One of my greatest goals in government is to restore the dignity of the Nigerian nation and her citizens. I grew up at a time when Nigeria was led by a man I would classify a specimen of gentle-manliness. Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa led a government that saw Nigeria stand tall as a nation that was not divided along narrow interests. As a teenager, my patriotism was further fired up by that phrase from General Yakubu Gowon to the effect that ‘to keep Nigeria One is a task that must be done’. General Gowon made that statement over 40 years ago, but it is as true today as it was then. Nigeria is one Nation and it is our determination to keep it so. The biggest task before us in the now is to build this Nation of many peoples into an indivisible Nation where the people united in one will be greater than the sum of all her constituent parts. We must make the “We the People” call as enshrined in the Supreme Statute of our land, the constitution, come to life in words and deed. Dear Compatriots, my primary goal in government which must not be mistaken is to return Nigeria to “We the people”.
It is “We the people” that must choose our leaders not a few people however accomplished and learned they are. It is “We the people” that must fulfil our great potential as a nation by refusing to be tied to a past that encourages you to think tribe, region and religion before country. It is “We the people” that must rise and learn from the mistakes of the past and be careful not to repeat it. Fellow Citizens, it is “We the people” that will stand together and understand our differences and learn to live with each other in peace and unity or forever be at the mercy of those who fan the embers of disunity to fulfil their narrow agenda.
One of my greatest goals in government is to restore the dignity of our Nation and her great citizens. To do this, it will help if those of us who have travelled out of this country come to my aid by testifying as to whether what I am about to say is true or false. Outside Nigeria, the world does not consider if we are from one part of the country or the other. Any suspicion, negative stereotyping or stigma dished out to a Nigerian citizen is never exclusive to that individual Nigerian. Regardless of our accomplishments, so soon as you are identified as a Nigerian so are you under the cloud of suspicion, negative stereotyping or stigma. This being the case, would it make sense to you if we try to resolve these issues for which we are type cast by the world in our little enclaves or only as individuals? Of course not! We have to come together and work together in perfect synergy and rid ourselves of corruption, ethnic and religious clashes, deadly diseases like polio and meningitis etc. so that the image we give to the world of Nigeria is positive and positive alone. It is only then that we can have the respect we desire and deserve when we present our Green passport in any port anywhere in the world.
And here is the catch. To successfully resolve these and other issues, we will need a leader who like Ahlaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and General Yakubu Gowon and others sees himself or herself first as a Nigerian before anything else. The philosophy of “us against them” must find no home in our country. Those of us who are privileged to serve you in whatever capacity God and you the people gave us must in service place emphasis on the the sum total of the parts.
So as we enter into our next 50 years, let us not think it wrong to purchase ‘Igbo made’ products over those made in China and Japan. It should not be looked down upon when we buy Kano made leather slippers over Spanish and Italian ones. Our women should be encouraged to wear textiles made in Kaduna (I am happy to state that the textile industry has started drawing from the 150 billion Naira government bail out funds) rather than patronise Georges from Holland. We should not leave our local pap and drink imported Quaker oats alone. Indeed our elites should consider the progress made by banks and other commercial enterprises in our commercial capital Lagos and start stashing their wealth in Nigeria rather than in Swiss and other European or Western banks. All these nations started from humble beginnings but progressed to their present enviable state by working together as a whole. My people, our own story cannot be different. God bless you all. GEJ.