DAYS to his being sworn in we think President Goodluck Jonathan should remember the stirring speech he made last September while declaring his intention to run for office. In his speech, he cut the image of the President for the poor, or what others may call the peoples’ President.
Some lines from the Eagles Square declaration speech may help the President understand the task ahead of him, and the challenges he has promised to tackle decisively.
“I was not born rich, and in my youth, I never imagined that I would be where I am today, but not once did I ever give up. I was raised by my mother and father with just enough money to meet our daily needs. In my early days in school, I had no shoes, no school bags. I carried my books in my hands but never despaired; no car to take me to school but I never despaired.
There were days I had only one meal but I never despaired. I walked miles and crossed rivers to school every day but I never despaired. I did not have power, I did not have generators, I studied with lanterns, but I never despaired,” he said in the most moving part of his speech.
He recounted his past, but millions of Nigerian children are in similar or worse situations today. They will believe they are lucky to have a President who has experienced what they are feeling. They have high expectations they will scale the obstacles of life through policies that will remember the poor, who are getting poorer by the day and breeding still poorer versions of themselves.
Many families do not have resources for a meal. Parents, who are out of work, cannot raise their children, who have to join the labour market early in life, unskilled, without possibilities of a better life. Electricity is still elusive, more than four decades after the President was raised in darkness. Nigerians may not despair, they are desperate.
Will the President remember his story while in office? Will his policies reflect efforts to create a better Nigeria? Will he remember the promises he made in that speech and the symbolisms he drew from his childhood?
We remind him again, “My story symbolises my dream for Nigeria. The dream that any Nigerian child from Kaura – Namoda to Duke Town; from Potiskum to Nsukka, from Isale-Eko to Gboko will be able to realise his God-given potentials, unhindered by tribe or religion and unrestricted by improvised political inhibitions.
My story holds out the promise of a new Nigeria. A Nigeria built on the virtues of love and respect for one another, on unity, on industry, on hard work and on good governance.”
He promised to: “fight for justice, for all Nigerians to have access to power, qualitative and competitive education, health reforms, to create jobs, to fight corruption, to protect all citizens and fight for your rights.”
The promises no longer echo in Eagles Square, but they are etched on the minds of everyone who thinks President Jonathan will make a difference in the lives of Nigerians. He promised it, he must remember to provide it.