As we welcome the year 2015, I have shared a message to Nigerians in general, but I find it crucial to send another message directly to Nigeria’s youth, who are the major stakeholders of this enterprise.
The year 2014 was a challenging one for most citizens of our dear country.
We remember our compatriots who were brutishly killed or maimed by evil terrorists in 2014. I remember with a still broken heart that 219 of our children from Chibok are yet missing, let down by a country that should protect them. I remember that, even as I speak, some of our towns and villages are yet under the occupation of Boko Haram.
Yes, it is enough for you to despair. It is enough for you to wonder if your country cares about you and can protect you. But do not despair.
2015 has arrived at a time of great discomfort; but the beauty of the New Year is that we can look forward with renewed hope and the knowledge that things can and will change.
In Nigeria’s case, we can truly look forward to the change that the elections can, and will, bring. Our country will be secure again. Our country will prosper again.
I have faith that 2015 is the year we shall begin to write a new story – a story of our youth creating jobs and expanding the frontiers of innovation and creativity everywhere from Mavin Records to the Co-Creation Hub; a story of genuine investment in our children and students be they in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka or in the Delta State University, Abraka; a country that finally makes a permanent shift from our debilitating dependence on the free-falling price of crude oil.
I have unshakeable faith that 2015 will be the year of change.
Now some of you have asked me: what exactly does ‘change’ mean?
I have taken time to explain this at different opportunities, but on this special day, let me remind you in five short statements.
1. A country that you can be proud of at anytime and anywhere: where corruption is punished, where your leaders are disciplined and lead with vision and clarity; where the stories that emerge to the world from us are full of hope and progress.
2. A Nigeria in which neither yourselves, nor your parents, families or friends will have to fear for your safety, or for theirs.
3. A Nigeria where citizens get the basics that any country should provide: infrastructure that works, healthcare that is affordable, even free; respect for the environment and sustainable development, education that is competitive and outcome-oriented in a knowledge-economy.
4. A country that provides jobs for its young people, reducing unemployment to the lowest of single digits and providing safety nets so that no one is left behind.
5. A Nigeria where entrepreneurship thrives, enterprise flourishes and the government gets out of your way so that you can create value, build the economy and aggressively expand wealth.
Are these things truly possible? Of course. That is the essence and outcome of leadership, and that is what my party and I promise you as we get into 2015.
My dear friends, this New Year, more than ever before, I am hopeful about Nigeria.
Yes, you are disappointed and you are angry, as you are entitled to, but you must never give in to the temptation to feel so weighed down by those who have failed you that you lose your hope and your energy and your passion to see change. You must never give up on Nigeria.
Together, we can build a nation that is secure, prosperous and gives everyone a fair chance.
This is the promise that 2015 holds. That is the promise that change will bring. That is the promise that I bring to you.
Once again, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.
Thank you and God bless Nigeria.