On Monday, Nigerian leading presidential candidate Peter Obi vowed to rid Africa's most populous country of endemic corruption and widespread insecurity if he wins elections next month.
Obi, who is one of 18 seeking Nigeria’s highest office, described his country as “a failing state” in need of new political leadership during his speech at the Chatham House international affairs think tank in London.
“Unless we change the politics by changing the political leadership, we are stuck in this terrible state of underdevelopment and misery,” Obi, a former governor of southeastern Anambra state who is the candidate of Nigeria's Labour Party, said.
Recent polls show Obi leading the crowd, ahead of ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu and main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar. This is despite the fact that these dissidents have a lot of notoriety: Tinubu is a former governor of Lagos state and Abubakar is a former vice president.
Political analysts described the Feb. 25 vote to replace current President Muhammadu Buhari after eight years in power as an exercise in deception.
Since campaigning began late last year, other major challengers have made similar pledges to Obi's: Tinubu said he seeks "renew hope" while Atiku said he would save Nigeria.
However, observers warn the exercise is threatened by the security challenges Nigeria is battling, including a radical Islamist insurgency linked to the Islamic State group in the northeast, rebels in the northwest, and separatists in the southeast.
On Monday, Obi noted that he would hold a dialogue with separatists in southeastern Nigeria. He promised to introduce a range of security reforms, especially in the volatile northern region where thousands were killed by armed gangs last year.
He added that these changes may encourage members of the large Nigerian diaspora abroad to consider returning home and aiding development.