12th November, 2014
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on Tuesday offered a recipe for the building of a new Nigeria, saying only hard work and patriotic zeal by her youths could rescue the nation from imminent collapse.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Muson Centre venue of the 2014 All Progressives Congress (APC) Youth Summit with the theme, “A New Nigeria by New Nigerians’, said in order to build a new Nigeria, there was need for Nigerians to agree on a broad framework that could allow their diverse expectations to be met.
Such broad frame work, the Governor said, should include that a new Nigeria should be safer and more secure where children would not be kidnapped or adults bombed and where human life could be expected to last its full tenure, adding that a new Nigeria should be better organised with government that is accountable and transparent.
He said Nigerians must also agree that the envisaged new nation should be one in which hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds are not lost to boyfriends and girlfriends but where Nigeria’s money is used to build power plants, roads and bridges, refineries, schools and health facilities among other essential public utilities.
According to Governor Fashola, “I think that a New Nigeria should be one where we agree that our people are the most important asset that we can have. I think that we can all agree that, without a well-developed people, all other resources will have no value”.
“It seems to me that a New Nigeria must therefore ensure that the production of its most important asset, which starts at child birth, does not have problems like infant and maternal mortality where the baby or the mother or both die,” the Governor said adding that it is also possible for a New Nigeria to develop realistic health practices, institutions and personnel that would put an end to things like infant and maternal mortality and ensure a life expectancy that is not less than 70 years to start.
He believes also that a New Nigeria must equip its human resource with the necessary skills in order to survive by guaranteeing access to basic education with competitive quality, where no child is left behind adding, “a New Nigeria must commit to using its human capital for economic development, to build the foundations that drive a modern economy like electricity, fuel, roads, airports, seaports, agriculture and those things that make us independent and self-assured”.
Asserting that a New Nigeria should be able to produce Made-in-Nigeria goods, Governor Fashola declared, “The New Nigeria must democratize access to the country’s natural resources, on the basis of competitive and productive criteria, and eliminate rent seeking that has undermined our extractive mineral sector”, adding that a new Nigeria, which according to him, must be built from within, should know her population through the use of technology to collate the data.
The envisaged New Nigeria, the Governor said, must be self-assured, able to defend herself, be able to choose her friends and decline relationships on the basis of what is in her best interest and not what is in the African interest adding that such a Nigeria must also be strong at home and respected abroad in the global community.
Governor Fashola said the six broad definitions of a New Nigeria, as postulated above, represent the developmental framework around which the 2015 Election Manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is built adding that the New Nigerians to build the envisaged new nation should be those who agree on the concept.
Noting that the concept is also generational, the Governor told the youths, “At 51 years of age, I am less likely to live for another 50 years – although I intend to try. At 20-30 years, many of you are more likely to live for another 50 years and more, and if you remember that our New Nigeria plans to ensure a minimum life expectancy of at least 70 years, that possibility is in your own hands to actualize”.
He further declared, “Clearly your own stake is more than mine. If you are able to build that New Nigeria for yourselves, I am sure that you will make space for me, my age mates and those who are older than me in your own Nigeria”, adding that the New Nigeria would profit enormously from the energetic, adventurous and can-do spirit of the youths with the guidance and experience of the older generation and those ahead of them.
The Governor said realizing such the New Nigeria requires a synergy that must be well woven along a common belief of what the roles are and who does what adding that in order to secure Nigeria, only the young and the strongest “who must fight to protect and secure the old and infirm” must lead the wars.
Urging the Federal Government to provide needed services, Governor Fashola said in Lagos he has provided such service by providing direction and allowing 30-40 year olds to build things and do the hard work adding, “When Ebola came calling it was our young health workers, with the guidance of more experienced leaders in the ministries, who fought the war”.
“Our Agricultural renaissance, our Traffic Management, Lagos HOMS, Street Lighting, Budget preparations, LASRRA and many services such as PPP Office, Office of Transformation, Facility Management, are being run by young men and women between the ages of 30 – 44”, he said, recalling that he became Chief-Of-Staff at 39 and Governor at 44.
The Governor said the new Nigeria should be one with steady supply of electricity which could then give the country the leverage to do what other sovereign countries are doing, adding that it is until Nigerians can successfully produce local items that it can claim economic development.
He added that anybody promising steady power supply since 1999 should be regarded as a failure as the country has spent several unaccounted billions of Dollars in the quest to provide steady electricity.
Noting that the generation of leaders like Sir Ladoke Akintola and Chief Obafemi Awolowo were below 40 when they assumed leadership positions and spoke up against injustice and in the process they were harassed and jailed, Governor Fashola added, “They did not resort to burning houses and cars but ensured that they built a new Nigeria which is not about violence but about resisting injustice, about fighting corruption and standing up against impunity”.
He advised the youths that being a new Nigerian starts with each one of them getting involved, seeking to know how many of them have attempted to get their Permanent Voters Cards or getting registered.
“I know it can be frustrating but the desire for a new Nigeria must be bigger, stronger and fuller than your frustrations. Nobody should stand in the way of your ability to get involved in building the Nigeria of your dreams”, he added.
While giving an insight into what the new Nigeria would be like, the Governor said the new Nigeria would be governed by an administration that would stand up for the smallest Nigerian citizen in any part of the world.
The Governor, who engaged in a conversational interaction with members of the audience during his address, said the many inadequacies such as the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to distribute Permanent Voters Cards must not be possible anymore in a New Nigeria.
Speaking earlier, the representative of Act Now which organized the event, Mr. Ikem Isekwena said the youths gathered at the Summit have come to announce the demise of the old Nigeria and the birth of the new Nigeria.
He said the youths cannot afford to turn back but must be ready to go on a door to door campaign, adding that the best strategy for the youth to achieve a new Nigeria is to participate in politics.
The event was attended by many dignitaries including the APC Youth leader in the State, Mr. Sanyaolu Omotayo, Special Adviser on Environment to the Osun State Governor, Mr. Bola Ilori and the Chairman of APC Youth Forum, Barrister Ismail Ahmed amongst others.