I believe in Nigeria, and the immense potential that permeates our country, as well as the tenacity and ingenuity of our citizens. My life is the manifestation and embodiment of what the Nigerian Dream can be and must be. The true genius and promise of a great country like Nigeria is that, our citizens are resourceful and every Nigerian, regardless of their socio-economic, religious, characteristics, or ethnocentric background, has the Purpose-Driven Potential to write the next great chapter in the Nigeria Story.

Like many families in Nigeria, I grew up poor. I did not have many opportunities! By the time I was twelve, any hope that I had to become successful was dashed, when a high jump cross bar I was carrying, touched an electric power line and I was electrocuted! This accident resulted in the amputation of both of my arms and seemed to cripple any hopes I had of escaping poverty. I knew that I could become successful, but I needed a place and a community that would empower me and support my aspirations. I traversed every corner of Nigeria seeking physical and psychological rehabilitations. Unfortunately, our country was not equipped and did not have the facilities to empower me. Those in position did not have the political will and professional desire to inspire my Purpose-Driven Potentials.

After relying on my family and friends for all my daily needs for 5 years, I decided to empower myself. I spent the following years teaching myself a new way of life. With empowerment, came aspiration. I enrolled in J.S.S 1 at the age of eighteen and I worked hard to become a world-class athlete. In 2000, I was recruited by Bellarmine University as the first international Paralympic athlete recruited by any College in the United States of America.

I was motivated by a simple, powerful idea – that with the right motivation and empowerment, I can activate my Purpose-Driven Potentials. And that, if I work hard and remain steadfast, I would be successful, and play my part in building a better community. That is exactly what I have done the past fifteen years in the United States – rising to become a business and community leader in a foreign country.

In Nigeria, I have watched with dismay the lack of a vibrant educational system, give way to elite private institutions thereby, stealing the dreams of millions of Nigeria’s children. I have seen Purpose-Driven Potentials of my fellow citizens crumble under the weight of apathy because we have failed to adequately invest in education that should empower our citizens to pursue their dreams. My heart has ached for our teeming youths, as the fore bearers of our future now turn to violence, to resolve disagreements and worst still, they indulge in drug abuse including other addictive habits. I have seen our once vibrant economy falter, since we failed to capitalize on booming world markets that could attract thriving industries to our communities. I have witnessed a harmonious Plateau – the Home of Peace and Tourism become a shell of its once vibrant self.

Communities across Nigeria are bursting with untapped potentials that are in dire need of revitalization. Our industrious citizens are eager to unleash their Purpose-Driven Potentials with the right empowerment. What Nigeria needs, are leaders who understand the challenges of our time and have the experience and track record to address these challenges. That is exactly what I offer.

Regardless of my accomplishments, the highest honor of my life is serving communities across the world. Whether it is, teaching my middle students how to cope with anger or teaching my University students about Social Entrepreneurship and Social Justice or teaching about religious tolerance and cohesion through the Inter-Faith Path to Peace, or sharing my faith and life story with the youths, I am reminded of the verse in the scriptures that it is better to give than to receive. That is why I have chosen the path to service.

I believe wholeheartedly that as a nation, our best days are still ahead of us – that we have unquestionable potential and resources to make this country the envy of other nations. I raise my hand to serve because I want to lead the change, to instill in our youths, the promise of our fore fathers, that they too can harness their Purpose-Driven Potentials and write the next great chapter in the Nigeria Story. That if we all play our parts as a society and create an equitable environment, where a child born in Nasarawa or Angwan Rogo will have the same opportunity as a child born in New Jersey, where a child born in Miango or Jere will have the same opportunity as a child born in Manchester and a child born in Dogon Karfe or Tudun Wada, will have the same opportunity as a child born in Dubai. That they too, can walk on the streets of any neighborhood in their community without the fear of violence. That they too, can attend the best schools in the world within their community and graduate without worry about whether or not they can find a descent paying job or have the ability to start a thriving business.

As a Member of the Federal House of Representatives, my top priorities will be to work with every Member to find ways to stimulate economic development in Nigeria and work towards creating lasting peace in the country. I hope to see a revitalized Plateau State economy. I will work to attract foreign investment to help us harness our natural and agricultural resources. I will work in partnership to establish the Plateau State Innovation and Technology Center that would become Nigeria’s Innovation Business Hub. I will support businesses and entrepreneurs in Jos – Bassa, by partnering with both domestic and foreign organizations to create and sponsor programs that will provide mentoring and business workshops. We would find ways, to bridge the digital literacy divide for entrepreneurs from low income background that would expand their reach and offer their products to the global market. I will work to deliver innovative primary health care facilities that will ensure quality healthcare to the people, regardless of economic background or social status. I will partner with other government agencies, to ensure the provision of adequate infrastructure within the constituency. I will work to ensure equitable access and opportunities for Persons with Disability. Through Public and Private Partnerships, I will ensure that all Persons with Disability have access to FREE education from Primary School through University studies. All those who want to engage in vocational training will equally be supported from apprenticeship to entrepreneurship.

Creating opportunities and inspiring hope and aspiration in the lives of our citizens are big challenges, but taking on challenges is nothing new to me. I am ready and willing to take on these challenges to enable our citizens harness their Purpose-Driven Potentials and to write the next great chapter in the Nigeria Story. Our citizens’ insatiable thirst for a better life is the catalyst for my desire to serve, to work AND to make our country a better place to live and do business. I implore you to join hands with me, to take on these challenges that would set Nigeria on the right path to peace and prosperity for generations to come.
Thank you and may God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Vitalis Lanshima