Former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke visited the Deeper Life Bible Church’s headquarters on Thursday, charging Nigerians to defend the nation from all those who seek to desecrate it.
Duke, who was giving the pulpit to address the thousands of congregation who came for the Special Power Night programme, tagged: “Night of divine increase,” spoke for a lengthy period, campaigning subtly for his presidential ambition.
Duke said the nation was presently at the lowest ebb, saying that if not checked, it could lead “us into a situation where anger, anxiety and utmost distrust not only for the leadership but at our fellow citizens. This is an evening of optimum grace and not one suited for recounting the recurrence dismal things have become.
“And what has led us to this point? We probably have the answers or at least, faint idea of it. I would rather want to use this opportunity given to me to speak and urge us all to move beyond complaining and watching things go wrong, stop resigning ourselves to criticisms and forlorn hope but rather stand up to those who wish to desecrate our future with fallen policies, strategies and crass ignorance.”
According to Duke, it was time to stand up and come together to oppose all forms of inequalities and discrimination, stating that, Nigeria, as dire as the situation might be, “is a land of grace and abundance, a biblical land of milk and honey. We cannot in such abundance live in penury like the children of Israel while in Egypt. The solution lies in our collective resolve to take back our destiny in our hands, reclaim our future and reassess the rules of engagement in all strata of our national life.”
Duke said the future appeared bleak for the youths who knew nothing about history, adding that for his generation seated in the hall, “it is a burden that is hanging on us and posterity would be unkind to us if we do not do something about it. I use the children standing the risk of being lost and it will be uncharitable for us not striving to guarantee them a better future. But even more importantly, ensuring that they embrace that future with renewed vigour and zest.
“My brothers and sisters, we must defend our country, its vital interest, its image in the committee of nations and its message to the world. It is our obligation to defend our nation from all those who seek to desecrate it. Our civilisation is at stake, our way of living, of being free or promoting our values, our common enterprise, our hopes, our stake. And we cannot live it to chance any more – we must act and act now. We must come together to rebuild the link between our leadership and the led; between the state and its citizens and between Nigeria and the rest of the world.
“The essence of the privilege of my speaking to you today is a clarion call to each and every one of us, particularly, our young people here to recognise our strength in our diversity and to awaken to democratic activism, actualise the powers in building your right of democratic suffrage with the conscious realisation that skills, industry, productivity and competitiveness are determinant factors for national greatness.”
According to him, without doubt, industry and creativity, Nigeria would remain an overgrown, underfed and over indulgence geographical description and not a nation.
He said there were certain challenges that must be overcome for the nation to achieve greatness, saying that the first was the challenge of social and economic dichotomies.
Duke stated that Nigeria painfully suffered the failure of common citizenship, as the failure was embedded in the fact that “we primarily define ourselves by our tribes rather than by our nation. We do not see Nigeria as our home but as a geographical entity where our primordial home, our tribe is located. Until we commonly go beyond tribal sentiment, we would always have the challenge of leadership. It should never matter where leadership comes from. What should matter is how capable leadership is.”
According to him, the next challenge to tackle was building institutions of democracy and development, saying that one of the greatest problems of nation building today was the absence of institutions.
He explained that whether nations were able to manage their political dispute peacefully without lapsing into conflict or sustained economic growth without creating huge inequalities, critically depended on the quality of their relevance national institutions.
“We should not just set the rules, we must place the right people who have the expertise and moral competence to understand and implement the objectives of our institutions and ensure that these institutions inspire public confidence by being fair, by being transparent and by being steadfast.”
Duke added the most fundamental was the challenge of leadership, arguing that unless the nation had leaders with ability, integrity, commitment, vision and the fear of God, Nigeria would continue to falter and remain within the confines of mediocrity and sideline among its peers.
“Our nation is in great need of leaders who have a vision to leave it better than they met it, leaders who would lead by deed and not by words; leaders who believe that everyone matters, leaders who by their fruits we shall uphold them. Our experience in the past has been very disappointing. But we have every reason to believe that the future will be better, if we collectively agree to address these challenges that becloud our nation.”
According to Duke, the enemies of Nigeria were not the many challenges destroying the land, but the people and institutional mechanisms that supported and enabled these challenges to persist.
“If you refuse to speak up, refuse to vote and participate or refuse to seek office, you are eminently qualified because you feel there is nothing you can do to make a difference. Or worst still, believe you do not count, then you are part of the problems; indeed, a major part of it. You were born as a change agent and must resolve to play your part with humility, diligence, confidence and with the injunction of the Almighty to love our neighbours as our ourselves.”