Saturday, December 18, 2010
Our Time Has Come to Rescue Nigeria
By Dele Momodu
Our National Chairman,
Members of the National Executive Committee (NEC),
Other Party Officials,
Our friends and supporters,
Members of Team Dele Momodu,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
Today marks a historic moment not just in my political career but in my life as a whole. God indeed works in mysterious ways. Tomorrow, December 19, 2010 will mark the 18th anniversary of my wedding which uncharacteristically was attended by Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN who was never known to socialize. Is it not strange and amazing, that today I am standing to declare for the political party founded by this great Nigerian? More still, is it not stranger that the National Chairman of this party fought one of his greatest battles as a lawyer for the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who lived very close to this venue on Gbemisola Street some years ago?
The story of my life is not complete without its constant romance with the supernatural. I was born in a church and named Joseph. I dream big. And it was my dream of a better Nigeria that propelled me into taking a plunge into the murky waters of Nigerian politics. I had looked all around me, I had written thousands of essays, I had been involved in social activism from my undergraduate days, yet I noticed that things were going from bad to worse and our country was sliding perilously. There was no question in my mind that Nigeria has all it takes to be among the leading nations of the world. Our land is overflowing with milk and honey but there is little or none for the ordinary Nigerian to drink or lick. Our political landscape is littered with misfits. For a country that has produced some of the brightest brains on the face of the earth, it was both a physical and psychological torture to watch the nation fail in the hands of our "professional politicians."
I stand here today, grateful to God that a day like this has come. For me, this marks the beginning of a new order of things in our collective struggle to rescue Nigeria. My mission as a technocrat in politics is to rekindle our hope in the possibility of a new Nigeria that works. Today, I stand here knowing that my story is a part of the larger Nigerian story and that the need to build a new country out of the present rubbles must not be considered a personal ambition but a national assignment by every one seated here today in this room and the many more millions of Nigerians out there.
My decision to join the National Conscience Party (NCP) is based purely on principle. I am not looking for a job. If I wanted a job in government, then I would have rushed to the PDP where they share all the jobs. Today, I am happy to be welcomed home by my brothers and sisters at the National Conscience Party (NCP). This, for me, is a homecoming and together, I believe we can write the next great chapter in the Nigerian story. Nigerians have been crying and calling for change but in 2011, they have been confronted with the challenge of choice. One big question that has been on the lips of Nigerians is "We want to vote in 2011 but where are the credible alternatives to the current set of politicians"? Nigerians do not have to look too far. With a credible political party like the National Conscience Party (NCP) and Nigerians like me who have been welcomed to its fold, I am convinced we can make Nigerians believe again. Those who say Dele Momodu is not experienced enough to be the president of Nigeria are far removed from reality. It is only in Nigeria that we hear people say a customs officer can run for president, a police officer can run, everybody including illiterates can run but a man who was teaching A levels 28 years ago, a man who was private secretary to a Deputy Governor 27 years ago, a man who was a major contributor on the very influential opinion page of The Guardian newspaper 23 years ago, a man who was the founding editor of Leaders & Company 18 years ago, a man who was thrown into detention in 1993 by the Babangida government, a man who was forced into exile 15 years ago and was able to build a global brand from scratch under such tragic circumstances cannot run a nation where most of its past and present leaders have never done anything tangible for a living.
The news of my declaration for the National Conscience Party (NCP) attracted a loud ovation from Nigerians worldwide. For most Nigerians, it was a great move in the right direction. It was a masterstroke! But for a few cynics, the question was "What is he doing in Gani's party? Is he trying to take advantage of Gani's legacy to run for president in 2011?" For those who may not be aware, in a country where history is not compulsorily taught in schools and knowledge about individuals is scanty, it is only normal for such questions to be raised. For the records, those who knew me as a reporter would attest to the fact that I was one of the closets journalists ever to the great founder of our party - Chief Abdul-Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi. That mutual love between us endured to the very end. Gani taught me that you must always excel in whatever you do. You must settle for nothing less than the top position. You must be able to capture the imagination of your friends and foes alike. It is desirable to keep them guessing your next moves, while being consistent in your beliefs and ideology. Gani believed you must make a success of your own life through legitimate means before you can help the needy. He saw poverty as a cancer that must be fought with the agility of a pugilist. For him, education was a potent weapon against poverty. He detested any activism that could not uplift the dignity of man. Criticism, he opined, must generate positive results in man. He hated the traditional definition of an activist as a "miserable, squalid and perpetual grumbler." This was the basis for his elation when Chief Abiola became radicalized after June 12, 1993. He knew how difficult it was for such a man of means to leave his comfort zone and join the battle to free Nigeria.
Indeed, some Nigerians are experts in conspiracy theories. When the news of my declaration for the NCP hit the media, there were those who said: "Is Dele not aware that the National Chairman of his new party is close to an aspirant from another party?" But I told them, no one could be closer to Femi Falana than me; his friend and brother of over 30 years. Together, we fought many struggles right from school. There was never a time Nigeria was in crisis and I shied away from defending my country; be it under Obasanjo as a military ruler, be it under Babangida, be it under Shonekan, be it under Abacha, be it under Obasanjo again or be it under Yar A'dua's cabal. I was always steadfast on the side of the people. As a professional journalist, I have paid my dues. I have written essays about the Nigerian problem and its solutions. God had made it possible for me to create a global brand from nothing. I have used my magazine - OVATION International to cement a powerful bond between Nigerians and Africans at a global level. This product has provided employment for many of our youths with many spin-offs in the areas of media, fashion, lifestyle, hospitality, business and tourism among others. I have been a global player running our operations on all the continents in over 60 countries. I have promoted the unity of our people to the extent that if you go to a northern wedding today, courtesy of OVATION International, you find people dressing like southerners and you find southerners copying the fashion styles of northerners. There is no Nigerian today who is exposed enough who is not aware of the double brands called OVATION International and Dele Momodu.
I have studied the manifesto of our party; it's 10-care programme which is very similar to the one presented by my late mentor Chief MKO Abiola to Nigerians in1993 titled "Farewell to Poverty". I promise to enforce the cardinal objectives contained in the manifesto which we will soon make available to the world as our covenant with the people of Nigeria. They include; Employment Care, Food Care, Health Care, Housing Care, Education Care, Water Care, Electricity Care, Transportation Care, Telecommunications Care and Security Care.
Yet, even as I speak, there are those who are working hard to divide Nigeria and truncate this process of change; the shenanigans who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them today that there's no zoning or consensus Nigeria. There's no northern Nigeria or southern Nigeria. There's no Christian Nigeria or Islamic Nigeria. There is only one Nigeria! We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance and loyalty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Not placing personal and party interests above our nation's interests. In the end, that's what the 2011 presidential election is about. Should we fold our arms again and watch our nation fail before our very eyes? No, our time has come to rescue Nigeria!
I look forward to a robust contest in our party primaries and I promise that if I emerge as the flag-bearer of our great party that together with our leaders and members, we will enforce the basic tenets of our party's manifesto for the Nigerian people.
I thank you for your attention.
THE TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY BASHORUN DELE MOMODU AT THE OCCASION OF HIS DECLARATION FOR THE NATIONAL CONSCIENCE PARTY (NCP) ON DECEMBER 18, 2010, LAGOS, NIGERIA