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In the last couple of weeks, we have seen Nigerian’s unite in ways that we have not seen in recent years. The nation is incensed and almost in unison, we shout BRING BACK OUR GIRLS! As I watch this unfolding, with pride that we would get out of our slumber and speak out and that we have started to demand accountability, I am concerned that this great momentum is not lost. That we do not deal with this particular issue and forget the deeper causes. That as a people, we look further and ask, “how did we create a society where something like this can happen?” and “what do we need to do to change it?”

I don’t have all the answers but I do have a dream. I see in my mind the country I would like to live in, grow old in and allow my children call home. I have a dream, and I have taken the liberty of borrowing and tweaking the words of the great dreamer- Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps, with his voice, my dream will be carried far into your heart and we will all connect to our dreams for Nigeria and see them come to pass, so:

Martin Luther King Junior delivering the iconic "I have a Dream Speech".
Martin Luther King Jr. delivering the iconic “I have a dream” speech

I HAVE A DREAM

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the hope for Nigeria.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “Unity, Faith, Peace & Progress”

I have a dream that one day, this nation rich in oil and richer in gas will be richer in wisdom, to properly steward what it has been given. I have a dream, that every household in Nigeria is lit up with electricity, clean water flowing from the taps, food plentiful for all to eat, refineries refining what we produce.

I have a dream, that this nation of 160 million people -with 40% of them being youth- will empower her youth. That the young in Nigeria will have education that gives them choices. That the young in Nigeria will not die of malaria and other preventable diseases or be born in one of the worst countries to be born in on earth.

I have a dream! That one day businesses will thrive in this country! That Nigerian’s will not only take jobs but create them.

I have a dream that one day, this brilliant nation of brilliant people will have created systems that allow the nation have its best people rule it! I have a dream, that the decision makers  that we chose from among ourselves will be worthy, capable and feel the weight of responsibility to do what is right by Nigeria as a whole.

I have a dream, that one day, our minds will be free from poverty. That we move from the need to stuff our belies and consume all that we can, to contribution, to growth, to leaving behind a legacy and a name that endures.

I have a dream, that one day, Yoruba’s, Hausa’s, Igbo’s, Ijaws, Itsekiri’s, Igala’s, Nupe’s, and everyone from all the 300 plus tribes that make up Nigeria, will see one another as brothers and sisters. I have a dream, that Nigerians will one day love Nigeria and see it as theirs- together.

I have a dream that my little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged, promoted, or have chances withheld from them, just because they are not from the major tribes of Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa but that they will be judged by merit, skill and the content of their character.

I have a dream that one day on the brown sands of Borno, girls and boys will play freely, grow freely and prosper, surrounded by wealth and industry.

I have a dream that one day even the states of of the Niger Delta, states, sweltering with the heat of environmental pollution and lack, in the midst of plenty, will be transformed into a place of  abundant opportunity, of beauty, jobs, sustainable development. That industries sprout around using all the bye-products of crude oil that is so abundant there.

I have a dream today! Of rich Agriculture- of rice grown in Nigeria and exported, of sugar cane and our own sugar, of beans, of all fruits in their season… I have a dream that Nigeria with all of its rich resources- land, water and people, will harness all of that to feed itself and feed other countries around the world!

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, there will be as many professors in Zamfara as there are in Ekiti and a lot of them will be female.

I have a dream that one day, the industry of the Igbo’s and their ability to make gain, will be seen for the gift that it is, and taught around the nation, with pride… and with goods that rival the best in the world.

I have a dream, that one day, one of the Naira bills we spend in this country, will have on it, the photo of a woman who did something- as it is, our bills tell only one side of the story.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I hold dear to my heart.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to thrive together, to stand up for what is right together, knowing that we will one day see the Nigeria of our dreams. We will one day see a Nigeria that we can happily leave to our kids. Knowing we have done right by them.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

Nigeria, we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood we stand,
Nigerians all are proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.
Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honoured,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.
O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.

And when this happens, and when we allow unity, peace and progress ring, when we let them ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children will be able to join hands and answer the call to:

Arise, O compatriots,
Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our Fatherland
With love and strength and faith.
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain,
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.”

Hmmm… Almost without fail, the Nigerian anthem  causes me to cry, thus far, we have not kept the promise it makes. But we can. It is not too late! I have a dream for Nigeria. I know you have a dream for her too- somewhere deep inside, something in you has a dream for this nation, that is yours as well. Share your dreams with me. Let’s bring back a nation that thrives and one in which we are free to thrive.

The full text of Martin Luther King’s speech can be found at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm. Ciao! Be awesome this week.

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