Address By Professor Steve Azaiki, National Coordinator to Chairmen of Committees of the National Think-Tank, at the Hilton Hotel, Abuja. On March 6, 2008.

Your Excellencies,
Traditional Rulers,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am confident that 2008 will be one of the most remarkable years of our democracy, as we all work together to realize the core aspiration of our people to attain a better life for all. I say this because, in our own estimation, it is not often that a nation is called upon to strain every sinew of its collective body to attain a dream. And such is the injunction that history has imposed on us today.

It is on this note that I welcome to this gathering, experts, opinion leaders, learned men and women of the Legal profession and many who have dedicated their entire life to building a better Nigeria. We are privileged to have here today, those eminent Nigerians, who, at one time or another, have served our country at various levels.

All these honourable guests, representing both memory and hope, remind us by their presence that ours is a task in a relay race of continuous rebirth so that the dream of a better life becomes a reality for all Nigerians. Indeed, they represent a celebration of the indomitable spirit of our people and pose a challenge to all of us to act in ways that do not betray or disappoint the expectations of the people.

I am pleased to say, humbly, that we have indeed done much to implement the commitments we made to the people in 2007. However, and not unexpectedly, it is obvious that we still have outstanding work to do. In this regard, we need to stand up and support the organization financially and morally. We must show commitment.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, we are not perfect, in selecting chairmen for the various committees; we may not have satisfied everybody’s opinion of a chairman. Indeed some of you may even express doubts on why, for instance, an accountant is appointed to head a different sphere of Endeavour other than accounting. I can assure you that before giving you this great responsibility, we had deep thoughts, we consulted, we asked questions, background check, and all that. Permit me therefore to say that the result of that painstaking exercise is your appointment. Majority of Nigerians believe you can do the job.

We have carefully selected some of the areas of our national life that are urgently in need of intervention or special attention. That is, Energy, Transportation, education, Foreign policy, Infrastructural Development etc. We also consider the Niger Delta key to our National Development. This is why the Niger Delta has been broken down to sub-committees to give peace and security the urgent attention they deserve.

Having said that, it is pertinent to say that more than at any other time, the situation that confronts our nation and country, and the tasks we have set for ourselves, demand that we inspire and organize all our people to act together as one, to do all the things that have to be done, understanding that in a very real sense, all of us, together, hold our own future in our hands!

Only this morning, the Constitution Review Committee of the Think Tank was inaugurated. For the committee to function properly and measure up to expectation, it will need finance. We have taken the bold step to inaugurate it because we believe that no nation can make progress if the constitution is defective or if the people do not believe in the constitution. I ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to assist the committee to succeed.

Let me therefore make bold to say that this historical moment demands that our nation should unite as never before and strain every sinew of its collective body to address our common challenges and keep alive, the dream that has sustained all of us as we traveled along the uncharted road towards the creation of the Nigeria envisioned by our founding fathers. Don’t forget that they also made sacrifices during their time. They did this, in anticipation of a better tomorrow. Now that tomorrow is here with us.

Our problems are serious; people sleeping with one eye open, demands that we address security of life and property; Nigeria must address the Niger Delta issue and so on. For the past one year, the Central Working Committee and the Niger Delta committee have contributed in no small measure to finding lasting peace in that region; the Energy crisis is our national embarrassment and we must address it.

I think if I were to ask this audience what to do to get us out of this present quagmire or predicament, there would be various answers forthcoming. Amongst these would be responsive leadership, a workable constitution, the creation of more states and local governments, the need for the federation to become a confederation and the deepening of our democracy. Some may even demand, though not publicly, but by whispering to my ears, the breakup of the country into various ethnic groups. The last answer can easily be dismissed as a product of frustration with our present situation, a passing phase that will soon disappear. Let us therefore examine other options.

Surely, overcoming our problems in Nigeria will require ingenuity, especially looking at the near failure of past efforts. But this time around, we must be determined to succeed. With the type of people who have decided to join this voyage of renaissance, we cannot afford to fail. This is because the consequences of failure are too harrowing to contemplate. Actually this is not the time for finger pointing, but for working together to find solutions to our country’s seemingly intractable problems.

I have no doubt that we need good leadership. Good leadership is an essential ingredient of any society or organization that wishes to make progress. It is this and this alone that can ensure success. It is this that led Admiral Rickover to state with some exaggeration: Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans do not accomplish anything either. Theories of management do not matter much. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish your great deeds.

Let me on behalf of the Central Working Committee, thank you distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen for giving yourself up for service. What we have accepted to do is nothing but service. May history be kind to us.

With all hands on deck, and commitment to conduct our business in an unusual and more effective manner, we shall sustain the process of our country’s reconstruction and development and take it even to higher levels.

May God bless us all.

Thank you.