It was not an easy thing to bring back this enigma from the dead, meanwhile He ain’t dead. Some people just have refused to remain dead given the way they impacted the earth like a mighty colossus. His historic speech given 45 years ago on the 28th of August 1963 was made alive as Barrack Obama gave his victory speech few hours after he was declared winner of the 2008 Presidential Elections.
Coincidentally, few months after that speech in 1963, another nation (Nigeria), full of great potential was making its way to becoming a Republic, thereby beginning its journey towards Nationhood. How can I qualify Martin Luther as a Nigerian? Very hard, for it will take the relentless passion of a Gani Fawehinmi, the doggedness of a Dora Akunyili, the nationalistic approach of Enahoro , the proclamation of hope of an Abiola, and the visionary and selfless leadership of Obafemi Awolowo to mimic such a man so great. But then I had to journey down to the country of imagination amidst the rubbles of the Jos crises, in the midst of bloodied bodies and hopes; the unending tribunal meetings that should have championed a new nation, and the silent…. the underlying questions that challenge our quest for nationhood. Martin bellows in the characteristic passion…
I am happy to join you today a speech I would have loved to read on a podium in the creeks of the Niger- Delta region. It would have gone down in history as the greatest demonstration for independence in the history of our nation. For though we fought for colonial independence, we are still fighting ourselves today in trying to define the kind of nation we wanted in the first place. But I know there are more than capable Nigerians to do that. We have fought the military, we mustn’t give up at any time now.
Forty – eight years ago, great nationalists, upon whose symbolic aspirations we stand today, declared open the fight for independence. This momentous quest came as a great beacon of light, hoping that by governing ourselves we might entrench the foundations for an egalitarian society.
Even today, the dreams of our forefathers still remains- a vision so high. Do not think by shifting the goal posts from 1990 to 2000, and to 2010 and 2020, we will achieve what we are looking for. I have never met Obama, not even his father. But I was glad that one man stood in the position to bring and deliver the promises of 45 years. The dreams of Nigeria can be achieved, but not by people who are tired of dreaming, but by people who are ignorant enough of the limitations and distractions of a lofty dream.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. The present drop in crude prices is making us face the reality of a diversified economy. The continued trends of maladministration have raised a bunch of cynical and dispassionate Nigerians. I almost thought Obama was not contesting for the Nigerian presidency with the way the American election gripped Nigerians like a positive virus.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. We must seek to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “unity and faith; peace and progress.” That one day, the national flag will not remain a lie to our identity, but a true reflection of our worth.
I have a dream, that one day Northerners and Southerners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood, without one suffering for the benefit of the other.
I have a dream that people will contest in this nation and they will not be judged by the tint of their tribe but by the content of their character
I have a dream that one day even the state of Plateau, a state sweltering with the heat of electoral unrest today, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, even on the streets of Lagos, the Nation’s military, will serve the citizens and not assault the people they were supposed to protect. I remembered the way my bones cringed in the grave when I saw Odi and the other villages levelled to rubbles in the wake of militants and military face-offs. I wonder if there would have been loud cries, if the father of the lady beaten by naval ratings were not a retired colonel.
I have a dream, that one day Governors and Councillors will be sworn-in, who genuinely will have the interest of the electorates at heart and not pleasing several political interests, Godfathers and tribes. I have that dream, and it is clear in my mind- that one day people will contest on the sheer strength of principles and strategy and not dance to the drumbeats of godfatherism.
I have a dream, that one day parents will not draw the boundary map of the nation, for their children when they want to marry. That time comes closely, when the citizenship of Nigeria, becomes more important than tribes, even state of origins.
That dream in NOT going to come alive, I see it already, it is already happening. It may not be on the pages of papers, it may not be as celebrated as corruption today, but one day, it will.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that kept my dream alive in America. A people will arise. They will choose to vote and not complain. They will live by the law they want reflected in the Nigerian dream. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that one day, the this Giant will stand to its position.
Let New Nigerian spirit spread from the campuses to councils!
Let New Nigerian spirit spread from the creeks of the Niger-Delta to the dusty plains of Maiduguri!
But not only that; let New Nigerian spirit spread right from inside Aso Rock!
Let New Nigerian spirit spread from institutions and companies to the international communities!
And when this happens, we will not run, when speak it, sing it, blog it, make it spread like a potent wave of economic gain. From the offices to every village, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, when it will not be Muslim or Christian; neither will it be north, east or west, it will be like we were passionately cheering to win the 2010 World Cup. In those moments nothing matters, we are simply- Nigerian!