Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola
Remarks made by the Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola special guest of honour at the conference organised by the Movement for a Better Future (MFBF) at Kongo Conference Hotel, Zari, on Saturday, July 6, 2013.
I have great pleasure to be among you today for this important conference. I want to express deep gratitude to the Movement for a Better Future (MFBF) for graciously inviting me as Special Guest of Honour to this conference organised to promote the cause of unity among our people for the purpose of changing the country for the better.
Our country has passed through numerous problems and challenges; and fundamental among these is the frequently flawed process by which leaders come to occupy political offices in the land. The flawed process contributes immensely towards producing very bad leaders – the kind we have been long familiar with in our experience since independence. This has been largely responsible for the progression of underdevelopment that has been the lot of our country and its diverse people.
The wounds inflicted by bad leadership on the people have been deep and widespread. Nigerians over the years have had to endure unwarranted poverty, poor education, poor health, collapsed infrastructure, unemployment, short life expectancy and numerous other general hardships. Bad leaders are by their very nature unaccountable to the people, and even contemptuous of them.
Consequently, they will do anything to cling onto power, which includes dividing the people in order to stay in leadership positions. They have kept our people apart and constantly fostered disunity among them, particularly along the major fault-lines of ethnicity and religion.
Regrettably, our people have acquired the false consciousness of ethnicity, religion, region and so on. But indeed, there are only two classes – oppressors and the oppressed. The poor in Ibadan, Sokoto, Enugu, Bida and Calabar are the same while their oppressors belong to the same class, irrespective of their circumstances of birth. It is the desire of every man to be free and eliminate any form of oppression.
However, Democracy does have its benefits, which is why it is the most preferred form of government despite all its imperfections. Thanks to our democratic order, some progressive and well-meaning politicians and leaders of thought, mainly from opposition parties, have decided that things must change for the better in the country.
And this process of change should begin by rallying Nigerians together and making them realise that they have far more to gain from forging a united front than staying divided.
Towards this end, we are coming together to forge a national movement that traverses the length and breadth of the country. The overall aim of this movement is summed by the theme of this conference ‘Uniting our People for Change’.
This movement for change is being spearheaded by a grand partnership between two organisations, the Movement for a Better Future (MFBF) and Democratic Emancipation Movement (DEM). While the MFBF is coordinating the movement in the Northern part of the country, DEM is driving its activities in the South.
We are fully aware that forging unity among Nigerians requires a massive effort at mobilising them through an equally formidable effort at arousing their consciousness to the urgent need for national harmony. After all, this is what politics is all about.
According to one of Africa’s foremost political scientist, late Billy Joseph Dudley, politics, among other things, is about consciousness formation and social mobilisation. According to him, consciousness formation involves the evocation of consciousness among a people to the problems that confront them, while social mobilisation entails the rallying of the people together for collective action towards tackling their problems.
This conference is part of the series of activities aimed at bringing about this kind of consciousness in Nigerians and mobilising them to act together in order to rescue this country from bad leadership. We are trying to enlighten Nigerians about the opportunity that Democracy offers them to change the course of leadership in this country.
We are trying to make our people understand that Democracy is for them, and about them and that democratic leadership is born of their votes. Democracy means people power and the people also have the responsibility to use that power to determine the kind of leadership that rules over them. As a cynic, James Russell Lowell, once put: ‘Democracy gives every man a right to be his own oppressor’.
The awareness that their rise to and stay in power are dependent on the people imposes a measure of responsibility for performance upon the leadership. But in order to be effective at achieving its aims, Democracy also imposes demands on the people to commit themselves to its cause and stand ready to defend it. This is precisely the point made so eloquently by former American President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, that:
‘Democracy is a difficult kind of government. It requires the highest qualities of self-discipline, restraint, a willingness to make commitments and sacrifices for the general interest, and it also requires knowledge’.
This is part of the awareness and realisation we want to inculcate in the people that we all, both leaders and the led, have a stake in Democracy and we must come together and act together to make it work. We therefore use this opportunity to appeal to the people to begin to exercise their democratic power from the next round of elections by voting for progressive leaders who will rule according to their desire and in furtherance of their interests.
Once again I thank the organisers of this conference for the kind invitation.
I thank you all for you kind attention.
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