On the 19th day of February, 2002, I was privileged to address this hallowed chambers and that was the occasion of the search for solution for the unfortunate TIV/Junkun crises. As part of my address in that occasion I said “I must emphasize that what binds us together as politicians is stronger than those that separate us.

Democracy is the binding cord, our respective individual and community interests divide us. We must protect democracy to actualize our respective interests. But more importantly, we must be alive to protect democracy, we must be free to enjoy democracy and its dividends. Arise, that we may save our people, our country and indeed our hard earned democracy. I have one suggestion; the House of Assemblies of Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states must meet and resolve to actualize peace in this region. I shall facilitate this”.

I am pleased to observe that peace has returned to this region. There is no gainsaying that your role was key in this regard. Accordingly, I am proud to commend you for your courage and commitment to peace and progress and above all, for your commitment to the ideals of democracy upon which you anchored your efforts.

As before, I again return to you today with: a message of hope for greater Nigeria! a message of faith in democratic Nigeria! Like I said during my earlier address, democracy must be free to produce dividends and we must be free to exercise our democratic rights. It is my duty to pursue my democratic right to stand the election to the exalted office of the National Chairman of our Party and it is your duty to pursue your democratic right to free choice in the election. At a time like this we cannot compromise these rights for anything because doing so would be suicidal to our collective interests and national aspiration.

I come to you with my vision for our great Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). My dear compatriots, Nigeria has passed through several momentous phases in her march towards nationhood, yet none is as strategic, challenging and significant as the democracy building project of this contemporary era – the challenges are more because we must keep pace with 21st century standards.

Our determination must be iron cast because we have no alternative to democracy. The stakes are higher because the world is watching.

As the flagship of African continental renewal and the realisation of the promises, prospects and possibilities of African renaissance – which the century portends to be – Nigeria witnessed a decisive boost in the leadership direction through the successful civilian-to-civilian transition in April 2007 which heralded the new political order. Pursuing the multi-dimensional agenda of democratic consolidation, both of institutions, instruments and processes; of a broad-based economic renovation and reform measures and agenda capable of transforming the economy into a leading industrial giant; through an integrated and systematic implementation of human security and social infrastructure agenda that will reduce poverty, create wealth and elevate living standard and human welfare, the current political leadership hopes to place the nation foremost among the global forces driving the new millennium.

However, the realisation of such an ambitious national project requires the existence of a ruling political party which is alive to these possibilities; and which is manned by officials with depth of intellect, strategic reasoning, iron determination and elevated sense of social and ethical responsibility. While our great party, the PDP, is already well positioned to lead this charge as a consequence of its experiential inheritance of the past nine or so years, this experience must be strengthened, deepened and made more responsive to the needs and yearnings of our people. It must become a party, truly of a new type, rich in philosophy, people-oriented ideology, and completely aligned to the patriotic efforts and struggles of Mr. President, his team and the entire national governmental structure in sustaining the spirit and practice of accountability, probity, transparency, the rule of law and constitutional governance as the defining symbol of the new social and political order.

My dear colleagues, it is no longer enough that our party is in government, it is time we place on the table for the enjoyment of all Nigerians the dividends of our control of government and majority in the parliament. I have come to offer myself as the instrument you can put to work towards the achievement of higher ideals of democracy.

If you elect me, I shall pursue the cause of actualising internal democracy in the party and the guiding principles shall be fairness and justice, transparency, due process and rule of law.

Gentlemen of the press, I have in practice kept faith with the aforementioned principles in the discharge of my duties in the past and I do not intend to make any pretensions about them. As you all know, when party faithfuls interact with each other happily and freely without any group or individual feeling sidelined, intimidated or unfairly treated, they perform and deliver anytime they are called upon to support the wishes and aspiration of the party.

I am very much impressed by the efforts of His Excellency, Dr Alex Ekwueme and members of the Reconciliation Committee set up by the party under the leadership of President Yaradua. Indeed, I wish to note that their particular contributions and achievement so far is a vindication of my candidature and manifesto. They are viable partners in our quest to re-position the party and lead it out of parochialism to positive patriotism.

I appreciate the presence of everybody here today and will conclude by emphasizing that the way the PDP congress is conducted will go a long way in showing Nigerians how determined we are to enthrone a new democratic order. We have a unique opportunity to practice what our party is preaching through the nascent administration of President Yaradua. The era of somebody being “anointed” somewhere is happily over. Other details of my manifesto are contained in the booklet attached to my address.

Thank you all and God bless.