FULL TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY DR. OGBONNAYA ONU AS SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR ON THE OCCASION OF THE 16TH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE IGBO YOUTH MOVEMENT WITH THE THEME: “IBULI ASUSU IGBO” HOLDING AT THE NIKE LAKE HOTEL, ENUGU ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2015.

PROTOCOL:

This afternoon, I stand before you on this sacred soil of the important town of Enugu to thank the organizers of this event for their thoughtfulness and deep sense of purpose. Their interest in the wellbeing of our people is highly commended. Today’s occasion should be an important reminder to our people that they have a rich past and an intimidating heritage. It is this heritage that provides the lessons of yesterday and throws light on the prospects of tomorrow.

It is widely known that a people without history is like a car without petrol. It is when a people know who they are and what they represent that they can better organize themselves in the pursuit of both individual achievement and collective fulfilment. It is with this that they can muster the necessary will to play an important role in a society’s development process.

I am happy with the theme of this annual national convention of the Igbo Youth Movement. It touches the very root of our existence as a people. Throughout human civilization, the language of a people has significantly influenced and shaped not only their identity, but also, strengthened their effective participation in the development process.

It is sad that our society has witnessed an erosion of many of our cultural values. Many of the things we did in the past that earned us respect and acclaim have unfortunately been discarded. Gradually, we are losing touch with our venerated ways of life that defined our identity, determined our strength and identified our core values. Today, our society is faced with the danger that the Igbo language may not survive for long. It is sad that most of our children find it difficult to communicate in our native tongue. The attraction of foreign values has become almost an obsession that has weakened our self-confidence and injured our self-esteem. We give alien names to our children as if the saying; “tell me your name and I will tell you who you are”, is no longer true. We celebrate alien ways of life and denigrate our own indigenous practices. Festivals and observances which defined our beliefs and identity are no longer being observed as they should. We are nurturing a future generation that does not fully know its past and therefore face the risk of a future without deep roots.

Most distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Nigeria needs to rediscover herself. We cannot rediscover ourselves if we do not reclaim our cultural heritage. It has become important because a people without culture is a people without self-confidence. If a people lack self-confidence then such a people lose the will, determination and drive to successfully engage the development process in the pursuit of the common good. In the end, democracy is stifled, faith in individual ability is injured and the bond of being our brother’s keeper is broken.

I wish to assure you all that the APC led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari will initiate visionary and sustained efforts to help Nigerians rediscover their rich past. In doing so, such efforts will be guided by the knowledge that cultural reawakening is an important tool in the economic, social and political development of our beloved country. It will also draw strength from the history of development efforts in other parts of the world which tailored their development processes to meet the peculiar cultural demands of their respective peoples. It will promote cultural renaissance as a conscious effort to build a new Nigerian civilization that will win respect for the nation in the global arena.

Finally, I thank you all for believing in our rich past. I am convinced that our future is bright. No matter the challenges we may face, we should always remember that if we remain determined and work together, surely, Nigeria will be great again.

God bless Nigeria.

Thank you so much.

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