There is a need for radical departure from the old ways if we must catch up with other nations, writes Femi Salako
Rising to become the third citizen of the nation in 2015, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has never hidden his firm believe in the qualitative contributions the younger generation have to offer for the progress of the nation.
He demonstrated this belief with the way he has identified with young Nigerians and their inclusiveness i running the National Assembly in different capacities. One thing was clear. Saraki surely had his hands on the plough and he wasn’t letting go of fully exploring and giving room for the potential of the younger ones to grow to the level it would be celebrated. This perhaps informed his decision to announce his long-awaited decision to run for Presidency at a gathering of Nigerian youths.
In the last three years of leading the National Assembly, he has never hidden his undying desire to make Nigeria work, and work better for the common man. But those who saw him as a threat sought to stiffen him, yet he dared all odds to make the Senate work, and it worked for the people, passing the highest number of bills since the inception of the Nigerian democracy.
Saraki has always acted presidential even before Thursday’s declaration to run for President. And this he displayed again as he spoke at the first public dialogues series held at Sheraton Hotel in Abuja. So challenging, factual and call for spontaneous action are words in this speech such that a young man seated close in me inside the hall said in utmost awe, as he listened to Saraki’s declaration speech.
Unlike the usual political rhetoric where aspirants only reel out the woes of the nation, Saraki’ speech was an outline of solutions, a departure from what we were used to hearing at political gatherings and that made it more remarkable and attention arresting.
He was not given to the usual politics of tearing things down; his speech offered hope and painted a future that would be brighter for all, it offered hope to the present woes that have led to unprecedented division, insecurity, increasing poverty in every corner of Nigeria and among Nigerians.
“Nigerian is perhaps more divided now than ever before. We are increasingly divided along regional religious and ethnic lines. Nigerians are also divided by class, a festering gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘gav-nots’. The fault lines of this nation are widening to an alarming degree. We must do something fast, and we must be brave about it” Saraki said.
How more can we agree with Saraki on this? The actions and utterances of President Muhammdu Buhari who is supposed to unite all had caused more division and lack of trust among the citizens. His proud declaration of a part of the nation as he constituency and his 97% to 5% rhetoric has only widened the division in this nation.
“Every citizen has the inalienable right to feel a sense of belonging no matter their background or creed, or what part of the country they come from. No matter who you voted for or what your convictions are, government must work for you, “Sarakis words reasonale hope.
With Nigeria shamefully crowned as the poverty capital of the world. Saraki believes the younger generation does not deserve to wallow in poverty amidst abundance of resources the action is blessed with. He assured of his readiness to “lead the fight and employ every God-given resource available to us in turning things around. I am determined to grow Nigeria out of poverty. We will stimulate the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as one of the ways of energising the economy and to create wealth for our people, especially the youth.”
While the present and successive governments have been criticised of very low or lack of youth inclusiveness in their government, Saraki is offering a lifeline that is hoped will realign the crooked paths. “I want to see the youth play major roles at all levels, not only in government but also in the private sector and indeed in every area of Nigeria life. This will be a government driven by youthful energy, innovation and a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit. Nigerian youth will be given all the opportunities to realise their potential to the full within a national framework that guarantees inclusiveness.”
In what looks like a veiled attack on the lack of empathy of the present government in the face of national disasters and insecurity leading to loss of thousands of lives across the nation, Saraki declared. “I offer leadership driven by empathy. Where leaders are responsive to the citizens. Where they know that government cares. We will not be indifferent or turn a blind eye to the real concerns of our people. Every single Nigerian life matters.”
In the face of consistent attacks by rampaging herdsmen and other insecurity, “My plan is to secure Nigeria by redesigning our national security architecture, while adequately equipping our security agencies to fulfil their primary role of protecting lives and property,” he said.
As Saraki was rounding up his speech, he made a call on all patriots to arise, save this country and grow Nigeria. “We must pull this country back together and rebuild, block by block, with dedication and commitment. We must restore the sanctity of the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions in order to bulki a just, fair and equitable society for all, We must rebuild the trust of our people in government, “he said.
Nigeria is presently at a cross roads where any decision made now must be cautiously made with strong conviction, as such could make or mar the destiny of the nation as we journey into the future.
He left us with options to “either keep things as they are”, or “make a radical departure from the okl ways, I’ll rather we make radical departure from the old ways, no matter how inconvenient, if we are truly serious about catching up with other African nations who hitherto looked up to us, but have since left us behind in developmental stride.
This generation must not look away as this nation slide into abyss.
Culled from ThisDay