Friday, November 28, 2014

SSS Working For Alleged Boko Haram Sponsor, Ali Modu Sheriff, Says Stephen Davis - The Cable

Stephen Davis, the Australian negotiator who sparked off a controversy by naming two prominent Nigerians as sponsors of Boko Haram, has accused the State Security Service (SSS), also known as DSS, of doing the bidding of Ali Modu Sheriff, one of the alleged sponsors of the terror group.
Davis had in August named Ihejirika Azubuike, former chief of army staff, and Ali Modu Sheriff, former governor of Borno state, as sponsors of Boko Haram. Both denied the allegation.
Davis is now accusing the Nigerian secret security agency of shielding Sheriff from justice and doing his bidding.
In a statement made available to TheCable, the Australian negotiator also raised the issue of arrest of some community workers known as Shehuri North Community Development Youth Empowerment Association in Maiduguri.
The group is accused of working for Boko haram.
According to Davis, the Shehuri association is a small group of young men and women who provide community service for people affected by insurgency.
He alleged intimidation of Theophilus Danjuma, chairman of the Victims’ Support Fund, and deputy chairman of the fund, by the SSS with the aim of stopping them from intervening in the case of the arrested members of the Shehuri group.
He also alleged that the arrest of  members of the group was on the behest of Sheriff who declared afterwards that those who framed him as a sponsor of Boko Haram had been arrested, and were undergoing interrogation.
The SSS, however, reacted to one of Davis’ claims.
Speaking with TheCable, spokesperson of the service, Marilyn Ogar, denied that the SSS was shielding the former Borno state governor, adding that he was entitled to protection just like every Nigerian.
“Is Sheriff a member of the SSS? Is he working with us? They say we are trying to shield him, how? How can somebody say we are trying to shield Sheriff? He does not work with us. He is a Nigerian, and every Nigerian comes under the protection of the SSS. We do not have exceptions. This is a democracy and it is election period so people can come up with all sort of propaganda. The SSS is a government institution owned by the people and managed the people,” she said.
On the arrest of the community workers, she said the officer in charge of such matters would verify the claim.
More here

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Diezani Alison-Madueke Elected OPEC President

Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, has been elected as President of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).Alison-Madueke was  elected President of OPEC Thursday at the ongoing 166th General Meeting of the body in Vienna, Austria.She replaces former President of OPEC, Libyan Vice Prime Minister for Corporations, Abdourhman Atahar Al-Ahirish.She was before her election this morning the alternate president of OPEC and is expected to immediately begin to serve her one-year term at the helm of OPEC affairs.OPEC is expected to at the 166th meeting, take key decisions that could halt the dwindling price of crude oil.

More details soon
Source – Vanguard Ngr / Thisday live

Speech By The Governor Of The State Of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, At His Inauguration

It is with deep humility and gratitude to the Almighty that I stand before this faithful assembly. Exactly four years ago, we stood before God and before you to take a solemn oath to resume our journey to greatness. We thank God Almighty for taking us through the first phase of the journey and for enabling us to secure your mandate to keep us on that glorious path for another four years.
We are also here to celebrate the goodness of God and the indomitable spirit of the good people of Osun. We are here to affirm the triumph of good over evil. We are here to celebrate democracy as the ultimate instrument of political empowerment ever bequeathed to humanity.
The journey to our inauguration today began on the day of our inauguration, exactly four years ago, when the party we displaced began to unleash a wicked engine of relentless falsehood to destabilise our administration and bring our downfall. They have engaged in every form of shenanigan and put every obstacle imaginable in our way. They have made strident effort to stir strife and sow the seed of discord. They made the most disingenuous effort to break the chord of communal and religious harmony that had existed for centuries among our people. They made futile bid for office and pursued power for its sake with a demonic frenzy. The climax was the unprecedented effort to manipulate the election and subvert the will of the people on August 9.
Before, during and immediately after the election, there was a siege on the state. Every act of terror imaginable, including the unconstitutional detention of my deputy, was attempted. Security agents of all hues invaded the state, many of them in balaclavas, paraded the streets, shooting in the air with every intention of putting terror in the people. At the height of this outlawry, more than 700 leaders and members of our party were arrested, mostly in the dead of the night, and an unconscionable and treasonable bid was made to seize the Government House.
But they failed and failed miserably and were routed and given the electoral mauling of their life because God is with us and our people are indefatigable and indomitable.
And so, today we celebrate our people who stood firm for democracy and liberty, who defied every form of provocation and intimidation to make a democratic statement by voting and standing to make their votes count. They have shown that no gun or sabre rattling can stand in the way of a people who are determined to make a stand for liberty and democracy.
As the result indicates, the over 700,000 voters’ turnout, making 54 per cent of the total registered voters was the highest recorded in recent elections in the country. Also, our 394,684 total votes, a whopping 55 per cent of the total valid votes, was the highest for any candidate in any recent governorship election. We are not boasting; we are simply acknowledging the enormity of the mandate given to us by our people, even in the face of the most formidable terror machine arrayed against them.
In the past four years, we have striven to keep faith with the people on the mandate given to us. We set out to re-enact the Obafemi Awolowo tradition of leadership and good governance; a tradition that set the Western Region apart. The formidable challenges notwithstanding, we have delivered largely on our promises.
We began with ethical reorientation by branding our state ‘Ipinle Omoluabi’. We have been able to reawaken the consciousness of the values of hard work, public spiritedness, maintaining a good name, chivalry and character moulding in our people.
Within 100 days, we provided jobs for 20,000 of our youths and replicated same two years later. We revamped agriculture and made it a profitable venture for farmers. We have positioned our youth for greatness by providing them with quality education. We have redefined the infrastructure of education by building state of the art schools, proving cutting edge technology, free school uniforms, free meals and so on.
We have empowered our people economically through all the ‘O’ projects: O’REAP, O’MEALS, O’BEEF, O’HUB, O’HONEY, O’CLEAN and so on. We have made micro-credit available to our people on a large scale and with direct injection, we have lifted the GDP of the state, making Osun the seventh largest economy in Nigeria.
We have cared for the environment in an unprecedented way. We have banished flooding and cleaned the environment of filth. Our road construction projects, completed and ongoing, are incomparable. There is no local government that did not partake in our local and intercity road projects. We have embarked on a most ambitious urban renewal programme and we are fast returning our urban centres to beauty and aesthetic splendour. We have cared for the old, weak and infirm while special people have not escaped our touch.
We have delivered on our six integral action programme. Our performance in the first term endeared us to you and convinced you to give us the mandate for another term.
We shall continue on this path and accelerate the speed of development in Osun. Our vision is to deliver 20 years development in the next four years in economic, social and political fields. We shall complete all ongoing projects and start new ones. We shall touch every community in roads, education and infrastructure. We shall touch every household in wealth creation, security of lives and property, social amenities, political empowerment, political representation and much more. We shall consolidate on the foundation we are building and proceed to the superstructure of prosperity and greatness for our land and people. Though the financial challenges are daunting, we shall do everything within our power and the unbounded resources of our land and people to achieve our goals without faltering.
The mandate you have given us covers all the peoples of Osun in their social, political, religious and ethnic heterogeneity. There shall be no discrimination or disfavour against an individual or group on account of identity or difference. This is our credo of governance and we shall continue on this path.
Our adversaries have taken the road to perdition by seeking to divide our people along religious and ethnic lines. On this path, they will travel alone. Our diversity is our strength; God has bequeathed to us the freedom of choice. We are at liberty to be Christian, Muslim, traditional religious worshipper, atheist, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ijaw or Efik. What is unnatural and quite strange to Yoruba communal liberalism is to engage in conflict on account such differences. Lest we forget, the religion of PDP is poverty.
Nigeria is saturated with leaders who are ever so quick to parade platitudes of their respective religion – denying its faith, essence and positive values.
However, what we need at this time are God-fearing and incorruptible leaders who will galvanize our people and judiciously husband our resources to overcome our challenges.  We must terminate the regime of self-seeking manipulators who currently parade corridors of power, accruing political profit by turning us against each other and further dividing us along ethnic and religious lines.
The result of their politics of division is that Nigerians are poorer in the last 16 years whereas Nigeria as a country has never been richer save for recent months when oil price has declined. This manifests again in their continued lawlessness evidenced in the desecration of the National Assembly and the travesty at Ekiti Assembly. They have demonstrated without doubt their inability to protect Nigerians and the territorial integrity of our country. We must therefore be determined to vote out the party that has brought us to this sorry pass. We must show them the way out. We must let them know that on their way to hell, they will walk alone.
Our party, the All People Congress (APC) promises prosperity, national unity and integration, security of lives and property, job and wealth creation, rule of law and constitutionalism and deepening of democracy. All these have been showcased in all the states where our party holds sway in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti (until recently), Edo, Imo, Rivers, Kwara, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Borno and Yobe. This is what we stand for and this is why a greater number of Nigerians continue to accept us and identify with us. Our present travails therefore is temporary. The PDP on the other hand stands for poverty, misery and insecurity. They are prepared to sacrifice the entire country as long as their hold on power is intact. Come February next year, Nigerians are going to say enough is enough. We are going to beat them because they are beatable. The God that helped us to beat them in Osun will also beat them for us in the national election. Do not be afraid, do not despair. Victory is at hand.
To God almighty, the omnipotent and omniscient, we owe our victory. I will however like to acknowledge and thank everyone that contributed in one way or another to our success. I will begin with our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), all the national leaders of the party down the line but permit me to single out my leader and mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for providing the inspiration to aspire, to seek, to find and to triumph.
I will also like to thank my brother governors in APC who have supported me in every way possible in the struggle. My sincere appreciation goes to all the legislators in the National Assembly from Osun, especially the Director General of my campaign, Prof Sola Adeyeye, who demonstrated uncommon doggedness and a youthful heart. I cannot forget the party in the state, from the ward to the senatorial districts and state officials. The party was in the heat of fire, but they bore it with singular courage and equanimity. I acknowledge the support and the inimitable role of council chiefs and members of the State House of Assembly under the astute leadership of our indomitable Speaker.
I remain grateful to my governance team, the sharp instrument of my administration, for their unflinching support, for staying the course and for achieving much from little. I am particular about my Deputy, the Secretary to the State Government and my Chief of Staff.
My biggest thanks go to the people of Osun for their faithfulness from time past even till the present. These are the women groups, especially traders and market women, the artisans, hunters, butchers, farmers groups, commercial motorcyclists, transporters, drivers, civil servants, teachers, students, youths, organised private sector, entertainers, financial institutions, journalists, God-fearing security agents, artists and artistes, activists, traditional rulers, community based associations, youth based associations, civil society organisations and the coalition of political parties in the state. I thank you all. Your government is here and we will give our all to serve you.
Lastly, my thanks go to my family, especially my darling wife, who has held our home front with exceptional devotion. Her prayers, faith in God and in me plus her sacrificial love are pillars of unfailing support. I will not forget my mother, Iya Olobi, for her doting care, her sacrifice and huge heart.
I thank you all for your kind attention.
Osun a dara!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jonathan happy Boko Haram hasn’t seized new territory in one week

President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday said the Federal Government, the Nigerian Armed Forces and security agencies are working very hard to ensure that the ability of Boko Haram to capture and hold any Nigerian territory is ended very soon.
 Speaking at the opening of the meeting of Nigeria’s Honorary International Investment Council, in London, President Jonathan assured the gathering that the Armed Forces and security agencies were making steady gains in recovering areas recently taken by Boko Haram.
“We are improving on security. For about a week now there have been no reports of Boko Haram seizing more territory. Rather, we are steadily pushing them back. The impression being created by sections of the media that the situation is worsening is not true. I can assure you that it will never get worse,” President Jonathan told the gathering.
The President also called for greater support from the National Assembly for the Federal Government’s efforts to curb terrorism, insurgency and insecurity in the country.
He told members of the council headed by Lynda Chalker that he had offered himself as a candidate in Nigeria’s next presidential elections because he was convinced that with four more years in office, he will be able to further consolidate the positive national reforms initiated by his administration and take them to a point of irreversibility for the good of all Nigerians.
“As you already know, I have indicated my willingness to carry on for another four years if I am given the opportunity so that we can carry forward some of the reforms we have been talking about,” the President said.
He cited the expansion of transportation infrastructure, improvement of local content in Nigeria’s oil industry, more inclusive economic growth, job creation and national security which are on the agenda of the meeting as some of the areas in which his administration still hoped to achieve further improvements.
“We cannot move the economy forward without good infrastructure. We have been working very hard in that area. We have improved our road network significantly. In the next three to four years, we should be able to resurface almost all federal roads in the country and begin new ones.
“We are improving our airport terminals and aviation security. Reforms are also ongoing at our ports to drastically reduce the time required for import clearance formalities.
“In the rail sector, we may require private sector funds to quicken the pace of development. Our goal is to link all state capitals by rail. It may not be an objective that can be achieved by a single administration, but we want to lay a solid foundation that others can build on.
“We are also promoting the increase of local content in our oil industry, because that is the only way in which our people will benefit more from the industry and begin to see themselves as true stakeholders who need to protect and help in the development of our oil and gas resources,” President Jonathan said.
He thanked Ms. Chalker and other members of the council for their valuable advice to the Federal Government over the years.
“To be successful, leaders must take decisions based on adequate information and sound advice. Having had the personal benefit of interacting with you all as Vice President and President since 2007 has helped me a lot,” the President said.
The meeting later went into a closed door session to receive briefings, updates and presentations from relevant ministers and council members. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nigerian Lawmakers Scale Fence To Gain Access Into Legislative Chamber–PHOTOS

Ok, the gist is a simple enough one, but the pictures aren’t. It takes some adroit skills to scale a gate or fence especially when you are dressed like a Nigerian legislator; complete with an ‘agbada’ and cap.
Now for the gist: As Pro-Tambuwal legislators marched to the national assembly complex to hold a plenary session, they were met by policemen who bolted the gates and fired teargas at the onrushing lawmakers including the speaker (Aminu Tambuwal). Tambuwal and his friends are obviously paying for the Speaker’s defection to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Now the hard part: lawmakers forced themselves into the Assembly complex by scaling the fence and fending off teargas canisters and flares.

Now the hard part: lawmakers forced themselves into the Assembly complex by scaling the fence and fending off teargas canisters and flares.

Nigerian Troops Prevent Speaker Aminu Tambuwal From Entering The National Assembly - SR

Some 1000 soldiers and policemen have sealed the entrance of the National Assembly in Abuja and physically prevented the Speaker of the House from entering.

 The Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal arrived the National Assembly today with a view to preside over the sitting of the House but fierce looking troops posted the stopped him at the gate. A melee has ensued as a result.
 Mr. Tambuwal, President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling People’s Democratic Party are at loggerheads over the Speaker’s decision to decamp to the All Progressives Congress (APC) a few weeks ago.
Immediately he joined the APC his personal security guards were withdrawn on the orders of the President.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2015: History Beckons On Buhari To Step Forward

I am writing this article in my capacity as Joe Igbokwe, I am writing this piece as an Author and writer and I am writing this as a public commentator on national issues. I am not writing piece this as the spokesperson of Lagos APC. I speak strictly for myself and I crave your indulgence to give me this liberty to speak at a time like this. Nigeria is in a deep crisis and anybody who wishes this country well must speak out now or hold his peace forever.
I have said it before that when a nation is in crisis, the people must search and fish out a great president. When a nation is at crossroads, a competent and strong hand is needed to restore normalcy. When a nation’s territories are being threatened by external forces, you need a president with military background to put a stop to the insurgency. When corruption, impunity and mediocrity ravage a country, you need a disciplined man with puritanical disposition to be on the driver’s seat.
General Muhammadu Buhari(GMB) has come of age in Nigerian politics since 2003. He contested presidential elections in 2003, 2007 and again in 2011. In 2007, he was mercilessly rigged out of power and he went to court to seek redress. The case went up to the Supreme Court where the three Supreme Court judges agreed that the elections were flawed while three voted against. It took the vote of the Chief Justice of the federation to save the country from national and international embarrassment. GMB accepted the verdict. In 2011, he returned to the ring to box again. This time the electoral thieves got bolder in the South East and South South. They loaded and loaded votes until they became satisfied with the number. A friend of mine who went to vote was told to go home because they had got the required number. Again the great betrayal by members of his party and the inability of members to work together created the room for PDP to retain power again. General Buhari cried. He wept for Nigeria, he wept for the state of nation and the level of impunity and corruption ravaging the landscape and he wept for generations yet unborn. He wept because he reasoned that Nigerians do not want to fight for change. He wept because the few who were choking Nigeria work twenty four hours a day and seven days in a week while the majority and those who should know better go to sleep and pray 20 times in a day asking God to come down to do the talking for them. GMB wept because he considered that he has tried his best to help restore Nigeria. He wept because he saw no hope for this country when the evil ones are getting bolder. The rest is now history.
In the last three and half years the rapacious greedy lots in Nigeria, the corrupt, the meretricious mediocrity and the nitwits became bolder. NNPC, Immigration, Pension funds, NPA, etc became cash cows. It became a big scramble for these characters to pillage anything their hands could touch. NNPC could not remit all the money accruing from crude oil sales to CBN. When the former CBN Governor, now Emir of Kano, HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi raised an alarm, he was sacked with ignominy. Federal Ministers became laws unto themselves, attacking the common patrimony with reckless abandon, stealing what they do not need. The great threat to the nation’s corporate existence became the Boko Haram insurgency. Over 5000 Nigerians have been killed in the past three and half years. While the ruling party and the opposition continue to trade blames, the nation continues to go down. Mutinies reared its ugly heads in the Army of Nigeria. Junior officers started disobeying their superiors and our combatant soldiers escaping to Cameroun for fear of the rag-tagged insurgents called Boko Haram. In the midst of this, our infrastructure continues to decay. In 1999, our power generation stood a 3000 plus Mega Watts and after almost sixteen years we are now under 3000 Mega Watts after spending billions of dollars in that critical sector. Never in the history of this country has any leader played up the dangerous issues of Religion and Ethnicity as we have it today under President Jonathan. The Vice President, everybody including this writer fought so hard to make him assume his constitutional responsibility as president when President Yar Adua died in office, has put a knife on things that have held us together as one political entity. The president has systematically divided Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines, something unheard off in the history of Nigeria. Dangerously and tragically he moved from being the president of Nigeria to become the president of Ijaw nation. To make matters worse, some cowards and efulefus(nonentities) from his tribe took on other Nigerians, pouring invectives on them for asking questions.
I guess it was these errors of history that drove General Buhari to throw his hat into the ring once again to see if Nigerians can go back to history and take the right steps to right the wrongs of the past sixteen years. After giving up hope for Nigeria, GMB decided to return to take his last chance to help Nigeria out of trouble. I may not know what informed his decision to stage a comeback but I guess he knows what is wrong with this country and feels he knows what to do to reverse the trend.
I find it difficult to believe why the other equally good candidates in APC cannot step down for GMB given his antecedents, track records, history and character. No other former Head of State in Nigeria can be said to possess the discipline, honesty and integrity of General Buhari, all things considered. As a war time General, a former minister, a former Head of State, former chairman PTF and a fourth time contender in the race since 2003, I think that the man deserves all the support from all Nigerians to make it this time. Despite his dictatorial tendencies when he was the Military head of state, Buhari restored discipline and probity in Nigeria. His War Against Indiscipline (WAI) paid off handsomely and Nigeria is still reaping the fruits today. His intervention at PTF paid off too. His fight against corruption stood him out.
If today, the people at the corridors of power hate GMB, it is not because he is a bad man but the fear that some of them will end up in jail for corruption and impunity. They know that if GMB becomes the President, things may never be the same again and many of them will enter the next available flight to anywhere outside Nigeria. They know that oil subsidy looters will not go scot free. They know that GMB knows all of them. They know money does not mean anything to GMB and therefore he cannot be bribed.
Nigeria needs a tested and trusted Buhari now and this is the reason why I am pleading with all other APC presidential aspirants to step down for GMB. He is the most prepared for this office at a time like this. The little we saw of him in the 80s tells us that his wisdom, courage, discipline, strong character, fearlessness etc is what we need now to drive the new Nigeria of our dream. We must seize the moment. We must grab it with both hands or history will leave us behind.
Make no mistake about it, if we make the mistake of allowing President Jonathan to continue in office beyond 2015 we would have sowed the seed for this great country to go down. With all due respect, and without sounding immodest, President Jonathan has nothing to offer Nigeria. His emergence in 2010 was a big mistake. It was an error of history. It was something that could never have happened if we had known his innermost disposition, his training, his background, his philosophy, his ideology and his character. He cannot fight the insurgents, he cannot fight impunity, he cannot fight corruption, he cannot fight mediocrity, he cannot hold the country together and he simply cannot get it. The age of his ideas worries me to the marrows.
Let us help to get President GEJ out of the China’s shop to forestall further colossal damage. HE has tried his best and has made history for himself and his people but his best is not good enough for the country. This country is far bigger than the ambition of one man and therefore President Jonathan should be prepared to go because he will be roundly and mercilessly defeated in 2015.
Joe Igbokwe
First published on

The Decision Nigerians Must Make In 2015 - Japhet Omojuwa

We’ve got 88 days to the 2015 Presidential elections. The politicians may be confused about who they finally decide to field against the incumbent, Nigerians cannot afford to be confused about what they want from their leadership going forward. Even though this writer believes that fixing Nigeria has a lot more to do with how we the citizens demand for leadership from our leaders everyday, we cannot rule out the value of the right leader for our country. You just need to look at Georgia, Malaysia and Brazil at certain times in their history to understand that the leader of a country could be the difference that makes that country one to be proud of in the comity of nations.

President Jonathan’s candidacy and what he brings to the table are both settled issues. By the time Nigerians troop out to vote on the 14th of February 2015, President Jonathan would have been president for 5 years and 5 days. A lot has been said about the possible quality of the opposition he’d be up against but what cannot be said is that whoever ends up contesting against the incumbent will be up against what the incumbent represents. We have had almost half a decade of Goodluck Jonathan, what has that period brought? Let us take a cursory look as much as the limited space here will permit.

Nigeria is today Africa’s biggest economy, thanks to a rebasing that simply aggregated the growth of the Nigerian economy since the 1990s. Credit to the Jonathan administration though, as someone had to compute the numbers and his government did. You won’t blame his team for taking credit. Most people only need to know our economy became the biggest under this government. That the governments of Gen. Babangida (rtd.), Ernest Shonekan’s cameo, Gen. Sani Abacha, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd.) and the government of Musa Yar’Adua contributed to this size will not matter to the populace. Who cares about the details beneath the headline?

Nigeria’s economy continues to grow at a respectable rate, mostly fueled by increasing oil prices over the period. The growth of the economy has of course not taken the Nigerian masses with it. Poverty remains the common identity for most Nigerians. Again, the government will tout economic growth, what it dares not try to sell too much is how it has lifted Nigerians out of poverty. Efforts to do that have refused to pick up simply because Nigerians are not better off than they were in 2010.

Rising debt: N10.4 trillion as at June 2014. That’s about our total budget for two years. The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will secretly testify to this one. This has been a disaster. It would have been great to see the Dr. Okonjo-Iweala that worked with others to clear Nigeria’s debt argue with today’s Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. They’d certainly not see eye-to-eye on the issue of our national debt. If the rising debt had seen a revolution in national infrastructure in say a train ride between Abuja and Lagos that takes 3 hours, one would have been forced to look away from the debt and focus on the magnificent train network or some other project capable of inducing economic activity. That is not the case. We practically have little or nothing to show for the debt save for stolen/not stolen $20 billion amongst other corrupt/not stealing activities that have since positioned this government as one of the most corrupt/not stealing government in our Independent history.

What has Jonathan’s government absolutely done better?  The elections are better. The current challenges facing the voters’ registration process in Kano and Lagos show that that is not to be guaranteed for the 2015 elections. The budgeting system can be more open but it is relatively much more open than that of any government since 1999 at least and more open than all the states of the federation, including that of Lagos. The agricultural sector is in a much more better place, the cassava bread circus notwithstanding.

Where has Jonathan’s government absolutely failed? Our international perception has suffered a massive blow. Any country that has the uncultured Lilliputian Doyin Okupe - of his mind, not size obviously - defending it on the global TV network, cannot possibly expect to be perceived above the shallowness offered by his arguments. President Obasanjo fixed our image; it has since taken a lot of battering.

Corruption thrives. Agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that offered some hope just years ago have become like old pictures in a museum, only useful for what they used to be. Boko Haram will not hear the news of the return of the Jonathan administration and not feel elated. Under him, they have grown from strength to strength, they will be confident of continued growth if the status quo remains.

The question Nigerians must answer is not APC or PDP, it is like a poor man deciding between Ikoyi Club and Island Club. Nah, we are a small fry in the party game. The question we must answer is whether we want the status quo or we want to place a bet on something different. No matter the argument about “they are all the same,” it’d amount to intentional foolishness to say Mr. Jonathan and whoever his main opponent is are the same. For starters, will the opponent have a wife called Patience? Will the opponent dance just hours after the death of 46 school children? Will the opponent give us cassava bread 2.0? Simple questions.]


Sanusi Backs Vigilantes, Doubts Military in Boko Haram Fight

Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi,  has voiced support for vigilantes fighting Boko Haram, urging others to form civilian militias and questioning the competence of the military.

He said, “people should be sensitised on the importance of being on the alert. And they should prepare, they should acquire what they will defend themselves with,” Sanusi said during Friday prayers at the central mosque in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north”, adding that, “those that are endowed as hunters and vigilantes should apply this endowment given to them by Allah as an avenue of earning divine reward in defending their nation.”
He further said, “We should not wait for soldiers to come, before they come the carnage will have been done…,”Some of them drop their guns and flee.”
While Sanusi’s comments were similar to those made by President Goodluck Jonathan’s critics, they may feed added resentment towards the government because the emir of Kano is expected to stay above the political fray.
Credit: Yahoo News/ AFP

Why Ambode Will Be Better For Lagos By Onyeka ‘Kerous’ Ibeanusi

As the general elections draw closer, the Nigerian political terrain is heated up as the battle for the political soul of the nation becomes more intense. Although INEC’ s election calendar takes the steam out of any Gubernatorial tension viz-a-viz the Presidential, Lagos candidates promise Book markers another date with history in Lagos 2015 Guber race.

We cannot quantify how Lagosians have been bombarded through every available means by these numerous aspirants especially from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). It is almost impossible to walk through any street in Lagos without noticing a political banner, flyer or ad of some sort. They seem to share a similar message —- the promise of a better Lagos.
The jungle though crowded with several creatures always pride some indisputable heavyweights. Needless to point out that despite the numbers, some names have become as important as the election itself. ln APC specifically whose Primary election would likely pump more adrenaline, the personality of  Akinwunmi Ambode and Senator Ganiyu Olarenwaju Solomon overshadow the others.
The Lagos that I know would look forward to a leader who will not only provide basic infrastructures, but also lead in a manner that will transform the life of the common man. And that’s where the name Akinwunmi Ambode takes first.
Sustainable development is extremely important and an Ambode governorship would pivot more developmental success for Lagos state. Having spent over 10 years in the state civil service working in different local government areas and rising to the position of Accountant General where the state’s financial performance under his watch improved feasibly with the State budget performing at a remarkable average of 85% annually; It is therefore safe to conclude that Ambode is the real Mr Insider in Lagos state’s  financial and political terrain.
It is obvious that the advantage of this strategic position and in depth knowledge of the system will result in a seamless transition from Governor Fashola’s administration which is adjudged as one of the best in the country’s democracy to Ambode’s should he win next years election.
Akinwumi Ambode, a hardworking retiree who built a thriving consulting firm within a very short time, is a widely travelled man. This nature has its antecedents, starting out  early in life to explore different cultures; having spent ‘learning’ years in Warri, Delta state and served in Sokoto state. He is more at ease with Lagos’ rainbow clime. An experience that would  further improve the relationship of the Government with non indigenes. We cannot be blind to the fact that there are more non-indigenes in the state, hence improving the state’s GDP.
As a financial expert, his financial knowledge will help in the proper and timely execution of state projects, reduce mismanagement of funds and seek new avenues from which the state could generate more revenues.
His charisma depicts youthfulness and energy and would endear him more to the younger generation who account for more than 45% of the state population. A good rapport would induce empathy and bring empowerment to the fore, culminating in better opportunities and job creation in the state.
From his declaration speech, Akinwunmi Ambode made it obvious that he plans to build on the foundations laid down by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola’s administrations; By this commitment, he is ready to leverage on their successes while deepening further on their Infrastructural and sustainable developmental policies.
I’m no prophet but I see this glaring enough and Lagosians are just about to have one of the most promising governor one more time. It’s in Ambode!
Onyeka ‘Kerous’ Ibeanusi
Musician/Engineer/writer/social commentator and founder of
Twitter @onyeckerous

Oshiomhole: Six Years After

ON November 12, 2008, Adams Eric Aliyu Oshiomhole, was sworn in as Governor of Edo State. It was a special moment for the state and its people for several reasons. Remarkably, it was the culmination of the resilience of the people, who voted and stood by him when anti-democratic forces tried to rob him of the mandate they gave willingly to him, and the judiciary that resisted machinations of the powers-that-be to give a verdict in favour of a popular choice.

The nation became better for it as the judiciary stood resolute on the side of the people. In addition, it was a turning point for the entire state as it marked the beginning of what is now popularly referred to as the ‘new narrative’.
While making the solemn pledge to turn the state around like never before, he underscored his desire to be a people’s governor by seeking their consent to be referred to as “Comrade- Governor.”
Uniquely, his pledge was an unambiguous desire to give the state a fresh breath in terms of people-oriented, physically verifiable development projects that will stand the test of time. The pledge became necessary because the supposedly democratic administrations before him ruined and wrecked the state economy without any attempt to upgrade basic public infrastructure on the pretext that the state had no money.
A few years into his administration, Oshiomhole eroded the ‘no-money’ myth by proving to be a man of his words. Decades after the historic performance left by Dr Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, who, as military administrator of old Bendel State, left a telling record of infrastructural development, Oshiomhole recreated that long gone era as structures, after hope-rising structures began to fill available spaces in all the nooks and crannies of the state. It was not a surprise that the people decided to give a unanimous second term endorsement in all 18 local government areas despite subterranean sabotage by those put to shame by his performance.
Importantly, Oshiomhole was not given an unassailable second term approval by the people on flimsy grounds. Between his inauguration and the end of his first term, they witnessed an unprecedented, self-evident and widespread development projects spread across every sector, including economy, education, works, health, environment/public utilities, etc, in every senatorial zone, every local government area and every town. With him, the people became convinced that the state had truly become a very positive new narrative.
Before the coming of his administration, Edo State economy was in ruins. Though oil revenue was high, the greater part of whatever accrued from it found its way into the pockets of those elected by the people. It didn’t matter to them that the people they represented suffered. For instance, roads and public schools became so wrecked that an urgent surgical revival was needed to avert total collapse. Midway into the administration, roads in the city centre, including Akpakpava, Five Junction, Mission, Airport, Sapele roads, etc, became self-evident proofs that the administration meant business. Further from the capital, there are too many to be mentioned here. In addition, the administration embarked on a deliberate renovation and reconstruction of public schools, public health institutions and streets, designed and completed with covered drains, walkways, street lights, etc, also in all the 18 local government areas. The health sector witnessed the same level of turn around.
Remarkably, the administration kept the momentum despite dwindling returns from federation allocations and internally generated revenue.
With the accruing monthly allocations from the federation on the decline, from N3.8 billion to N2.8 billion, the administration took to the internally generated revenue option which moved up from its less-than-N300 million revenue before the advent of the administration to its present status of between N1.4 billion to N1.5 billion. Yet, Benin City, the state capital is about the cleanest compared to some of its neighbours with over N10 billion monthly federation account allocation.
In the education sector, the new narrative is known as the red roof revolution. Public schools in the state only compared with poultry farms before the advent of the Oshiomhole administration. At best, most of them had no roofs, making teaching and learning near impossible tasks during rainy seasons.
All that has changed as the administration went on a deliberate education rebirth policy that resulted in the rehabilitation of old and construction of new school buildings, complete with red roofs and every other facility necessary for conducive environment for learning. The new structures are found in all the 192 wards of the state. Education is not only free for both primary and secondary schools, the administration also made transportation free for all uniformed children both in private or public schools riding on the Comrade buses.
Definitely, Edo State ranks as one of the state with the best network of roads. However, they were hardly motorable until the current administration took effect. Since then, things changed for the better as roads from the capital down to the local governments have become a beauty to behold in terms of their look and functionality.
Oshiomhole has taken upon himself some ambitiously near impossible tasks and turned them around. The Azura/Edo Independent Power Project and Edo Water Storm project are obvious examples. The former is a $100 million project and the first Nigerian power project to benefit from the World Bank’s risk guarantee status, covered by the global bank’s Partial Risk Guarantee structure for developing needs of emerging global markets. It is very credible evidence that the state is a viable centre for global investment hob.
The latter is a vast labyrinth of huge drainage system under construction to serve as a permanent solution of the endemic drainage challenge in the state capital.
It is designed to empty the water deluge from all over the city to either the Ogba or Ikpoba River.
For all his efforts, the Benin crown prince, Eheneden Erediauwa, described Oshiomhole’s performance in the following words. “I don’t know of any governor that has developed Edo state in terms of infrastructure as Oshiomhole.”
Ernest Omoarelojiee writes from Benin City, Edo State.
First published on Vanguard Newspaper

Ekiti lawmakers retain Speaker, approve commissioners, others

Fresh facts have emerged that Ekiti lawmakers did not impeach the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, rather the legislators approved the reconstitution of the local government caretaker committees and confirmed the commissioner-nominees of Governor Ayodele Fayose.
It was earlier rumoured that seven members of Ekiti State House of Assembly backed by well armed policemen, Monday, impeached the speaker of the state house of Assembly, Adewale Omirin.

Monday, November 17, 2014

FG okays emergency rule extension in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa

The Federal Government on Monday resolved to extend the state of emergency declared in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States for the third time.
The emergency rule was first declared in the affected states on May 14, 2013 by President Goodluck Jonathan over the continued activities of members of the Boko Haram sect.
Since that first declaration of six months, the emergency rule had been  extended twice.
The third tranche of six-month emergency rule expires on Thursday.
The decision to extend it for the third time was taken at a meeting of the National Defence Council presided over by Jonathan on Monday.
THE PUNCH had reported exclusively earlier on Monday that a decision on whether to extend the emergency rule or not would be taken at the meeting.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Muhammed Adoke (SAN), disclosed the council’s decision to State House correspondents.
Adoke said having reviewed the emergency rule, the council resolved that the government should request the National Assembly to extend the emergency rule.
When asked when the request would be sent bearing in mind that an arm of the National Assembly is currently on break, the minister said it would be done immediately.
“The council reviewed the issue of the state of emergency and the government will be requesting the National Assembly to extend the emergency rule. It (the communication) will go in immediately,” he said.
The Council which is one of the federal executive bodies established by Section 135 of the nation’s Constitution has the power to advise the President on matters relating to the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Its members include the President who shall be the chairman; the Vice President who shall be the Deputy Chairman;Minister of Defence; Chief of Defence Staff; Chief of Army Staff; Chief of Naval Staff; Chief of Air Staff; and such other members as the President may appoint.
Those who attended the Monday meeting included the CDS, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; COAS, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; CNS, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin; CAS, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu; Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba; and the National Security Adviser,  Col.  Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Others were Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim; Minister of Defence, Gen. Aliyu Guasu (retd.); and the Minister of Interior, Mr. Aba Moro.
While declaring emergency rule in the three states in 2013 in a nationwide broadcast, Jonathan had invoked Section 305 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He had announced that regardless of the state of  emergency imposed, the political structures in the affected states would remain intact.
Following continued violence in the state in spite of the emergency rule, there were calls for the sacking of the state governors to pave way for the appointment of military administrators.
The Presidency had however said it was unconstitutional for the President to sack state governors.

Jonathan may lose Cross River over lingering crisis – Ambassador

A Former Nigerian Ambassador to Mali, Mr. Sony Abang, on Monday expressed the fears that  the adopted candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2015 Presidential elections, President Goodluck Jonathan, may lose in Cross River State if the intra-party crisis in the state continues.
Abang,  who is also a two term chairman of the party in the state,  stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja.
He alleged that the leadership of the PDP in the state was allegedly sacrificing the collective interest of its members on the alter of personal interests of certain individuals who joined the party barely a year ago.
He also lamented that the current leadership of the party was in the hands of non politicians who were until recently,  in the civil service before they retired and drafted into politics by the leader of the party in the state.
He said, “If we go to the 2015 election with the way things are,  I am not too sure that the PDP will have a good outing in the state. The present leadership did not emerge through the same process that brought us in.
“When I was a local government chairman,  it was a consensus among all the party leaders that I should come and head the party.  It was not the decision of one individual but today, the choice of the state chairmanship, was the decision of one or two persons.
“They wanted somebody, who will just be there to do their bidding. The state chairman,  everybody knows,  is a civil servant who just retired.  He was the Clerk of the state House of Assembly. He doesn’t know anything about party administration. He doesn’t even know the people he was supposed to administer.”
The politician, who regretted that the actions of the political actors in the state had drafted him away from active politics at the moment,  said the PDP membership strength which was about one million as at 2008, had dropped to 200, 000 now in the state.
He said, “We have an election in 2015 and we know the implications.  When I left as party chairman in 2008, the membership of the PDP in Cross River State was nearly one million because we had a policy that every  eligible voter in the state must be induced to be a member of the PDP.

Tunde Bakare: The Nigeria Of My Dreams

Good morning; God bless you.
Say to your neighbour: Peace to you, peace to your household and peace to all that you have.
Now that we are rounding off the week-long Diamond Jubilee Celebration, we can get back to the serious business of nation building. Just before the broadcast today, let me place on the register my sincere appreciation for the magnitude of demonstration of your affection for me, my wife, children and family.
From far and near you have encouraged us to do more in the service of God and humanity in this second half of my earthly journey.
It is impossible to forget your labour of love and we trust God to richly bless you all. How can I thank those who in spite of their lofty positions decided to pour encomiums on me through their tributes? Words fail me to appreciate in this regard the contributions of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari; elder statesmen: Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, General Alani Akinrinade, Dr. Amos Akingba, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, my brother and friend, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II SARKIN KANO, and Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu.
The fathers of faith and generals in the army of God were not left behind. Tributes came from Pastor E.A. Adeboye, Dr. Wilson Badejo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Rev. Felix Omobude, and Pastor Afolabi Oladele who also brought a timely word from the throne of grace. I must make mention of the tributes of my dear friends and partners in destiny Dr. Jonathan & Helen David far away in Malaysia, Pastor & Mrs. Bank Akinmola who are here present, as well as the CAN President Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor who, in spite of his Annual Conference in Warri, flew in to Lagos to celebrate with us.
We also appreciate the active participation of the Ogun State Governor and his wife, Senator & Mrs. Ibikunle Amosun, Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope, former Governors of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel and his wife, and former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who came in after the service, as well as former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, and the trio of distinguished Senators Adefuye, Bajomo and Okurounmu, two of whom came with their wives. The Royal Fathers also honoured us with their presence alongside their Oloris: The Awujale of Ijebu Land and his royal entourage, The Alake of Egba Land, The Olu of Ilaro, The Olowu of Owu, The Osile of Oke-Ona Egba, just to mention a few. May the good Lord lengthen their days and give them rich fulfilment that nothing will take away from them all, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
A prominent role was played at the symposium last Monday by the best and brightest of the media, including Chief Ajibola Ogunshola (who chaired the occasion and also came to the birthday reception on Tuesday with his wife in spite of prior commitments that day), Segun Adeniyi who delivered the keynote address, Femi Adeshina, Simon Kolawole, Azubuike Ishiekwene, Edward Dickson, Funke Aboyade, SAN, and Bashorun Dele Momodu. May their tribe increase in the Fourth Realm of the Estate.
In addition, who can quickly forget the contribution of Prof. Pius Adesanmi, a writer with poetic license, who blew the trumpet of conscience at the public lecture he delivered ably on Friday? May this star in our firmament continue to shine brighter and brighter, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The gifts and sacrifices of notable men and women of Commerce, Banking and Industry: Otunba Subomi Balogun and his Olori, Olola Fola Adeola and his wife, Chief Mrs. Nike Akande, Asiwaju S.K. Onafowokan, Chief Olusegun Osunkeye, Senator Daisy Danjuma, our own Tunde Ayeni and his wife, Segun Oloketuyi and his wife, Rev. Tunde Lemo, the retired Deputy Governor of the CBN, as well as others too numerous to mention, are deeply appreciated. I am so overwhelmed by the display of love towards us. God bless you all.
As far as I am concerned, birthdays are not the celebration of the days we were born but a celebration of the fact that we have been able to conquer death for another year. It is also a celebration of the fact that we have been able to overcome numerous obstacles on our life journey. Therefore landmark birthdays should be celebrated as victories over the forces of darkness that everyday bestride our paths in our quest to make a positive impact in this cruel and fallen world.
In Nigeria today, where life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world, where the health sector is more or less comatose, it is always a miracle when one lives for another year.
For this reason, my wife and I are grateful to God who has added life to our years and who we trust to add years to our lives, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
As a premise for today’s broadcast, permit me to quote Ghandi at this juncture. He said: “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly”. Add to that the words of the American author and poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox who said, “To sin by silence when they should speak, makes cowards of men”. I also consider it appropriate to add herein the contribution of our own Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who along with his amiable wife honoured us with their presence at the leaders and choir luncheon yesterday. He  said: “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”.
And so as an assembly of the Bold, Courageous and Faithful men and women, we too refuse to keep quiet in the face of impunity and lawlessness.
The theme for today’s broadcast is: THE NIGERIA OF MY DREAMS.This is my 60th birthday gift to my nation. I hope it will be well received by all men and women of good will.
Habakkuk 2:1-(NKJV):
                1 I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.
                2 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.
                3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.
                4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
Ezekiel 12:26-28 (NKJV):
                26 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
                27 “Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’
                28 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’”
In the past I have had to explain to those around me why I have been so consumed by the burden of my nation Nigeria to the point of putting my life on the line. I would love to lead a quiet life, minding my business and just spending time with those I love as a husband, father, son and friend, insulated from the chaotic environment that we have to grapple with as a nation, but the burden of Nigeria would not afford me that leisure. I would love to take luxurious cruises around the world in the company of those dearest to my heart to savour the magnificence and splendour of the sea and better organized nations, away from the pressures of this environment, but the sense of responsibility for Nigeria would not let me.
By the grace of God, I have the means to leave the shores of this nation to relocate to climes of much greater comfort and never come back here but the promptings of destiny would not permit me. Like a pregnant woman, I cannot sleep like others sleep. Like one in the season of birth, I cannot ignore the pangs that rouse my spirit in the night seasons regarding my beloved nation Nigeria. Like one taken by labour pains, I cannot disregard the quickening of the New Nigeria, a seed divinely implanted in my womb of destiny from infancy, whose delicate life I have grown, with the sense of responsibility to nurture through its full gestation, on behalf of the One who planted it and to Whom I owe account.
Some have wondered why I would rather spend and be spent than take even what may be considered a legitimate compensation. Some have wondered why my teardrops flow at the slightest bruise on my nation’s soul yet my heart leaps for joy as to a story still being told. Some have wondered why I would rather incline my ears to the melody within my reins, as to the beats of a distant drum, than flow with the crowd whose roaring noise seems to make my voice but a silent hum. I am compelled to lay it bare to you and to generations yet unborn why I would rather confront than conform; why I would rather contend than compromise; and why I would rather combat than condone where the destiny of my nation is concerned. Though the landscape seems stricken by gloom, the background against which my hope still blooms, I wish every Nigerian would find their thrill as I unveil the Nigeria of my dreams, for any jewel that’s worth this fight must be a pearl of such great price.
I was a child when Nigeria gained her independence from Britain. I was almost six years old at the time; but I remember the great expectation that heralded that event. I remember the 1st independence celebration that accompanied it. I remember the delicious jollof rice that was distributed to us as children and the green-white-green hand flags that were waved in jubilation. Infants though we were, we were conscious of the dawn of a new era and nothing seemed more symbolic of the promise of national greatness than the lowering of the Union Jack and the hoisting of the Nigerian flag in its place. So melodious was the national anthem whose lyrics and rhythm we subsequently had to learn instead of the British anthem. Our infant hearts were stirred with patriotic fervour as we belched the tune of Nigeria We Hail Thee from our tender bellies. Heroic images of our founding fathers were etched on our minds as we learnt of their great exploits and aspired to be like them. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was my personal hero. I grew up idolizing this colossus of a man who to me was the quintessence of leadership.
On April 10, 1967, as a ten year old, I had a dream in which I was on a mountaintop seated between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon. In this rather mysterious encounter, we were discussing the future of this nation. After that experience, a seed of destiny was deposited in me which, though I did not fully understand at the time, I could not deny or shake away. A year before then, in 1966, when Chief Awolowo paid a visit to Abeokuta after he had been released from prison, I struggled through the waiting crowd to give him a warm handshake. He, together with the rest of our founding fathers, the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and, before them, the likes of Sir Herbert Macaulay, had laid the foundation of a nation whose future I had much hope in. The dreams of our founding fathers reverberated in my heart because they gave meaning and offered a promise of closure to my childhood experiences.
Born in Abeokuta, in the South of Nigeria and, at some point, raised in Sokoto, in the North of Nigeria, with relatives across different ethnicities, I could understand what our founding fathers meant when they agreed to the promise of a nation where, though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we would stand.
Born in the midst of dwindling wealth and raised in abject poverty after the death of my father, the promise of a prosperous nation characterized by peace and plenty with equitable wealth distribution resonated with my aspirations.
Born to a father who died when I was only two, leaving me nothing but the legacy of a name unstained and highly respected years after his death, I could understand the creed that guided our founding fathers as they counted as gain the prospect of handing over to the next generation a banner without stain.
Born by a mother who, after my father’s death, was subjected to oppression and untoward suffering, the kind of suffering many a Nigerian woman goes through in the hands of a harsh socio-economic environment especially when they lose their husbands, my heart resonated with the promise of a nation where no one is oppressed and whose flag shall be a symbol that truth and justice reign.
As I proudly took on responsibility at an early age, engaging in manual labour from the age of nine, hawking kolanut and plantain, hewing and selling firewood, fetching water to earn meagre wages to support my widowed mother who struggled to take care of me and to give me a future she never had, I understood the ethos of our founding anthem that Nigerians are proud to serve the sovereign Motherland.
Through the free education policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo without which the likes of me would never have gone to school, and through the free health services by the same government, I became a beneficiary of the use of the right public policy mix to achieve socio-economic improvement for families who otherwise have no chance at the better life for which they strive. As the Western Region blazed the trail on the continent in taking developmental strides and as I learnt of the successes of the Northern, Eastern and Midwestern Regions at improving the socio-economic conditions of their people, despite the troubled politics of the era, my expectations were high as to the height that this nation could attain in the community of nations.
When the fabric of nationhood was threatened by the forces of secession and its foundation shaken by the winds of division, the lofty ideals of a nation in peace or battle honoured, painted in our anthem and adopted by the founding fathers, and the corresponding patriotic zeal etched in me as a young Nigerian, stirred me up to offer myself as a recruit in the army that was mandated to keep Nigeria one, believing that I had the mental prowess to execute the assignment even though my little frame would not add any advantage as I was reminded when my offer was refused.
As a Muslim student in a Christian school, I spearheaded the fight against domination of religious minorities by the majority only to end the battle and move on without rancour as soon as equity was achieved. Though I did not know it then, I was only reverberating the ideals of our founding fathers as articulated by Sir Ahmadu Bello whose Sokoto I had been raised in – the ideal of a nation of many different races, tribes and religions knit together to a common history, common interest and common ideas, a society where the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us. Like Ahmadu Bello, I was only reminding the staff and students of Lisabi Grammar School that ours is a nation of a firmly rooted policy of religious tolerance where leadership should have no intention of favouring one religion at the expense of another; where, subject to the overriding need to preserve law and order, the aim of public policy should be that every citizen has absolute liberty to practice his belief according to the dictates of his conscience, an ideal which, years later, at the just concluded National Conference, this time as a Christian, inspired my insistence on religious neutrality. I have faith in God. I do not practice any religion. Religion is bondage.
As a young student from Abeokuta, upon relocating to Lagos and representing Zumratu Islamiya Grammar School Surulere at the 1974 National Finals of the Red Cross Society Debates, faced with a formidable opposition from a mixed European student from King’s College Lagos, I refused to be intimidated by the colour of his skin, by the shape of his nose or by the sophistication of his accent and I went on to win the cup for my school. Though I did not know it then, I was simply echoing the ideal espoused by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in his book Renascent Africa published in 1937 which I had earlier read, where he reiterated the words of George Bernard Shaw that the greatest civilization would come from Africa.
Dr. Azikiwe, himself, as a young man, had visions – visions of Nigeria becoming a great country in the emerging continent of Africa; visions of Nigeria offering freedom to those in bondage, and securing the democratic way of life for those who had been lulled into an illusion of security under colonial rule. At independence, when he had become an older man, he dreamed dreams of the ever increasing prosperity of the people of his Nigeria, dreams which were echoed by my childhood aspiration to overcome poverty and obtain a better life for my mother and me, and to facilitate equitable redistribution of wealth to better the lot of poor and suffering people, many of whom I had encountered in Sokoto and Abeokuta. This aspiration took me from Abeokuta to Lagos with nothing but a few belongings in search of the Nigerian Dream and its promise of prosperity for even the most unlikely as articulated by the founders of our nation.
Indeed, every nation is born in the bosom of founding fathers – men and women who take responsibility for the birthing of the nation and the establishment of the framework of state; patriots who facilitate the emergence of a national culture; political and socio-economic craftsmen who engineer the national structure including the nation’s geopolitical and economic structures; nation-builders who spearhead the building of national institutions; wise men and women who guide the evolution of a national system of laws; and statesmen who set a precedent as far as national leadership is concerned. These founding fathers become the progenitors of the subsequent generation of fathers who are the custodians of the foundational pillars established by the founding fathers. This legacy of fatherhood of the nation is then bequeathed to each succeeding generation so that the national dream, the ideal to which that nation aspires, is preserved from one generation to another.
However, when, in the vicissitudes of national life, the nation is severed from the foundation laid by the founding fathers such that the pillars upon which the national ideal is rested begin to crumble, when the building blocks of nationhood are falling apart and the centre cannot hold, when the principles of constitutionality ascented to by the founding fathers give way to a perverted system of laws characterized by the desecration of the legal institutions and the replacement of the rule of law by the ruse of law, when corruptibility and mediocrity replace integrity and excellence in leadership, then that nation is in need of a transgenerational breed without greed who can reconnect with the creed ingrained by the founding fathers upon the stones of the nation’s founding, men and women who have climbed the shoulders of these fathers to catch a glimpse of the dream and who, themselves, have been transported by grace to behold the end to which the nation has been destined. By the grace of God, I have mounted the shoulders of founding fathers and I have had a rendezvous with the Nigerian dream; I have been to the mountaintop and I have seen the Nigeria of my dreams; I have journeyed to the presence of the Almighty and I have beheld the New Nigeria. I am compelled by a sense of destiny to proclaim what my eyes have seen, my ears have heard and my hands have handled.
I am persuaded that when the North and the South of this nation were amalgamated, the bedrock of a potentially great nation was laid by the hands of the Almighty for a purpose that is soon to unfold to the world. I am determined that the labours of our founding fathers and of our heroes past to build a great nation where our diverse tribes and tongues would stand in brotherhood shall not be in vain. I am convinced that the founding fathers of this nation bequeathed to our generation the call to rise above our differences and forge a more perfect union.
Moreover, I am grieved by the fact that, despite the lofty dreams of our founding fathers, and in spite of the great destiny to which this nation has been called, we have thus far tottered on our journey to nationhood, swerving time and again toward the edge of a precipice, rising up against one another and playing the ethnic and religious cards, destroying lives and shattering dreams. My heart bleeds at the subhuman existence the majority of our people are still subjected to, fifty-four years after independence. There is little need for the grueling statistics that show that the majority of the Nigerian people live below the irreducible minimum standard of living envisaged by the founders of our nation.
I need not remind you that 54% of our young people remain unemployed. I need not remind you that over 9 million Nigerian children have no access to education. I need not remind you that 130 million Nigerians self-generate electricity due to the failure of the power sector. I should spare you the fact that 64 million Nigerian adults are illiterate in the 21st century; I should spare you the fact that 100 million Nigerians live in destitution; I should spare you the fact that 68% of Nigerians lives below the poverty line.I need not bother you with the fact that the life expectancy of the Nigerian is not more than 54 years. I need not bother you with the fact that 12.1m Nigerians live in a state of hunger or undernourishment according to the 2014 African Multiple Scorecard on Hunger and Food Security. I need not bother you with the fact that 158 out of 1,000 Nigerian children die before the age of five.
Oh! Let me not ruin your day by reminding you that over 6,000 have been killed in terror attacks in Nigeria while over 250,000 have been displaced due to the heinous activities of terrorists; let me not ruin it further by reminding you that over 400 bombs have exploded in Nigeria since 2010; let me not ruin it even further by reminding you that there are girls and women still held hostage by terrorists while more are being captured. There is little need for these or other statistical proofs of the sorry state of our nation because evidence abounds all around us.
For a long while, village life has ceased in Nigeria especially in the North where villages have practically become ghost towns taken over by insurgents; neighbourhoods in the South are full of jobless young people, many of whom are engaged in internet fraud, drug dependency, petty theft or even armed robbery, while young girls drown in subtle or express prostitution. All around us are the signs that we, as a nation, are not where we should be. Consider the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man the country turns out.” What kind of man is Nigeria turning out? And what type of politicians and public servants occupy our landscape?
At this sensitive period in our polity when the nation seems to be tottering on the edge of a precipice, is a general election the solution to our crises or will elections aggravate the problem? As strange as the question may seem, there could be nothing more pragmatic than providing honest answers to these posers at this crucial juncture in our national existence.
With parts of the North under the siege of Boko Haram in the form of outright territorial control in some cases and guerilla styled terror attacks in others and with the government failing to bring the situation under control, what is the guarantee that there will indeed be general elections in 2015? Even if elections are held successfully in some parts of the country, would results be conclusive without elections in the troubled parts? How would displaced persons cast their votes or are they automatically disenfranchised? How safe would massive campaign rallies be? With politicians and their militant cronies on both sides facing up to one another ahead of the elections and sounding the drumbeats of war should the elections not go in their respective interests, what would be the aftermath of a general election? We may argue that elections have been successfully held in some states under heavy military presence but let us not forget that we do not hold staggered elections in Nigeria. We are talking about general elections.
If one were to ignore the atmosphere of intimidation and the warlike environment that such massive military deployment across the nation at the same time would create, do we even have sufficient security/military personnel for such a mission? What would be the impact of such a thin spread of our military on the safety of terror-stricken areas? In whatever way the results of the general elections go – North or South  –  are we prepared for the reactions that could ensue? Against the structural and systemic backdrop of the chaotic state of the nation, what is the wisdom in holding elections without dealing with these foundational problems? If the politicians ignore these salient questions and go ahead to juggle for power in the midst of chaos, then that would seem to lend credence to the allegation that the politicians do know what the Nigerian people do not know and are behind the crises in our nation, competing among themselves to see who can best manipulate the situation for political gains, not caring how many lives are lost in the process as long as personal ambition is achieved.
I have consistently alerted the nation since 2012 that if we fail to fix 2014, there would be no 2015. We need first to address the underlying problems by joining forces to deal with insurgency, seeking national reconciliation and integration, forging a new people’s constitution, developing a blueprint for development along zonal lines, organizing an accurate census and establishing a truly independent electoral commission whose head is not appointed by the President and whose financial allocation will be obtained from the first line charge of the Federation Account. The structural framework for such necessary pre-election reforms is beyond the scope of today’s broadcast.
However, in my capacity as a servant of God and a watchman mandated to warn the nation ahead of impending danger, I have already made it clear to the nation that we need a transitional arrangement to pilot our nation out of this chaos before we can talk about elections. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Ladies and gentlemen, “there is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation than a want of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country.” (Joseph Addison)
Therefore, rather than the usual finger pointing of the past, we must understand at this crucial stage in the history of our nation that this is no time to engage in the blame game that has torn us apart these past one hundred years: the blame game between the North and the South, the blame game between the Christians and the Muslims, the blame game among political parties and the blame game between the leadership and the people.
Having been helped by the Almighty these hundred years, it is time we stopped to ask ourselves why the bush is not consumed amidst the flame of fire; it is time we pondered the purpose of our corporate existence; it is time we healed the wounds of the past in order to forge ahead as one united country; it is time we rose up to the greatness foretold by our founding fathers; it is time we rose up as one country of diverse strengths united by a common purpose, a common ideal and a common destiny; it is time we deployed our diverse strengths to surmount the challenges that we are now confronted with and to build the Nigeria of our dreams. For even though that dream has been blown about by the wind of oppression and the storms of injustice, the dream lives on; even though that dream has been emaciated by the pangs of poverty and the throes of despair, the dream lives on; even though that dream has been threatened by the malicious forces of disintegration and the roaring lion of terrorism, the dream lives on.
Yes! The dream lives on! It lives on in the smile of that teenage child hawking on the streets of Lagos hoping to add a few more naira notes to his mother’s purse so she can afford his school books by the start of the term.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the sleepy eyes of that father who lives in Mowe and must wake up at 4.00 a.m. so he can join the bus, hoping to catch some sleep on the way before he gets to his office in Lekki, the only place where he found a job by which he is able to put food on the table for his wife and children, some of whom may have fallen asleep by the time he returns at 11 p.m..
The dream lives on! It lives on in the drips of dye from the hands of that adire maker in Abeokuta who must keep up the family’s ancient trade in the 21st century but must do so under the same crude conditions in which her ancestors did theirs for that is the only way she can support her cutlass-and-hoe-bearing farmer husband to take care of the home front.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the nets of the fisherman in Okpoma (Okpo-Ama) Kingdom in Bayelsa State who must scout for fish in an oil-polluted river if his aged father and mother and his young wife and infant child must live to see the next day and whose wife must find alternative fire sources, as the family cannot afford a litre of kerosene even though the ground that produces it is only miles away.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the local ingenuity of the shoemaker in Aba who finds a way to weather the storm of power shortage and the inability to access capital as he strives to provide local content in the shoe industry, competing with importers from better organized economies.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the sweat on the face of that yam farmer in Makurdi who, against all odds, ensures that his part of the country lives up to its name as the food basket of the nation.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the voice of that young teacher in that remote village in Sokoto who defies all odds including the dilapidated school building, the unconducive classroom environment where students have to sit on mats and, most of all, poor pay, to ensure that the next generation has a taste of the vestiges of the dreams of our founding fathers.
Yes! The dream lives on! It lives on in the walk to school of that little girl in Bauchi who defies the threat of terrorism as she steps out in pursuit of basic education.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the gallantry of the young men of Borno State known by the name Civilian JTF; young men who put their lives on the line and who, with inferior weapons or no weapons at all, have taken responsibility for the defense of their villages against the evil forces of terrorism.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the bravery of those heroes among our soldiers who would rather die in honour of the fatherland than surrender to Boko Haram or flee to Cameroon for cover and put the Nigerian flag to shame.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the hope of the women and girls still held in captivity and in the relentlessness of Nigerians in civil society and in government, who have continued to hope that one day, the bonds of terrorism will be broken and all captive Nigerians will be returned alive to their families.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the hand-held devices of young Nigerians on social media who keep on the front burner of public consciousness those issues that affect the Nigerian people in the hope that one day a movement for positive change will be ignited.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the drive of young men and young women who challenge the notion of job scarcity to start-up innovative enterprises, creating jobs for themselves and many others like them.
The dream lives on! It lives on in the dedication and commitment of the Nigerian worker who, in spite of poor pay and poor working conditions, has kept alive the dignity of labour.
The dream lives on! It lives on whenever a public office holder, at any level of government, realizes that God has exalted him or her for the sake of the Nigerian people, and decides to set aside selfish interest to serve the people with the integrity of his heart and the skillfulness of his hands like King David (Psalm 78:72).
The dream lives on! It lives on in the hopes and prayers of every Nigerian who believes in, and is working for, the emergence of a New Nigeria.
Fellow citizens of Nigeria:
If there is a New York, it’s because there was an old York. If there is a New Delhi, it’s because there was an old Delhi; if there is a New Mexico, it is because there was an old Mexico.  If there’s going to be a New Jerusalem, it’s because there is a present Jerusalem that is in bondage with her children. And so I say to you Nigerians, that out of this one that has become a byword for corruption among the nations, there shall emerge a New Nigeria, a nation built on the pillars of mercy and truth, righteousness and peace; a land of freedom and of justice and a home of equity and fair play, where no one is oppressed and no one is discriminated against on the basis of ethnicity or religion; a nation where women and girls, the young and the old  are protected and no one is denied her due on the basis of her gender.
I speak of a New Nigeria where, though creed and tongue may differ, the people will unite in the pursuit of a common national destiny; where faith will be used as a catalyst for integration and nation-building and not as an instrument of division; a new nation with a new spirit in a new people, where differences are settled amicably at the table of brotherhood and where indigeneship shall not be a basis for enjoying full citizenship rights in any part of the country.
I speak of a nation guided by the rule of law where every citizen enjoys liberty and equality under the law; where justice is administered without fear or favour and where the lady of justice will not yield to the temptation to take off her blindfold to see who is at the dock before passing judgment, such that the same law applies to the pick-pocket caught stealing a mobile phone in Osogbo and the pension thief caught stealing billions of naira in Abuja; a nation where executive impunity in the name of criminal immunity will be wiped off our constitution and leadership will set the pace in transparency, accountability and responsibility – one nation under God led by a new breed without greed and a radical opposition to corruption.
I speak of the new Nigeria, a nation of peace and safety reconstructed on the altar of reconciliation and integration, where the returned Chibok girls will grow into accomplished women, and their sons and daughters will sit in the same Nigerian History class as the sons and daughters of the former Boko Haram members who once captured their parents, and both will be taught by a female professor who, as a final year student of Chibok Girls Secondary School, had almost lost all hope of completing her education or of even surviving those dark days that she spent as a captive in Sambisa Forest.
I speak of the New Nigeria where little children can walk and play safely on the streets without fear of being kidnapped; where fathers and mothers will have no need to sacrifice precious time that could be spent with children on the altar of economic survival; a nation where no child is denied access to quality education or health services because of the socio-economic status of their parents and where no child has to engage in labour to afford an education; a nation where no retired or elderly person will be let alone to spend what ought to be the best days of their lives in misery.
I speak of the New Nigeria, a nation where young men and women will be afforded the opportunity to develop and deploy their potential to the maximum and by so doing contribute to the development of the nation and to the wellbeing of their families; a nation where the resources of each part of the land are used to develop that part of the land, with adequate contribution to the centre that binds strongly the constituent parts such that no part of the country will again have a reason to cry marginalization; a nation where the best, the brightest, the fittest and most competent are given opportunity to render service for the good of all and where leaders understand that leadership is all about service to the people; a Nigeria that will fulfill the dreams of our founding fathers by bringing total liberation to Africa and by leading the continent to greatness.
This is the dream that has kept me on the move for this nation. It is a dream that is rooted in the dreams of our founding fathers and which other patriots have lived and died for; but much deeper than that, it is a dream that is rooted in God’s plan and purpose for our nation and whose fulfillment I will see in my lifetime.
It’s why I have fought against the domination of one section of the country by another; it’s why as a young lawyer, I refused to engage in compromises that could bring me to captivity; it’s why as a pastor, I pray, preach and prophesy until revival comes; it’s what led to the formation of International Center for Reconstruction and Development (I.C.R.D) and Save Nigeria Group (S.N.G); it’s what led us to march the streets of Abuja and the streets of Lagos when the seat of power was unconstitutionally hijacked; it’s what took us to Freedom Square at Ojota for five days to resist the plundering of our people; it’s why I stepped into the political arena at the invitation of a man of like persuasion in an attempt to provide leadership for the nation; it’s why I am committed to the Nigerian project, for, in the words of the One who called me and to Whom I owe account, “for this cause was I born and to this end came I into the world”.
At this juncture, let me reiterate for the umpteenth time what I consider Nigeria’s most critical problems and the solutions thereof. As a man who reasons purely in Scriptures and whose navigation system is the Word of God without prejudice to the secularists among our people, let me show you the root cause of the national dilemma that has characterized our struggle for nationhood.
Please come with me to the household of the patriarch Isaac and his wife Rebecca:
Genesis 25:19-28 (NKJV):
                19 This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac.
                20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.
                21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
                22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
                23 And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”
                24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.
                25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.
                26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
                27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.
                28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Just as the struggle of Jacob and Esau began from the womb, so did the struggle of the North and the South of Nigeria. As the parents were divided in their affection for both Esau and Jacob, so were the colonial masters divided in their affection for both the North and the South.
As time progressed the two became so wealthy that the land could not contain them. Let’s see the profile of the family of Esau:
Genesis 36:6-8 (NKJV):
                6 Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the presence of his brother Jacob.
                7 For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could not support them because of their livestock.
                8 So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom.
What follows the multiplication of resources in the land of Edom is the creation of dukes, chiefs and kings, the stratification of the society and the class consciousness that breeds two types of citizens: the haves and the have-nots, the privileged and the despised, and the princes and the almajiris as you largely have today in some of the emirates in the North. See Genesis 36:15-43.
While all these were going on in the camp of Esau, a dreamer was born and was being raised in the household of Jacob. That dreamer was Joseph. Let us read about him in Genesis 37:1-11(NKJV):
Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the ladwas with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.
But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.
Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.
So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:
                7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
                8 And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
                9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”
                10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”
11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
The resultant effect of these two nations and two types of people dwelling in proximity to each other can be seen in the Book of Ezekiel (chapters 35, 36 & 37).
In Ezekiel 35:1-15, instead of healthy competition, there was petty jealousy and deep-seated hatred.
In Ezekiel 36:1-15 you have the rebirth of the land preceding the rebirth of a nation.
Ezekiel 37:1-11 expose the depraved condition of the people and the role of the Prophet in breathing life, hope and vision back into these dry bones in the valley of despair and despondency.
And for this army to rise and fulfill destiny, rulership must be reconfigured:
Ezekiel 37:15-22 (NKJV):
                15 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
16 “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of  Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’
17 Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.
                18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’
19 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’
20 And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
                21 “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.
The best of the North and the best of the South must come together. Instead of mediocres mistakenly labeled moderates, the best, the brightest, the fittest and the most competent must come together and steer the ship of the nation along the path of predictable development and progress.
To the discerning, such an opportunity for reconfiguration occurred in the month of March 2014 as men and women from all parts of the country and different spheres of influence in the society gathered in Abuja to dialogue on the future destiny of Nigeria upon the convocation of the National Conference 2014.
I am grateful to God that I was privileged to serve with statesmen and patriots – men and women of like passion – as a delegate to that conference and I thank the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for finding the courage to convene the conference even when cynics thought it would amount to no good. After months of painstaking deliberations, hundreds of recommendations were made in a bid to catapult our nation closer to the Nigerian Dream. Amongst these recommendations was a Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration into which we distilled the ideals of the Nigeria of our dream. Not only did we pledge our commitment to these ideals, every delegate appended his or her signature to this Charter as the basis of our union in place of the amalgamation, which, we believe, was not a homegrown decision to coexist. Not many Nigerians are aware of that charter or of its significance. By that charter, a new era of nationhood can begin in Nigeria; by that charter; we will cease to be peoples coerced to coexist, instead we will become a people who willingly come together to forge a more perfect union; by that charter, our nationhood shall no longer be the result of colonial amalgamation or military proclamation, instead it shall become the result of a people’s declaration; by that charter, we have the opportunity to evolve a social contract that spells out the principles under which we shall coexist, outlines our responsibilities as citizens and highlights the irreducible minimum conditions under which we shall be governed and below which we shall refuse to fall. In the words of Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, the Deputy Chairman of the 2014 National Conference, contained in his tribute for my 60th birthday: “the 2014 National Conference adopted a NATIONAL CHARTER OF UNITY which was the brainchild of Pastor Tunde Bakare. This Charter which was unanimously adopted fell under the radar of the press and commentators. Yet this may just turn out to be the proverbial mustard seed of national unity and reconciliation”.
It is a declaration of the Nigerian Dream that every Nigerian must become familiar with and whose implementation every Nigerian must rise up to demand. And so, let every Nigerian obtain and digest its articles until they stand out as words on marble and as the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen; let its words compel every politician to prioritize the destiny of this nation and the lot of the next generation over the next election; let its creed place a demand on the statesman in the president – a demand on him to seize this opportunity to give Nigeria a new start; let it find its way into the hands and hearts of every girl and every woman held captive in terrorist dens that they may find hope and a reason to live on until they are brought back alive; and let even the terrorists who come across it realize that they need not dwell in dry places anymore for they can still beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and return home to be part of a New Nigeria; a nation of peace and equity.
I am persuaded that if you believe and I believe, and we all work for it, Almighty God will grant us grace and Nigeria will be saved, Nigeria will be changed and Nigeria will become great.
God bless you and God bless our nation Nigeria.