By Dele Sobowale
Once in a long time, a columnist comes across an idea whose time has come. In October this year, I was invited to be the Media Consultant and mobilizer for one such initiative – which many Nigerians might be forgiven for being sceptical about its eventual success. But, after talking to many of its leaders, I am convinced that it is the right thing and at the right time in our history. Let me now yield the space to the leader of the COMPATRIOTS.
Let Us Join Hands to Re-Invent Nigeria:
TEXT OF PRESS STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY OBONG VICTOR ATTAH
1. On behalf of The Compatriots, I welcome members of the media to our maiden Press Conference which is essentially to unveil the forum to the Nigerian public. The media is certainly major stakeholders in the conduct of public affairs of our dear country.
As members of the fourth estate of the realm you fulfil the vital role of the guardians of democracy and defenders of the public interest. The Compatriots therefore look forward to fruitful partnerships with members of the press in their quest to re-invent Nigeria into a united, strong, secured, prosperous and democratic country where peace and justice reign.
2. Nation-building is a process and as Frantz Fanon puts it “each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it, in relative capacity”. It is in this context that a group of well-meaning and eminent Nigerians cutting across regional, ethnic, religious, ideological and political affiliations have decided to come together to midwife an initiative aimed at promoting national cohesion, good governance, peace and prosperity.
3. No one is likely to dispute the fact that Nigeria is passing through a critical phase in its history as a single political entity. The problem is not merely a tribal, religious, regional or class issue. The magnitude of our current challenges or crises is self-evident even to the most hopeful of optimists
4. On a daily basis, Nigerians face crippling waves of insecurity; acute and chronic shortage of electricity supply; lack of good or adequate social and economic infrastructure, especially healthcare, potable water supply and transport systems; a broken educational system with over twenty million of our children out of school; skyrocketing inflation; weak industrial and manufacturing base; an unproductive but thriving national bourgeoisie; poor financial services; a corrupt, bankrupt and riotous political class; a brutal and ineffectual military-security complex; a creaky and slothful judicial system; a dysfunctional and self-serving public service at all levels; elephantine corruption; mind-boggling cost of governance; spiraling unemployment and grinding poverty; and, worse still, a corrosive and catastrophic collapse of moral and ethical norms among other staggering failures.
“Nation-building is a process and as Frantz Fanon puts it “each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative capacity.”
5. This certainly is not a nice national portrait to sketch however one might wish to look at it. None of us here can deny the evidence of our own eyes. The question now therefore is how can we change this horrific narrative! The Compatriots are convinced that Nigeria possesses the human and material resources to develop and prosper as a cohesive and vibrant political and by economic community. We believe therefore that the need for fundamental social and political reforms has become urgent and imperative, failing which the Nigerian national project could slide from stagnation to decline or collapse.
6. A starting point for the rebuilding of our state, the economy and society would doubtlessly require a new mode of political engagement by the elite and the masses alike. Without this, it is hard to see how we can avoid the false dawns of our recent, and not- so-recent, past. Nigeria clearly needs new modes of political practices – a new kind of politics that has the people as its focus; its chief purpose being the material and spiritual well-being of its citizens with emphasis focused on wealth creation, popular participation, social justice and equity, environmental renewal as well as moral regeneration
“The Compatriots are convinced that Nigeria possesses the human and material resources todevelop and prosper as a cohesive and vibrant political and economic community.”
7.History has shown that multi-nationality, multi-ethnicity or even multi-racial and religious composition can be turned into a source of strength by a nation. Members of this group have decided that, though tribe and tongue may differ, we do not have to sing discordant tunes. We have therefore resolved, inthe spirit of our National Anthem, to “Arise” to dedicate the remaining days of our lives to the service of Nigeria with the vision to re-invent a new and betterNigeria for every Nigerian with the following core national values:
a. Strong and united Nigeria.
b. Equity, justice and fairness for every citizen.
c. Realization of full potentialities of every Nigerian.
d. Protection of the rights of every Nigerian wherever he/she decides to reside.
e. Primacy of peaceful co-existence between and among Nigerian communities.
f. A proper sense of nationhood and common nationality.
8.Our name, THE COMPATRIOTS, was derived from our national anthem and the drivers of the project are:
I. His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah – Chairman
II. Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed – Deputy Chairman
III. Mr. Tom Iseghohi – Chief Operating Officer
9.In pursuit of its mission, the group envisages towork with other well meaning Nigerians, politicians, the academia, professionals, community leaders, indeed with all relevant social groups to reinventNigeria. The strategic objectives of the group are:
“To play the role of a neutral Honest Broker and to provide a platform for discussion of all relevant local grievances of Nigerian communities in the context of Nigeria’s collective survival and development.”
a.To mobilize the best intellectual resources in addressing the key challenges that are hindering the development of Nigeria as a strong and viable political and economic community.
b.To promote a network of concerned Nigerians towards assisting in the improvement of governance at all levels as well as in the provision of social services.
c.To involve Nigerian women at all levels and in all aspects of the activities of The Compatriots in order to become a role model for gender equality in Nigeria
d.To cultivate and assist in mentoring and leadership development initiatives so as to nurture younger generations into the mainstream of the Nigerian political economy.
e.To assist in the development of the culture of socialaccountability in the Nigerian social formation with a view to expanding the political space, which will incubate harmonious partnerships between governments and the civil society.
f.To play the role of a neutral Honest Broker and to provide a platform for discussion of all relevant local grievances of Nigerian communities in the context of Nigeria’s collective survival and development.
g.To provide a compass for good governance and establish guard rails to prevent any individual or group of people from derailing the entire nation.
10.We have resolved that Nigeria can be, and must be transformed from “An Aspiring Nation” to “A Great Nation”. In the process there will be need forreconciliation, there will also be meetings with top government officials, community leaders, the many aggrieved parties and particularly those who aspire to lead us in the future, to work closely to secure the future of the nation.
11.We urge you members of the press and the generality of our citizens particularly youths and women to support the work of The Compatriots. Long Live A United, Harmonious, Secure and Prosperous Federal Republic of Nigeria.
INVITATION TO ALL NIGERIANS
“An invasion of armies can be resisted; but not an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo, 1802-1885.
Today, Nigerians are experiencing the horrors of horrible politics without principles. Irrespective of the outcome, majority of Nigerians will still feel that those elected don’t represent them; and will not serve their interests. We cannot continue like this.
Instead of giving way to despair, join the COMPATRIOTS to build a better Nigeria. If interested in joining, just call me. I am always at your service.