Who do we want for our nation? What is our common goal as a people? How do we get away from the things that easily destroy us that have no reason to? How do we rise above our past into our future?
These were the challenging questions posed to Nigerians on Wednesday by Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria, and guest speaker at ‘The Platform’, a flagship programme by the Covenant Christian Centre.
In a speech which earned her a standing ovation as Nigerian workers marked May Day, Awosika challenged Nigerians to move beyond criticism of leaders and seek lasting solutions to problems.
She said, “What I have come to do today, is to start a national conversation because when we get the conversation right, we will get the right kind of leaders for the conversation we have.
“People get the leaders they deserve. Yes, the people get the leaders they deserve; our leaders are a reflection of us. So you cannot say ‘The leaders, the leaders’, how many people are those leaders and how many people are the citizens of Nigeria? The people get the leaders they deserve based on their own actions or inactions.
“We have to want this nation to work. Some people spend so much time cursing this country; our tongues do not bless this nation. We are so negative about it.”
She also charged Nigerians to find and execute innovative ideas that will make the country work.
“We should criticise ourselves but we should criticise to build. We should see a problem and be angry about it and innovate and seek to find the solution to the problem because we know why we want to do it. Because we know that this country must work for every single one of us from the weakest to the strongest of us to prosper.
“For us to be able to provide for those that are weak; men, women, children, every community in the village and city. For every fatherless and motherless child to still be able to have hope in the system of our country.”
Mrs Awosika further posed some challenging questions to Nigerians, with the motive that it will help stir well-meaning citizens to take some proactive measures.
“Who do we want for our nation? What is our common goal as a people? How do we get away from the things that easily destroy us that have no reason to? How do we rise above our past into our future? How do we draw the line on the things that have happened?
“How can we decide to get to where we want to get to if we haven’t first decided where we are going?
“We have to agree that we are going somewhere and we want to get there, but we must define where we are going.
“I didn’t ask the questions to get the answers today; I just want you not to be able to sleep because of those questions.”
She further offered that before all the ideas and innovation can work, the country needs to be unified in one tribe.
“We have asked the questions, we have raised the questions, what do we need to do? We need one tribe in this nation, a tribe of Nigerians, a tribe with a common goal, a tribe with a common agenda, a people committed to working hand-in-hand to our future.”
“A people committed to ensuring that we get the right kind of leadership at every time; and that those people, working with us, as we express ourselves in the different spaces that we find ourselves, work towards that common goal of building a great nation that provides value for every single Nigerian at every level; and thinking together, because together we are stronger than when we think apart, or we stand apart or we fight ourselves.”