*THE STATE OF THE NATION BROADCAST
Citizens of our beloved great nation here present; Nigerians at home and in the diaspora joining us via various media platforms; friends of Nigeria across the African continent and the world; political leaders, policymakers and bureaucrats from the national and subnational levels of government; private sector stakeholders; the intelligentsia, opinion moulders and thought leaders from various institutions of knowledge; gentlemen of the press: When our nation attained independence on October 1, 1960, it was with fervent faith in the possibilities of a great nation that our founding fathers lowered the British flag and hoisted the Green-White-Green. Their dream of a great nation was etched in the lyrics of our founding national anthem, the second stanza of which states:
Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign
In peace or battle honour’d,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.
In the past week, we witnessed with great sorrow the desecration of our nationhood as Nigeria’s armed forces stained the banner of our nationhood, the Nigerian flag, with the blood of our children, the Nigerian youth, to whom our founding fathers charged us to handover a banner without stain. It is, therefore, with a heavy heart over the current state of our nation, but with resilient hope in the possibilities of a New Nigeria, that I bring you this State of the Nation Broadcast originally intended to celebrate Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary. In this moment of despair and sobriety, I have titled my address ‘The Building Blocks of Nationhood: A Blueprint for the New Nigeria’ because this dark chapter of our history is not how Nigeria’s story ends.
The Birth Pangs of Nationhood
All across the nation, there is a wave of people movement. It is a wave of citizen engagement championed by the so-called ‘ordinary
Nigerian’ who has proven in extraordinary terms to be by no means ordinary. It began in Edo State with an awakened and resolute
electorate defying the political establishment to make their voices heard and their votes count.
In the past couple of weeks, that wave
has been transformed into a tsunami of people movement led by our young people who have had enough of the horrendous brutality of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). I believe that
this wave of people movement is the physical manifestation of the birth pangs heralding the New Nigeria.
As I observed the End SARS protests, I could not but conclude that we are witnessing the crescendo of an era and the beginning of
another. Ten years ago, when we convened civil society organisations under the umbrella of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), our objective was not to be the voice of the people, but to restore the voices of the voiceless in a nation where social mobilisation had been frozen for
too long at that time. Ten years later, the End SARS protest has assured me that a generation of Nigerians has arisen, armed with clear and unmistakable voices, refusing to dim their lights or turn down the
volume of their requests, because we have entered the era of ‘Soro Soke.’ I salute the courage of this unbreakable generation; I salute the resilience of every Nigerian youth, named and unnamed, who has stood up to be counted in this momentous era.
A Solemn Remembrance
We remember at this time the heartbreaking tales of extortion, torture, rape, and murder that drove our young people to the streets in the first place. We remember Linda Nkechi Igwetu who, in 2018, was reported
to have been shot in a friend’s car by SARS operatives the day before her passing out parade, after serving her nation as a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Abuja
We remember Stella Ifeoma Abugu, another corps member, reported to have been
raped and murdered while being unlawfully detained by SARS officials in Abuja.
3 We remember Saliu Alli Haruna, a twenty-one-year-old student of Business Administration at Ambrose Alli University, Edo State, whose remains were found in a well after a reported raid in his hostel by SARS operatives.
4 We remember Kazeem Tiyamiyu, a promising Nigerian footballer who, based on
eyewitness reports, was pushed out of a moving vehicle to his death by SARS operatives.
5 We remember Femi Bello, an enterprising 300- level student of Kaduna State University, reported to have been arrested without charge and murdered extrajudicially in the custody of the Nigeria Police Force.
6 We remember Tina Ezekwe, a seventeen-
year-old secondary school girl who was killed by a police officer while assisting in her mother’s shop.7 We cannot forget twenty-year-
old Jimoh Isiaq who was reportedly killed by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force as they violently clamped down on peaceful
protesters in Ogbomosho, and whose unfortunate death propelled Nigerians across the nation in their rejection of police brutality. Our hearts bleed at the memory of the peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate who were shot and killed on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, by the Armed Forces of the Nigerian state as they held up the Nigerian flag;
young compatriots pledging allegiance to ‘one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity’ as they sang our national anthem in their