A welcome Address By Distinguished Senator Chris Anyanwu, President Nzuko Umunna on the Occasion Of The Greater Nigeria Conference Holden At International Conference Centre, Abuja On April 25, 2022

Fellow Nigerians, dear compatriots, I am deeply honoured to welcome you to this august gathering that has been named the Greater Nigeria Conference (GNC). As the name suggests, this gathering is aimed at making our dear country Nigeria greater. The fact that you are here for this conference, physically or virtually (online), at considerable personal inconvenience, is a strong indication that you are deeply interested in making Nigeria, our beloved Nigeria, greater. Looking around, I see that this is an august assemblage of personalities. I am therefore very excited to, on behalf of the conveners of this conference Nuko Umunna, welcome you, personally and collectively, to this Greater Nigeria Conference.

My brothers and sisters, the prognosis for our beloved country is rather dire. We are all living witnesses to how the security situation in this country has steadily degenerated. In fact, we have never been or felt this insecure in this country. Terrorist groups, bandits (some are even worse than terrorists in operations though we still call them bandits), kidnappers, all manner of criminal gangs, insurgent groups, etc are all having a field day at our expense; they have turned our dear country into a free playground for them. Insurgency is on the rise, several groups are stridently agitating for a separate existence away from the union as a last ditch effort to voice out their mounting frustration and disenchantment with the union Nigeria. The value of human life has gone well below that of a beast. The economy is floundering; potential investors are now avoiding us like a plague and heading to neighbouring countries as the existing ones are readily activating the exit button. The socio-politics is also in a maelstrom. Indeed, we are careering very fast towards a failed state! Yet, we have actively continued to do those things that have brought us to the edge of the precipice.

However, in the milieu of this drab and dank outlook, there is the stubborn hope in the heart of each and every one of us that this nation was founded great, has the potentials to be very great and that we can make it greater. Actually, the needed ingredients to make this our much beloved country great; a country that commands great respect in the comity of nations, a country that naturally commands the infectious and passionate patriotism of its citizens, are very much within our reach. This stubborn hope, this undying conviction, informed the convocation of this gathering and naming it the Greater Nigeria Conference. We are convinced that together we can make this country greater.

Hence, the legend Yes, Together We Can has been chosen as the theme of this conference.

A critical ingredient in making our dear Nigeria greater is the issue of equity and inclusiveness in our socio-politics. Agitations for self-determination from various corners have been fulled by the increasing feeling of being left out, being considered less than equal partners, stakeholders, in the Nigeria enterprise.
more than any other time in our history, there is the urgent need now to give every section, every geo-political zone, that sense of belonging, that sense of being an equal stakeholder, an equal partner, in the Nigeria enterprise. It will only take a decision, the political will and then the conviction, to give the other person a full sense of belonging, a sense of being an equal stakeholder.

I will quickly agree that it is not an easy thing to do; it is a big sacrifice because it often entails sacrificing one’s own legitimate ambitions and aspirations. But it is doable and it is noble; it is what brothers and sisters, as siblings, do for one another. They make the sacrifice because they value the bonds of their relationships. We are convinced that we value the bonds of our relationships more than any bragging right or ambition!

Many champions have already taken up the gauntlet and have been vociferously calling on all of us to get on board this equity and inclusiveness train. We salute their courage and conviction. In fact, they are the motivators of this gathering today.

It takes no special gift of discernment to observe that in Nigeria today, only the South-East geopolitical Zone has not had the privilege of producing an executive president or head of state of Nigeria.

Hence, the call for a President of South-East extraction to be chosen for Nigeria this time around. Our youths are being attracted to the agitation for self-determination because, among other things, they have been wondering why the zone has not produced a president for Nigeria. To them, this is a clear indication that we are not seen as equal partners in the Nigeria enterprise. Giving the South-East the privilege to produce Nigeria’s president this time around will achieve a number of things among are ;

Equity; the feeling that some section (s) are regarded as less than stakeholders in the Nigeria enerpse milie

Frall”‘equal stakeholders in the Nigeria enterprise will be assuaged

Self determination; the agitation for self determination will become less attractive to the youths as they would now feel that they are an integral part of the union.

Inclusiveness: the country is shown as belonging equally to all of us irrespective of the zone or section one comes from Commitment to progress: this sentiment will in turn engender commitment to the progress of the country, the credo changes from “What can I get out of Nigeria? to What can I do for Nigeria?”

Team Play: Ndilgbo, much as they are given to individual efforts, also believe in team play; efforts will be madeto carry everybody along.

Furthermore, the call for a president of South-East extraction this time around hinges also on the arguable fact that among the crowd of those who have indicated interest in the presidency for the current dispensation, the South-East parades, from their own lot, some of those who not only understand clearly the fundamental problems of the country and their root causes but also have workable master plans to engineer the much needed transformation to put us on the path of progress which compare comfortably and favourably with that of the best from any other zone. So, my dear brothers and sisters, if we can get from the South-East what matches the best we can get from the other zones and this choice has the added benefit of assuaging feelings of alienation and marginalization, why not go for it. Thus, the critical question becomes What value do we place on the bonds of our relationships?

Ladies and gentlemen, if you place premium value on our bonds of relationships, if you believe that working together we can make our beloved country greater, if you believe in equity and inclusiveness, if you believe that the other sibling has a right to be treated as an equal stakeholder/partner in this enterprise, then may I invite you to join me to say Yes, Together We can make Nigeria greater!

Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *