Posted on January 2, 2019
Dear Fellow Nigerians, I am Jude Feranmi Kolawole Adejuwon, Convener of the Raising New Voices Initiative and the New Voices Movement. Please permit me to welcome you to 2019 and wish you a happy new year. I hope and pray that we will go from strength to strength and recover all lost ground on the path towards our individual and national destiny. If there’s anything I want to let you know, it is that 2019 is a critical year for us as a nation and you have heard from the President and the Commander In Chief of the armed forces about what to expect in the coming elections - free, fair and credible. We all might be tempted into thinking that the elections that hold in a few days is what makes 2019 a critical year for us. But we will be falling into the trap of what Chimamanda Adichie has called the danger of a single story. Irrespective of who wins the elections next month, our country is going to go through very tough times. Even though our road as a nation has been rough in the past recent years, what the trends suggest is that our road as a nation will even be rougher. We ended 2018 with 90.8 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty. We ended 2018 with about 10 different security threats in different parts of the country that has necessitated the military deploying their trademark python dance across the nation. Our streets are now more militarised than any other time in the history of our uninterrupted 4th republic. A democracy characterised by continuous underdevelopment, high population growth, increasing inequality and a lackadaisical political elite class that continues business as usual will tend ultimately towards an inevitable end. It is also in this year that we will as a nation celebrate 20 years of uninterrupted democracy. We have come so far, but yet have a long way to go. We have done so much but yet have so much more to do to protect our democracy and much more importantly ensures it delivers development to the people, not in indices and figures and charts that are presented on power points in air-conditioned offices in the rooftops of consulting firms, but in the basics of life for the average citizen on the street - a job that pays enough to guarantee a decent life, quality education for one’s own children that ensures a bright and hopeful future irrespective of one’s status in society, doctors and nurses that can attend to our loved ones in emergency situations so that they don’t have to die from the lack of a bed or the unaffordability of the drugs or the ‘i-dont-care’ attitude of the medical workers. In 2019, we will be challenged as a nation more than any other time in the history of our 4th republic to end this democratic experiment. But, we must not waver. While we hope and continue to work to ensure that democracy works for our people, we must be careful to lay the blame of the failure of this democratic institution at the feet of the current political elite class and not at the feet of democracy itself. We must insist that from Barkin Ladi to Egbeda, from Sagbama to Ojuelegba, from Kano Municipal to Port Harcourt, elected officials do their job and proffer the solutions to the many problems that the people face. The answers we seek are not easy. If we must solve them, we as a nation must be bold enough to propose the solutions and brave enough to look at vested interests in the face who benefit from the status quo and demand real change. Democracy only works when enough of us, the citizens understand our role and refuse to shy away from it. It is in the spirit of this that our movement will be seeking as many Nigerians as are interested in continuing this long walk of democracy to becoming a first world country. The cracks of our society are already showing and more damage will be done as our population increases and our resources get depleted and crime rates increases. We must rise as a nation, as a people and do whatever is necessary to keep our democracy and ensure it’s not truncated by the frustration of our fellow citizens or the opportunism of some select few who make up the current political elite class. Our country is ours to make of what we desire and not a single soul from outside our continent will make for us what we want for our generation or for our children. It’s not yet time to give up hope, even as the days get darker. It is rather time to begin the work of remaking our country and delivering it from the hands of those who have failed to make the tough decisions and continue to benefit from the status quo at the detriment of majority of us. God bless you and May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.