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Full text of Prof Utomi’s opening statement at NCFront’s briefing

Below is the full text of the lead statement by Prof Professor Pat Utomi, Joint Chair of NCFront, at the briefing:

We call on all citizens of conscience to join the NCFront in Rescuing and Saving Nigeria from the present festering anarchy and impending doom by teaming up with the NCFront agenda to create a New Nigeria that works for all

Dear friends, distinguished gentlemen of the press, allow me to introduce this public briefing on the NCF initiative for mass mobilization of citizens in the goal of rescuing the Nigeria ship of state from foreboding sinking of the nature of the Titanic.

After my setting of the scene my colleague, the Rt Hon. Ghali Umar Na’aba will provide the purpose and mission of this movement and then we will take interventions from some of the Elders council, and professionals, and youth leaders before a session of Q and A.

A Duty to save Nigeria:

On behalf of this broad coalition of people of conscience, from the professions civil society, faith leaders and politicians across partisan lines, I am honored, along with my colleague, the Rt Hon Umar Ghali Na’aba to welcome you to this world press briefing on the determined effort of this group of Nigerians in the National Consultative Front to take action, mobilize the people and insist on a peaceful path to progress in the face of deteriorating conditions in our national life.

A doctrine of necessity is clearly now needed to reverse the slide. This doctrine of necessity is about reforming the system and apparatus of government before on-going trends result in a complete loss of legitimacy for our democracy.

Sadly, for our history, I have been here several times before. I was here when as a 19-year-old student leader Nigeria went through two coups resulting in the end of the Gowon era and the killing of General Murtala Mohammed. And we had to get on the streets to protest the state of the nation.

I was there in 1993 when the election of Chief MKO Abiola was Annulled by a handful of officers. I was on the streets even though I was a dozen years past the typical age of street protests. I then helped call out professionals who were concerned for their country. The Concerned Professionals helped end military rule.

Again in 2009 when the Presidency was taken hostage by a cabal and a very gravely ill President Yar’adua battled for his life, I was there. We called out citizens to a save Nigeria movement. And we saw a doctrine of necessity pull us through.

In recent weeks as many of us watched corruption reality shows from the National Assembly, looming constitutional crisis between the executive and legislative arms of government, terror on the streets and our rural backyards, insurgency, and banditry, mixed with harrowing kidnapping and rape cases, we have come to a realization that the imperative of now is that of awakening Nigerians to the urgency of saving Nigeria. We face an existential crisis today.

Ordinarily, in a democracy, when things are going wrong you wait for the next elections to vote out those not performing. But the absence of internal democracy in our leading political parties and the phenomenon of state capture suggest the hope of change from the ballot box in prevailing political culture will be an exercise in futility.

We have therefore committed ourselves to a movement to reorient the country, reform the economy, and transform the polity, beginning with a review of the constitution and the electoral laws. With such reforms, elections as a way to getting rid of those not performing can then be contemplated. That is why we are a movement and not one more political party. Fortunately, we have several party leaders in the movement.

THE NCF MISSION:

The Rt Hon Ghali Na’aba, my fellow compatriot and co-chair, ad interim, for this movement and network of citizens, civil society organizations and political persons participating in a non-partisan way has articulated a clear vision of Nigeria and our mission to drive our country to that destination within certain values; will present the NCF modus operandi in his remarks shortly.

But let me add that our commitment is to the building of an inclusive society in which justice supplants impunity, and regard for the dignity of the human person is our organizing mantra. These should ensure that women, minorities, and people of special needs get their due place in society and that, as our original national anthem proclaims; though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.

WHY WE LIE PROSTRATE AS A NATION

I have pointed to the widespread violence, insurgency, banditry, and crime that is pointing us on the road to Somalia, the crisis in our educational system, and the economic troubles that keep our wellbeing in perpetual recursive mode. Let us speak briefly to two or three of those before the Hon Ghali Na’aba takes over from the Abuja end.

VIOLENCE:

Everyone knows that without peace, progress is a pipe dream, yet we continue to mismanage the violence that is now Nigeria writ large.

My first point about the violence engulfing us today is that it is so without purpose. We seem all so vulnerable to nihilists. As a young secondary school pupil, I lived in Ibadan during the Adegbekoya uprising in the late 1960s. You could see the purpose of the revolt.

It is clear to me from what I can observe that military force can only be one small piece of the solution to the violence crippling the North of our country. Poverty and policy failure regarding education and economic growth is critical to reversing the situation. But I do not see the effective deployment of soft power in dealing with the issues. As a movement, we will question the strategy of the Authorities and offer alternative paths.

As a child, I spent some time growing up in Maiduguri, started school in Kano in our year of independence, in 1960, but spent most of my primary school days in Gusau in today’s troubled Zamfara state. I can see the errors of Strategy so clearly that the failure of our political party system in generating appropriate quality leadership for our country at every level is self-evident. We must reverse that now.

Given such a high price from their system failure, my friends and I in the NCF will return to the tactics of our previous struggles to save Nigeria, to awaken citizenship and a previously “complicit middle”, the detached uninvolved Nigerians who make up the majority.

If democracy if of the people, for the people, and by the people, then the voice of the people must be made to sound loud and clear that this is not how they want to be governed.

Stephen R. Covey in his book The 8th Habit proclaims that the most important habit of the 21st Century is to help people find their voice. The NCF aims to help Nigerians find their voice and getting the passive majority to become the moral majority which re-orients Nigeria and gets governing back on tracks.

THE COST OF GOVERNING AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

By now even the blind can see that the cost of governing Nigeria is much more than Nigeria can bear. The way forward should include constitutional reforms.

As many of those who should make these possible are beneficiaries of the currently unsustainable order, and we know from Machiavelli that nothing is more difficult to bring about than a new order of things because those who profit from the old order will do everything to frustrate such, we think we may have to call Nigerians out into the streets in a show of direct democracy, to press their point.

The National Assembly better get ready to begin major changes to our constitution and electoral laws or brace itself for a green and white street revolt of citizens like the orange revolution in Eastern Europe.

ON THE SPIRIT OF THE MOVEMENT

I want to urge all concerned Nigerians to please go to the NCF website and register. The movement will function in cells and Specific-Goal groups such as professional groups and social problem clusters like anti-corruption, economic growth, good governance cluster;

Direct citizen participation of weekly meetings to discuss national and local issues by organizing and operating in the movement.

STRATEGY

The key goal of many leaders of conscience who came together to drive this movement, almost in the same spirit of the 8points Agenda that the founders of NEPU enunciated seventy years ago, this last weekend, in Kano, is the emancipation of the masses of our people.

We aim therefore to see a regeneration of Nigeria into an era of citizen-politician dedicated to a production economy and the pursuit of the escape from existence misery, not that of godfathers who loot the Commonwealth as we see every day in our current experience.

Our plan is to build a partnership in bond between the artisan class that NEPU effectively mobilized in Kano, a new rural farmer class and an emergent youth mass entrepreneurs class forgoing a peoples capitalism linked in value chains they can dominate globally because of factor endowment and education specific to the endowments, help harvest competitively.

We know Nigeria must produce or die so we are determined to cast aside the sharing mentality in Nigeria.

The new latent comparative advantage around which the thrust of growth and development is envisaged, will serve us well. We hope that the movement will also initiate a moral Rearmament Program in which characters will be key to citizenship and public virtue and morality define participation in politics and public life in general.

Our hope is that on September 15, the day the United Nations resolved in 2007 to set aside for reflection to strengthen and consolidate democracy, we will have a countrywide event of “light in darkness” to draw attention to threats to democracy not only in Nigeria where Fascism is in the ascendance but across our region where several old Presidents who should be retiring to life of wise counsel from country homes are now doctoring constitutions they helped bring about to stay on in power.

The example of Mr. Alassane Ouattara seeking another term in Cote d’Ivoire is sad and dispiriting just as that of Guinea’s Alpha Conde. Some of us are convinced Nigeria should lead ECOWAS to dissuade such leaders from that path.

Details of our plan of action on the state of Democracy in Nigeria and West Africa and how we plan to mobilize the youth of the sub-region from allowing ailing, aging men damage the future of the youth instead of giving way to people of knowledge and passion to fashion a path forward for our region to harvest a demographic dividend from our youth bulge as against idle youth creating mayhem resulting Refugee camps and IDPs.

Our purpose, as a movement, is to serve the cause of Truth and Progress for all the people. As people of conscience we recognize as Sheik Uthman Dan Fodio said, that conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it. As we see it right now our country is unraveling; only truth can save it. Our Action plan in NCF is a pursuit of denied truth. We expect all persons of conscience to join us.

CONCLUSION

To fellow compatriots, the NCFront movement has come to show that power belongs to the people and that the future of Nigeria is in your hands and mine. We want to see more than 70 million Nigerians registered as members of this movement with a few months if you are a person of conscience or a patriot you must immediately go to the NCFront website and register.

Nigeria Must Rise Up Again. Nigeria will Rise Up Again. God Will Heal Our Land. Nigeria Will Rise Up Again.

Source: vanguardngr.com