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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Femi Fani-Kayode: A Nation, Not A Tribe

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I was born on October 16, 1960 and consequently I celebrated my 53rd birthday last Wednesday. It was a quiet low-key affair in which, as is customary with me, I spent most of the day in fasting, prayer and sober reflection, surrounded by my loved ones, thanking the Lord for granting me yet another year of life and for delivering me from the hands of my numerous detractors and enemies.

I also took the time to thank my dear wife and soul mate, Regina, for standing by me through thick and thin and for being such a blessing and my darling children who have had to put up with a father that is fast becoming one of the most controversial, misrepresented and misunderstood figures in Nigerian modern history- a title which I neither crave nor relish.

It is because it is my birthday that I decided to share a few home truths today that will gladden the hearts of some but that may sadden others. Yet the truth must be spoken and even if my voice is drowned by the cacophony of dissent and rancour that sometimes trail such literary interventions, let it be on record that on this day the seed of truth and liberation was planted and the idea of a new beginning for a people that I have come to love more than life itself, my people, the Yoruba people of south western Nigeria, was berthed. And for these views, these ideas, these contributions and these philosophies, as disagreeable as they may be to some, I offer no apology. One of the basic truisms of nationhood is that we as a people must appreciate our roots.

We cannot despise our roots and set them aside and expect to flourish. We cannot deny our family and claim to be a responsible member of the wider society. Yes we are Nigerians but every Nigerian has a foundation and a root out of which he sprouted.

There is no such thing as a Nigerian who did not come from somewhere or who did not come out of a nationality that is a constituent and vital part of the wider nation.  Nigeria is blessed with many proud, strong, distinct, noble, enlightened and sophisticated nationalities that make up the whole and each of them brings something or other to the table.

From the Fulani to the Hausa, to the Nupe, to the Bini, to the Ijaw, to the Igbo, to the Kanuri, to the Idoma, to the Tiv, to the Urhobo, to the Itsekiri, to the Bacahama, to the Ishan, to the Igbira, to the Igalla, to the Efik, to the Ibibio, to the Isoko, to the Shuwa arab, to the Kataf, to the Kwale, to the Jaba, to the Zuru, to the Kilba, to the Kalabari, to the Ikwere, to the Gula, to the Gwari, to the Margui and so on and so forth, we all have something to offer and we all have a sense of self-worth and self-respect which was established and cultivated many years before Nigeria even came into existence. None of us must ever forget that beautiful root from whence we came for without it we become worthless.

For Nigeria to be great each, and every one of its nationalities must first flourish and they must all be in a position to achieve their full potentials. I am a Yoruba man and I take immense pride in that. And contrary to the views of many, the Yoruba, like all the other wonderful nationalities that reside in the Nigerian space, are not a mere tribe.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of not being properly educated is the fact that those that suffer from that affliction often accept everything that their slave and colonial masters and ethnic overlords tell them and, without thinking, they swallow the fables and labels hook, line and sinker. When a supposedly educated person insists on labelling a nation of highly advanced people, who have existed for thousands of years as a distinct race, who have had their own empires, who are the most educationally and culturally advanced on the African continent, who have a single language with approximately 20 different dialects within them, who have contributed more to the industrial, commercial and intellectual growth of Nigeria than any other, who have a rich and illustrious history and heritage which few in Africa can match, who number at least 50 million in Nigeria alone and who constitute the largest number of African people living in the diaspora on earth, whose people have spread all over the world and have strong historical, cultural, religious and ethnic roots in Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo, Haiti, Brazil, Cuba and many other places, whose people have settled into and legitimately lay claim to Ilorin, Kabba, Akoko Edo and other parts of northern and mid-western Nigeria, whose offspring and progenitor established many kingdoms including the Bini Kingdom, whose pantheon of gods and traditional religion of ifa is respected and practised in many parts of the world, whose historical, philosophical, religious and cultural contributions to Ancient Egypt are well known and well documented, whose level of sophistication and exposure to the knowledge of western education is second to none and whose sense of liberalism, justice, decency, hospitality and fairness is not understood, appreciated or reciprocated by any other ethnic group or nationality in Nigeria and so much more and that supposedly educated person still insists on calling such people, despite their sheer numbers and their homogenous geographical setting, a mere “tribe”, then you know that that person is truly misguided.

You may call others a tribe if you so choose but not the Yoruba. We number as many people as almost the whole of the UK or France and far many more than three quarters of the countries on the European continent and our history dates back as far as that of the Celts, the Normans, the Vikings, the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Anglo-Saxons. Our forefathers are amongst those that went to the best institutions of higher learning and citadels of excellence in the world like Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Durham universities as far back as the early 1800s and they became the first lawyers, doctors, scientists, intellectuals, poets, writers, journalists, philosophers, priests and free thinkers on the African continent. Little wonder that our former colonial masters resolved in their hearts that we must never be allowed to take power at the centre because they saw us as their equals as opposed to being their serfs. We were right at the top whilst others were still living in villages in the deepest and darkest parts of the African forest. We forged and built great empires that we nurtured and protected with all that we had.

Ours was not a primitive inheritance but a noble and righteous one that was established by the Living God and the hard work of our forefathers. And it is the memory of those great and powerful forefathers that I invoke today when I ask how far has our noble heritage taken us in the contraption called Nigeria? How have we fared as a people? For better or for worse? Our children ask us, ”Was it always like this” and who ”were” the Yoruba? They no longer ask who ”ARE” the Yoruba but who ”WERE” the Yoruba? Sadly that is our plight today- a people whose children regard them as ”once were” and no longer ”are”.

We are still who and what we once were and it shall always be so no matter what Nigeria and the world does to us. We are a nation, not a tribe. And we are a nation that is craving for recognition and nationhood. A nation borne  out of centuries of sacrifice, hard work, perseverance and diligence and whose foundation is unsullied, noble and pure. We are a nation within a nation that is beginning to berth and that is eagerly waiting to be born.

Today we invoke the spirits and rekindle the memories of our forefathers and we weep for our people. What do we tell them about how we fared after they left us and went into eternity? This struggle belongs to our generation yet the question needs to be asked- have we lived up to expectation as they did? Have we asked the relevant questions, provided the appropiate answers and fought the good and noble fight as they once did? We remember with great pride, great men and women of Yoruba stock that have passed on and we reflect on their noble struggle through the ages.

Men and women that stood up when it mattered the most and made a difference like Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Sapara Williams, Richard Akinwande-Savage, Kitoye Ajasa, Cissie Obasa, Eric Moore, Herbert Macauly, Joseph Egerton-Shyngle, Curtis Adeniyi-Jones, Adeyemo Alakija,  Theophilius Adebayo Doherty, Victor Adedapo Kayode, Akinola Maja, Joseph Akanni Doherty, Kofo Abayomi, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Wuraola Esan, J.C Vaughan, H.O. Davis, Adegoke  Adelabu, Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, Samuel Ladoke Akintola, Remilekun  Adetokunbo Fani-Kayode, Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams, Bode Thomas, Adesoji Aderemi, Odeleye Fadahunsi, Oduola Osuntokun, Emmanuel Okunsanya Okunowo, Moses Majekodunmi, Adetokunbo Adegboyega Ademola, Benjamin Oluwakayode Osuntokun, Josiah Olawoyin, S.L. Edu, Samuel Shonibare, Matthew Abonmagbe-Okupe, Dauda Adegbenro, S.O.Gbadamosi, Adeniran Ogunsanya, T.O.S Benson, Augustus Meredith Adisa Akinloye, Adekunle Fajuyi, Samuel Ademulegun, R.A. Shodeinde, Olusola Saraki, MKO Abiola, Bola Ige, Micheal Ajasin, Abraham Adesanya, Ganiyu Dawodu, Adewale Thompson, Solanke Onasanya, Kudirat Abiola, Emmanuel Omotehinwa and dozens of others that are too numerous to mention.

These names shall never be forgotten and those who bear them should hold their heads up high for theirs is a noble lineage.  Yet many ask what is next for this great and illustrious nationality and this berthing nation called the Yoruba? How do we achieve our full  potentials and become that which God has ordained us to be? Can this be done within the confines of the Nigerian state? Some have argued, quite rightly, that the way out is to have a Sovereign National Conference that will renegotiate the terms of our unity and revisit the very question of our existence as a nation. Yet the truth is that the forces that control the centre in Nigeria and that have controlled it since 1914 will never allow that to happen without a fight.

It is their intention and desire to keep us together as one in a flawed and failed unitary state with it’s federal facade in perpetuity regardless of the grave damage that such a venture has wrought upon our people over the last 99 years. Successive President’s in the last few decades have offered government-sponsored national conferences none of which are sovereign and each of which could not possibly solve our fundamental problems or properly answer our nationality question.

The mantra has always been that the unity of Nigeria is ”not negotiable” and our resolutions were always subject to their approval or the approval of some unrepresentative and questionable National Assembly which hardly represented the interests and views of the numerous nationalities in our country. We have one year to go before we achieve 100 years of being together as one entity and I believe that it is time for us to have a rethink and determine how we want the next 100 years to be. It is time for us to question all these so-called ”settled issues”, ”no-go areas”, ”non-negotiables” and ”givens”.

We can no longer be satisfied and content with the failed answers and ideas of a vain and fanciful unity that exists only in our minds and in our imaginations. An illusionary unity that our fathers and forefathers held so dear and even fought a civil war to maintain and uphold. Given the nature of those that control the centre today and their unholy intentions for the rest of the country we must revisit that question of unity and we must ask ourselves ”at what price?”

The world is not static – it is dynamic and it is changing fast. Kingdoms come and kingdoms go. Empires fall and empires rise. Nations break and new nations are formed. The world is changing and the great people and numerous nationalities that make up Nigeria must espouse that change, accept it and not be left behind. What was good for yesterday may not be good for today. And what is good for today may not have been good for yesterday.

That is where we are today- on the threshold of change. And I believe that the time for that change is now. It is a new dawn, a new day and a new era. And I fervently believe that the God of heaven and He who sits above the circles of the earth is about to do something new, something refreshing and something very dramatic. Why? Because we are a nation, not a tribe.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Opinion

 

Always Prodigal!

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It beats me why our leaders are so prodigious and have penchant for being in the news for the bad reasons.

The Minister of Aviation, Ms Stella Oduah, used public money to buy two cars at N255,000,000 (two hundred and fifty-five million naira), yet she cries her ministry lacks the money to make our airspace safer.

The First Lady junketed to a South Korean university to receive Honorary doctorate, yet varsities in Nigeria have been on forced holiday for close to four months.  The same applies to our polytechnics too.

Our ‘honourable’ Parliamentarians each earn an average of  N29,000,000 (twenty-nine million naira) monthly in salary and allowances for doing nothing, whereas minimum wage of a REAL government worker in Nigeria is N18,000 (eighteen thousand naira).

Huge budgets are allocated for roads, education, health, electricity, water, etc. each year, whereas none has had visibly commensurable improvement for years.

Minister of Finance claims Nigeria economy is improving, yet that the poor are getting poorer.  It seems development in papers is more important to the government than real and visible improvement.

An average Nigerian depends on personal power generators for electrify, personal bore-hole or well for water, private security at home and offices, needs to visit mechanics regularly for care repairs because of bad roads, etc.

Being prodigious while lamenting dearth of funds is unveiled madness; getting celebrated abroad for what you lack at home is unconscionable.

 

The writer twits at @Femiolas

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Opinion

 

Osun New School Policy: Matter Arising – by Goke Butika

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Akobi Ogun village is one of the villages located in Isokan Local Government council area, State of Osun, Nigeria, as at 1985, one thing stood the village of just only 22 huts out among other villages close to it like Alagutan, Mokuajo, Danbiaran, Oranran, and others; that thing was the elementary school with fine structure, good sporting facilities, and beautiful environment.

Danbiaran was almost three kilometers to the school, Oranran was almost five kilometers, only Aba Paanu, where I grew up with my maternal grand parents was close with almost half a kilometer. Yet pupils from those villages attended the school, and you simply cannot resist the beauty as a child. I knew it, because I have a brother that attended it.

In 1978, I was taken to Salvation Army primary school, Osogbo by my mother, and I was admitted reluctantly, because I was short, and by early 80s, I had relocated to Ikoyi Osun, where I attended Ansar u Deen primary situated in Ile Olukotun.

After the death of my father, I relocated to Ilobu, situated in Irepodun Local government, Osun, where I attended Ilobu grammar school, and fate brought me back to Osogbo again, after three years, that compelled me to complete my secondary education at St. Charles Gramnar school, Osogbo.

I laid my background out to justify that I truly attended public schools, and all through my education life, it was public schools, I could recollect how we did prepare for any given examination, but today I have two daughters of elementary school age, but I have to pay through my nose to send them to private schools, because no one was paying attention to public schools, and those schools were worse off to the extent that only the poverty stricken and u fortunate people could endeavor to send their wards to them. Sometimes, if I fail to pay by first week of a given term, a threat letter would be sent to me, that my daughters would be shown the exit doors if I fail to make it the following week.

Honestly, I have had causes to ask myself questions on what had gone wrong with public schools? Why is it that the teachers of public schools are sending their wards to private schools? Despite the fact that we know clearly that an average teacher of public school must be holder of at least College of Education certificate, while almost all the private schools hire failed out secondary school leavers to teach our pupils. Because where standard is obtained, no poor person can afford it. Imagine, paying N250,000 per pupil per term. That is beyond the reach of a poor man, for God sake.

As a matter of fact I picked an axe against any government that toys with education, because that is the future, and the noise that normally greets new idea is what every politician who ought to have made a difference has been running away from, because our politicians love their popularity for electoral purpose more than the future our our children. So, when Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun took the mantle of leadership, and expressed his readiness to make a difference in the most important sector called education, I chose to watch it.

By the time Professor Wole Soyinka led education summit deliberated and recommended the way out of mass failure that had plagued Osun schools, poor infrastructural facilities, paucity of fund, and inadequate human resources were figured out as challenges militating against the public schools. Then, I thought silently that the challenges were insurmountable, because they were capital intensive, and where would Osun pull the resources needed? I began to watch it.

For the first time, the state is lucky to have a governor who has the political will to surmount the troubles, he rolled out his strategies copied from the deliberations of the summit. He began with massive budgeting for education; he began to clean off dilapidated structures for new ones with aesthetic standard, he began to manage a child with N400 per head, instead of N200 earmarked for a school maintenance before, he recruited teachers in droves, he introduced calisthenic that will teach mental and moral value; he gave them free school uniforms that give all children sense of belonging and equality in line with the identity of the state.

Now, some of the schools under construction are ready for use, schools are now beautiful, instruction materials are now being provided, and the reclassification of pupils was to follow, then tongues began to wag, not because it is controversial, but because the new idea is strange.

For instance, elementary pupils will be exposed to the same opportunities, instruction, and treatment, because they belong to the same age bracket, that shows, schools of the same grades would no longer have challenges of paucity of teachers, overcrowding, and juvenile violence. Besides, facilities would be rationally used, because the barrier of class segregation within the same school premises has been eliminated.

Elementary schools’ pupils of formerly primary one to four are fed by government, middle school pupils of primary five to JSS 3 are prepared for their early adolescent age, and are exposed to the same teachings with equal opportunity, while students of high schools are prepared for higher examination to institutions of higher learning, that is why they are exposed to innovative, one in the country computer device christened ‘opon imo’ that will make them to withstand any matter arising from e-learning, e-examination or what have you.

Now, there are questions of why mixing girl schools with boys? The answer is, do we have single sex university or polytechnic? Besides, is it not the segregation of schools in the north that enhances homosexualism, because it is on record that northern Nigeria records the highest rate of homosexuality.


Another question is mixing Christian schools with Muslim pupils? 

The answer is very simple. 37 years ago, all missionaries schools of all faith had been taken over by the government, and I am cock sure they could not have released their schools for free. Though they still retain their names as a mark of Honour for their effort, but government have been running the schools since. Let’s face it, when was the last time the so called missionaries took the bill of teachers or running of the schools? So, for them now to stand against the new development leaves sour taste in the mouth.

Yes, as stakeholders, they have the privilege of speaking up on any given issue, but to constitute a barrier to new path to revamping education is insultive. It could have been better if those missionaries had upgraded their ‘schools’ before now, and how many of the clerics and cynics who are standing against the reclassification have their children in public schools? Why are we living as hypocrites? When are we going to develop? Why must we kill the enthusiasm of a man who is determined to get it right? When was the last time any government in the state ever showed interest in the future of our children?

I watched Channels television news analysis, and one man who claims to be Osogbo central mosque cleric, but who we all knew to be erstwhile PDP caretaker chairman of Olorunda Local government said that the government has introduced ifa teaching in all schools, submitting that the thinking of the government was to have ifa priest in each home across the state, when the truth is that philosophy of Yoruba traditional religion was the only page in opon imo, along with Quran and Bible.

Yes, constructive criticism is a welcome development in a democratic arrangement, but for the vulnerable public to join the cynicism of jobless politicians who had a chance to make difference, but chose to ignore the needful is disheartening.

Do you know that Salvation Army school was at worst case scenario of its structure, before Aregbesola began his revolution, and many schools like that. Today, National Bureau of Statistics has it that Osun has the highest enrollment of pupils, and lowest unemployment rate of just three percent. Yet, Central bank, Debt management office, and Federal Fiscal Responsibility Commission have not mentioned Osun as one of the indebted states. Yeah, Ogbeni Aregbesola might have his human errors, but I salute the courage of the man on the threshold of history.

 

Source: Osun Defender

 

@Femiolas

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Opinion

 

Full-Text of the Address of President Jonathan On Nigeria’s 53rd Independence Day Anniversary

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Below is the full text the Address of His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR  on the occasion of Nigeria’s 53rd Independence Anniversary, today Tuesday 1st October, 2013
FELLOW NIGERIANS,

1.  Today marks 53 years of our Independence as a nation. First and foremost, I would like to say congratulations to us all. Through thick and thin, we have built this country together. Through triumphs and trials, we have developed a Nigerian identity in our own way.

2.  In truth, Nigeria is still a work in progress and we are challenged everyday to keep building in spite of the various obstacles that we face. Our strength has been in our diversity. If we look back over the years, we can say confidently that there is every reason to celebrate.

3.  Today’s Independence anniversary is unique because it is the last before we mark our centenary. On January 1, 2014, Nigeria will be 100 years old as a country, following the amalgamation of the Protectorates of Southern and Northern Nigeria in 1914.

4.  Beloved country men and women, traditionally, the Presidential address on this symbolic day has served two purposes.  It has, quite rightly, been used to remind all Nigerians about our heritage.  It has also allowed my predecessors and I to comment on our stewardship to the nation and make political capital out of a state occasion.

5.  But this year, I will not. Because, today of all days, we should not be scoring political points. On the contrary, in this last year of the first century of our Union, we should be addressing our future as a Nation and a people!

6.  I admit that these may not be the best of times for our nation. Our people are divided in many ways – ethnically, religiously, politically, and materially. I cannot hide from this reality. I cannot hide from my own responsibilities.

7.  As we prepare to mark the centenary, therefore, today offers us an opportunity to reflect on our long journey to nationhood and the progress we have made so far. Whatever the challenges that we may face, we have every reason to be proud of our national accomplishments; we have every reason to remain proud and optimistic. Our collective national journey has witnessed great watersheds, thanks to our spirit of endurance, perseverance and sacrifice.  Getting the rest of the job done with determination and courage is just a matter of time. We are Nigerians, a nation of talented people, endowed with resources, potentials, and Divine Grace.

8.  In our journey to greatness as a nation, we have built an economy that is robust and erected enduring infrastructure and institutions of democracy. Our social system is now more inclusive, open and compassionate. We are waging a steady battle against poverty, unemployment, and corruption. Our sense of community, solidarity and shared expectation is strong and capable of withstanding the present social, economic and political challenges that still confront us.

9.  In saying this, I am reminded of the comments I made a week ago to a cross-section of Nigerians in New York during the 68th United Nations General Assembly. I declare now as I declared then: we have a duty as Nigerians, whatever may be our differences or prejudices, to always put Nigeria first.

10.  Our politics should be an art of patriotic labour and selfless service to the community, particularly by the political elite who are placed in positions of great trust and responsibility. Politics has its own high moral principles which abhor distracting and divisive rhetoric. As men and women in leadership, we must continually focus on service, duty, responsibility, and the next generation. Those who are elected to govern at all levels must focus on improving the lives of our people, not selfish ambition.

11.  In the words of the American theologian and author, James Freeman Clarke, ‘a politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation’. Whether we are Muslims or Christians; rich or poor; from the North or the South; East or West; regardless of our political affiliations, this is the time for every one of us to be a statesman!

12.  My clarion call therefore, on this special day, is that we should begin to align our political utterances and conduct solely to the nobler passions that unite our people. Politicians do not make a nation; ordinary folks do.

13.  Our nation is made great by the big and small efforts of regular citizens. These are the teachers and men and women in academics who inculcate the knowledge and wisdom that transform into tomorrow’s wealth; the traders and market women who tend to our everyday needs; the farmers whose labour feeds the nation; the artisans whose work ensures that our homesteads are well maintained; the doctors, pharmacists, nurses, accountants, bankers, engineers, and other professionals who add value to our lives; the sportsmen and women and those in the creative industry who bring honour and fame to our nation;

14.  And the men and women of our armed forces and security services who toil day and night so that you and I may live in a safe and secure nation.

15.  It is the individual and collective heroism of these regular folks that has placed our nation on the path of greatness. Politics and politicians sometimes distract the people and create unnecessary tension.

16.  But our independence celebration is about the same people, the people of Nigeria: their industry, sense of mission and purpose, and their patience and perseverance as we navigate historical turns in our march towards prosperity and self-sufficiency. Today, I salute the people of Nigeria.

17.  My Compatriots, history has proven that nations take time to evolve. We should rejoice in our democracy because it enables us to be united by our differences, not destroyed by them. And, there is no more crucial time for us to be united than now.

18.  The threats we face may be real and immediate. But we are not alone in this regard. It is a difficult season for much of the world: industrialized or developing; rich or poor. What matters are the lessons we learn, the wisdom we demonstrate, and the victory we snatch from the jaws of likely defeat.

19.  And I tell you, more than anything else, there are lessons to learn, and every cause to be thankful. If I must cite one example, take Syria. As we all pray and work for a return to normalcy in Syria, it would be helpful for us to reflect on the fact that Syria was once a peaceful, thriving, multi-cultural nation which played host to a mosaic of religions and ethnicities.

20.  But that once idyllic nation has today become a theatre of human misery of unimaginable proportions as a result of the activities of extremist forces.

21.  Fellow Nigerians, the spectre of extremism haunts every democracy in every corner of the globe. While we celebrate our independence and good fortune, our hearts must grieve for those who have lost loved ones in numerous terrorist activities around the world.

22.  Back home, I admit being overtaken by deep feelings of grief, whenever news reached me of the appalling atrocities in some of our States, especially the North Eastern part of our country. Just two days ago, terrorist elements attacked the College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe State killing a number of innocent students of the institution and other residents in cold blood, most of them in their sleep.  This act of barbarism is a demonstration of the extent to which evil forces will go to destabilize our nation. But I assure you, they will not succeed.

23.  My heart goes out to the families of all those who have fallen victim of these dastardly acts. Our Administration will not rest until every Nigerian is free from the oppression of terrorism. I reassure you that no cost will be spared, no idea will be ignored, and no resource will be left untapped in the quest to enable our people live without fear.

24.  On this day, I implore every Nigerian – wherever you are, whatever language you speak, whatever your religious persuasion, whichever Political Party you support -: let us join together to fight this evil of extremism.

25.  On behalf of us all, I commend our Armed Forces and security agencies for their dedication and bravery in the face of grave danger, and in the name of our collective liberty.

26.  Fellow Nigerians, this is a time to pull together behind the national cause: the cause of our freedom, and our future. We must rekindle the spirit of Nigeria, to ensure that every democrat and every lover of peace in this great nation continues to live in a free, peaceful, and secure Nigeria.

27.  On my part, I re-dedicate myself completely to the service of this great country. I was elected President to continue the process of building a prosperous nation where hopes, dreams and aspirations would be fulfilled. Nigerians, home and abroad, want a country they can be proud to call their own.  I am pleased to affirm that, no matter the challenges we face, we are on the right path to greatness. Our Transformation Agenda, which is part of the overall vision of making Nigeria a land of greatness, has been delivering positive and encouraging results.

28.  On May 29th this year, I presented to the nation a mid-term report of my Administration’s Transformation Agenda. This was conceived as an integrated policy aimed at reconstructing not only institutional governance for effective and efficient service delivery, but also a re-orientation of national norms and values.  The document captured the essence of our agenda in relation to core objectives and achievements.

29.  I have been consistently mindful of the weight of public expectation to find solutions to the challenges that confront us because the mandate we have is a free and sacred one. In all that I have done, I have been guided by this sacred obligation, to work hard for the good of Nigeria and to make life better for Nigerians. I want to assure everyone that Nigeria, under my leadership, will not fail.

30.  Exactly 53 years ago today, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa urged us to ‘move with quiet dignity to our place on the world stage’. I am sure that there have been times when every one of us must have questioned how closely we have followed that injunction.

31.  But again, I can reassure you that Nigeria’s place on the world stage today is strong and safe, and it is certainly a place of dignity and respect. We must continue to build on this by remaining a nation and a people committed to ideals, the noblest humanitarian values, and the rule of law.

32.  Our Constitution is anchored ultimately on the idea of freedom and fundamental rights: freedom of expression; freedom from discrimination; freedom to vote and be voted for, and the right to human dignity. These are the core values of a true democracy. These are the values of which we must never lose sight.

33.  In my address to the UN General Assembly last week, I emphasized the crucial role of democratization in improving the fortunes not just of this country, but of our entire continent. Democratic values encourage diversity. They encourage discourse. They encourage disagreement. This is the joy of democracy.

34.  It enables us to have an opinion. And ultimately, the ballot box gives us all the opportunity to instigate change. When democracy works, it does not destroy a nation. It unites and defines it.

35.  Fellow Nigerians, our Administration has taken cognizance of suggestions over the years by well-meaning Nigerians on the need for a National Dialogue on the future of our beloved country. I am an advocate of dialogue. When there are issues that stoke tension and bring about friction, it makes perfect sense for the interested parties to come together to discuss.

36.  In demonstration of my avowed belief in the positive power of dialogue in charting the way forward, I have decided to set up an Advisory Committee whose mandate is to establish the modalities for a National Dialogue or Conference. The Committee will also design a framework and come up with recommendations as to the form, structure and mechanism of the process.

37.  The Committee will be chaired by Dr. Femi Okurounmu while Dr. Akilu Indabawa will serve as the Secretary. The full membership of the Committee will be announced shortly.

38.  I expect the Report to be ready in one month, following which the nation will be briefed on the nomenclature, structure and modalities of the Dialogue.

39.  Fellow Nigerians, the past 53 years have seen Nigeria evolve on an epic scale.  Our progress since independence has not always been smooth. This is, after all, our Fourth Republic; but despite all its flaws, it has lasted longer than all the previous three put together. That is progress and it proves that, our differences – real and imagined – notwithstanding, we are, in every sense, a united nation.

40.  This is no time for the harmful clutches of parochial sentiments and the politics of bitterness, impunity, arrogance and unhelpful indiscipline. We must stand as one, with absolute commitment and resolve to resist any force that threatens us and the sanctity of our union.

41.  I want to thank all our country men and women who have stood by this Administration in the midst of mounting challenges and enormous expectations.

42.  I recognize that it is not easy to keep believing in the possibilities of our greatness when our faith is constantly challenged. But let me assure you that, if we do not despair, we shall reap the reward of our labour in due season.

43.  It is my prayer that, another 53 years from now, our children and grand-children will look back on our effort and be thankful that we kept the faith.

44.  May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

45.  I wish you all a very happy 53rd Independence Celebration.

46.  I thank you.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Politics

 
 
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