Let me congratulate the founders of TeleVision Nigerian on their 5th anniversary. I note with satisfaction that you have sustained your medium for this long which testifies to the courage of your conviction and the boldness of your vision. For you to have sustained your online medium with a base in the United Kingdom is evidence of the increasing confidence of Nigerians especially those in the diaspora in global affairs in the new era of new technologies. 


Let me also thank you for the honour of your award to me for my modest national service in the past. Even more gratifying for me is your offer that I should present this short address to mark the occasion. For both gestures, I remain immensely grateful to the organizers.  


Your gesture to recognize the contributions of some of our present crop of leaders is most commendable. Our present national challenges remain daunting and matters of concern. Yet it is also proper that we acknowledge outstanding efforts by our leaders. The awardees at this event are among those who are leading the charge in the face of daunting obstacles and challenges. Therefore, to my fellow illustrious awardees, I extend my sincere congratulations. I hope that this award will inspire us all to even greater effort in the days ahead. Our fatherland deserves even more from all of us. In all our endeavours, we must not fail to acknowledge that this nation has given so much benefit and opportunity to us all in one way or the other. 


I consider the theme of today’s award address, “Nigeria, Our Nigeria: Facing the Realities and the Future” most apt. In recent times, our media space and consciousness have been burdened with concern about the future of our nation. Our citizens are justifiably worried and even overwhelmed by anxiety over our current realities. In virtually every corner of our nation, lives and limbs are hardly secure. Our homes are unsafe. Our hitherto peaceful villages have become killing fields. People who set out on our highways on innocent journeys are unsure they will get to their destination. Our citizens are frequently kidnapped and held to ransom. Those in captivity have their freedom traded with agents of darkness for cash almost like slaves in their own country.


Insecurity is a matter of crime control. A determined and motivated police force can overcome insecurity with proper motivation. But there is a greater fear. It is the fear of national survival as a corporate entity. In some parts of the country, the forces of separatism have become weaponized. In some other parts of the country, fierce non-state forces are waging outright wars against the Nigerian state. Consequently, we have active duty troops engaged in combat against an assortment of terrorists, insurgents and bandits in many parts of the country. Our nation is both at peace and at war. This is a strange and difficult situation.


The political elite has retreated into an ethnic and regional mode of thinking. The language of national conversation has acquired a tone of division and even hate. Therefore, the challenge of restoring a sense of national unity and solidarity has become very urgent. 


As leaders, we are confronted with a fierce urgency. I recognize the right of all Nigerians to assert their rights for fairness, equity and justice. The clamour for a more just federation cannot be faulted. But the first condition for justice to prevail is the existence of the nation itself. If we allow the nation to implode in a series of violent crises, our best dreams of freedom, justice and equity will go up in smoke. Therefore we need to reunite the nation once more. We need to restore the sense of community and fellow feeling among our people. We urgently need to restore the mutual trust that our founding fathers used as the foundation stone of the nation.


We need to recreate that nation in which Mallam Umaru Altine, a Northerner, was elected the first Mayor of the city of Enugu in 1952. We need to return to that nation where an Igbo man once won a municipal election in Kano. We need to return our children to that nation where in 1951 a prominent Igbo political leader won an election into the Western House at Ibadan. It is a nation in which the Yoruba cab operator from Osogbo ran a thriving business in Port Harcourt; the Fulani herdsman from Damaturu could settle and raise a family in Umuahia or the Igbo spare parts dealer could travel from Nnewi to settle in Zungeru. The Kalabari fisherman could traverse the creeks from Bayelsa to Delta and from there to the watersides of Ondo and Lagos. Today, that fabric of unity is threatened by a toxic politics of division, mutual suspicion and fear.


I believe that we can rebuild the nation along the lines of greater inclusiveness. Nigeria has always functioned more peacefully and made greater progress each time the national leadership has given every Nigerian a sense of belonging. But whenever Nigerians have felt alienated from the commonwealth, bitterness and acrimony have created division and stagnation.  Near anarchy has often followed. We need to make national inclusiveness a permanent habit of governance in order to make sustainable progress an assumed reality. Democratic succession should not disrupt our national progress. Inclusive administrations should not be followed by clannish and sectional regimes. That is part of what has been setting us back in spite of commendable smooth democratic succession.


I believe that our political leadership can take on the great task of diversity management. We are blest that we have a homegrown natural diversity as part of our national character and history. Other great nations of the world have prospered and waxed into greatness using the power of diversity. The United States remains a global example. The United Kingdom, through its colonial expansion all over the world, acquired diversity and has since utilized it to grow its economy and society. 


Other economically successful nations are seeking to create a more diverse demography in order to accelerate their greatness.  Canada and Ireland are some of the readiest more recent examples. Both nations are throwing open their doors to persons of diverse nationalities who can contribute to their development. What Canada and Ireland are seeking through generous immigration quotas is what Nigeria has in abundance as a natural endowment. Our political challenge is how to manage this endowment to create an even more peaceful and prosperous nation for our citizens.


I am hopeful that our present challenges will soon come to pass. My optimism is founded on a simple observation. In spite of the tempers that have lately risen and the fire of separatism in parts of the country, most Nigerians remain optimistic. The majority have not lost faith in the nation. Every ordinary Nigerian you come across is desirous that the leaders restore order, security and normalcy. They want a sense of security to return to the nation they love. They want to travel to familiar places in safety. They crave the love and communal fellowship of familiar neighbours. They seek to take a night bus from Owerri to Abuja with no fear of what the road holds. They want to set out from Yangoa to Maiduguri and get there in one piece. Yes, Nigerians in Calabar want to travel to Jos and Kano without their bus being waylaid by thugs and bandits. 


As a Nigerian, I share the dreams of our citizens for a better life in a secure, united and free nation. Like every Nigerian, I seek a nation in which every man, woman and child can look forward to a life of fulfillment and a future of life with hope. Our challenge is precisely one of leadership. As a democracy, we have the unique opportunity to renew our national leadership through democratic succession. Once again, an opportunity stares us in the face as we look forward to the 2023 general elections.


I count myself as among a lucky few. Nigeria has given me the opportunity to serve in capacities where I have gained insight into the workings of government and politics. I would not like to waste those experiences. It is my hope to deploy them to the greater good of our nation and its citizens. Like some in my generation, I feel indicted by the current challenges but I refuse to be crushed by the burden of previous collective guilt. I also feel inspired by those experiences. Therefore, in the countdown to 2023, I intend to work with others to seek urgent solutions towards a future of hope and optimism for our many compatriots who suffer today. My interest in seeking the presidency of our nation in 2023 is fired by deep and genuine concerns about the future of this nation we all love. 


I have an abiding optimism that these hard times, too, shall soon come to pass. Beyond the cloud of present hardship and bloody upheaval, I can see in the horizon a land of hope and prosperity for all Nigerians. I seek to be in the vanguard of the journey towards that new Nigeria of hope and prosperity for all. Together, we shall rediscover our destiny. Together, we shall re-unite our peoples. Together, we shall rescue our land from the forces of violence and insecurity. And together, as one people, united under God, we shall all live in a land where prosperity and happiness shall be the entitlement of all. God bless Nigeria and all those who live in it and wish her well. 


I thank the organizers for the generosity of their invitation. I thank you all for the honour of your audience.


God Bless Nigeria.