Talking Points: Our Position, Interests, and Needs
We the Nigerian people and friends of Nigeria all over the world, we have the obligation to contribute to peace, security and development in Nigeria, especially at this critical time in Nigerian history.
At the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1970 – a war that left millions of people dead and caused irreparable damages – our parents and grandparents from all sides unanimously said: “never again shall we spill the blood of the innocent because of our inability to resolve our differences.”
Unfortunately, 50 years after the end of the war, some Nigerians of Biafran origin born after the war have revived the same agitation for secession – the same issue that led to the civil war in 1967.
In response to this agitation, a coalition of northern groups gave an eviction notice that enjoins all Igbos residing in all the northern states of Nigeria to leave the north and asks that all Hausa-Fulani in the eastern states of Nigeria should return to the north.
In addition to these socio-political conflicts, the Niger Delta issues have not yet been resolved.
Against this background, Nigerian leaders and interest groups are currently struggling to answer two important questions:
Is the dissolution of Nigeria or the independence of each ethnic nationality the answer to Nigeria’s problems? Or does the solution lie in creating the conditions that will help to address the issues of injustice and inequality through policy changes, policy formulations, and policy implementation?
As ordinary Nigerians whose parents and family witnessed first-hand and suffered the devastating effects of ethnic and religious conflict during and after the interethnic violence that culminated in the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967, we have resolved to Run to Nigeria with an Olive Branch to create a psychological space for Nigerians to pause for a moment and think about better ways to live together in peace and harmony irrespective of ethnic and religious differences.
We have wasted so much time, human resources, money, and talents because of instability, violence, ethnic and religious hatred and bigotry coupled with corruption and bad leadership.
Because of all these, Nigeria has suffered brain drain. It has become difficult for young people from the north, south, east and west to achieve their God given potentials and pursue happiness in the land of their birth. The reason is not because we are not intelligent. Nigerians are among the brightest and intelligent people on earth. It is neither because of ethnicity nor religion.
It is simply because of selfish leaders and emerging power-hungry individuals who manipulate ethnicity and religion and use these identities to cause confusion, conflict and violence in Nigeria. These leaders and individuals take pleasure in seeing the ordinary citizens suffer. They make millions of dollars from violence and from our misery. Some of their children and spouses are living abroad.
We the people, we are tired of all these deceptions. What an ordinary Hausa-Fulani person in the north is passing through right now is the same with what an ordinary Igbo person in the east is going through, and the same applies to the hardship of an ordinary Yoruba person in the west, or the ordinary Niger Delta person, and citizens from other ethnic groups.
We the people, we cannot continue to allow them to use us, confuse us, manipulate us, and deflect the cause of the problem. We ask for policy changes to give all Nigerians the opportunity to pursue happiness and prosperity in the land of their birth. We need constant electricity, good education, and jobs. We need more opportunities for technological and scientific innovations and inventions.
We need a diversified economy. We need clean water and clean environment. We need good roads and housing. We need a conducive and respectful environment where we can all live to develop our God given potentials and pursue happiness and prosperity in the land of our birth. We want equal participation in the political and democratic processes at the local, state and federal levels. We want equal and just opportunities for all, in all sectors. Just as the Americans, the French or the British are treated with respect by their governments, we the citizens of Nigeria, we want our government and government agencies and institutions both home and abroad (including the Nigerian consulates abroad) to treat us with respect and dignity. We need to be comfortable staying and living in our country. And Nigerians in the diaspora need to be comfortable and happy visiting the Nigerian consulates in their countries of residence.
As concerned Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, we are going to Run to Nigeria with an Olive Branch beginning from September 5, 2017. We therefore invite fellow Nigerians and friends of Nigeria all over the world to run with us to Nigeria with an olive branch.
For the run to Nigeria with an olive branch campaign, we have chosen the following symbols.
The Dove: The Dove represents all those who will run in Abuja and the 36 states in Nigeria.
The Olive Branch: The Olive Branch represents the peace we are going to bring to Nigeria.
The White T-shirt: The White T-shirt represents the innocence and purity of ordinary Nigerian citizens, and the human and natural resources that need to be developed.
The light must prevail over darkness; and the good will surely defeat evil.
Symbolically and strategically, we are going to run to Nigeria with an olive branch from September 5, 2017 for peace and security to be restored in Nigeria. Love is better than hatred. Unity in diversity is more productive than division. We are stronger when we collaboratively work together as a nation.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
May God bless the Nigerian people of all ethnic groups, faiths and political ideologies; and
May God bless all those who will run with us to Nigeria with an Olive Branch.