Wake Up Nigeria!

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
Prince Charles Dickson

“When will the goat be strong enough to kill a leopard”

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Nigerians: Today in Nigeria, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift Nigeria’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades. An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than 8 million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years. An auto worker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world, and did his part to help Nigeria wean itself off oil.

A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford.

A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired, but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities all across Nigeria, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from wars called Boko Haram, Kidnapping, robbery and some of the meanest form of crimes against humanity.

Tonight, today I speak with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our Nigeria strong.

And here are the results of your efforts: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years. A new housing market and a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. More oil refined at home than we buy from the rest of the world — the first time that’s happened in nearly 20 years. Our deficits — cut by more than half. And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; Nigeria is.

That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for Nigeria. After five years of grit and determined effort, the Nigeria is better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.

The question for everyone around me, the Labarans, Ngozis, Dizeanis, Sanusis, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress. For several years now, we have been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government/subsidy/missing funds and more. These are important debates — one that dates back… But when debates prevent us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy — when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of Nigeria — then we are not doing right by the Nigerian people.

Now, as president, I’m committed to making Abuja work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here. And I believe most of you are, too.

Last month, thanks to the work of my party the PDP and opposition APC, Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way, but the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.

In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together. Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Nigerians want: for all of us in this executive to focus on their lives, their hopes, and their aspirations. What I believe unites the people of this nation — regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor — is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all — the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead in Nigeria.

Let’s face it: That belief has suffered some serious blows. We have lost lots of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Nigerians are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

So our job is to reverse these trends. It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.

Nigeria does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more Nigerian families, that’s what I’m going to do.

As usual, our first lady Dame Faka Patience my love sets a good example, through her ‘Let’s Move’ partnership with schools, businesses, local leaders and it has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in 30 years. And that’s an achievement that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come.

Postscript
‘Mallam, mallam’, my wife yelled as she poured cold water on me, I woke up shivering, I was talking in my dream and clapping: was that Jonathan talking, was it Buhari, which party was ruling, which year was it, was the man I saw in the dream a Nigerian, can we get this close, just a little close, I mean can we get just slightly close to this state of union address by President Obama of the United States.

Is there hope that with the present crop of leaders we would witness anything close to this speech.

There’s so much hate speech, everyone is an economic expert, political clashes, accusations and counter, we are not going forward and backwards is no choice, will we get there and when or how—Only time will tell.

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