THE SECOND EDITION OF ARCHBISHOP ANIKWENWA ANNUAL PUBLIC LECTURE
THE SECOND EDITION OF ARCHBISHOP ANIKWENWA ANNUAL PUBLIC LECTURE
NIGERIA AT CROSSSROADS – WHICH WAY FORWARD
SPEECH DELIVERED BY SENATOR ENYI ABARIBE AT THE BISHOP MAXWELL ANIKWENWA BIRTHDAY AT PAUL UNIVERSITY, AWKA. OCTOBER 27, 2022
It is a great honour and delight to be the Guest Speaker at this epochal event at this pivotal moment of our lives as a nation.
Let me first thank all those who put this event together and found me worthy of being called upon to give my modest view of where we are and where as a (component of Nigeria) we ought to go.
Let me also thank and commend the Anglican Church of Nigeria and all of you who have sacrificed time out of your busy schedules and braving the odds of the time to make the journey from all over Nigeria to come to Anambra State.
The celebrant, my Lord, Bishop Anikwenwa, is a notable lover of democracy and of democratic principles based on the rule of law and godliness. He has stood out in preaching the tenets of good governance on many occasions. He has been a bastion of comfort and hope in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
My Lord, you merit to be honoured with such an event that draws stakeholders from all walks of life to converge as one, to brainstorm on ways to build the Nigeria nation. May we leave here with concrete plans and workable solutions. May God bless you and the organizers of this event.
The situation of this country is indeed, dire. There is no gainsaying that. But I do not intend to agonize about Nigeria. We can consolidate by reaffirming our pledge to this country; it is the only one we have. Fortunately, God almighty has already shown up for Ndigbo through the recent judgement of the Court of Appeal on Nnamdi Kanu. It is a clear referendum on Nigeria’s handling of the case of our brother, Nnamdi Kanu. We are already seeing the light coming in from the other end of a long tunnel.
Let me plead an allocutus before going on. This paper will essentially not be an academic treatise but my superficial thoughts on the way we should go. It would need more critical thought for it to be distilled as a working document.
- In 1984 (38 years ago) a popular Nigeria Musician Sunny Okosuns (who is now late) made a hit song called ‘Which way Nigeria’. Let me borrow a few lyrics from the song.
Which way Nigeria
Which way to go
I want to know
Where Nigeria is heading to
Many years after independence
we still find it hard to start
how long shall we be patient
till we reach the promised land
Let save Nigeria, so Nigeria won’t fall.
This was 38years ago, who knows how he would have said about Nigeria today? All the ills he sang about have deepened and Nigeria has become an “open sore of a country” apologies to Wole Soyinka.
The way Nigeria is at the moment, unless there is a revolution or a total overhaul of every aspect of the system, not even Angels descending from heaven can salvage the situation. We are tethering on the brink of total collapse.
My challenge, while ruminating on this topic, was chiefly about how and where exactly to start.But recalling that Ndigbo say that he who does not know where the rain started beating him will find it difficult to know how to take shelter, I decided to make a brief incursion into the beginning of the union called Nigeria.
I shall not dwell too much on history as there exists at the moment, too many sensitivities and proclivities that one must take into consideration in approaching this topic. Opinions and allegiances have become so convoluted that there is hardly a central table on which to place this discourse for all South Easterners, not to talk of all Nigerians to participate freely in it.
Very few parts of the story of our country are agreed upon by the different ethnic groups as to the role of their forebears. Of course the aversion to history by our government led to stopping the teaching of history in our schools. It is now being restored by some state governments.
For example, did the suspicion between the Southwest and Ndigbo come from the alleged cross-carpeting of NCNC elected delegates at the Western House of Assembly against Nnamdi Azikiwe to prevent him from being the premier of the Western Region? The story was sold that the NCNC parliamentarians abandoned Zik to make Awo Premier, Ditto for Zik purportedly removing Eyo Ita in Eastern Region to become premier which allegedly caused the rift between Igbos and Eastern Minorities. However, it was the members of Ibadan Peoples Party of A.M.A Akinloye that crossed carpet in the Western House. Not NCNC elected members. It was the sit-tight Ministers drama and attendant constitutional crisis that led to the collapse of the Eyo Ita government according to Richard Sklar. Not Zik driving away Eyo Ita. Is this history revisionist to sustain the hatred among the many peoples of Nigeria who do not know it? Is there a method to this flawed versions of our history? Who benefits from all these distorted accounts? But it is also a fact of history in 1966 that the man who protected Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi an Igbo man and sacrificed his life for him was Col. Adekunle Fajuyi a Yoruba man.
Also the last man standing during the civil war who handed over to the Nigerian State was General Philip Effiong an Ibibio an Eastern minority Of course between the so-called ‘North and ‘South’ many of such distorted histories abound.
Therefore, we can no longer rely on our distorted history and false narratives as a guide to the future. Hope and faith should trump false history.
Just like an obstinate but ill-suited couple struggling to cohabit, the country has waddled on through parliamentary system of government, to the present presidential system. We have moved from 12 states immediately after the war to 19, then 26, 30 and now 36 plus FCT. We still have not found peace. The South East Zone is unfairly made up of only five states. It has not helped Nigeria. Despite the efforts of both military and civilian leaders we seem to have moved headlong into a ditch principally because of the contradictions we have been unable to resolve.
Today, everything seems to have come to a head and the temptation is to write off Nigeria as a failed state. Agitations have followed agitations in Nigeria, from every corner. Nigerians are still stuck in this contraption which appears to constrict our organs steadily to the point, where like George Floyd, we are no longer able to breathe. It used to be fashionable to ascribe agitations to the South East and Ndigbo. However, on August 15, 2022 Prof. Banji Akintoye renowned historian and leader of the Yoruba self dermination group “Ilana Omo Odua” in an open letter to President Buhari said to him, “Let my people go”!!
Akintoye listed “institutional, cultural, economic, social and political persecution and oppression in Nigeria of today and asserted that Nigeria has become a bondage of sin, a wilderness of wanderings and woes, a colony of despair and death, a jingle of poverty and persecution.
Instructively, they are also the same grouse of Niger Delta militants, IPOB and other sundry militant groups spread across Nigeria. Having seen various shortcomings despite our collective efforts to evolve a Nigerian nation that works for everyone, many Nigerians thought that the coming of the APC government in 2015 will usher in a new vista for Nigeria. As Bishop Hassan Kukah stated on the front page of This Day News Papers on 3rd September,
- “Nigerians have understood that they were lied to in 2015 by the APC”. In interrogating how we got to this present sorry pass, let me use the template of the present APC government that they used to come into office in 2015. At that time they promised to restore Nigeria on three main planks – Corruption, Security, and Economy.Being with you today in Paul University an academic environment, I believe that you assess or grade a student on his performance. Therefore, we cannot use any other measure to certifying that a student has done well to be adjudged qualified in “character and learning”!
Let us use recent headlines of our newspapers to assess whether the current administration has earned a pass mark after seven plus years.
August 15, 2021 Nation Newspaper …. Termites ate vouchers of our 17.1bn Naira spending. NSITF tells Senate Public Accounts Committee. No documents to back up monies transferred to untraceable individuals, companies accounts. Coming after we have had scandals of snakes swallowing money and monkeys running away with money, this latest termites eating money is just another of those happenings that can only be found in a clime that is totally feckless. Portraying Nigeria as nothing but a joke in the eyes of the world. And the gut wrenching part is that NO ONE pays any penalty! Vanguard Newspapers August 11, 2022 – Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, allegedly stole 109.4bn Naira and in his approach for plea bargaining with EFCC, said he shared the money with the following groups, 11.5bn to officials of oil producing states, 84.39bn to Akindele a staff of his office, and 18.8bn to Peace Akomas of RMFAC for its officials and other groups.
According to Simon Kolawole of Thisday 14th July 2022, suspended Accountant General Ahmed Idris an Hausa Fulani is being prosecuted alongside Olusegun Akindele, a Yoruba and Peace Akomas, an Igbo. A wazobia heist. Those who steal our common patrimony are always united in corruption, irrespective of tribe and religion. Above examples being the tip of the iceberg exemplifies that nothing was done about corruption. Several other examples abound. Too many to count, its like every day another scandal erupts. The oil subsidy scam today has made the country insolvent as we will see below.
Premium Times, August 11, 2022
In a memo to President Muhammed Buhari, Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State in a late July memo he stated “terrorists creating parallel government in Kaduna and permanent operational base in the Northwest”. The Governor said the terrorists have dominated communities and exercising control over social and economic activities and dispensation of justice in the area. Have advanced in their plans to make Kaduna forest areas their “permanent operational base for the Northwest regions”.
Vanguard 18th July, 2022
Over 100 bandits attend turbaning of their leader in Tsafe town of Zamfara. Ado Alero the bandit leader was turbaned as “Sarkin Fulani “by Emir of Birin Yandoto Alhaji Aliyu Garba. This bandit operates in Zamfara and Katsina and was recently quoted as saying that he does not kidnap, but kills people!! For the so called bandits to be so audacious to even attend in large numbers shows that there now exists alternate governments in some parts of Nigeria.
We even had a situation where bandits allegedly arrested a thief in Kastina and handed him over to the authorities, according to Daily Post of September 5, 2022. In order words a “bandit” is saying that a thief is not respecting the rule of law!! What an absurdity!
Premium times – July 21, 2022
Zainab Ahmed (Finance Minister) says “Nigerian broke as debt payment exceeds revenue”. In the 1st quarter (January – April of 2022), fiscal performance report Nigeria total revenue stood at 1.63 trillion naira while debt servicing stood at 1.94tr Naira showing a variance of over 300bn naira essentially covered by borrowing from the CBN through creative bookkeeping called ways and means.
For a country that had exited debt peonage in 2006 to return to a state where despite high oil prices, we cannot pay our bills is most astonishing and an indication of the parlous state of our economy showing that economic management of the present government is absent or abysmally low.
The surprising thing is that despite all these above situation staring all of us in the face the government is approaching everything as if nothing is amiss.
When we started shouting in 2016 that the government was going down the wrong path when it began a systematic marginalization of certain parts of the country (recall the 97% vs 5%) remark by President Buhari), many thought that we were just crying wolf.
As I stated when I addressed the Nigerian Bar Association in Owerri in 2021 during their law week, “today, never in the history of Nigeria has so many people been willing to die in order NOT to be a Nigerian”. Today the young people even have a word “JAPA” to describe running away from Nigeria
Nigeria has descended into what Prof. George Obiozor (Ohaneze President) calls “ethnocentric nationalism or subnational consciousness”
Today, each one of us in this hall we must have to confront the question what do we do and where do we want to go? I know that most people would prefer to stay in their comfort zone and keeps quiet and wish the problem will fade away on its own. Lutheran Pastor (1906 – 1945) Deitrich Bonhoeffer said, however, as “silence in the face of evil is itself evil ….”God will not hold us guiltless”. “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act”. So we must act. Question is what do we do or as Sunny Okosun puts it which way to go?
A PEACEFUL AND PROSPEROUS HOMELAND
In discussing the way forward for NIGERIA, we first must deal with the big elephant in the room about Ndigbo and Nigeria. My position on this has been stated in a seminal paper to Diaspora Ndigbo in Missisipi USA in 2017.
That the present Nigerian government has made weaponization of nepotism its by-word and foresworn justice and equity for Ndigbo and others in Nigeria is not enough for us to reject Nigeria. By the fact that Ndigbo are the 2nd largest group after the indigenous population in all parts of Nigeria indicates that we have invested and continue to invest in Nigeria.
Farouk Kperogi has described it thus …..“an insular inward – looking people who resent the diversity of Nigeria and want to recoil into their own geo-cultural entity would only live in their own enclave”. Ndigbo are not like that and therefore, are more “Nigerian” than all other ethnic groups. We live peacefully with and develope all parts of Nigeria where the popular adage is that anywhere in Nigeria you do not see an Igbo man run away from there. What Ndigbo want in Nigeria is a nation that works for all where everyone is treated equally. “Egbe bere Ugo bere”, is our philosophy of life. Our mantra. We must note that the resurgence of Biafra movements and neo-Biafran sentiments in Igboland is the consequence of exclusion from the centre of Ndigbo by the present government of Nigeria
We need to turn Ala Igbo into the productive engine of Nigeria with our God given talents and make the Southeast the Catalonia and Bavaria of Nigeria. This oasis of production will now be the driver of economic development of Nigeria since we have what is better than oil, our human resources. Having determined the way above, we must in no uncertain terms condemn the criminal hijack of the legitimate struggle to be accorded equal rights in Nigeria and those who have turned a legitimate agitation into bestiality, kidnapping, murder and wanton killings on in many parts of Igboland. More on this later.
Secondly, In order to figure out a way forward out of the wilderness Nigeria has found itself, we must pragmatically embark on self-cleansing. We must purge ourselves of every vestige of dirt which corruption has impacted into our system that has destroyed our sense of right and wrong. And we are all complicit in this malaise called corruption that has Nigeria in its vice grip. Corruption is not only by government, even in our individual lives, we seem to have foregone the basic instincts of trust and integrity.
As was retold in the article, TWISTED DREAMS, we can see that corruption is not a purely government thing.
“Up Till About 25 Years Ago, Singer Nigeria Limited Had Factories In Nigeria Where They Produced Television Sets, Radios, Refrigerators, Standing Fans, etc.
Singer Had A Unique Corporate Marketing Strategy.
They Didn’t Sell On Cash-And-Carry But On Credit To Their Wholesalers.
I Don’t Know The Reason For This Strategy Though.
Soon, Nigerians Began To Apply As Whole Sellers Using Fake Business Names And Addresses.
Many would pack the products and never paid up as and when due.
By 1996, Singer went down and closed all her factories in Nigeria!
In other words, the greed and deceit of the ordinary Nigerian sunk SINGER.
Therefore, not until we look inward and change our ways, will we see the Nigeria we hope for.
There must be a way to rediscover our humanity and resolve to live by the precepts of moral rectitude and in strict accordance with the law. Prof. Pat Utomi had in paper many years ago started that in ala Igbo we must decry the “Osina nwata bulu ogaranya” syndrome! Our daughter Chimamanda Adichie in a recent paper in the NBA conference in Lagos condemned this attitude even in the church.
Having cleansed ourselves, where exactly do we start? I had to shut my mind tight to trending news and stories which kept pouring in thick and fast from every corner of the country, with more and more unbelievable occurrences, to delimit the scope of this paper.
As stated earlier, we could reduce the many problems bedeviling the country to a few, at the top of which are;
(a) unmitigated insecurity, where there is violent conflict in 22 out of 36 states followed by;
(b) mismanagement of funds, which has led to fiscal unsustainability and triple-dipped recession which has been;
(c) exacerbated by unjust, inept and simply disastrous governance, among others.
In addition to the self-cleansing and attitudinal change already recommended above, what should be done to steer Nigeria towards what Obama called “a more perfect union”
Part of our problem in Nigeria is that the leaders that emerged after Independence in 1960 failed at creating a nation. Our two anthems so far, have mouthed beautiful words, none of which have made it into the closed ethnic and nepotistic minds of politicians, who at best, could only be classified as ‘tribal’ leaders. Sometimes one wonders if they even know the words of the anthem, nor of the various oaths of office they have been swearing to most Nigerian leaders have never made a conscious effort to deliver on the social contract that should flow from democratic leadership.
Despite the military interregnum where every leader that emerged stated that it was done to make Nigeria a better and united nation we seem to have only succeeded in dividing the country further. Now we are reaping the cumulative effect of the despoliation that started from the country’s independence to the present.
The civil war that supposedly ended in 1970 still reverberates in every sphere of this country. Like a sore that did not heal well internally, each little poke returns a throbbing sensation to the hearts of Ndigbo. Nationhood cannot happen with the current state of affairs. It is time for us to learn from our past and cease to dwell on it.
We have reached that point in life of our nation, where we have to drop all pretenses and tell ourselves the truth. The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in their report last month stated that in the first six month of 2022, we earned 1.6 trillion Naira but spent 4.7 trillion thus incurring a deficit of 3.09 trillion. There is no way a nation can continue like this without defaulting on its debts and collapsing. Emir Sanusi Lamido at the Kaduna Investment summit recently succinctly put it that the economic facts of today point to total insolvency.
So we are looking at an imminent shipwreck. A Venezuela situation. The worst of the situation is not the proportion of the shipwreck that awaits us, but dismissing the obvious Iceberg right before us. Government authorities are adamant that even though there are problems, that all is well. They deliberately downplay the serious condition that Nigerians face every day. Leaving us to head towards Zimbabwe!
With this scaringly high unemployment, inflation, mind numbing insecurity and the obvious decline in public trust and confidence in the government, Nigeria has never been as divided as it is today. We are indeed in a desperate moment and to survive, we have to swallow all pride and rest Nigeria on the shoulders of those with the capacity to deal with her ailments and steady the ship of state. But lamentations have been so long in coming while resolutions have been so few.
In 1993 Muslim Muslim ticket was not a problem to us in Nigeria (Abiola/Kingibe), the place of origin was not a problem too (Kano voted for Abiola rather than Tofa),South East voted against Tofa/Sylvester Ugo (an Igbo) ticket. In 1999 South West voted against Obasanjo and Southeast voted Yar’adua/Jonathan against Buhari/Okadigbo in 2007. It is not ancient history that South East voted for Jonathan who is from South – South in 2015 too.
Today, while the world charges forward, Nigeria seems to move backwards. Today in the world of football VAR is employed to improve on the game. The world has since discovered GSM (going up to 5G) which we all use in Nigeria against the obsolete land lines of NITEL. Video calls through WhatsApp, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram etc, are now common place all over the world including Nigeria as a means of enhancing communication but our politics is fixated on old ways of doing things that does not add value rather brings backwardness in matters of governance. The World is passing us by while we pitifully grope in the dark.
NDIGBO, GET ENGAGED!!
Let me steer us back to the realities of the present, so we can adopt the above and all other strategies to ensure our presence remain on the national decision-making table. We must not lapse into the shadows of insignificance to keep nursing our pains. Onye ana egbu egbu kwesiri izo onwe ya! We need to stay engaged. No one will take care of our interests if we do not force their hands.
However, Nigeria’s malaise cannot be cured merely by a change of government. We tried it in 2015 and we are in a worse situation. Presidential candidate of APC Tinubu calls it a rotten situation. A new government must also bring a new ethos in governance and commitment to best practices for the benefit of many and not for a few.
Essentially the new government in 2023 must be able to “REWRITE THE SOCIAL CONTRACT BETWEEN THE STATE AND ITS CITIZENS”
So long as we remain who we are; so long as there is no discernable change in attitude and ways of approaching elections and selection of leaders, so long will we remain underdogs. At the end of the day nothing will change. Ejighi akpu mmadu akpu! – We will not create new human beings and plant them here.
There is no doubt that things have gone bad in the country due to the policies and leadership of the present Administration and Party in power who have weaponized nepotism but does that exonerate the South East from blame of not developing their zone? With the need for self-introspection earlier advocated I ask the following questions;
Is the South East a model of good governance and development in Nigeria?
As we had stated earlier, we have almost lost the Southeast to Conflict Entrepreneurs and it is undeniable that opportunistic crimes are being committed daily by our own people who are taking advantage of the near state of anarchy to unleash mayhem on their kin. We must face the fact that a high percentage of our current security challenges in the Southeast are being perpetrated by our own people who also are partners in crime with foreign undesirables. We must look ourselves in the face and agree to confront this menace to our development and well-being. The impact on commerce and industry in the South East of the so-called “Holy Monday” and frequent sit-at-homes is clearly deleterious to our development. We must reject this nihilistic approach. South East should review the system of hiring its leadership because the real factor to our security and development is in our hands.
How many of us will vote in the coming election on the basis of qualification or ability rather than your village or maternal Ancestral home if even you vote? Following after the self-cleansing moral reorientation and self-introspection advocated, the very next step is to directly confront those things that has kept us where we are in Nigeria of today. For example, irrespective of who wins the 2023 election, that government must of necessity confront the following problems among others;
- Power – the sector must have to be improved and charge market value for its services. For a Nigeria that would need upwards of 100 MW of electricity and currently produces about 4MW the answer is glaring. Currently off-grid electricity of up to 80MW is relied upon by Nigerians for their needs at astronomical cost. Diesel at 800 naira per litre
- Petroleum – the whole shenanigan about subsidy and its effects on our economy has to be tackled head on and government must take its hands off that sector. NNPC says we consume 66m litres daily. At 33,000 litres, it means 2,000 trucks from the depots daily. An impossibility. That’s why Hamid Alli in Customs disputes the figures and Peter Obi has called it a monumental scam. In 2015, Ibe Kachikwu, then Minister of State, Petroleum gave the correct figure of 29m
litres per day. What has happened in Nigeria to magically raise it to 66m litres per day must be the 10th wonder of the world!
Emir Sanusi in the earlier summit mentioned stated that Pakistan and Nigeria have nearly the same population. Yet Nigeria consumes 3 times more petrol than Pakistan despite the fact that Pakistan is far more developed in roads and infrastructure than Nigeria.
- Exchange – rate must reflect the reality of the economy i.e market forces which mean the official rate would have to be closer to the so called black market rate. Arbitrage and round tripping is still the bane of the economy. At an above 300 naira premium between the official rate and the aboki rate is simply an invitation to unscrupulous citizens to engage in arbitrage and round tripping. If CBN gives you $1m at 400 naira, you round trip and sell for 700 naira making 300 million naira profit, for doing nothing! So a small number of rent seekers become billionaires just from FX arbitrage. Same for oil subsidies.
- Government- workforce must be restructured and reformed and we must create a system to automatically link minimum wage to reflect inflation and make the worker be able to live off his wage.
- Education – must be at the forefront of restructuring to the funding system of the schools especially higher education. Alternative sources of funding of the higher institutions while guarantee basic minimum education for its citizens. Since human capital will be the oil of the future a new government cannot but make it a priority.
- Infrastructure – like Roads, Waterways, Ports etc must be concessioned and operated as viable entities. Roads would have to be tolled and the ICRC would be reijigged and put to work for the 21st century nation we intend to be.
- Good Governance System – we must find a way to reduce our penchant for ostentatious consumption and spending that has defined our national politics. For example Nigeria had over 100 persons that went to UNGA at a cost of 10m per person in estacodes and allowances where the President is the only relevant person in that conference, 1bn for nothing.
DEVOLUTION OF POWER
Nonetheless, in order for the above to be done, devolution of Power/Restructuring must be embarked upon urgently where power is devolved to constituent zones and states so as to unlock their hidden, suppressed productivity in a healthy competitive way. As a member of Ohaneze Committee on constitutional Amendment in the 8th Senate we had recommended a reduction of the 64 item exclusive list to a 23 item list to free up the economic potentials of the country essentially going the route of restructuring. These amendments were not agreed upon by the Joint Committees of the then National Assembly. Of recent whenever the word Restructuring is mentioned it raises the hackles of some people. Infact one of the candidates in the Presidential contest is reported to have said “restructuring my foot,” in a viral video.
However, according the Elder statesman Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Nigeria’s diversity will be better managed under a Federation with autonomous units and devolution of powers from the currently powerful centre to the federating units. Anyaoku said that the Nigerian electorate must ensure that the Presidential candidates for 2023 elections commit unequivocally to the deconstruction of the present political structure and its replacement with an equitable, inclusive and participatory governance system that guarantees all fundamental human rights, with fairness and justice to all citizens.
Should above option be torpedoed on the alter of divergent, irreconcilable positions of its ethnic nationalities in both North and South, then we should be prepared for a long wait to see the Nigeria of our dreams.
Gladly, in recent times, certain events have galvanized the youths and old alike to the need to participate in elections. Ndigbo have been criticized in the past for not knowing how to play politics. Short of appearing to be campaigning for anyone, I make bold to say that it took an Igbo person to spark a sudden upsurge in political awareness in Nigeria today. A political party that has been in existence mostly in name, has found itself suddenly acclaimed a front runner, to the extent that the party in power now ignores the known opposition party to daily hurl unprintable diatribes at its supporters!
Our politics must become smart. It is no longer news that Nigerians now accept that individuals, not political parties, must be the focus for our choices at every level. In the past we gave block votes to political parties. That left us with little choice in who finally got elected. Let us remain “woke” as our youths say and identify our best at every level of governance, and in every political party.
We need to build strong fortresses around those we identify to enable us break the jinx that has kept everyone down in Nigerian politics. We must educate voters at the grassroots on how to vote. This will entail a lot of education and re-education. Let this be our biggest resolve from TODAY.
I have heard some old hands in politics worrying about how to manage such a process of being smart. But all I can say, is nothing ventured, nothing gained. If the will exists, we must put in the work. Let us dispel the belief that Ndigbo are easily manipulated in election matters. We hope we can trust that INEC will continue on the improvements that the new BVAS machines have been applauded to bring. We pray that INEC will stay engaged and not declare its internet servers suddenly missing or otherwise unable to deliver results when it matters most to Nigerians. No longer should young people convert election days to football-in-the-street days.
Let us unite beyond party lines and not dissipate our energies. This monster is not too powerful to be defeated. But we must call on the Lord of Hosts to lead the way while we tidily gird our loins and strap on our sandals for the march towards an improved Nigeria.
In the words of the singer Timi Dakolo in his song “Great Nation”
Though we are many people
different tribes and different tongues,
We are united in our strength and resolve”
We are determined to rebuild and restore
Where freedom reigns and truth prevails
“We believe in Nigeria and the promise she holds
And that one day we ‘ll shine like the sun”
Thank you for your attention!