By Bola Tinubu
Below is the full text of the speech delivered at the 7th annual Bola Tinubu colloquium, held at Eko Hotel, Lagos, on Wednesday, March 25.
“We have reached point where we must make a point. History beckons. We must answer it well or not all. To respond wisely is to open ourselves to a better future.
Elections are set for March 28. They will determine the fate of the nation for years to come. There can be no more fence-sitting because that fence has been torn down by the vast disparity between our current reality and our desired future.
We have a decision to make. We must decide whether wisdom is better than cunning, if bravery is sounder than bribe, if compassion speaks more than corruption, if patriotism is a more worthy vocation than pillage and if love of the nation and its people can overcome the love of power and stolen privilege.
These fundamental questions will be asked of us this Saturday at the polls. Do not try to avoid them. This is the time to believe in something more profound and nobler than the governance we now see.
This is the time to have faith in yourselves and your fellow Nigerians that we can actually realize our hope for change.
Let us believe that we can call forth a better destiny. A new day must stand and the bleak night of injustice must fade into the recesses of the past.
I am filled with the expectation of a more just and rightful future. My conviction has always been this day would come.
Almost a year ago, last April, we held the final Action Congress of Nigeria convention. At that convention, we decided to merge into the APC. At that convention, I told you:
“History is upon us, asking something bold. Those who hear must respond to its call because history is impatient when it has set itself in motion. If we tarry, history will not. If we fail to act as the situation requires, history will still move forward and post its unanswerable verdict against us.
A storm is brewing. Be not afraid. It is a positive storm carried by a positive wind. Those things that have no roots and offer no solution to the plight of the people shall be swept away. This storm shall change the political terrain forever. I am not afraid of this storm. In fact, I welcome it because this storm is us.”
At that time, I said that the convention must be the ACN ‘s final one. It was. At that time, I said we must join the APC not for ourselves but for the good of Nigeria. We did and were right to do so.
For today, we approach the eve of a moment where, if allowed the freedom to express their sovereign will, the people will cast off the yoke of misgovernance. They will vote for a change that will usher in a new day for a new Nigeria – right before our very eyes.
I already see it. If you have compassion for this nation that gave birth to you, you surely see it too.
Not all Nigerians want a change for the collective good. A powerful, small few benefit from the unjust ways of today.
They profit so much from present inequities. Hence, they view as a personal curse the change most of us would count as a national blessing.
They scoffed at the formation of the APC. They said it would never come to pass. They were wrong. Then dread came upon them. They tried to defraud the public by forming other parties with similar names. They only fooled themselves. We continue building our democratic edifice on a solid foundation of fairness, transparency and merit.
They attacked General Buhari, saying he would not subject himself to a primary. He did and won it as our party held the most open and transparently honest convention ever held in Nigeria.
They said I connived and conspired my way into the VP seat. They lied so easily that it was the price I extracted from General Buhari to support his bid. If not, I would destroy the party on the altar of my ambitions.
They were wrong. I pulled myself out of contention. The very brilliant and capable professor Yemi Osinbajo became our VP candidate. A man of integrity and impeccable character.
Alas, this sent Jonathan’s henchmen into disarray. In the quiet of their private closet, even they could see clearly enough through the darkness of their own hearts to recognize that our ticket was so much better than theirs.
They could see that our progressive vision for the nation was so much better than their blind one.
They also could see what they did not want to see and dared not admit: That whatever good they might have done had a long ago vanished.
They hold office yet have abandoned governance. They hold power but have no good idea about the use of it. They lost over 200 of our daughters to Boko Haram. They lost part of our territory also. While they lay a heavy hand on the opposition the Chibok girls remain lost and Boko Haram continues to terrorize our people.
They are lost because they are blind and blind because they have already lost. Instead of allowing the nation to choose a leadership that would rescue them and us all, they would rather that all become as lost as they are.
Thus, on the eve of elections last month February, they postponed the exercise. They claimed security as their excuse.
We know better. For Jonathan, an election held on February 14 would have been an election lost.
He would have made history he did not intend: Our first incumbent president defeated in an election. He would join the club of wealthy leaders who left no legacy for their people.
I say here and now that the postponement merely gave him a six-week stay of electoral defeat. That is all he accomplished.
During the six week interval, his cohorts had hoped to turn public opinion his way. But the way they have acted, should only sour the people all the more. He has exposed himself as a man who would rather wreck democracy than to live by it.
He is like the shoeless boy given a complex toy. The more he plays with it, the less he understands the precious thing.
In his desperate drive to hold to power, there is not one national institution Jonathan has left unmolested or untarnished.
To save his post, Jonathan and his team would eagerly corrupt every national institution within reach. Everything is for sale and nothing is left sacred.
Although the nation suffers an economic downswing that will require astute policy to overcome, Jonathan has raided the national coffers as if money were as plentiful as sand. There is no dollar in this nation that his hand has not tried to grab. No naira that his underlings have not tried to pinch.
Their tactic is one of the most cynical that can be done by a leader to his people. They have decided to squeeze and starve the economy dry. With people desperate for money, they let go a droplet here, a droplet there.
So relieved shall you be of your fear of poverty, that you will think they favoured you by returning a small portion of what they took. The man steals your home that you may act grateful when he returns to you a door knob and a broken window.
That is their game. It is a dark, ancient deception in use since the first moment that man began to oppress his fellow man.
They have thrown money at Christian and Muslim clerics, attempting to buy two great faiths as if they were two cheap commodities. As such, they have attempted to turn our houses of worship into open dens of corruption.
They have dangled money in the face of our traditional fathers believing their conscience is for sale. Many have been brave enough to cohere to the nobility of their office more than worry about the expansion of their bank accounts.
They have corrupted some civil society groups and organizations to engage in violent protest against the electoral process and the use of the card readers. They oppose the card reading machine because the instruments foil their customary avenues of vote rigging.
Jonathan‘s team has already read the writing on the wall should these machines be used. They would be handed a defeat so resounding that they would begin to fight among themselves believing that each betrayed the other.
The reality is that they all have betrayed the nation and now it is time that the electorate merely pays them back in kind.
Thus, they will fight the use of the card reader to the last minute.
As in the Ekiti election, they have also tried to influence and corrupt the security agencies that they may do their bidding.
Credible reports show they are ready to arrest APC leaders.
No one wants to be arrested but neither am I afraid. The threat of arrest will not silence me. I cannot keep silent when I see those who are supposed to lead the nation trying to purchase it on the cheap. The people’s exclusive right to elect the leaders of their own choosing cannot be negotiated away.
You may arrest me and others but you cannot arrest an idea whose time has come.
The time for a common sense revolution has come to Nigeria.
In calling for a commonsense revolution, I do not advocate violence. I abhor it. That is not the type of revolution we seek,
This revolution is strong but peaceful. It is a revolution to use our votes to throw out ineffective leaders. It is a demand for a true electoral democracy and the responsive leadership associated with it. It is a revolution to rescue us from violence, injustice and poverty.
This revolution is not a violent one to tear things down. It is a positive one to rescue, repair and restructure the nation and its institutions in ways that further collective prosperity and well-being.
The only violence that is to be done is to violence, injustice and poverty themselves.
At its essence, a common sense revolution is a call to return to a level of decency in the relationship between government and the governed, between each one of us and his neighbour.
This implies that the society in which we live is a far distance from the society that should exist. A revolution in mind, spirit and action is needed to close this gap between what is today and what ought to be.
Commonsense Revolution speaks to the need to elect patriotic leaders that can give hope to our best aspirations as a nation and people. It speaks to how we must elect thinkers and doers to work together to bring about a beautiful revival of the national spirit and the good fortune of the people.
It takes us to a place where luck, good or otherwise, is insufficient. We must move forward with conviction, courage and creativity to mould a better nation out of the clay we now hold in our hands.
We must bring forth relief to the hard-pressed among us. For example, we have to finally end the sad chapter that Boko Haram has written in our history.
We must fight them boldly yet wisely. We must rebuild the afflicted area in a way that extremism may never take root again. If this requires revamping our fighting forces, so be it. A few “BuhariBattalions” and “Osinbajo Brigades” will do in months what the whole of Jonathan’s army could not do in six years.
Some say we need a Marshall Plan to rebuild the region. They are correct in approach but mistaken in name. We shall establish a “Buhari/Osinbajo Plan” and it will work.
There is too much poverty in the land. We need a government that will improve the social safety net to help those who, through no fault of their own, cannot help themselves.
Pay the pensioner! Feed the hungry and care for the sickly! And improve the nutritional values of our school children. We will domesticate this economy to bring about recovery.
We must bring recovery to our economy. The austerity this government imposes will visit upon our economy a depression that similar measures brought to Greece.
Our APC Government will use its fiscal and monetary space to jumpstart the economy. Economic history tells us that countercyclical policy is the best remedy to what we face. To the present government, such talk is revolutionary. To me, it is common sense.
Last, we must reform governance. Opaque budgets must be made transparent. NNPC, which today makes more money than we are told and other revenue-making bodies will not maintain two sets of books, one for public consumption and a secret one to show where the money really went. 20 billion dollars — enough to fund government for a year – shall no longer disappear as if by magic!
Briefly, these are the tenets of a common sense revolution. We need this bold approach because too much has gone wrong for too long.
You can help co-author this return to decency by voting wisely on March 28.
We fight no one and hate no one. We are all Nigerians. However, some things we do to each other must stop. We are better than how we seem and how the nation now performs. We must commit ourselves to our better nature that we may enjoy a better nation. This does not require any special genius. All it requires is the common sense to recognize we share a common fate and destiny. In your hands and actions lies so much of my future and in my hands, lies much of yours.
Now is the appointed time to rise up and work together to build a new country. A new day for a better Nigeria is possible.”
I thank you all for listening.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
March 25th, 2015