Nigeria on the Cusp of Greatness
“Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.” Late Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech on May 10, 1994 before a crowd of over 100,000 in Pretoria, South Africa., Source: Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
This columnist has in the past five (5) years always opined that Nigeria is a great nation endowed with extraordinary people and inexhaustible non-oil natural resources. As with anyone or person with a great destiny, there are great challenges. How those challenges are surmounted also determines the actualization of the destiny.
We have entered 2015, and our collective destinies are in our hands. How we surmount our joint problems, will determine whether we achieve greatness or succumb to the doomsday prophets that believe we will disintegrate this year. Our biggest challenge is Boko Haram because without security, there can be no development. From the above quoted speech of Late Nelson Mandela, we know that a stronger Nigeria can emerge out of the current insurgency challenges.
I enjoyed reading speeches of public officials because it gives us insight into their thinking. The following speech is an insight about how the Presidential candidates think. There are really only two major candidates for the Presidential election on February 14, 2015. Yes some mushroom parties are fielding candidates but the four major political parties have made their positions known. The ruling PDP, APGA and LP are supporting the incumbent Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, while APC, a merger of three parties (), is fielding former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd). Whether GEJ or GMB wins the election, it is beyond cavil that they will rule differently.
Over 31 years ago, the APC flag-bearer (then 41 years old and now 72 years old), said the following:
“There is ample evidence that rigging and thuggery were relative to the resources available to the parties. This conclusively proved to us that the parties have not developed confidence in the presidential system of government on which the nation invested so much material and human resources. While corruption and indiscipline have been associated with our state of under-development, these two evils in our body politics have attained unprecedented height in the past few years. The corrupt, inept and insensitive leadership in the last four years has been the source of immorality and impropriety in our society. Since what happens in any society is largely a reflection of the leadership of that society, we deplore corruption in all its facets. This government will not tolerate kick-backs, inflation of contracts and over-invoicing of imports etc. Nor will it condone forgery, fraud, embezzlement, misuse and abuse of office and illegal dealings in foreign exchange and smuggling. Arson has been used to cover up fraudulent acts in public institutions. I am referring to the fire incidents that gutted the P&T buildings in Lagos, the Anambra State Broadcasting Corporation, the Republic Building at Marina, the Federal Ministry of Education, the Federal Capital Development Authority Accounts at Abuja and the NET Building. Most of these fire incidents occurred at a time when Nigerians were being apprehensive of the frequency of fraud scandals and the government incapacity to deal with them. Corruption has become so pervasive and intractable that a whole ministry has been created to stem it..” Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, first speech of Dec 31, 1983, after deposing the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Of course, Boko Haram is a war, and a warning. One can digest the speech and deduce various opinions from it, especially since the general once stated that he does not believe in democracy.
In his January 1, 2015 address to the nation, this is what President Goodluck Jonathan (now 57 years old, but a young 26year old graduate at the time his opponent was ruling Nigeria), said to the nation:
“The elections are very important for us as a country. Their successful conclusion will further strengthen our democratic institutions and place our beloved country even more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations. Given the challenges that have characterized some previous electoral contests in our country, the eyes of the world will certainly be on the conduct and outcome of our fifth post-military rule general elections. I reassure all Nigerians and the international community of our firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering. Our administration has worked hard in previous elections to prepare all key stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the electorate optimally, to ensure a progressively improved electoral process in the country under my watch. We will continue to do so for the coming elections. We will continue to provide adequate funding to INEC and maintain the Commission's independence and isolate it from any form of interference or meddling in its day-to-day affairs. This shall continue to guarantee its impartiality and ability to conduct more credible and acceptable elections. National security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections are peaceful and violence-free. The Nigeria Police has already established an Elections Security Planning and Monitoring Unit. I am optimistic that with the cooperation of all law-abiding citizens of the country, our commitment to have a peaceful and violence-free election will be actualized. I will like to say this, once again, to my fellow politicians and political leaders. None of our political ambitions is worth the blood of any of our countrymen, women and children. The improvement of their lives and living conditions ought to be our primary motive and the driving force of our quest for political power and leadership positions. Let us not promote sectionalism, disunity, intolerance, hate, falsehood or the malicious abuse of political opponents. Whatever we feel or seek, we must have a nation and a people before we can dream of political ambitions. Let us put the nation and the people first. Let us all conduct our electoral campaigns with the highest possible decorum and civility towards political opponents. Let us give INEC the fullest possible support and cooperation it requires to conduct credible and violence-free elections in 2015. After the 2011 general elections, some unpatriotic elements embarked on an orgy of violence, resulting in the destruction of lives and property. That will not be allowed to happen this time around. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections. All Nigerians, of voting age, are free to vote based on their convictions. It is our duty to defend and protect that basic right, and let no one be in doubt, we will.”
Some youths have wondered why there is a contest between a septuagenarian and a younger one who has passed his golden years. They wonder when it will be their turn to rule.. That concern notwithstanding, we implore our youths to shun election violence and vote their conscience. All of us should vote for someone who we know we will not regret voting for when we look back four years from now.
In his closing New Year remarks, the president said. “As I have always maintained, none of the challenges before us is insurmountable. We must come together as a people and work with single-minded unity of purpose to overcome them.”
We are truly on the cusp of greatness. The world will judge of critically based on the outcome of the elections and our collective response.
Think about it.
*Rev. Akpodiete, a public affairs analyst writes from Asaba. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Politics Governance. Contact him on 08138391661 or [email protected],