Prof Remi Sonaiya: Why I ran for office of the President of Nigeria

Professor Remi Sonaiya, the only female presidential candidate for KOWA Party during the 2015 presidential election, is an educationist and an International Ambassador Scientist of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

She has a career that exemplifies passion, consistency, and selflessness.

SLA contributor, Añuli Ola-Olaniyi, in her interview with Professor Remi, learned key principles that have made Professor Remi have a fulfilled career path and shares this learning with everyone.


Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t get sucked into the prevailing corrupt system which needs to be changed- Prof Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

How did you begin your career?

My first job ever was… As a teacher of French and English at the Nigeria Military School, Zaria. That was during my youth service year.

What would you advise your younger self?

I would tell my 20-year-old self… To read much more widely. Being a student of the Arts meant that I read a fairly decent amount of literature, but I could have ventured more into other areas – philosophy, biographies of great people, etc. Of course, I’ve done a bit of catching up, but there’s no doubt that some ground was lost.

What prompted you to run for the office of the president in 2015?

I decided to run for office because the people who were running our affairs over several decades were not doing a good job of it.

We were living through a shameful and incongruous situation where we were known to be a country with huge resources, but where the overwhelming majority of the people lived in abject poverty.

Specifically, I was lecturing in the same institution where I had been a student, and before my eyes, things got worse year after year. It weighed on my heart that the students I was teaching could not enjoy the same standard of education I had.

What’s been your boldest move so far

Deciding to abandon my job at the university and moving into politics was a bold move. And then, taking the decision to run for the presidency.

I am aware that I could do so only because I had the opportunities – which were not a result of any particular effort on my part.

taking the decision to run for the presidency has been my boldest move - Prof. Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

What’s your best advice to people starting a career in politics


For people starting any career, I would say, ensure that you really like and enjoy the job you’re going into. I know that might be somewhat of a luxury these days when there is a lot of unemployment, which means people are happy to get any job at all.

But I personally wouldn’t be happy being at a job I don’t enjoy. Once you have accepted a job offer, give it your best shot. Work hard. Be diligent and conscientious – you’ll be a better person for it.

Slothful people end up wasting their own lives - Prof. Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

For those starting a political career, my advice is, don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the prevailing corrupt system which needs to be changed.

Be a change agent. Do something worthwhile and significant with your life as a politician.

Ever had any setbacks in life?

Honestly, I don’t see any. Losing my father at the age of ten could have been a setback, but God stepped in to help us.

I often say that I don’t know what else my father could have done for me – I had scholarships to attend the best schools both in Nigeria and abroad, and I have had wonderful opportunities come my way

I overcame it by trusting in God. Early on, in childlike faith, I told God that He was now the only Father I had. He didn’t disappoint.

I believe that things will change for the better if we Nigerians begin to take seriously the job of choosing good leaders for ourselves - Prof. Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

As a politician, how do you stay inspired? Do you have any hobbies?


That I’m a pretty good singer who loved to organize concerts, mostly at Christmas. I haven’t been doing that for some years now, but I dream of going back to doing it.

On the other hand, I stay inspired by reading my Bible and praying, reading books by or about people who have stood for something worthwhile in life (Obafemi Awolowo, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, etc.)

What’s next for you?


I’ll only know that after the elections have been conducted. Of course, the outcome would determine what options would be available to me. But in all sincerity, I would love to be able to take a one-month holiday at least.

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