It will not be an easy task for 35-year-old U.S.-based tech entrepreneur Chike Ukaegbu who announced his intention of unseating 75-year-old Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari from the presidency in February 2019.
Chike, who will be the youngest civilian president of the young African nation if he wins, is packing his bags from his New York City home and is about to make the biggest move in his life to Nigeria.
“In a few days, the next phase of this journey will begin. I will be moving back to Nigeria. Our ability to rewrite history, lies in what we do today,” he tells Face2Face Africa over the weekend.
“The one thing I told my family before deciding on this was this – ‘This is not a Chike project. We are either all in it or we are not.’ Fortunately, the greater victory was them all believing in me,” he adds.
The youngest aspirant announced his candidacy in June immediately after President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the “Not Too Young To Run” bill that reduces the age limit for presidential aspirants from 40 to 35.
“Greatness is born of vision; of seeing the invisible and making it a reality. Nigeria needs a visionary leader now more than ever. This is our time and I am the right choice to lead our nation,” he said after his big announcement.
He believes that technology, education and entrepreneurship are the pillars of sustenance, competitiveness and wealth for every powerful nation, and promises to use these three pillars as a foundation to build Nigeria.
“In all three, Nigeria lags behind, as it stands at an unfamiliar crossroad of two dissimilar paths. If the country is to be salvaged, then we all need to arise and elect Nigerians who have the vision, strategy and compassion needed to serve and lead the people,” he said.
But who is this young Nigerian presidential aspirant Chike Ukaegbu?
Chike Ukaegbu is a youth achiever who lives in New York City was born in Owerri, Imo State, to now retired civil servants. He schooled in Nigeria from kindergarten to his second year at the University of Lagos before relocating to the United States to continue his education.
He studied biomedical engineering at City College of New York, Executive Leadership and Management at Cornell University, took MBA courses at the University of Pennsylvania and studied Venture Capital and Investments at Stanford University.
He taught Math and entrepreneurship at City College of New York and has created several youth development programmes for his community including the HEROES Model for effective youth engagement and the Re:LIFE Inc which is the first Harlem based non-profit organization focused on empowering at-risk and disconnected youth through education, entrepreneurship and technology.
To help support the youth who have undergone the development programmes and needed a helping hand, Chike Ukaegbu launched the award-winning Startup52 which is a startup accelerator in New York City that seeks to increase diversity in tech and entrepreneurship by creating better access to resources, support and capital to founders from untapped communities.
Startup52 got recognition from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and also named one of America’s Best Entrepreneurial Businesses by Entrepreneur Magazine. Chike Ukaegbu was recently named one of the UN’s 100 most influential people of African descent under 40 for his work with Re:LIFE and Startup52.
Back home in Nigeria, Chike plans to launch Startup52Nigeria, like the Entrepreneurship and Education Leadership Fund which he established in 2014 to provide academic grants, seed capital and training to Nigerian youths.
With experiences in technology and entrepreneurship, Chike has consulted with more than 15 foreign delegations on how to build tech and entrepreneurial communities and has spoken at several prestigious institutions and conferences including The US-Nigeria Investment Summit, Africa Trade Investment Global Summit, The White House, TEDx and many others.
Chike Ukaegbu seeks to empower Nigeria’s 15 million disconnected youths and engage untapped communities through technology, education and entrepreneurship to build the country.