Fellow compatriots, friends, brothers and sisters, on behalf of myself, family and CUPS members both at home and around the world, I write to wish you all a very Happy Eid Al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice). May the Almighty God accept our sacrifice and fervent prayers for the salvation and betterment of our fatherland. Amen.
This Eid al-Adha came to us at a time when our country is facing so many challenges, mainly at home, with a few ones from abroad. The fact remains true that our people at home are going through immense hardships. Due to high cost of living, life has become unbearable for many of our people. Some of the stories of abject poverty reaching us are so heart wrenching to publish.
The challenges that we face outside of Nigeria such as the fall of crude oil price and the rise of foreign currencies against the Naira are not of our making. These are factors determined by global market forces. However, ills like the gross mismanagement of our economy, incompetence, looting of national wealth, tribalism, nepotism, religious bigotry, and damn right terrorists acts like those perpetrated by Boko Haram, Niger Delta Avengers, IPOB, MASSOB, MEND etc are all of our making, albeit committed by a tiny wicked misguided minority.
Despite the major challenges eluded to above, recent events have also shown that we as a nation have the capacity to mobilise both our human and natural resources to not only save our country from peril, but also make her one of the greatest countries on the planet.
In the month of June, we saw how for the first time in decades, 70% of the federal, states and local governments financial allocations came from non-oil sectors. This means that our efforts to diversify the economy and reduce dependence on the oil sectors have started working. Agriculture is the key, but we have also seen encouraging signs in the mineral exploration sector. Federal, states and local governments, including private enterprises, must pursue this diversification vision until we free Nigeria from total dependance on the oil sectors. There are many countries that don’t have a single drop of oil and have only a fraction of our human capital, yet they are far more prosperous than we are. We must fix this anomaly.
On security, we have all witnessed how the relentless onslaught on Boko Haram terrorists by the collective efforts of the Nigerian military (Army, Airforce and Navy) under the guidance of a new no-nonsense Commander in Chief, President Muhamamdu Buhari. This collective effort has yielded spectacular results in less than a year. The Haramites have been decapitated to oblivion. We are also witnessing how the new kids on the block called the Niger Delta Avengers are being made to meet their Waterloo in Operation Crocodile Smile.
On war against corruption, as of June 2016, over $3.1 billion (N1.085 trillion) was recovered from grandeur looters within just six months. More previously untouchable individuals like former military generals, former ministers, and other senior government officials are being charged and detained in prisons than ever before. Without shadow of a doubt, there is absolute determination by his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, to fight corruption and recover all looted funds. As long as agencies like the EFCC, ICPC, DSS, Police and the Ministry of Justice are discharging their duties appropriately, We will bring corruption to the barest minimum.
Ironically, it is this unprecedented war against corruption and terrorism, and attempt to diversify our economy that is earning Nigeria respect, and President Muhammadu Buhari getting a hero’s welcome and standing ovation wherever he goes around the world. Suddenly Nigerians are being respected outside Nigeria. Meanwhile foreign investors like the Chinese, Indians, Australians and the Russians are coming to invest in our infrastructure, mineral exploration, and defence.
Without delving into any tribal, religious and partisan politics, it is fair to say that despite the challenges outlined above, the Federal Government is reasonably playing its part of the “Change” deal, even though it still needs to do a lot more in the areas of poverty alleviation.
Now, how about we the masses who espoused for change by voting this government into power, what exactly are we doing collectively and as individuals to consolidate this change? The gospel truth is that we have been sleeping in slumber for far too long. Voting Buhari’s government into power is half the deal. We need to wake up, change our BAD ways, and take responsibility for the destiny of our country.
During the national re-orientation campaign tagged “Change Begins With Me”, which was launched last Thursday at the Presidency, President Buhari made the following pertinent points:
“Before you ask ‘where is the change they promised us’, you must first ask ‘what have I done to be part of the change for the greater good of society.”
The President also said,
“If you have not seen the change in you, you cannot see it in others or even the larger society.”
For the avoidance of doubt, we the masses need to change the way we conduct every aspect of our lives. I will try to outline few relevant points below:
1. Family as the basis of society.
Starting from family level, which is the basis of any civilised human society, we must take full responsibility for the upkeep of our wives and children. This means working hard to generate wealth to pay for food, clothes, shelter, medicine, transport, education, and other life essentials. Reprehensible practices like “Baby factories” and “Almajiri” are not only cruel, they are destructive to our communities, and must therefore stop. It is a crime against humanity to bring children into this world, who we cannot look after, and who end up having no sense of identity and belonging and our society.
2. Insatiable appetite for consuming foreign goods.
Over the years, we in Nigeria have cultivated this calamitous habit of consuming what we don’t produce. We have insatiable appetite for foreign made goods more than any other country on the planet. This significantly depletes our foreign currency reserve, devalues the Naira, and undermines our economy. We must learn to consume made in Nigeria goods or keep enriching producer nations forever, while we remain poor.
3. Attitude to work.
Our attitude to work is appalling! It is only in Nigeria where government employees show up at work anytime they like and leave anytime they like. Others only show up at work to collect their salaries at the end of the month. This is wholly unacceptable. We will never be able to build a vibrant prosperous nation with this attitude to work. Like all civlised nations, we must go to work on time, work conscientiously, and leave only after working hours.
4. Attitude towards corruption.
Our attitude towards corruption is even more disastrous. This is why corruption has become a cancer that is rapidly killing us. Many of us want quick fixes, and the finer things in life, yet we lack either the skills or hard work needed to acquire such finer things. The end result is that such people engage in looting of public funds, armed robbery, and drugs peddling. Living in contentment within our means is another way of changing ourselves for the better.
5. We are docile in exposing crimes.
We Nigerians are notoriously docile! We see bad things being committed around us by a very few, yet we lack the courage to report it to the authorities. If we want real change in our societies, we must report criminality whenever we see it. The use of Smarthphones is now pervasive in our society. Using your Smartphone to capture video, audio and images of an incidence for forwarding to relevant authorities is not rocket science. If all the criminals are made aware that somebody may be recording their criminality and reporting them, the level of crimes in our communities will be significantly cut down.
6. We have poor level of participation in democratic processes.
Our participation in democratic processes and good governance is also appalling. It is for this reason that we have criminal gangsters everywhere in Nigerian politics, from the National Assembly to the local government councils. These fraudsters enact policies that are inimical to our very existence as a nation. Their main priority is to enrich themselves and their families, escape justice for the crimes they committed, and perpetually remain in power. Today, Nigeria is a nation of over 180 million people. Amazingly enough, we are being held to ransom by corrupt individuals numbering not up to 10,000! To change this absurd situation, we must all strive to participate in democratic processes, human rights activism, and good governance.
7. Poor attitude towards education.
Poor attitude towards education is one of the most devastating areas affecting our nation. While previous successive governments systematically neglected our educational systems to the point of dilapidation, the same government officials looted our financial resources only to send their children to foreign universities to get the best of education. Meanwhile corruption by both officials and students is ravaging the already comatose educational system. Some University authorities divert funds meant for building lecture theatres, classes, laboratories etc. Meanwhile morally bankrupt lecturers insist on sleeping with their female students just to pass them in exams. The end result of all this shenanigan is that we have graduates from Nigerian universities who can neither speak nor write proper English. Make no mistake about it, without a sound educational system that produces graduates in par with the rest of the world, we will never be able to compete and survive in a global economy.
There are many more issues that need addressing, to make us a a prosperous nation. However, the above 7 points suffice for the purpose of this Eid message.
EID SPIRIT OF SHARING.
Fellow compatriots, today being the Festival of Sacrifice when Muslims slaughter animals for eating and sharing, I appeal to our Muslim brothers and sisters to share their Eid Al-Adha food/meat with our Christian brethren, neighbours, and all those disadvantaged people in our communities.
By sharing our food and festivities, we would be hitting two birds with one stone.
First of all, we would be promoting the true spirit of the Eid Al-Adha, as practised by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Peace and Blessings of God be upon him. Secondly, by sharing our food and festivities, we would be healing the rifts in our communities. It shows that despite our religious, political, and tribal differences, we are actually one people that share the same destiny.
Once more, Happy Eid Al-Adha to you and your beloved families. May the Almighty God accept our sacrifice and prayers. May HE bring unity, peace, progress, and prosperity to our fatherland. Amen.
May God bless Nigeria and Nigerians. Amen.
Dr. Idris Ahmed.