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COLUMNIST, Locomotion

Welcome To The New Nigeria!

Posted: May 30, 2015 at 12:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tony Okoroji


Six days ago, as the Nigerian nation grappled with life on the fringe of anarchy, we launched our book, ‘On the Road to Change’ at Eko Hotel & Suites in Lagos. I say ‘our book’ consciously because the book is the product of the conversation we have had on this page for several months. I know many who wanted to share the day with us but were trapped at airports and petrol stations around the country.



My sister spent an entire day at the airport in Abuja waiting for a flight that would never take off. My dear friend, Polly, paced and paced around the airport in Port Harcourt to no avail. One 80 year old gentleman in Lagos sent me a desperate text message proposing that we postpone the launch. For many hours, his driver combed every corner of Lagos looking for a few litres of petrol. He found none. Efe Omorogbe, my guy, called me from a petrol station in Otta. He was trapped in a battle of wits without end. Efe did not make it. I nearly did not make it myself. I arrived Eko Hotel in a car that was repeatedly warning that it would soon be driving on air. Because we had no choice, we simply braved it and drove on the reserve of the reserve.

With the crazy situation, I therefore cannot understand how there were no spare seats left at the Iris Hall of Eko Hotel, venue of the launch. The place was full to the brim. Some people were even standing! I can imagine the troubles that people must have taken to honour me at the launch of ‘On the Road to Change’. By now, I believe that I have made it clear that I am not a card carrying member of any political party. That did not stop many big wigs of Nigeria’s two biggest political parties from storming the venue. Even Jimi Agbaje, the PDP governorship candidate who gave APC many sleepless nights in the recent elections turned up at this ‘change’ event and gave a rousing speech about change that won him many new friends.

In my line of work, I have produced and attended countless events. I must say that for the rest of my life, I cannot forget the ambience and atmosphere at the launch of ‘On the Road to Change’. Yinka Davis blew my mind; the legend of Majek Fashek grew bigger. The career of the comedian, MC Smart, took off big time. They say that seeing is believing… My guys are editing the video rushes and the event will be broadcast so that as many people as possible can share the experience of those of us who were there.

Tell me, who would have thought that the day would come when Nigerian banks, some of which work on Saturdays and Sundays in the war for big profit, would shut down at 1.00 pm on a Monday? Who would have believed that the day would come when our cell phone companies who fight each other day and night for dominance would threaten to shut down their services? In the last few weeks, life in our nation practically came to a halt and people endured untold hardship. I do not know how many people lost their lives in Nigeria as a result of the tragedy of the last couple of weeks. Our nation was like sheep without shepherd. You can also say a ship without a captain, being tossed around by ocean waves that did not have to pose such a challenge to us.

The recent events in Nigeria were quite revealing. What some of us had said for quite some time became clear – Nigeria has had men in office and power but we have had no leadership. Once the election results were known, any pretention to genuine love of country disappeared. I am wrong? Please, did anybody see GEJ anywhere near the Boko Haram battle since April Fool’s Day when the presidential elections results were announced by Attahiru Jega? Did anybody see Jonah dancing ‘Shockie’ with Nollywood since he lost the election? Does anyone recall that there were signs of fuel shortage shortly before the elections? It was nipped in the bud pronto because the optics was not good for a group seeking re-election. Once the elections were over, it did not matter anymore if Nigeria drifted into anarchy. All our social and economic systems were put under unprecedented pressure.

I welcome President Buhari with a lot of hope and expectation. He has a huge task restoring Nigeria to a nation run on the same values that have made other nations great. This is however a task that he is more equipped than any other Nigerian that I know to perform because of his personal life style and convictions. He is at that stage of his life when owning more houses than anyone else cannot be his purpose. He has had a chance to own oil blocks and appeared not to be interested. His principal task will be to make it known by words and deed to everyone that the recklessness and impunity of the recent past are gone forever in Nigeria. In other words, going forward, Nigeria must be a nation of laws.

Henceforth let people go to their churches and their mosques and wherever they worship the God they believe in but let religion not be the platform on which state policies are made. Let the ethnic and tribal groups be free and blossom but let them not be the fulcrum on which our politics revolve.

Let Nigeria be a beehive of creativity and let us release the enormous latent energy of our young people. Let our nation be a tourist haven and a citadel of scholarship. Let our children go to school and equip themselves for the new world rather than selling ‘Pure Water’ on our streets. Let our factories churn out good products that the rest of the world will admire and let our boys and girls be employed. Let those who expand the Nigerian dream be rewarded and those who try to reap where they did not sow pay the price.

I call on Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Bukola Saraki, Rochas Okorocha, Ahmad Lawan, John Odigie Oyegun, Tony Momoh and all the others whom God has chosen to turn this nation around. It cannot be business as usual. You cannot let us down. Please say to yourselves that never again would we be led with no rhyme or reason. Be bold! We owe it to the black race to show that we can get it right. After all, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan belong to the African race. They have shown that we have what it takes to offer first class leadership. As I grow old and grey, let Nigeria be a nation to be admired across the world. Please do it for the black race and for our children. May God bless you all.

See you next week.


Email:  Tonyokoroji@yahoo.com