I heartily felicitate with every Nigerian for making it to this epoch-making year – 2023. I thank the Almighty for keeping us alive and for keeping our beloved Nigeria together till date, amidst all agitations and insecurity.
Compatriots, the year 2022 has come and gone but not without untold hardships, economic quagmire and unprecedented security challenges experienced by millions of Nigerians. I appreciate all the patriotic Nigerians, especially the Youth, who persevered and remained patriotic even in the face of unabated insecurity and untoward hardship across the nation. I immensely appreciate our security personnel, especially the gallant patriotic ones, who are at the battlefield sacrificing their freedom, their sleep and even their lives so that we might sleep in peace and be secured. May their vital force be increased. I sincerely condole with the families of all those who lost their lives in the fight against terrorism, banditry, insurrection, kidnapping and the likes. May the dead enjoy blissful rest, and may the heartless murderers never know peace in life and in death, amen.
Having critically analysed the events of 2022, there is no gainsaying in the fact that our dear country – Nigeria needs our collective support to succeed. Nigeria cannot succeed if we do not contribute our individual quotas in our various sectors, professions and communities. The status quo of our great nation notwithstanding, I am highly convinced and confident that the unity of this great nation is sacrosanct.
To ensure the continued indivisibility of this great nation and to strengthen our unity, I call on the federal government to learn from the mistakes of last year, in some issues that were wrongly handled, and make frantic efforts within this year 2023 to dialogue with all aggrieved parties/groups/regions and address all issues, patriotically. As I often posit, not all issues are addressed with forceful approach cum punitive measures. Some issues are better solved via dialogue and sensitization. There is need for a concerted effort to strengthen the economy of our great nation and ensure that our naira regains its pride.
I wish to appeal to all our brethren from the Igbo speaking states to rise against the current menace of insecurity in our region. The enemies have infiltrated our land, capitalizing on the loopholes created by “Biafran agitators” to unleash mayhem on our people in the name of unknown gunmen. We are fast losing the grips of tranquillity and peace in our once fun-filled and thriving South-East. It is time to remove the hands of the monkey from the soup before it turns into human hands. If we do not rise up against this hydra-headed monster brewing in our region, we shall all live to regret our actions and inactions.
One thing is to be noted, secession is not the solution to the underdevelopment witnessed in the South-East. The reason is clear; some of the architects of our underdevelopment and seeming marginalization are from our region – they are our brethren and they live with us. Thus, even if we secede today, these architects of our problems are still going to be there with us and will still be in charge of our political affairs, if we do not change the tide now.
Suffice it to say that, in this 2023, I encourage our good-spirited Patriots from Igbo speaking states, especially the Youth, to participate fully and actively in politics, with the aim of ushering in an unprecedented development in our region. Charity begins at home, they say; let us ensure that whatever resources that are meant for the betterment of our communities and our region are patriotically utilized for the development of our region. Let us ensure that our people have a feel of the dividends of democracy; let us hold our politicians accountable for our common patrimony and allocations.
It is only when we evenly and patriotically make use of the allocated resources, for the development of our region, that we can have the moral grounds to cry out against the seeming marginalization against our region. We cannot cry foul when we are marginalizing ourselves within our region via embezzlement of public funds and all other forms of corrupt practices.
This however, does not negate the fact that our region is deprived of some interventions and developments being carried out by the federal government. I, however, wish to immensely appreciate the federal government for the completion and commissioning the 2nd Niger-bridge. It is indeed a great and laudable feat. On the other hand, I wish to draw their attention, once again, on the continued deplorable state of Enugu-Onitsha express way. That road is a death trap; in fact, it is a hell on earth. I call on the federal government to expedite actions on that road as it is in a sorry-state; it is a complete eyesore! I equally call on the federal government to revamp the railways in the South-East so we can also enjoy the dividends of democracy like other regions. With such infrastructural developments, Ndigbo will be given sufficient sense of belonging and would see anyone clamouring for secession as an enemy of the land.
I use this medium to call on all the Governors of Southeastern states, to work assiduously in restoring saftey and peace to our beloved region, as the Chief Security Officers of the region. This menace of insecurity in South-East should not be allowed to rear its ugly head, unabated, in this year 2023.
I call on all our Youth to rise up against perpetrators of violence cum their sponsors and ensure that peace returns to our region. Igbo land is known for peace and tranquility; we should not allow some self-centered individuals to sow seeds of chaos in our highly cherished and fun-filled region.
Ndigbo Youth Parliament will not relent on her mission of sensitization, at the grassroots, to ensure that our Youth are well re-oriented in the interest of our region and Nigeria at large. We shall continue to build bridges between Ndigbo Youth and the Youth of other ethnic nationalities as we strongly believe that, if given sufficient sense of belonging, Ndigbo will fare better in a United Nigeria than as a separate entity.
I wish to appreciate all those who have been suing for peace in the region and all our politicians who have ensured that our people at the grassroots enjoy a feel of the dividends of democracy. We are watching keenly and taking records of the few politicians who are doing their best to deliver their mandates to the people, while we earnestly await the self-centered and corrupt ones at the polls in the forthcoming elections.
I enjoin all of us, especially the Youth, to arm ourselves with our PVCs and judiciously utilize them at the polls in the forthcoming elections. I exhort you never to trade your PVC for any amount of money, as no amount of money can be better than enthroning good leadership cum visionary government for the betterment of our nation at large. Refuse, vehemently, to be used as political thugs; engage not in any political violence. As the campaign is ongoing, I exhort us to engage on issues-based campaigns, devoid of religious and ethnic acrimony. Remember, elections will come and go and the politicians will never stop hobnobbing with one another while we continue to engage in verbal and physical wars with our compatriots, on behalf of the politicians. Be reminded that election is not a war and politics is nothing but a game.
I pray that this 2023 will usher in unprecedented developments and unwavering peace in South-East and Nigeria at large! May Nigeria succeed!
Rt. Hon. Rikki Nwajiofor, Cmi.
Ndigbo Youth Parliament (NYP).