FULL TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY DR. OGBONNAYA ONU, AS SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR ON THE OCCASION OF IRI JI MBAISE, ABUJA, HOLDING AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2015.

PROTOCOL:

I am happy to attend this important occasion as the Special Guest of Honour. Today’s event is historic. I am told it is the first of its kind to be organized by you here in the nation’s capital, Abuja, outside your native homeland.

I commend you for your vision. I salute you for your remarkable sense of unity which shows that indeed when a people are united in the pursuit of a common purpose, there is no mission they cannot accomplish.

The people of Mbaise are great men and women who have made important contributions, not only to the development of Imo State, but indeed our dear nation. Your pursuit of learning, the spirit of enterprise, hard work, and love for one another are virtues that many others should learn from. I specially commend you for this Iri-Ji ceremony. This singular effort is important in linking the past with the future.

In the past several years, our beloved nation has been in a crises of values. Honour, honesty, duty and respect for the truth have been ignored. Integrity and character which made our people great in the past were discarded. For many years in the past, we conducted our affairs in such a way that it injured the essence of decency and honour. Things became so bad that most of our children found it difficult to identify role models of achievement and accomplishment who they could proudly aspire to emulate when they grow up. As a result, we have created a new generation of future leaders who may not know that a people without history is like sheep without a shepherd.

Until recently, our politics was a contest, not of ideas, but of guns, knives, and machetes. Those seeking elective offices got into public office only to abandon the important purpose of selfless service to the people. Our elections became unfortunate tales of vote rigging and fraud such that the vote no longer counted and the voter no longer mattered. Results of elections were unfortunately written in private homes and winners announced even before voting had ended in Polling Centres. This violated the sacred principle of free choice in a democracy and injured public confidence in our electoral process. Today, we are in search of those values that will help us build a new nation of honourable men and women who speak the truth, value integrity, respect good character and treasure love of country.

Distinguished guests, Nigeria must re-awaken. Nigeria must chart a new course of ethical rebirth. Nigeria must seek new ways of restoring honour, selfless service, honesty, integrity and good character as important attributes of social behaviour and public conduct. We must secure the balance between human rights and responsibility. We should never forget that a country without values is one in serious trouble.

I am confident that Nigeria can overcome. Challenges do not weaken the resolve to succeed. Rather, challenges strengthen the determination to excel. As a people, we have survived the debilitating effects of slave trade. As a nation, we have toiled to defeat colonialism both within and even abroad. Our generation must succeed in the task of nation building, especially in a democratic environment that guarantees peace and prosperity. Nigeria shall rise again.

I believe that with determination, discipline and hard work, there can be no obstacle we cannot surmount in our desire to build a new nation we can proudly call our own. Nations are not built by mere wishful thinking. Nations are built by the collective effort of men and women who truly love their country and go to work, determined to do it right and get it right.

Ladies and gentlemen, the APC led Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari will work to restore the rich moral values of our people. It will pursue ethical rebirth that will reshape both the minds and conduct of our people. This Administration will lead by example. The Change Agenda of the All Progressives Congress will place strong emphasis on restoring the moral tone of good governance such that service will no longer be for self but for all, the interest to be served will no longer be personal but rather for the common good.

This will foster accountability in governance, enhance selfless service and promote the sustenance of a credible electoral process in our democracy. The people will then trust their leaders such that mobilizing them for development will become easier.

Finally, distinguished guests, I wish you all a successful ceremony. What you have started today will help to renew our values, reawaken our patriotism, strengthen our faith in our country, promote good governance and invigorate democracy. I am confident that in the years ahead, this important occasion will grow to bring visitors from far and near and hence, become an international tourist attraction to the glory of God, our people and our nation.

Thank you so much.

God bless Nigeria.

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