Nigeria’s top presidential candidate Peter Obi vowed on Monday to rid Africa’s most populous nation of endemic corruption and widespread insecurity if he wins elections next month.

Obi, who is one of 18 contenders for Nigeria’s highest office, described his country as “a failed state” in need of new political leadership during his speech at the Chatham House international affairs think tank in London.

“Unless we change the policy by changing the political leadership, we are stuck in this terrible state of underdevelopment and misery.” said Obi, a former governor of Anambra state in the southeast of the country and a candidate for the Nigerian Labor Party.

Recent polls have shown Obi leading the packed field, ahead of ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu and main opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar. That’s despite opponents having high name recognition: Tinubu is a former governor of Lagos state and Abubakar is a former vice president.

Political analysts described the February 25 vote to replace incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari after eight years in power as a make or break exercise. Since the campaign began late last year, other top contenders have made promises similar to Obi’s: Tinubu has said he seeks to “renew hope” while Atiku has said he will. “rescue Nigeria”.

But observers warn that the exercise is threatened by security challenges facing Nigeria, including an Islamic State-linked extremist insurgency in the northeast, rebels in the northwest and secessionists in the southeast.

On Monday, Obi said he would open a dialogue with the secessionists in southeastern Nigeria. Y He promised to introduce a series of security reforms, especially in the troubled northern region, where thousands of people have been killed by armed gangs in the past year.. Those changes could encourage members of the large Nigerian diaspora communities abroad to consider returning home and helping development, she added.

“What has been seen is a cumulative effect of leadership failure over the years that would be resolved with good governance. When people start to see justice, equity and inclusive government, all of that will start to reverse,” he said. “Nigerians are prepared to return if they find they have a country to return to.”