Text of a short speech Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as Guest of Honour, gave at the public presentation of Lest I Forget: Memoirs of a Nigerian Career Diplomat, by Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora, at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos, on Thursday 9 May 2013
First, I cannot tell you how delighted I am to be here, at this august gathering, in the midst of the leading and guiding lights of our nation, in honour of a most distinguished diplomat, Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora, who is enriching our public discourse with the release of his memoirs.
He calls his book, “Lest I Forget: Memoirs of a Nigerian Career Diplomat”. But I call it a rare enrichment of our essence as Nigerians, with our collective institutional memory, courtesy of a career ambassador that worked very hard to the glory of his country, but that left the service not
in the best of circumstances.
Despite that however, the ambassador has not ceased being Nigerian – as we all are, and a patriotic one at that, despite the challenges we face as a nation. He has not also ceased working hard to make our country better, as all patriots would do. But more on the author presently.
Right now, I would like to salute the fathers of our nation, present or represented here. On that platform proudly stands HE. Gen. Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief; who most appropriately is chairman of this very important event.
Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen: the Nigerian Civil War was unfortunate; and everyone was a victim of that war. For that we should accept the mutual sympathy and apologies of one another. But if there is one personality that history would record to have tried all efforts to keep
Nigeria, our dear country as one, that person would be Gen. Gowon here. I still remember that famous acronym, in the heat of that unfortunate war: Go On With One Nigeria (GOWON). Your Excellency, thank you for guaranteeing that after all the destructive passion of the war years, we all are still gathered here – and proudly so – as Nigerians!
Even as a young man in power, Your Excellency, I remember you being quoted that the future belonged to the youth: that you did not fear the people who were older than you – you already knew what they were capable of; that your mates and contemporaries you could take care of: since you knew one another well. But the younger ones? Those were the ones to fear and nurture; for you never would know what they would grow up to become!
The toddlers of those times, Your Excellency, have come of age: and rightly so, they dominate the high table as Special Guests. Your Excellency, the chairman, let me crave your indulgence to salute our Special Guests, HE Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Governor of Lagos, our Lagos, the Centre of Excellence, HE. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the man who did his stint as distinguished Works and Infrastructure honourable commissioner in Lagos before proceeding to Osun to continue the gospel of development; and HE Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti State, a philosopher king as governor as any could possibly be, also contributing his sterling quota to a state in a hurry to
develop. Your Excellencies, you are welcome to this august and distinguished occasion!
Let me now turn to another Nigerian patriot and proud son of Africa, HE, Chief Emeka C. Anyaoku, Former Commonwealth Secretary General; and first African to hold that post, as well as a former Foreign minister. Thank you, Your Excellency, for the sterling role model you have been to the rest of us, the younger ones.
It is also on this note of gratitude for distinguished service to our country that I also welcome the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gbenga Ashiru. If Nigeria still has any respect among the comity of nations – and there is no doubt that she does – it is due to the foundations laid down by our heroes past. It is on that foundation that our honourable minister builds with utmost confidence. He is raising that legacy to yet a higher level. Honourable Minister, I greet you sir.
I also great our esteemed Royal Fathers, HRH Oba Rilwan Akiolu , Olowo Eko, Oba of Lagos, who is our royal host. Kabiyesi, may your reign be long, sweet and peaceful! Royal salutations also to HRH, Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba (Dr) Adekunle Aromolaran, a scholarly royal if there was any, whose distinguished kingdom of Ijesaland donated to our dear country the rare
pearl that we celebrate today in Ambassador Fafowora. Kabiyesi, “Idobale ni mo wa o!” [I lay prostrate to the king!]
To everyone present here, please accept my felicitation and congratulations. I think we are all lucky to be at the special event, at a venue I would call the high shrine of Nigerian foreign policy outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself and a place of history given the number of distinguished Nigerians that have passed through the famous NIIA portals.
Now, as I said earlier, His Excellency, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, is one of the heroes of our country’s unity. Because he is here, together with others who believe in this nation and its ability to surmount its problems and take its rightful place in the comity of nations, there is no better platform to issue the warning that I am about to issue: Let us NOT take the unity of our country, Nigeria, for granted!
By not taking it for granted, we will avoid taking measures or making comments that can threaten the country’s unity.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case in recent times. Self-acclaimed friends as well as aides of the President have been making comments that are capable of putting the unity of our country in jeopardy.
One says if President Goodluck Jonathan is not re-elected in 2015, the tenuous peace now being enjoyed in the Niger Delta will not be guaranteed.
Another builds on that, saying – with all the crudity in his being – that not only will there be no peace in the Niger Delta, there will be no peace everywhere across the country.
Let us remember that these two are not the only ones making threatening comments ahead of the 2015 elections.
Earlier, a gregarious presidential aide boasted that he would no longer bear his name if by 2014 the new political platform called the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not vanished into thin air! These are pretty strong words.
And without mincing words, these statements must be seen for what they are:insensitive, inciting and incendiary. One must not forget to say such threats are utterly irresponsible and unjustifiable!
Let us remember what Jodi Picout said: ”Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; You can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
It is also important for us not to keep quiet when the dead-enders unleash these kinds of words on us. We must not allow the ethnic militias to ruin our democracy or untie our unity.
It is said that evil triumphs when good men do nothing. It is therefore incumbent on all our acknowledged good men to speak out against these ethnic jingoists, or those that the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka will call lickspittle.
To the best of my knowledge, President Goodluck Jonathan was elected by Nigerians of different ethnic groups. And no one single ethnic group, whether minority or majority, can single-handedly elect a President. No ethnic warlord or grovelling aide can single-handedly elect a President.
The framers of our constitution apparently had this in mind,when they said that for a candidate to be elected President, he must win not less than one-third of the votes cast at an election in each of at least two-thirds of all states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Your excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. There is strength in our unity. Let us guard it jealously. Let us work hard to keep our country united. Above all, let us NOT take our unity for granted. I thank you for listening!No tags for this post.