On the occasion of our nation’s 62nd Independence Day celebrations, I greet you all my fellow Nigerians and say happy Independence Day.
As we mark this day, I want us to specially celebrate two groups of people. First are our fallen heroes and those who are in the field defending our freedoms and way of life. For over a decade our nation has been at war and more often than not we forget the heroic sacrifices made daily by our men and women in uniform.
They wage war that we may have peace. Our troops have defended other nations, maintained the peace in far flung lands and today have the task of defending our land.
The second group are the Nigerian masses who are suffering in silence. They stay silent that we may have peace. They suffer untold hardships as our economy gets worse, as job opportunities disappear, as our security situation worsens and as food prices escalate.
These two sets of people are the true heroes of our nation. They maintain the silence of the grave in the face of hardship. For one set it is the demand and dictate of their jobs as soldiers and for the other set it is because they have lost their voices. They have been cowed by an unfair and unjust society. Nobody speaks for them.
As we then approach the 2023 general elections it becomes important for us to remember these two sets of people and ensure our conversations never depart from them. We must focus on the issues. We must sustain the issues. We must address the issues so that their labours and suffering are not in vain.
For too long our politics has been dominated by a vocal minority. Working in concert with our politicians they choose and determine those who lead us at all levels of government in our nation. They trade their support and votes for money, wrappers, tee shirts, face caps and food. They are bused from different communities to huge rallies and dressed up in the colours of those who pay them. The next day they wear different colours as another group transports them to a different rally to support a different party.
Those who rule us show us videos of these people to show the level of support they have in different communities and for too long we have accepted this as proof of acceptance and popularity even though we know otherwise.
As I prepare to start campaigning across Nigeria, there are those who have suggested I do the same. They have said it is the only way to get the support of the grassroots. They have said you can never win without doing this. They tell me I can’t win without these people. I have thought long and hard and know that this is not a price I am prepared to pay.
This will never be me. What then makes me or the African Democratic Congress different from the rest? I will rather address an empty room than a paid crowd.
This has happened for too long because the majority have stayed silent and continue to stay silent in the face of the near collapse of our nation. On this Independence Day, we must remember the sacrifices our forefathers made that we may be free from colonial rule. We must remember those who died on both sides of the Nigerian Civil war that our nation may remain united.
We must remember the poor masses who mostly live on one meal a day. We must remember our troops who are fighting a difficult war. For if we were to do this, the silent majority will become the vocal majority. Apathy to Nigeria and politics is no longer an option. The I don’t care attitude that says my vote won’t count is no longer an option. The excuse that my voice won’t be heard is no longer an option.
Your country needs you. Our troops need your support. Millions of poor Nigerians need your voice and your vote. I also need you to join this Rescue Mission to save our country.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. God bless you all.