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#OccupyNigeria – Fueling the Nigerian Awakening for Active Citizenship

-By JAPHET OMOJUWA

We cannot continue to throw our empty bowls before the West and expect that we will attain prosperity on their charity. We must endure the pain and pleasure of earning our own wealth and prosperity, and enjoy the fruits of our own labour.

#OccupyNigeria: Fueling the Nigerian Awakening for Active Citizenship

As presented at Free University, Henry Ford Bau ,Hörsaal C, Gary Str. 35, 14195 Berlin, Germany.
1. Nigeria:

1.1 The seamy side

Nigeria is critical to the rest of the continent and if Nigeria does not get it right, Africa will really not make more progress. – President Barack Obama

Nigeria is not just the most populous black nation, it is indeed the heart of Africa. This is not just by its geographical positioning and expression but also by its sheer influence on the continent. The history of African Independence cannot be complete without the role of Nigeria in securing freedom for the rest of Africa as it did itself in 1960. Apart from its big brother role in Africa’s fight for independence, Nigeria headlined the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

“Nigeria attended meetings of the Frontline States of Southern Africa, chaired the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, and hosted a UN antiapartheid conference. After Nelson Mandela’s release from jail in 1990, he visited Nigeria to express his gratitude, and received a $10 million campaign contribution for the African National Congress.” [1]

With almost 20 per cent of Africa’s total population, a huge pool of resources mainly from petroleum exports and a foreign policy that is essentially afro-centric, Nigeria is indeed destined to be a force on the continent. Whether secretly supporting African struggles for independence, or remotely taking on the forces of racism and apartheid decades ago, the presence of Nigeria has either been directly or indirectly felt by the bulk of African countries. This remains so even today. Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Malians to mention just a few are some of the nationals that have Nigeria to thank for whatever hues of stability they have in their country. Liberia indeed owes its democracy a lot more to Nigeria than it does America. The blood of Nigerian soldiers was the sacrifice many of these countries offered on the altar of freedom to have the democracy they have today. You will hear a lot about the French and American soldiers doing heroic things on the African continent and I do not deny these reports but it has to be said that Nigeria as done as much if not more than these countries. It is indeed saddening to see that the seamy side of our nationhood finds a lot more ink in the foreign press, than there are enough inks to write about what makes Nigeria indeed a critical nation on the continent.

Having said this, Nigeria’s primary enemy is the image right in front of it in the mirror. We are our worst enemy. The rest of the world has not been fair to us because they are quick to amplify our evils and I admit we do have a lot of them, just like your own country and indeed every country around the world. But we have not been fair to ourselves in telling the part of the story that completes the whole. I am the first to admit that we currently have one of the most incompetent governments in the world. Corruption in Nigeria today remains at an all time high. Unlike the Olusegun Obasanjo years of 1999-2007 where there was some kind of deterrent to impunity, today impunity is the norm, the law and the order. While 70 percent of our national budget is used in paying the salaries of an over bloated civil service, manage an almost good-for-nothing National Assembly and maintain a Presidency that is at best better than a dead clock by six and half a dozen, 30 per cent goes to building infrastructure. Even more depressing is the fact that, less than 50 per cent of that 30 per cent eventually gets spent for the purpose for which it is meant. Under our budget performance review, 100 percent of our recurrent gets spent while less than 50 percent of our capital budget gets spent. This simply means that 70 percent of our national wealth is being spent – mostly wasted – to make 15 percent of our national wealth useful for us every year. This essentially means that just about 15 per cent of Nigeria’s wealth is available for development and out of this number, you’d have to factor in the cost of corruption. At the end of the day an inconsequential amount is left for genuine development efforts. That is why Nigeria remains an underdeveloped country despite recouping hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue. Any country that can boast an $800 million discrepancy in the accounts of one of its economic sectors cannot be said to be poor.[2] You all know the seamy side of the Nigerian story but I should highlight the beauty of this country so that you can appreciate its hardly if not never celebrated beauty.

1.2 This is Nigeria: The untold stories

Nigerians love to love and hate the West. This is understandable because it then means my people are able to isolate different realities and make their judgments based on these isolations. Nigerians appreciate what the developed world brings to the table when it comes to making the lives of people better around the world. We may not have an abundance of the good life at home but Nigerians love and have come to see the good life as their birthright. That is why the average Nigerian will go to any length – sometimes destructive – to live this life. This has meant that we are able to deploy our abilities for good and for evil. The evil side has been overemphasized because many evils committed around the world in the name of “Nigeria” have been by other nationals hiding under the Nigerian legend of crime, advance fee fraud and more recently internet scams. People now assume every crime committed around these themes especially if by a black man must then be by a Nigerian. That is illogically and intuitively wrong. Are all the convicted Internet scammers Nigerians? Are all the advance fee fraudsters Nigerians? If these scams have been so successful all over the world, is it possible for a global syndicate to operate under one flag? These questions I believe will find answers in your research and quest for the truth but I also think some of the answers will be found in what Nigerians call “common sense.” It essentially means you don’t have to think too hard to find the answers to these ones. The answer is right there in the question.

Successive negative news on Nigeria gets sustained amplification, while positive news and reports on Nigeria never even get the mention. How many of you seated here in Berlin know that Nigerians are the most educated diaspora in the United States? 17 percent of Nigerians in the United States have a Master’s degree.[3] Nigerian doctors suffer a backlash when one of them misses a breath and does the wrong thing, while the western press hardly notices other Nigerian doctors who achieve great things. [4] More often than not, reports like these[5] are often reported almost exclusively by Nigerian news platforms. These are not outliers, they are only a few of the many great things Nigerians are doing all over the world. If Nigerians get half as much ink for the good things they do as the ink devoted to the bad things they do, we’d be one of the most respected people in the world. I can reel out and tell you about the physical beauty that is my home country but this would be too much digression already. Let me inform the men here that Nigerian women are amongst the most beautiful in the world. Beauty here is the sum of their intellect and physical forms. Our people are amongst the most enterprising in the world. Throw us in a desert and we will make a life out of scarcity. Our ability to survive the worst conditions has of course been a curse as much as it is a blessing. If you care enough to experience one of the best organized and colourful carnivals in the world, then plan to visit Calabar Nigeria next Christmas. One of the most beautiful hotels in the world is the Le Meridien in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom state. Lagos used to be the tree that housed all the many fruits of evil and backwardness. Today Lagos is leaping forward in bounds and bearing much more sweeter fruits than the sourness it used to be known for. There are places in Lagos today that embody the word “transformation.” Ask me about Oshodi! I took my time to see the city again only days ago and I couldn’t but agree that indeed impossible is nothing.

Nigerians love the West but Nigerians would wish the western press would tell its people more about the good side of the Nigerian whole as much as it tells the already popular part of this whole. The popular in fact gets told like it is the whole in itself. You would think good never comes out of my country. The Calabar festival was the bomb! But it never got reported while the next bomb explosion gets the seemingly blood thirsty foreign press scrambling for details.

It is on the strength of this argument I’d tell you the story of #OccupyNigeria, a great Nigerian awakening that almost got lost to the watching world but for the vociferous Nigerians on social media who must take credit for its global reach. Nothing made me more proud of being a Nigerian than the events of January 2012. Coming from a football obsessed country, where football results send everyone into states of delirium and nationwide amnesia, you’d expect the fact that we are the champions of Africa again to supplant this #OccupyNigeria feeling but truly some realities are hard to top. The story of #OccupyNigeria has been told and retold, so I will not dwell on its historical perspectives as I would on its future prospects and its significance in the future of Nigeria…

2. #OccupyNigeria: Fueling the Nigerian Awakening

2.1 It was always an awakening

You would not find an earlier document than this[6] where the official call to #OccupyNigeria was made at an event in Abuja on the 27th of October, 2011. If you read the document, the first line of the sub topic “Our specific demands” went thus “When we decide to march against this madness, our quest will not be to remove them from office…” and that is the premise of my argument against those who say #OccupyNigeria failed because we did not change the government like they did in Egypt and Tunisia. Our agenda was never to change the government and I can say this because the story of #OccupyNigeria is not just a reality I saw and lived but a story I was part and parcel of, in form, planning, execution. Unpopular yes but it was a democratically elected government. When the Occupy movement started with Occupy Wall Street in September of 2011, a lot of young Nigerians quickly jumped on it via social media especially Twitter. It started in form of a question as to whether we could occupy Nigeria. Many people though interested in such a movement believed Nigerians did not have the capacity and history to go through a mass movement like that. A lot happened at the time but there was no form or organization to the agitations whatsoever. It was just a cacophony of noise and arguments. Many of these arguments were in the line of “it cannot happen in Nigeria!” and these arguments were not baseless because it had never happened in Nigeria but of course there is always the first time and this is what the naysayers never paid attention to.

I got a poignant invitation from the Integrity Organisation led by Soji Apampa to deliver a social change lecture in Abuja where I delivered the aforementioned piece.[7] That did offer a push because the piece was popular and got syndicated on many platforms. Just days after I was in Lagos on Nigeria’s first 24 hour all news cable channel NN24. I was direct and never minced words when I said “we will occupy Nigeria!” Until then, it was exclusively an online business. I did also state on this programme anchored by Seun Okin that our agenda for #OccupyNigeria had no intention of regime change. The noise again continued without form on social media until I sent a historic email to some young Nigerians. Yemi Adamolekun and Gbenga Sesan of Enough Is Enough must take the credit for sending follow up emails that galvanized even more young people. I believed these recipients were not just believers in our ability to do it but that they had the capacity for execution. They had been drivers in the nationwide protests that heralded the making of Goodluck Jonathan the acting President in the wake of the disappearance of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua for months in Saudi Arabia without any recourse to due process. I do not want to bore you with the whole content of my email but you can see the following quote as an emphasis of what I regarded #OccupyNigeria to be. “If #OccupyNigeria was a business, I’d have divested a long time ago because of people’s antics and puerility. It is something much more bigger. In my opinion, it is what Nigerians need to start a culture of demand and genuine expectations from their leaders. This is not 1970, we have powers and if we care enough we will make change happen.” These were the exact words I used in that email and if you pay attention to the realities and the moves we have since made after #OccupyNigeria, to say it has failed is to judge it with a set of objectives different from that which we the protagonists of the movement thought it to be. This is my story and my perspective of the uprising in Nigeria January 2012.

The reason this story has been told this way is because I have the microphone. I am absolutely certain if you pass the microphone to the leader of some other organisations that took part in the movement, they’d express a different point of view and perspective from mine. While the movement derived its name and form from online citizens, the success is the collective effort of conventional organisers and activists and the social media citizens. The radical Nigerian clergy man Pastor Tunde Bakare led his organization the Save Nigeria Group to add a lot of organization and panache to the movement especially from the Lagos end. There was the Joint Action Force, United Action for Democracy and a whole band of organisations that made this happen. They all had their different objectives and I’d not be shocked to find out that some of them wanted a regime change but when I marched and organized for people to march, regime change was NEVER the intention. This point has to be emphasized because after a group of young Nigerians found their voice, another group I’d call “the Moonish Critics” found theirs through the decibels of the first voice.

2.2 The Moonish Critics:

These are the post #OccupyNigeria youths who found their voices after we expressed what they said was impossible. They have their voice because we found ours. When we were organizing to protest, they were agonizing about how it was impossible to speak to power. When we were on the streets, they pretended to be part of us and made the same noise. When we left the streets, they regained their original form by saying we failed in our objectives. These ones do not have ideas or points of discussions of their own, they derive their significance from being able to say what the Nigerian youths organizing for change are not doing right. They of course derive their pseudo-relevance from our undeniable relevance in the grand scheme of things. They were unknown, inconsequential and irrelevant until we decided to pay mind to them thinking they had ideas to improve the movement. We were wrong. They came like they cared only to have the microphone and it turned they just wanted to rock the boat. For these ones, we have since taken the microphone. They still speak but they speak against the voice of the wailing masses hence will never be heard. They are in a sizable number but compared to the army of #OccupyNigeria are again inconsequential. It has to be said that not all of them are intentionally ignorant, some are sincerely ignorant while others chose this path of sheer irrelevance because of their own inability to mend fences and walls with people they do not agree with. To these ones, to work together, you must agree on every count. Where you differ on any, they brand you names. The names never stick of course but that is only because they only get heard when the army pays heed.

These ones have their ways. They look disorganized but they are able to form an alliance over issues quick enough because all they need do is see what the more louder ones amongst them are saying. They write to say tools like social media are irrelevant. This would have been useful for consideration except that they use these same tools to make statements like this. It is like saying “eating is useless” with a mouth full of chicken burger. For every argument they have against these social media tools, we have two stories of success. They say we make noise, true, but unlike them, there is a form to our noise. Ours is music to the ears of the many who have been beneficiaries of our “noise” while theirs have been just that, noise.

These ones say we write articles without solutions. They are almost right; we write articles without solutions their minds can deal with. They only see what their brains can allow them see. Where they see our solutions, they come up with other excuses. Like the waterfall and water, they never run out of excuses. It gushes from their mouth faster than the flow of the Nile, it runs deeper than the depths of the red sea and their frustration is a lot higher than Everest’s peak.

I have especially come under attack from them but I have been too busy to pay attention, too focused on what needs to be done so not able to give them a mention. For once, with this piece I acknowledge their existence. No matter how beautiful or ugly a toilet is, its primary purpose remains to indulge the s*** from our digestive system. They are not as useful as s*** but like s*** they at least help to balance the echo system of the Nigerian conversation. Like the solid waste we drop when we go to the toilet, these moonish critics appear useless but they are useful. They are a distorted mirror but they are a kind of mirror nonetheless. They exist because we are delivering on the objectives of #OccupyNigeria. We have refused to be quiet and we’d be naïve to think that the government and its agents would just sit by and watch us unite against its globally renowned incompetence and pro-corruption stand.

While it is moral and modest to keep quiet about what we have been able to achieve since #OccupyNigeria, it would leave us thrown into the dustbin of irrelevance. If we do not tell the stories of our victories, these ones will relay our stories from their ability to distort the truth and as much as we would like to think posterity will always favour the truth, it helps to at least plant the seed of the truth that prosperity would naturally nurture to stand the test of time. They say we are irrelevant, that our voices do not count and that we make noise for nothing. I cannot say they are wrong because to say that is to admit that they have the ability to be right. With my story of “The Illuminators,” I’ll set your mind free by letting the truth lead you on.

2.3 How Occupy Nigeria birth the Illuminators

The moonish critics are who they are because the Illuminators of Nigeria’s new order thrive. The moonish critics exist because these Illuminators came into being. There would be no moon without the sun and that explains why these lots are called moonish critics. I want to tell you about the Illuminators of Nigeria’s new order. They are the force of change, sometimes loud, other times silent, but at all times actively pursuing Nigeria’s desired path to active citizenship participation in Governance. Until their ceremonial coming of age at the #OccupyNigeria protests, they were called many names. They were deemed irrelevant offline, they were regarded as a bunch of young people with phones and computers in their hands who had no better use for their time but to tweet and facebook their lives away. When they said they’d occupy Nigeria, they were laughed at. When they said they’d make enough noise the world would be forced to pay attention, they were called deluded. Then they did. They went on the streets across the federation. They birth new everlasting possibilities across new ad-hoc Freedom Parks. Bagura an otherwise unknown or at least forgotten part of the world came to the party when a tweet went “#Bagura has been occupied #OccupyNigeria.” Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Benin, Ibadan, Abuja, Lagos, Ilorin etc were all duly occupied. Some 32 cities across the world were occupied in a protest started by the erstwhile you-can-do-nothings. Washington, New York City, London, Dublin, Belgium, Finland, Ghana, South Africa[8] were amongst the cities and countries where the #OccupyNigeria demonstrations took place. Nigerians were united in their quest to say they’d had enough of the nonsense and bullshit of their government. I began to truly believe Nigeria’s President Jonathan must could suffering from at least doses of self delusion when he opined people were paid to protest. It was a classic statement from a man who has learned to make a mess of the best opportunities by doing his best to utter the most nonsensical statements[9].

They could have done things better by avoiding the alliance with the recognized Labour movement but how were they to know that the Labour leaders would sell out for small chops and handshakes?[10] Organised Labour failed them but they never failed themselves, they were betrayed but remained undeterred. Some lost their lives to this struggle. May their souls rest in peace. It is our desire that for as long as we can we will continue to defend what they fought for; their right to be heard, to matter and to count in the construction of the Nigerian agenda. I cannot make the same wish for the souls of those who killed them, I cannot wish that those who gave the order to have these protesters killed would ever have to rest in peace whether here now or here after. That is not my call to make, it is the call of universal justice and even as Nigeria’s law has refused to successfully convict these murderers, justice will find its way to their homes. Those alive are still thriving and their togetherness has found expression in other causes. These causes may not have had the attention of the world like the much more camera friendly protest grounds but they indeed are insignificant to the reality of my argument that the trend that sent Nigerians out to protest remains active. The core remains and a lot more people have joined the body. I’d dedicate the next chapter to the various efforts of these mostly young Nigerians who are defying the old order of nonchalance and leading the new agenda for a better-governed Nigeria. That our part of the world does not directly experience the light of the sun does not mean the sun has stopped to shine. The sun still shines, it will always shine and if we are patient enough to look beyond our nose, to break out of our mental contraptions, we’d indeed see that the shining lights of #OccupyNigeria are still shining. May be not as bright as the concentration of their force on one surface, say petrol taxes, but they still shine. Let me tell you about Nigeria’s illuminating force of change. The Illuminators.

2.4 Post January successes of #OccupyNigeria

This has largely been dominated by the communal efforts of the Illuminators to shine the light within. In 2012, Nigerians raised over $200,000 to meet the medical expenses of fellow citizens in critical need of medical help. I bet you know nothing of the many #SaveCitizens drive on Nigerian social media space where at regular intervals citizens raised funds ranging from about $13,000 to as much as $40,000. I don’t know how significant this sounds to you but it is significant where I come from. I had donors send money to me personally to help contribute to the accounts of the likes of Jude Osemeke. Please Google #SaveOke, #SaveJude, #SaveMusibaudeen to mention but a few. Needless to say these activities were hardly reported in the conventional media but it does not take away the fact that Nigeria’s Illuminators came together at different times last year to solve problems other than taking on the government for its bad policies. This new order was also at the forefront of ensuring that today we do not have a five thousand naira note. The Presidential spokesperson has indeed made direct and veiled references to them in his many attack-dog mentality driven articles.

The elements of the #OccupyNigeria movement were also on hand to speak for the people of Makoko when the Lagos State Government decided to evacuate them from their Venice-esque water surface abode. More recently, it is hard to deny the influence pulled by the movement to save some 1500 children in Nigeria’s Zamfara State. Tagged #SaveBagega, a campaign to bring attention to the endangered children of Nigeria’s lead poisoned Bagega community of Zamfara State.[11] Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan had since April last year promised to make the funds for the remediation of this community available. That had not been done until the 21st of January, 2013. The Illuminators started a deafening cry on the 22nd and within a space 48 hours, via several moves beyond social media by the various personalities involved in the campaign, the President yielded ground. He released the funds[12] for the process. When the reports came out in the conventional press, there was hardly any mention of the efforts of the several thousands of Nigerians who brought the issue to the fore but no one would care because this was all about the children in need.

This group of young people can of course do better and be better organized. They can engage better and be better refined. I am not convinced they are aware of all they have been able to accomplish in the past months but I am certainly glad they are not celebrating anything yet. For them, it appears the 2015 elections would define their essence and their generation. I have chosen to write about them as a third person because this is the view of someone who has been able to take a deep look at these activities over the months despite being a part and parcel of this movement.

The Illuminators can do a lot better than they are doing and it’d help for them to take a look at their own mirror. We want change so bad it sometimes beclouds our ability to see some things a lot more clearly. We would do better isolating issues rather than attacking persons. We will be better served defending values and principles rather than defending personalities. We must of course develop individual competences, be financially independent and know from the get go; the battle for the soul of Nigeria will not be exclusively won on social media. They must indeed build alliances and networks with conventional organisers. The quest for change in Nigeria should not be as though it is a competition between a generation and the other or between the old ways of getting things done against the new way.

We cannot excuse some mistakes on age. We are not exactly as young as our country wants us to feel. This is actually the reason www.naijateenz.com [13] was set up; to raise the bar by focusing on truly young people doing great things. Yes, we may have a geriatric class leading the youth arms of political parties and groups, but that is not for us to fall into the delusion that we are young. We are not. We must take better decisions, we must outgrow our excuses and we must do this expecting no gain whatsoever save for the opportunity to set our country on the path of true freedom, inclusive governance and everlasting prosperity.

3.0 Nigeria, Africa and the first Berlin Wall:

At the mention of the Berlin Wall, all of you here will naturally have your minds cast back to the era of the cold war. Yes, that chilly war brought about the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 that has since come down. There was a Berlin Wall before the literal one. The partition of Africa right here at the 1884-1885 Berlin conference. 128 years later, Africa continues to let these walls limit its potentials. Last year African governments moved the process that’d have facilitated a free trade area to 2017[14] thereby again postponing a major necessity in its quest for inclusive prosperity. The volume of intra-Africa trade currently hovers between 10 and 13 percent[15]. This means Africa as a country while not being a major player in the global game of trade has also refused to be a player in its own field. In some cases, it is harder for an African to get an entry visa to the United States and Europe than it is to get one to some other African countries. Imagine if America’s 50 states had 13 percent trade amongst themselves. Moldova is one of the least free countries in Europe economically and it is no surprise it is also about its poorest. We cannot create wealth by closing borders against ourselves. It becomes even harder to do that when we don’t even have readily available markets for our final products. Some would excuse the inadequate infrastructure as one reason trade amongst African countries is exceptionally on the low. The reverse is actually the case. Africa’s limited infrastructure is as a result of lack of trading activities. If Africa trades enough with itself, the infrastructures will rise on the bridges of regular trade.

Trade is a disincentive to war. We cannot continue to throw our empty bowls before the West and expect that we will attain prosperity on their charity. We must endure the pain and pleasure of earning our own wealth and prosperity, and enjoy the fruits of our own labour. Easy come easy go like the speed it takes to find money meant for aid in Africa in the private accounts of African politicians and their cronies.

As citizens, Africans must take it upon themselves to champion the path of the continent’s prosperity. The era of leaving it all in the hands of politicians must give way to the era of active African citizens. These ones must not only add their voices to their government’s agenda, they must create their own agendas. More than ever before, African youths have the wherewithal, the tools and the opportunities to drive change beyond doing the norm. Mass protests were a novelty, but with Tahrir Square almost taking a regular spot on our TV screens, the novelty is far fading. We must be looking at better ways of dictating the tune of Africa’s development.

Nigeria must wake up to its responsibilities. Nigeria has too much potential in it any failure on its part naturally draws a whole continent back. We cannot continue to be held down by our giant delusion of being the Giant of Africa. That will not feed the over 112 million poor souls in Nigeria.

3.1 In the end:

It is possible to have a country of many activists but it not possible to change a country solely on the efforts of activists. Supposedly ordinary citizens must take up the challenge if they want their destinies in their own hands. The era of depending solely on activists for the change we crave has since suffered the blow of oblivion. Activists especially in Nigeria are limited by politicization. It is easy for a government to claim activists are being sponsored by certain elements but it would be harder to claim the bulk of the citizenry is being sponsored if they all rise in demand for the change they need.

We want the best things of life for ourselves, our families and our country; we must be wiling to pay the price of building a truly democratic nation. Greatness is not offered on a platter of gold. It is a process that requires all of the good of our abilities, channeled at the right point in time and for the right purposes. We must pick our battles. We cannot afford to be distracted by every sound from the market. To do so would be to dissipate our energies over inconsequential matters.

The quest for a better Nigeria is not essentially about us but about coming generations. Many of us want quick results. Quick successes soon fade away except built on unshaken values and principles over time.

We must learn to use our supposed enemies to fight our own battles. There are times we will need them to open doors we cannot open just because we do not yet have the keys they have. If we care about the lives of our people and the people of our country, we must be prepared to work with even people we’d rather rot in jail. This is a country not a village. We cannot expect that only good people will be useful in our quest for change. If the clock is right twice a day, bad people I want to believe must have their own usefulness for good purposes. This has worked during some of our campaigns and it will work when deployed with the purpose in mind.

Active citizens are the future of Nigeria, not activists. Until we can call an army of Nigerian citizens especially its youths active citizens, we have not begun the process of truly deploying power. We may be influential today but we still do not have enough power to do a lot more good. That should be our focus. To have Nigeria in the hands of those who care, to take it away from a President like Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who thinks corruption is not the problem.[16] Today, the incentive is to steal from the national purse because there is no punishment whatsoever for corruption. Impunity is the order of the day. We all know this is not how to run a nation. Having said that we cannot just assume we will do a better job given the chance. We must try our hands at getting things done in our own little spaces. We must develop competence and capacity at the things we do. We must look to benchmark ourselves against the world because only then can we truly say we’d deliver a world class nation given the chance to lead. Whatever we do, we must never get carried away. It is indeed necessary to appreciate every step forward but we must not dwell on past successes because of a truth they are in the past.

I am speaking to myself as much as I am speaking to my fellow Nigerian citizens as much as I am speaking to you here in Berlin. If the world is a global village, a time would come when we’d come to accept the fact that as much as our cultures are vast and far apart, as much as our economies are a contrast from one another, we must as a people, as a generation answer the questions of tomorrow together. In a borderless world, our differences will not matter as much as what makes us one. Our differences at that time will only matter as much as they are useful as our source of strength. We don’t have to wait for a tomorrow we are not certain of when we can begin to build the bridges of that tomorrow today. Thank you Berlin for hosting me.

 

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