Which way ? Nigerians . What, to a black American in the age of Barack Obama, is the Fourth of July? I answer: the day that reveals to him, more than any other, how much America owes to blacks and their struggle for freedom.or what does it meant to an average Nigerians a free & fair election such as our April election If it hadn't been for people like Frederick Douglass, this would not be a country worth living in. The lofty ideals of the Founding Fathers would have been no more than stirring but empty rhetoric.
I know that such sentiments go against the grain on a holiday dedicated to ritualized celebrations of the Declaration of Independence such as our symbolic 1960 one. But let's not kid ourselves. That stuff about all men being created equal was not meant to apply to people like us in Africa or even in Nigeria where the top 3% managed the affairs and 97% are in disarray . If it had been, Douglass would never have had to ask the electrifying question in the famous speech he delivered in July 4th ,1852: "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?" If the founders had really meant what they said, there would not have been any slaves.
A century and a half after Douglass' speech, there is much to celebrate because blacks and their allies took the Founders' words seriously and tried to make them real. Thanks to the centuries-long freedom struggle in which Douglass played such a key part, blacks -- and other minorities and women -- are no longer second-class citizens. One of us leads the nation, doing his best to resolve the manifold woes inherited from his feckless predecessors, all of them white males, like the Founding Fathers. The hopeful trope that got him elected is that these are the United States of America -- one nation, one people, unified by a collective pursuit of a common dream.
But while the vibrant, multicolored, more mature and just society that Obama evokes has been born, it could still be choked in its cradle. Every stride toward freedom that America has taken was against determined opposition. Even today, you can still get in trouble for criticizing America for not living up to its promises. (Think Jeremiah Wright or Thurgood Marshall.)
One of our great political parties still bases much of its appeal on the age-old racial resentment of whites unnerved by the political emergence of people like us. Too many of our white fellow Americans still regard us as inferior and illegitimate. They don't want to share the nation's rewards and responsibilities with us. They want it back.
Most of us, on the other hand, yearn for the day when July Fourth does not invite the ambivalence we are feeling this weekend. We long for the day when we can cherish the country we love without feeling torn by the two-ness that W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about in The Souls of Black Folk. And just as Douglass accurately prophesied the death of slavery in his famous speech, that day is coming. It's coming because of the determination of true patriots, of all races, who believe in the Founding Fathers' beautiful promises more than the Founding Fathers did. It will be our birthday present to America. Nigeria started this uneven road journey 51
years ago, and we are still searching for the light at the end of 51 tunnels As long as the Social, Political and Economic landscape of the country is plagued by Corruption and unpatriotic acts in the forms of fraud, disunity,tribalism, indiscipline, nepotism etc, a national, sustainable blueprint for development -which is in effect the bedrock of Mr. President's Transformational Agenda- cannot be established. Only upon a foundation of genuine unity, harmony and understanding among the diverse people of the six geopolitical zones that make up Nigeria, can Mr. President have an enabling environment in which to govern and subsequently achieve the goals of this administration.
As we count down to the 51st independent Anniversary of the country, what better way to start preparing for the good times Mr. President promised than for all Nigerians to embark on a total reorientation of our value system that will result in attitudinal and social changes that would have us united in flying the Nation's Flag with Pride.
We must all begin to accept the oneness of the Nigerian family and the inter connectivity of the different ethnic nationalities and geopolitical zones through marriage, residency and other affiliations. We must honestly begin to see ourselves as the collective “WE”.
The key reforms for Nigeria @ 511) Galvanize public finance with non-oil revenue (Tax reform expenditure) ; Reserve oil revenue for refinancing sustainable infrastructures, capital projects, Power & Energy, Security , Education & Health.
2) Agriculture (3) Transportation (4) Land reform
Wealth creation are still the main aims of our focus and needs Much as we eagerly look forward to positive results following the Nigerian Investors forum in New York City during the UN General Assembly this past week; that would hopefully see Nigeria evolve into a major Economic hub in the sub-region albeit the continent; We should not for a moment fail to understand that all such good intentions and the many others that have been outlined by this administration run the risk of coming to naught if the home front is in
disarray. No amount of place branding, external marketing with catchy slogans will cut it if we refuse to stand as one “TO TAKE BACK NIGERIA” from the vicious grip of
corruption, tribalism, religious intolerance and more that have held her bound for so long. I am very certain it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to identify where it all
went wrong as I am sure so many of us have our opinions of when the nation took a “WRONG TURN”. Granted, some argued that because we were cobbled together by
Lord Lugard irrespective of our ideologies and persuasions and named “Nigeria” by his wife, it was a matter of time before the ties that bound us together
wore out. But the fact remains that this is how the reality of what is today Nigeria came about. Every Nation has a story to tell about its origins, but it
behooves on every true patriot to ensure that the Dreams of the Founding Fathers be kept alive.
The tie that continues to bind us is our unique diversity. Our Founding Fathers knew this and on that memorable day in 1959 when Sir Tafawa Balewa passed the
fourth motion for independence from the 2nd of April 1960 to the 1st of October 1960, our fate was sealed. Sadly we have lost sight of the power our diversity
affords us and have allowed ourselves to fall prey to the evils that threaten to destroy the very fabric of what we hold dear.
Every Nigerian over 40 years of age has fond memories of what it was like to be a Nigerian back in the day, when Nigeria held its own favorably in the polity
of Nations. We were the envy of the continent “THE GIANT OF AFRICA” a time when we were not a Pariah state. Today I choose not to play the blame card as to
what and where it all went wrong. All I pray for is that we stand United to “GET IT RIGHT” this time under the watch of GEJ as we mark the 1st year of our
Let every Nigerian (Leaders and the Governed) start by reiterating a commitment to:• Fostering the true concept of NIGERIAN CITIZENSHIP by "GOOD GOVERNANCE"
• Inspiring every Nigerian to begin to see themselves as stakeholders in the project“Nigeria” by sheer "HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT"
• Ensure business "ENABLERS" by means of creating sustainable infrastructure nurtured by true fiscal policy by revisiting with reform 5-year tier developmental plan system: Entrench an ethic that will enable each of us become active and constructive participants in the polity for sustainable development
• Bring about an end to the ills that have held us bound for many years e.g. Bribery;Fraud; Embezzlement; Extortion; Favoritism; Nepotism, Indiscipline etc
• Motivate every Nigeria around us to develop a profound sense of responsibilityfor the fate of the country and for the well-being of all compatriots
Commitment must be pursued with all the vigor, moral courage and conviction
that Mr. President, all leaders within the polity and every Nigerian can
muster. As we celebrate our 51st year ON THE 1ST OF October 2011, we should be reminded of
Mr. President's words, “......Our nation is going through tough times but
because Nigerians are tougher, these tough times will not last Yes, the tide of the tough times is fast ebbing.
I am confident that “THE GIANT WILL RISE AGAIN AND BESTRIDE THE CONTINENT AS ACOLOSSUS”.
I am confident that one day soon, all will be able to say; “WE the people of
Nigeria, are one Family; One Nation, One People; celebrating UNITY IN DIVERSITY”.
GOD BLESS NIGERIA AND ALL THAT DWELL HEREIN, LONG LIVE NIGERIA!!!!!! LONG LIVE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND GOD BLESS YOU
Dr. Akin Awofolaju, President, Nigeria in Diaspora Organization(NIDO- NJ) Chapter
Oct. 1st , 2011 : Nigeria @51 Independence Lecture delivered by Dr. Akin Awofolaju at NEWARK CITY HALL with Mayor Cory Booker