As we thank God for August’s many mercies and gifts, we enter September with an increasing sense of hope and promise.
Since 1999, there has never been a time when there was so much promise of a possibility that our shared dream of a Nigeria that works for all of us could come true.
Last month, I took a stand for the values dear to me – justice, equity, and fairness; and made a declaration of conscience concerning the 2023 presidential race. Make no mistake about it; it was an easy decision to endorse the candidacy of His Excellency Mr Peter Obi, just as it was to resign from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and join the Labour Party. The brilliance of the man, Peter Obi. The passion of the Nigerian youth. The undying love for Nigeria. These, together with my inner moral compass, made it easy.
What is certainly not easy is the task ahead of Nigerians to rescue our country from the demonic shackles of the past that have kept us chained to a condition that can only be described as hell on earth. Hell is stubborn and requires a force greater than its ruler to close its gates.
How is Nigeria today? Our economy seems to have no co-ordinator; criminals under various toga are unleashing a reign of terror on our citizens; our university students have joined the tens of millions of out-of-elementary-school children; businesses – large, medium, and small – are crumbling all around us; the crude oil that Nigeria depends on for the majority of our public funding is being stolen wholesale; we are suffering the worst brain-drain of our history; and with all these, the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government doesn’t have a clue on a solution to any of these. If this is not hell, what is?
Our present perilous predicament is not by chance. It is all by design. As our former President Olusegun Obasanjo told Charly Boy recently, “Your leaders want it to be this way”. This is why the people who lead this country today and those who have led it in the past are disqualified from the race. We can’t hope to solve a problem with the same people and mindset that led us into it. We need a new heart. We need fresh ideas. And we certainly need a new generational leader to guide us to a new path.
I firmly believe that His Excellency Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate, is the new generational leader we can all believe in. I am currently travelling with him on his trip, meeting Nigerians living in North America. I can tell you that Obi’s heart is in the right place. He has a strong belief in Nigeria and the promise of our greatness. He also has an unyielding commitment to delivering on his vision of a New Nigeria. He was compelled to run for president because he knows he has the will, strength of character, and courage to face the demons that have held us back from realising our greatness. He deserves our support and needs our collective will to run this race and win it for all of us.
We, Nigerians who share the same love of country, have a critical role to play in winning this battle for the soul of our nation. On the other side of the tracks is the very generation of politicians who held the baton of this democracy and failed to do what was necessary to prevent this disaster. Not only did they fail to act, but they also orchestrated our collective calamity.
These people are hoping to harvest the seeds of ignorance, deprivation, starvation, and poverty, watered with hate and divisions through the years, in the form of votes in February 2023. Many of the top politicians of the parties that Nigerians have rejected are now hoping that Nigerians will vote for them based on fear and primordial considerations. When you think of it, they have no message for our youth, our women, or any of us.
I am encouraged that Nigerians are awake and aware of these schemes. I am also heartened that our youth have taken up their rightful place in nation-building. The movement is waxing strong, and the memo has been sent out into the Universe – Nigerians are taking their country back, and no force can stop a people who are determined to break free from the chains of their past.
The 2023 election is one of the most critical of the 4th Republic. We have the opportunity to make history. The outcome of this election could change our lives and collective destiny in profound and irreversible ways. If enough of us stand with the youth of Nigeria who have rejected hate and divisions and in their stead, have chosen national healing; the youth who have turned down political deceit and lies, and in their place have consciously voted for authenticity and truth; who have turned away from uninspired rhetoric by self-centred politicians, and embraced the sense of possibilities and potential of our great nation; we would have succeeded in creating a powerful force for profound transformation to occur in Nigeria.
What can I say after that? September is a splendid month to take a stand on the direction you want Nigeria to go next year. May the Almighty grant us special grace, wisdom, and courage to do what’s right today, to secure a better tomorrow for our children.
God bless us all.
Valentine Ozigbo is an inspirational Nigerian political figure, a multiple-award-winning global CEO, and the immediate past president and group chief executive of Transcorp Plc. He was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2021 Anambra election.