From the deep creeks of the Niger Delta to the sandy dunes that border the receding lake chad, and the bush paths that make it hard to tell whether it is the soil of Benin Republic or that of Nigeria’s Kwara State and the mountain ranges that allow us a glimpse of Benue, Cross Rivers State, and in fact Cameroon, I greet you the varied, the gifted and the long suffering people of our beloved country. I salute you in great tribute as I acknowledge that the moment is now for identifying where the rain began to wet our heads and that acting jointly we may draw down the evidence that it is time to play because the rain is gone – the rainbow.
I thank you who have come from great distances to gather in the quest for reasoning together on how to escape this rain that has hammered down so hard on us that a country which should be prosperous is inhabited by some of the poorest people on earth. Folklore tells us that in the abundance of water the fool is thirsty. But we are thirsty with water everywhere; there is soap in our eyes irritating those vital organs even though we are in a pool of water. Reflect, my people; reflect. Unless we can put on thinking caps ours may be like the sad story of some of our regional compatriots who watched, in denial about predicted doom, until they were consumed by it.
Such ominous portends about us too have rung out. Many of us remain unconcerned, or convinced that our personal circumstances will shield us from whatever may come. But I urge you to look at people who thought like them a few years ago in Cote d’voire and a few years earlier still, in Liberia. It is these reflections that led me to stand from the comforts of my immediate environment, persuaded that on the raising of an army of servant leaders dedicated to making the true needs of the people the essence of public life and deeply passionate that advancing the Common Good could save the fast rushing Nigerian train from the precipice.
I have since embarked on a tour of this vast country, talking to the rich, the poor, the women, the men, the young and the old, in languages I could speak and in those I could not speak. I discovered an amazing thing; we all want similar things. How we want them may differ, but in brotherhood we stand in seeking a better future for our children, a reduction in the toil with which we eke out an improved quality of life for ourselves.
The years of innocence have been consumed by the dark clouds of corruption, and the despising of intellect and people of ideas. The result is clear. Instead of hospitals we have homes of death; in place of schools, we have sheds of unlearning and illiteracy; rather than export food and agricultural produce as we used to we have become the world’s biggest importer of Rice and even Palm Seedlings that were taken from here have sent back their grandchildren as imported oil from Malaysia. Tell me, my people, how long shall we kill our prophets and wander in the wilderness.
As I traveled around the country, consulting and listening to the people I felt the pain of this blessed land; I heard the cries of little children, innocents who did not choose to be born here, and felt the agony of mothers who could not provide, and the anguish of widows deprived of what little they had to live on. It became clear to me that it would be hard for me on judgment day if I did not come forward and say to you that you have a choice.
Nigeria needs a revolution. Nigerians must arise and throw off the yoke of leaders who do not care, who may not know, and who in greed and mindless selfishness hold them in bondage, sacrificing even the future of their own children because they lack the wisdom to see that even their own children, no matter how much of the public treasure they despoil, are likely victims of a mortgaged future. It is a revolution we can accomplish without a shot being fired. I have stood up to be counted in offering myself as willing to go forth and contest the market place of ideas with my vision of a new Nigeria. If that vision, which we shall offer on Monday pleases you then I would in deep humility go forward as your servant to contest elections for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But there is much work to do.
Many times when change has become imperative in Africa we have failed the people badly because self-centered elite hold on to fiefdoms fractured political parties are reluctant to coalesce into one solid opposition block. FORD in Kenya went down that path and left a tired Arap Moi regime in power. Even in Nigeria our previous democratic incarnations suffered from this disease. I have therefore deliberately encouraged the road to a coalition of interests since I indicated interest in participating in partisan politics. It has been a big challenge managing egos in that quest to evolve structure that will best serve the desperate desire of the Nigerian people for change which was so palpable as I toured the country.
But I must thank those who I pressured with these burden. They include Chief Okey Nwosu, Chairman of ADC, leaders of AC, Chairman of Union of Political Parties, Chief Okpara, Chief Olu Falae, Cief Gani Fawehinmi, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Dr. John Obayuwana and other too numerous to be named.
It is my fervent hope and prayer, for the sake of the Nigerian people, that this effort not be in vain because of narrow mindedness. Only a Rainbow, that coalition of colours in the spectrum will signal that the rain is about to stop beating the Nigerian people.
Your royal highnesses, Chiefs, Honourables, Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen I have a dream of a country radically different from what we have now. A country where the youth have hope, the elder have contentment and the families have peace and joy, and have a dream of a country where justice reign and the rule of law is taken as a fact of life. I have a dream of progress, prosperity and the elevation of the dignity of the human person such that strife which is the hallmark of present Nigerian life recedes into only remembrance of history as on educated middle class for bread that it is a majority of the people drive a globally competitive economy. I am most grateful that you have given so generously of yourself on this working day to send me forth into the political arena to seek to make these dreams come true.
May God bless you, bless your children and bless our dear country Nigeria.
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