambition with Gen. Buhari and did not intend to drop it, and so if the general decides to throw his hat into the ring, then he would have no choice but to run against him, although he wishes it does not get to that.
“I told him (Buhari) tactically that I am in the race. And he said it was politically correct. I went round all those close to him. I have gone far into the race. So, if he decides to contest, I’m going to contest. I will contest against him. I will try everything to make sure that the relationship remains the same. But I wish it would not happen”, he said.
Nda-Isaiah said that he was in the race “to arrest the regressive spate of development Nigeria is experiencing in spite of its ability to join the league of developed countries and his desire to make a difference.”
He said: “It is now we should start doing very big things. We should have the biggest airports and the biggest seaports. Look at the things we achieved when there was no oil. Go to the universities now and compare what they did 20 years ago. We need new direction. I don’t believe that there is a magic to it. I believe it is possible to make the difference.”
Speaking further, he said that “The most important thing is to bring people together. We are too divided over small issues. If any leader is sincere, it is the very thing to do. I will not say we are going to fight corruption because that is part of governance,” he said.