The Portrait Of A New Nigeria: The 16th unveiled by Tunde Bakare

Fellow Nigerians in the diaspora and at home here in Nigeria, we are at a critical moment in our journey to nationhood; a defining juncture in our unfolding history.

In the coming year, 2023, Nigerians will, by God’s grace, head to the polls to elect a president for the seventh time in the context of the Fourth Republic. This transition, which is expected to usher in the sixteenth administration since our country gained independence in 1960, provides us with an opportunity to reconcile

ourselves with the dreams of our founding leaders, reintegrate the diverse constituents of our country into true nationhood, and reconstruct Nigeria into a truly great nation. As we approach this crucial dispensation, the forces that have so far shaped our national trajectory are converging towards a tipping point that will produce the sixteenth ‘president.’

The Foundational Backdrop to the Sixteenth Presidency In this address, we will go on a journey up sixteen steps to the

administration of the sixteenth ‘president.’ However, before we embark on this figurative climb, let me state that I use the title ‘president’ with poetic license, mindful that not all the heads of government in Nigeria’s political history were addressed as such, Nigeria having had one prime minister and several military heads of state.

For the sake of clarity, let me also mention that while Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first to use the appellation ‘president’ in our history, and despite his towering intellect and capacity, he was not the head of government at the time; this role was occupied by Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa given the parliamentary context.1 Nevertheless, this sixteen-step climb will not begin without touching base with the visionary foundation of nationhood that was laid by this legendary nation-builder, in collaboration with fellow founding fathers, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Writing from London in the summer of 1960, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe painted a portrait of the Nigerian dream from his perspective with these inspiring words:

As a young man, I saw visions: visions of Nigeria becoming a great country in the emerging continent of

Africa; visions of Nigeria offering freedom to those in bondage, and securing the democratic way of life to those who had been lulled into an illusion of security under the colonial rule […] As a young man, I saw visions. I do not

doubt that as an old man, I shall dream dreams […] I trust that I shall dream my dreams amid the peace and ever-increasing prosperity of the people of my native Nigeria.

The motto of the independent Federation of Nigeria is ‘Unity and Faith’. I pray that we may guard our unity and keep our faith.

Speaking in New York on July 19, 1959, a year before Independence, at the 50th-anniversary celebration of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe predicated his model of a democratic Nigeria and Africa on the ideal of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States of America.

According to Dr Azikiwe: In the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln, this country [the United States of America] was conceived in the liberty of the individual and it was dedicated to the idea that democracy as a way of life can only be meaningful not only to its inhabitants but to the rest of the world if all facets of its society respect human dignity in the noble attempt to create equality of opportunity for all.3

In the same address, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was born on November 16, 1904, and took office as Nigeria’s only indigenous GovernorGeneral on November 16, 1960, would proceed to create a mosaic of nationhood as he described the circumstances of his birth and upbringing in diverse regions across the nation: I speak in this vein because, like many other Nigerians, I have lasting connections with all the three Regions which now form the Federation of Nigeria. I was born in Northern Nigeria, where the boundaries of the country lie on the verges of the Sahara Desert, where the majority of the inhabitants worship God according to the tenets of Islam, and where the camel caravans still ply to and fro in their various missions across the desert to the Middle East.

I was educated in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria and a great seaport, where the ships of various nations anchor to trade with us.4 Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe then continued in his speech to his predominantly

African American audience, saying: When the Ministerial system of government was introduced into Nigeria, I represented Lagos in the The legislature of Western Nigeria, where I still reside, in spite of my temporary absence in Eastern Nigeria. My parents are natives of Eastern Nigeria, the arsenal of republicanism in Nigeria. Although I am Ibo, I speak Yoruba and I have a smattering of Hausa. I am now Premier of Eastern Nigeria, the land of my fathers, which lies five hundred miles from Lagos and almost a thousand miles from the place of my birth in Zungeru, in Northern Nigeria. Each of our three Regions is vastly different in many respects, but each has this in common: that, despite variety of languages and custom or difference in climate, all form part of one country which has existed as a political and social entity for fifty years. That is why we believe that the political union of Nigeria is destined to be perpetual and indestructible.5 Upon such foundational dreams of a great nation whose constituent parts would stand in brotherhood “though tribe and tongue may differ,” Nigeria gained independence and began the climb up the steps to the realisation of the Nigerian dream.

Sixteen Steps in the Quest for the Nigerian Dream Since independence, the path to the Nigerian dream has been an arduous journey with milestones embodied by the various heads of government or ‘presidents’ who have led this nation. As each step leads to the next up the staircase of an edifice, each of these leaders has symbolised a step towards the Nigerian dream, for better or worse.

The first step to the Nigerian dream after independence was that of a glorious arrival into the community of nations. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, attained independence through a comparatively peaceful process; one that was seen as a model to other African countries. At the juncture of independence, Nigeria was endowed with strong leaders at the regional level, including Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe of the Eastern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello of the Northern Region, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Western Region. Backed by a federal constitution that had the legitimate seal of “We the People,” we enjoyed widespread international goodwill. Against this backdrop, we needed an ahead government at the centre that could balance the individually strong regional leaders while harnessing the groundswell of goodwill. As a result, the first step to the Nigerian dream was embodied by the measured and brilliant Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first prime minister, who earned the respect and admiration of the world.

However, the newly independent country was soon threatened by regional interests and divisive politics even as corruption wormed its way into the body politic in its hydra-headed forms of nepotism, bribery and electoral malfeasance. The resulting political chaos and disorder led to a military assault on the democratic space and the assassination of some foundational leaders. Hence, there was an urgent need to restore sanity to the polity. Consequently, the next step to the Nigerian dream was that of law and order. At this point, the lot fell on a military officer with a civil temperament, Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi, the then most senior officer in the Nigerian Army, whose role it was to lead the nation and restore order.

The third step to the Nigerian dream was that of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.7 The festering wounds of the first coup and the unification decree that abrogated Nigeria’s federal system resulted in a countercoup that eventually culminated in a civil war that cost millions of lives and destroyed property and livelihoods. At this time, the responsibility for “keep(ing) Nigeria one” fell on General Yakubu Gowon who sought to reunite the country with his “no victor, no vanquished”9 mantra and to begin the process of rebuilding the nation on a foundation of peace.

The fourth step to the Nigerian dream was that of a revolution of values. Such a revolution became inevitable when national complacency followed a season of abundance, even as corruption became entrenched in the polity through the collaborative efforts of the military and the civil service. The mantle of leadership at this time fell on General Murtala

Muhammed who associated himself with the ordinary people of Nigeria by reportedly inventing the now established greeting “Fellow Nigerians,” 10 and who began the practice of making sweeping changes “with immediate effect.”11

Following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed, and given our political and structural realities at the time, a Southerner whose credentials would be acceptable to the Northern military power bloc was required.

The responsibility fell on General Olusegun Obasanjo who completed the transition programme envisaged by Murtala Muhammed.

President Obasanjo led the nation as we took the fifth step towards the Nigerian dream, namely the creation of a constitutional pathway to the return to civil rule. The sixth step on this journey was the institution of the presidential

system of government. As the military prepared to return to the barracks, the pressing need of the nation was the delicate management of its fragmented regional, ethnic and religious interests. Also crucial was the

need to restore agriculture, a sector that had been abandoned in the oil boom years. At this time, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, an experienced politician from the North, educator, and lover of agriculture emerged as Nigeria’s first executive president and initiator of the Green Revolution.

Despite the interventions in agriculture, an economic crisis soon ensued from tumbling oil prices and Nigeria was left vulnerable to a volatile commodity-based economy. In this atmosphere, corruption and indiscipline weakened the resilience of the Nigerian state. In response to the need for disciplined and anti-corruption-driven leadership, General Muhammadu Buhari emerged, albeit through another coup d’état, to lead the nation to the seventh step, namely the inculcation of a culture of order through the War Against Indiscipline (WAI).

When the boot camp of discipline became excruciating, a case for a more pragmatic approach was made by General Ibrahim Babangida, a diplomatic dictator who led the eighth step toward the Nigerian dream,

namely the economic diplomacy of the Nigerian state and its connection to the global economy.

As we transited from the eighth step, Chief M. K. O. Abiola sought to reverse the trend of poverty and redistribute wealth to ordinary Nigerians who had been excluded from the wealth accumulated by

Nigeria’s elite class, of which he was a part. However, this transition was truncated in the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election by General Ibrahim Babangida and the military junta, thus denying what ought to have been the ninth step to the Nigerian dream. In its place was a short-lived place-holding step taken by Chief Ernest Shonekan, who served as interim head of state.

As Nigerians looked forward to taking a tenth step towards the Nigerian dream, which we hoped would bring a restoration of the democratic mandate that had been denied the Nigerian people, what we got in its stead was the most brutal dictatorship in our political history.

Nevertheless, even amidst this repression, the tenth step taken by General Sani Abacha forged a spirit of resilience and resistance to tyranny in the Nigerian people.

The eleventh step to the Nigerian dream was the last one taken in the jackboots of the military. Following the death of General Sani Abacha, a leader who had held no prior elective position and had little taste for the

trappings of militarised politics was required. Such a leader was to facilitate a transition from military rule to a democratic era. At this time, General Abdulsalami Abubakar emerged.

Following the return to civil rule, the nation needed a leader who could bridge the gap between the military and civil society; one who could appeal to the North while leveraging a favourable international image to begin the process of restoring Nigeria’s battered international image and reversing our pariah nation status. At this time, the fifth head of government, General Olusegun Obasanjo, was called upon to once again lead the nation as we took the twelfth step to the Nigerian dream, namely democratisation and economic liberalisation.

The thirteenth step to nationhood was an opportunity to resolve the minority question symbolised by the lingering militancy in the Niger Delta which threatened the nation’s survival. Furthermore, following the strides taken by General Obasanjo’s team of competent economic technocrats, particularly towards the resuscitation of our national reserves, the required leader then was one who had not put his hands in the till. Thus, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the first Nigerian leader to publicly declare his assets,12 emerged bolstered by a reputation of leaving a surplus of millions of dollars in the treasury during his tenure as the Governor of Katsina State.

Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from Bayelsa in the Niger Delta emerged as his vice president. This the administration made efforts to resolve the Niger Delta crisis. However, the next step in the journey to nationhood ought to have taken us beyond merely treating the symptoms of militancy and economic insufficiency to addressing the root cause of these problems, namely the politically non-inclusive and economically unsustainable governance structure. Hence, following the prolonged illness and death of President Yar’Adua, Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan emerged first as acting president, then as president; the first Nigerian leader from a so-called minority ethnic group. It was an opportunity for one who understood these issues to lead the way toward lasting resolutions. This need, however, was unmet despite such commendable efforts as the 2014 Centenary National Conference.

As the foundational problems lingered, militancy spread like a virus to other parts of the country, especially the North-East, where it took the form of a deadly insurgency with a cloak of religious extremism known as Boko Haram. Meanwhile, the twin forces of corruption and violence fueled the cycle of poverty. At this time, the nation needed one with anti-corruption and enforcement antecedents; one who could combat a narrative of religious extremism with tolerance. President Muhammadu

Buhari re-emerged in these circumstances to lead Nigeria as we took the fifteenth step. Despite the sheer breadth and depth of the challenges currently facing the nation, the fifteenth presidency is a forerunner of the

New Nigeria. This was clearly stated by General Muhammadu Buhari in December 2014 as he sought the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In the words of the would-be 15th president:

We seek a new Nigeria. It starts with us. It starts today. I have placed myself before you seeking your help to nominate me as your standard-bearer for our progressive party, APC […] Why then do I seek office,

if not for myself? While others might prefer to stay at home watching their grandchildren grow and leave the battle to others, I still see injustices that need to be righted and I still dream of a New Nigeria.14

Building on this hope of a New Nigeria, we are about to take the sixteenth step toward the Nigerian dream. In the words of that great dreamer, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, “…before we reach the majestic

shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness…”15 The question facing Nigerians is: who is best suited for the role of crafting a pathway through the wilderness?

The Seven Pointers to the Sixteenth President I will now attempt an answer to this question using as a framework seven pointers, some of which I first introduced in my October 7, 2018 State of the Nation Broadcast titled “The Road To 2019: Quo Vadis, Nigeria?” 16 The seven pointers are the Mood, the Man, the Mission, the Mandate, the Message, the Medium, and the Moment.

The Mood

The mood here refers to the mood of the nation; the hopes, aspirations, as well as the fears and frustrations of the Nigerian people. Despite the strides that have been taken thus far in the journey to nationhood, the realities of the Nigerian people do not yet align with the portrait of the Nigeria of our dreams.

The killing and kidnapping of hapless citizens, the alarming out-of-school children phenomenon, the frightening rates of poverty, hunger and deprivation, and the attacks on critical infrastructure – all are pointers to the mood of the nation. At the same time, our democratic institutions are threatened by divisive politics, while religious and ethnic conflicts have continued to hinder the emergence of a united nation.

Amidst these national challenges, deft political moves are being made towards 2023, with ethnic, religious and regional permutations shaping the conversations. The stage is being set to pit Christians against Muslims, the North against the South, the South-West against the South-East, and the South-East against the North. This situation calls for a certain kind of leader.

The Man

Having identified the issues, the next milestone highlights the man or woman that is best fit to lead the nation at this time. Against the backdrop of the prevailing state of the nation, we need a leader who can reconcile grievous historical and current differences, reintegrate the various ethnic and religious constituent parts into true nationhood, and rebuild the broken walls of federalism while maximising Nigeria’sdiverse geo-economic potential. This brings me to the brand, PTB.

PTB is currently an acronym for Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare. The PTB brand is the rallying point for ‘Project 16.’ Nevertheless, Project 16 is not just about me. It is not about the presidential ambition of any man. In any case, I do not have a self-generated ambition. What I do have is a vision of a New Nigeria that was birthed in me from childhood and an honest aspiration to serve as the sixteenth president of my beloved nation, Nigeria.

Like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, my childhood, upbringing and life’s journey unfolded across various contexts. I was born on November 11, 1954, in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State and part of the old Western Region. My ancestors on both my paternal and maternal sides were warriors who fought for the liberation of their people.

My father, Chief Sanni Adekunle Bakare, was the first son of Abdul Sidiq Bakare, who himself was the grandson of Chief Olubiyi Akinrinlewo Sodeke, the generalissimo who led the Egbas to Abeokuta in 1830.

Abdul Sidiq Bakare was the first Chief Imam of Iporo Sodeke Mosque and remained so until his passing. My father inherited my grandfather’s legacy to become the ‘Anibi-Juwon n’ile kewu’ (a thoroughbred Muslim with a noble birth) and the Otun of Iporo Sodeke Muslims (the right-hand man of the Chief Imam). My paternal grandmother, Adikatu, was the daughter of Chief Olufakun, the first Balogun of Owu who led the Owus to Abeokuta. He, too, was a warrior. On my maternal side was Chief Kelani Afuwape, the Balogun of Oba in Abeokuta, another warrior from the Oba community in Abeokuta, while my maternal grandmother, Madam Banjoko Afuwape, a princess, had her roots in Iga-Idungaran in Lagos State.

My father was a cocoa and kola nut merchant with vast farmlands in Akonko village and Abule Oga (Oga village) in the suburbs of Abeokuta. He subsequently travelled far North to Sokoto in search of a market for his kola nut produce. While there, he also invested in cotton farms in Shagari village and transported his cotton to the South in preparation for shipping his cocoa and cotton produce overseas.

My father enjoyed tremendous business success and settled in Sokoto for a period where he was nicknamed ‘Sanni Arewa’ by his customers, friends and neighbours; a nickname that is still visible on his tombstone today in his home in Abeokuta. His younger brother, Alhaji Alao Kareem Bakare (A. K. Bakare), who succeeded him in his trade after my father moved back to Abeokuta just before I was born, became the ‘Sarkin Yoruba’ in Sokoto.

Although born into a prominent Muslim home and trained in Islamic pedagogy, I became a Christian on September 24, 1974, by divine providence and was mentored by mainstream Christian leaders including Rev Emmanuel A. Alabi of Yaba Baptist Church, Dr Samuel Odunaike of Foursquare Gospel Church, Pastor W. F. Kumuyi of Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor E. A. Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and Dr Lester Sumrall of Lester Sumrall Evangelistic Association in South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A.

I am the Founding Pastor and current Serving Overseer of The Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as The Latter Rain Assembly, established on April 1, 1989, in Lagos, Nigeria. In the spirit of the move by God in Genesis 1617 to reconcile Ishmael with the Abrahamic covenant embodied by Isaac, I understand both worlds and can be instrumental in God’s hands to achieve national reconciliation and integration despite the religious diversity of the Nigerian people. I understand that part of God’s purpose for Nigeria is the actualisation of the idea that Muslims and Christians, the North and the South, can come together as one great nation under God.

Like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, as a young boy, I had a vision of Nigeria. I grew up in my father’s house in Abeokuta, a storey building with sixteen steps, which today is the First Family Heritage Historical Museum in Abeokuta courtesy of the Ogun State government during the Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration.

As a child, I was groomed in the traditions of my fathers and graduated from Koranic School on April 16, 1967. Just before that day, on April 10, 1967, exactly fifty-five years ago tomorrow, as a twelve-year-old, I saw myself in a night dream climbing the sixteen steps in my father’s house. I exited through a door that opened up to a mountain top where I took a seat between two of Nigeria’s notable leaders, General Yakubu Gowon who was the then Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was then the Leader of Government Business. In the said dream, we were overlooking Nigeria and strategising on how to shape the future of the nation. That dream

stirred in me an unquenchable conviction about Nigeria’s great destiny and my role in the fulfilment of that destiny. Afterwards, I understood that the sixteen steps in my father’s house in Abeokuta were symbolic of the sixteen administrations in Nigeria from independence to the next administration, and a pointer to the fact that I would play a leading role as we approach the 16th step to the Nigeria of our dreams.

Furthermore, I understand the desperations currently faced by the Nigerian people. Although I was born into a declining wealth in 1954, I was thereafter raised in abject poverty following the death of my father on September 7, 1957, just before my third birthday. I was raised by my widowed mother, Wulaimot Asabi Eebudola Bakare, a merchandise trader and Adire artist and entrepreneur of international repute

My mother later converted to Christianity during the dedication of my first child, Mrs Olubunmi Fabode (née Bakare), at the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

From the early age of nine, I engaged in manual labour, hawking kola nut and plantain, hewing and selling firewood, and fetching water to earn meagre wages to support my mother who deprived herself to take care of me and giving me a shot at the future she never had. I appreciate how governance and public policy can provide the much-needed lifeline for struggling households. Without the free education and primary healthcare policies of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, I may not have attended primary school or accessed crucial health interventions as a child. This familiarity with poverty informed my convictions as I set out to develop the required capacity to lead Nigeria.

As I have said elsewhere, “When my dreams outgrew the confines of my environment, I set out for Lagos on July 13, 1973, armed with my values, start-up capital of one shilling and threepence, and a blue portmanteau.”20 I arrived in Lagos in my late teens, taking on jobs from washing clothes to taking photographs until I could save enough funds to sponsor my university education at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

Propelled by my childhood dream of getting involved, I became a student union leader and perhaps the first member of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union (LVCU) to contest for the office of the President of the University of Lagos Students’ Union (ULSU), which earned me the nickname ‘politician from the pulpit.’

While at UNILAG, I also served as the general secretary of the Dyna Club in 1978 while Gbenga Daniel was the president. We considered ourselves in the Dyna Club the Youth Wing of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and we were instrumental in inviting Chief Obafemi Awolowo to UNILAG in 1978 for a public lecture following the formal launch of UPN. I was also privileged to be on the podium the day UPN was formally launched in Lagos in the Eletu Odibo area of Yaba. Gbenga Daniel and I subsequently visited the Apapa home of Chief Obafemi Awolowo on Park Lane Street on a number of occasions to be mentored by him.

Inspired by the conviction that I had a role to play in building the frameworks of a New Nigeria, I obtained a law degree from the University of Lagos (UNILAG), qualified as a lawyer from the Nigerian Law School, and cut my teeth in the legal profession with doyens in the Nigerian legal system, including Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) and Chief Rotimi Williams (SAN). I worked closely with Chief Gani Fawehinmi to produce the Nigerian Constitution Law Reports, and I was sent to the United Kingdom in 1981 to meet with the printers and put the finishing touches on the first report. As a lawyer and businessman, I understand the role of the private sector in complementing public policy, creating jobs, and fostering development.

I appreciate the imperative of the ease of doing business and the need for an enabling environment, having done business in diverse sectors, including construction, housing, manufacturing, transportation, aviation, and international trade.

The Mission

Birthing the New Nigeria is the mission of the sixteenth administration. The New Nigeria is a nation where no one goes to bed hungry and no child is left out of school without access to quality education; where our homes, schools, streets, villages, highways and cities are safe and secure, and Nigerians can work, play or travel with their minds at rest, and go to bed with their hearts at peace; a Nigeria where our hospitals are lifesaving institutions and every Nigerian has access to good quality healthcare; where no youth is unemployed and our young men and women are job creators; where businesses thrive on innovation and made-in-Nigeria can compete anywhere in the global market; where homes and businesses have access to clean and uninterrupted power supply and ideas are facilitated by functional infrastructure and cutting-edge technology.

The Mandate

Towards the New Nigeria, Project 16 is committed to 4 pivotal mandates, namely Peace, Progress, Prosperity and Possibilities. The Peace Mandate encapsulates our aspirations in terms of Security, National Reconciliation and Rebirth, Anti-Corruption, and Leadership and Governance Reforms.

The Progress Mandate will drive outcomes in Education, Healthcare, Infrastructural Development, and Poverty Alleviation through social intervention.

The Prosperity Mandate promotes economic development through the right mix of fiscal and monetary policies toward poverty eradication and wealth creation.

The Possibilities Mandate envisions Nigeria as a trailblazer in the fourth industrial revolution with globally competitive outcomes in Science, Technology and Innovation; Arts, Culture, Entertainment, Tourism and Sports (ACETS); Environmental Sustainability; and a Foreign Policy thrust that will position Nigeria as an African Great Power facilitating the transformation of the continent and earning the respect of the global community.

To leverage the competencies of the Nigerian diaspora towards this mandate, Diaspora for Development Agreements will be a key objective of our foreign policy. These agreements will harness the goodwill of Nigeria’s international partners to create ‘Work-for-Home-Country’ arrangements that will enable the Nigerian diaspora to take paid time off to rebuild Nigeria as did Nehemiah whose exploits are contained in the sixteenth book of the Bible. Needless to say, such a level of involvement in the affairs of your nation will be preceded by the guarantee of the inalienable rights of Nigerians in the diaspora to vote and elect leaders in Nigeria.

The Message

The message is simply “A New Nigeria for Every Nigerian.” The sixteenth dispensation will be about making the New Nigeria the reality for every Nigerian. This is what the PTB brand stands for. It means that no part of our nation – North, South, East or West – should feel marginalised in Nigeria. It means that no matter where you are in the world, the power and wealth of the Nigerian nation will be deployed for your protection and benefit. It means that every Nigerian will be proud to say “I am a Nigerian.”

The Medium

In the quest for this dream of a New Nigeria, I have engaged the nation on diverse platforms, from the pulpit to the podium; from praying, preaching, prophesying and confronting dictators, to marching the streets on the platform of Save Nigeria Group (SNG); from backing social intervention programmes in a bid to alleviate the sufferings of the Nigerian people, to advocating alternative policy solutions on the platform of the International Centre for Reconstruction and Development (ICRD); from collaborating with other stakeholders at strategic fora such as the Centenary National Conference in 2014 to giving speeches and lectures on the path to a New Nigeria in diverse

institutions in Nigeria and across the world. During the 2011 elections, that dream of a New Nigeria was what informed my eventual decision to run as a vice presidential candidate to the then General Muhammadu Buhari on the platform of the Congress

for Progressive Change (CPC). Thereafter, I was driven by that undying dream of a New Nigeria when I, along with other compatriots, facilitated a coalition of progressives and moved a motion for the formation of the

All Progressives Congress (APC) on February 6, 2013, at Eagle Square, Abuja. I did this in the hope that genuine patriots would coalesce to build a New Nigeria that works for every Nigerian. It is why I have remained committed to the founding tenets of this coalition.

The Moment

At the beginning of this speech, I said that the factors that have thus far shaped our national trajectory are converging towards a tipping point. I am confident that “the darkest nights produce the brightest stars.”22 The worsening challenges that now confront us as a nation on the eve of the sixteenth dispensation are indicators of an opportunity for the emergence of stellar nation-builders at home and in the diaspora. Now is the time and this is the moment for such nation-builders to work towards one objective: the emergence of a New Nigeria. Inspired by my childhood dream and in line with my trajectory in bringing together the best of the North and the best of the South, it would be the honour and privilege of my life to facilitate this coalition of nation-builders as we collectively take the sixteenth step or leap towards the Nigeria of our dreams.

 As I have said in times past, the best dreams come to pass when you are awake. It is the dawn of a new day in Nigeria and I am willing and prepared to rise to the occasion.

Thank you for listening, God bless you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare Serving Overseer, The Citadel Global Community Church (CGCC); Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG)