On this occasion of our 58th Independence Anniversary, I bring you glad tidings. Although I am not glad about the state of our nation today, I am hopeful of a better tomorrow.
You may ask why I am not glad. It should be obvious. A mere three years ago, we were the third fastest growing economy in the world. As I write this to you today, our fortunes have reversed to the point where we are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Clock and the World Economic Forum.
The promise of change, which many Nigerians, myself included, celebrated three years ago, has been seen for what it is, a hollow and empty promise devoid of meaning and the incapacity of the promisor to deliver on his promises.
Yet, I am hopeful, as you and your family should be. The indomitable Nigerian spirit gives me hope. Our youth, like the five girls from Regina Pacis Secondary School Onitsha, Anambra state, who won the 2018 World Technovation Challenge in the Silicon Valley, give us hope.
Bright Nigerian youth, like Israel Zakari Galadima from Borno State, who emerged the best overall student in the 2018 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board’s University Matriculation Examinations (UME) after scoring 364, make us hopeful for the future.
At the beginning of the year, we were shocked as a nation, by news from the National Bureau of Statistics, that 7.9 million Nigerians had lost their jobs in just 21 months. We were further shaken by the fact that Nigeria had overtaken India as the nation with the largest out of school children population in the world, even though India has seven times our population.
We were further warned by one of the world’s largest banks, HSBC, that our economy faces challenges if we do not make certain personnel changes in the near future. These warnings were also corroborated by the world’s foremost economic magazine, The Economist.
Indeed, this was not the Nigeria our founding fathers visualised. What they visualised was a Nigeria founded on unity, faith, peace and love. We owe it as a duty to keep faith with their vision.
That is why today, I make bold to pledge that I will devote the rest of my life to building bridges across Nigeria in order that the founding fathers’ vision of unity, faith, peace and love, is materialised in my lifetime, so help me God. Those of us, who God has blessed with ability, also have a corresponding responsibility to use that ability for the common good of the collective.
Nigerian youth are not lazy as some have said. They are desirous of working, but there is a dearth of jobs. This is why I have committed personal resources to open multiple businesses in 2018 to get as many unemployed Nigerians working again. This is why I set up animal feed plants to provide an alternative to animal grazing so that lives may be saved just as jobs are created. Our people should not have to give up their lands to save their lives.
I call on others like me, who have entrepreneurial ability, to use such abilities to help assuage the chronic unemployment in the land. We owe it as a duty to our God, our founding fathers and our nation.
I have much more to say on this issue. But for today, permit to say God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all her peoples. Happy Independence Day to you and your family.
Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999-2007.
Culled from: Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation