By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
It has been one hell of a week, Governor Ortom wept, one time governor, and Senator, Presidential hopeful Tinubu wept, Senator Smart Adeyemi wept too, Wike shut the River state borders, Legislators are scared, Governor Zulum visited Buhari, one of many so far, more security infrastructure burnt, a high court set ablaze. The Muslims accusing Christians and vis a vis, in Nigeria death is becoming a national pastime, social spaces have all sorts of news but real, old, fake and new.
Communities are reaching out to the bandits to sign deals that allow them to live, our roads are getting empty, people are stuck at home, yet not safe at home, Nigerians are scared, loads are wrong, and citizens do not see empathy from leadership.
With these thoughts, I fell into a deep sleep, very deep sleep, I saw a white lion, liquid metal, tongues unheralded were being spoken, I saw a Bible and Koran, kids on the altar of a church, and girls in Hijab…it was surreal and the background was green, white and green with seeds that represented the regions of the country called Nigeria, the President was to address parliament…or Nigerians I was not sure…drifting, dozing off…
Throughout our history, Presidents have come to this chamber to speak to this assembly, to the nation, to celebrate peace, to announce new plans and possibilities. Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity, about rebuilding the nation, revitalizing our union, and winning the future for Nigeria.
I stand here tonight, some weeks short of when I was sworn in…since I took the oath of office and lifted my hand off the Koran and inherited a nation—we all did—that was in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century. Attacks on all fronts by external and internal forces since the Civil War.
Now, I want to report to the nation: Nigeria is on the move again—(applause)—turning peril into possibility, crisis to opportunity, setbacks into strength.
We all know life can knock us down. But in Nigeria, we never, ever, ever stay down. Nigerians always get up. Today, that’s what we’re doing: Nigeria is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, and light over darkness.
After days of rescue and renewal, we will be ready for takeoff, in my view. We’re working again, dreaming again, discovering again, and leading again. We have shown each other and the world that there’s no quit in Nigeria—none.
Together we passed the Nigerian Rescue Plan—one of the most consequential rescue packages in Nigerian history. We’re already seeing the results.
A single mom in Abeokuta who wrote to me said she couldn’t work, but she said the relief check put food on the table and saved her and her son from eviction from their apartment. A grandmother in Umuahia who told me she immediately took her granddaughter to the eye doctor—something she said she put off for months because she didn’t have the money.
One of the defining images, at least from my perspective, is seeing the Rescue Plan delivering food and nutrition assistance to millions of Nigerians facing hunger, and hunger is down sharply already— keeping people from being evicted from their homes, providing loans to small businesses to reopen and keep their employees on the job.
Nigeria is moving — moving forward — but we can’t stop now.
We have to do more than just build back better — I mean “build back.” We have to build back better. We have to compete more strenuously than we have.
For too long, we’ve failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting our crisis: “jobs.” Jobs. Jobs.
So, folks, there’s no reason why Nigeria— Nigerians can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries. I mean, there is no reason, we cannot lead in food security, sports, economy and more. We have this capacity. (Applause.) We have the brightest, best-trained people in the world.
Now I know some of you at home are wondering whether these jobs are for you. So many of you — so many of the folks I grew up with feel left behind, forgotten in an economy that’s so rapidly changing. It’s frightening.
I want to speak directly to you. Because if you think about it, that’s what people are most worried about: “Can I fit in?”
We need to ensure greater equity and opportunity for women and men of our nation from all the corners of Nigeria.
So, let’s get to work. I wanted to lay out, before the Assembly, my plan before we got into the deep discussions. I’d like to meet with those who have ideas that are different — they think are better. I welcome those ideas.
But the rest of the world is not waiting for us. I just want to be clear: From my perspective, doing nothing is not an option. (Applause.)
Look, we can’t be so busy competing with one another that we forget the competition that we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.
To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children. That’s why I’ve introduced the Nigerian Families Plan tonight, which addresses the biggest challenges facing Nigerian families and, in turn, Nigeria.
First is access to a good education, any country that out-educates us is going to outcompete us.
No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time — from terrorism, both domestic and otherwise, brain drain, cybersecurity, climate change and more.
My fellow Nigerians, look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation.
We’ve all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of ethnic nationalities. Now is our opportunity to make some real progress. My fellow Nigerians, we have to come together to rebuild trust, to root out systemic ethnicity in our criminal justice system, in our politics and to enact true federalism.
We’re not just changing the Constitution; we’re being reasonable and renegotiating Nigeria.
Can our Nigeria deliver on its promise that all of us, created equal in the image of God, have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility? Can our Nigeria deliver the most — to the most pressing needs of our people? Can our Nigeria overcome the lies, anger, hate, and fears that have pulled us apart?
We have to prove Nigeria still works — that our government still works and we can deliver for our people.
Our Constitution opens with the words — as trite as it sounds — “We the People”. Well, it’s time to remember that “We the People” are the government — you and I.
I have never been more confident or optimistic about Nigeria — not because I’m President. With light and hope, we summoned a new strength, a new resolve to position us to win, on our way to a union more perfect, more prosperous, and more just, as one people, one nation, and one Nigeria.
I woke up from my slumber, and the news is still the same, more Nigerians killed, maimed, abducted, communities and villages with terror flags hoisted here and there, the east, in trouble, the west in trouble, the north is loosing out to all conspiracy theories, and realities.
Will Mr. President speak to the crisis in a strong manner that resonates reality and purpose, will the party whether ruling, or opposition get it right for the sake of Nigerians, will our armed forces stand and be counted, is betting on Nigeria a good bet?
We are not the United States of Nigeria. There is not a single thing—nothing—nothing that inspires these days, for how long—Only time will tell.
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