THE CHOICE IN 2023: A Speech Given in Support of The Peter Obi Presidential Candidature

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Barr. Anthony Olisa Okolo

Great Nigerians,

We believe that the issues in the 2023 national electioncut across ethnic, religious, and party lines.  No nation in history has ever survived the multiple security threats, depravations, discrimination, and corruption that has become the hallmark of today’s Federal Government. All around the Federation, the flower of our youth is paying the price for our government’s poor decisions.  

We are suffering crippling fuel scarcities, a crashing Naira and a rising double digit inflation. The police donot protect its citizens and our universities are shut due to an un-ending strike action. Insecurity is the watch word everywhere, yet our rulers say we should trust them to keep the peace.  I wonder who among the many who have died in killings, train massacres, or at Owo, at the hands of sponsored bandits thinks there is a peace that should be maintained? There can be no real peace while one Nigerian is dying or when groups of indigenous nationals are stripped of their rights.

It is time we ask ourselves if we still know why we fought for independence. Are we living the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers of this great nation? Will Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Awolowo and Isaac Adaka Boro recognize the shallow and weak people we have become?  This path is not the one that they meant for us, and we must correct course.

Democracy as an ideal that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.” Democracy as an ideal, can only be achieved with equity, justice, and fairness as its foundations. In the context of our Federation, where our futures have been decided for us for so long, by a corrupt military establishment without the consensus of the people, these virtues are even more important.  

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We shall decide in the next election: Whether we structure our nation on the principle that the most valuable resource, we have for our positive development is the People, and therefore to build a nation that worksfor and achieves our beliefs for the future of our people, Or whether we continue our downward spiral into oligarchy, where the same recycled political rouges of our inglorious past, will select themselves as overlords over us. Sadly, there are many of us, like sheep, who despite the fact that they too feel this biting hardship, have embarked on this downward course.

The old guard of politicians have nothing to offer us.  They are old, sick in mind and body, out of touch.  Their rhetoric is empty, and their actions never match theirflowery words.  It is time to move beyond their hold on power and to seek a new beginning. We must end this system.  

Young people are showing that we are up to the task.  This new generation is filled with the spirit of “NAIJA”, which runs through the veins and arteries of our people.  This spirit allows our people to proudly harness our similarities for good, but not without respecting the differences which make each indigenous nationality unique.  To do things differently, we must destroy old myths sold to us by this corrupt military establishmentand their civilian successors.  

Everywhere Ndigbo sojourn, we pay fair price for the lands where we live and work and have committed all our resources to building estates, towns, and markets all across the Federation.  Like every decent and honest Nigerian, we too have everything to gain in a Federationthat enjoys peace, stability, and prosperity.  It is this yearning for a prosperous, just and equitable Nigeria that works for everyone, not just the fortunate few, that informs our desire for a national rebirth, led by men and women of principle.  

This is why we are now presenting to you – citizens of Nigeria – His Excellency Peter Obi.  He represents all the possibilities that we hope for our Federation.  He will break this myth that Nigeria’s diversity cannot be harnessed to create a new vision for ALL of US.  He is mindful of the national rebirth that is necessary to return Nigeria to all its constituent parts.  He is ONE OF US.

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ONE OF US who will break this myth that Nigeria’s diversity cannot be harnessed to create a new vision for Nigeria, one that focuses more on developing our vast human capital and focuses less on being the errand boys to foreign powers.  

ONE OF US who will allow the press its freedoms to report and criticise in promotion of free speech. 

ONE OF US who will diversify the economy to enhance our internal trade.  Building seaports and transport links across the Federation to allow goods produced in one part of the Federation to be traded wherever it is needed, quickly, safely, and cost-efficiently.  

ONE OF US who will support the efficient distribution of wealth to the people; to ensure that an honest wage is paid for an honest day’s work, and that the farmer gets fair value for their sweat, the teacher for their vocation and the civil servant for their duty.

ONE OF US who will be keen to push Police reforms, toend SARS and other quasi-legal security outfits by focusing on the welfare of the police and increasing the quality of the force through training and education.  

Ndigbo have faith in you. And we know that deep down, you have faith in us. We know you will accept the best we have to offer at this time.  Together, let us show the world that we have the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our destiny, each at our own pace.

We call on you to come out in numbers, and work with us to take our country back. We must have the courage to say to those who do not believe in equity and fairness for all that, “There is a point beyond which they must not advance. There is something going on in the affairs of the world, in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

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We have a duty to end this system and to start a new history. North, South, East and West, let us join hands together, to build together, each bringing our own special flavour, our own special spirit of NAIJA into this endeavour. Only then can we preserve for our children this, beautiful hope for the black man on earth. This amazing and beautiful conglomeration of African nations that we call – The Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you very much.

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