Friday, July 30, 2010

Amb. Sanders July 29, 2010 Remarks: My Wish for Nigeria @ 50

My Remarks to a Great Friend: @ 50, a Credible Election is in Your Hands!
(My @ 50 list for Nigeria)
By Dr. Robin Renee Sanders
Ambassador of the United States of America to Nigeria

Now this brings me to the tough part of this short program this evening where I begin my goodbyes to a country and a nation that has welcomed me -- almost as if I was a family member of this great nation --- the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
And as a family member, I have been with you through some challenging times . . . sad times . . . and some good times . . . over the last years, particularly the period between November 2009 and March 2010, but will say that I have never once waivered in encouraging support for Nigeria because I also never once waivered in my belief that everything would also turned out alright during that period and it did. You know there is a Nigerian way of doing things that must be appreciated and understood. My Team and I understood those things. We got it -- even when there was skepticism elsewhere -- we were confident that your young democracy would still steadfastly move forward and it has. I have had the opportunity to interact with the many strong and beautiful voices that blend together to make Nigeria the mosaic nation it is today.
As I thought about what I would say tonight a month out before my departure as I wanted to reflect and take a small journey with you this evening about the things I wish for my dear friend and what I wish for...the nation of Nigeria @ 50 years of age. So here is “My @ 50 list for Nigeria” as an ancestral sister of the soil, a family member, and a friend. You all know the things the U.S. Government is doing here to support Nigeria in so many ways, (in the health sector under PEPFAR and food security under feeding the future program and education, to name a few) so I won’t review everything here this evening.
You know life for me is always interesting and always incredibly amazing, it can be about moments that take your breath away and moments that change the paradigm of the future, but the goal should never be different. It is about: making a difference as a person, making a difference as a country, and making a difference as a nation. And, there is a difference between being a country and a nation and it is the latter that I wish for you as you build your democracy. So @ 50 this is what I hear Nigerians say Nigeria needs today as I have traveled to each of your 36 states. You are:
-- @ the point of making a difference not only in your future, but also on your past;
-- [You are] @ the point of embarking on the next century of your independence with a fundamental opportunity to change the social contract in your democracy
-- [You are] @ the point where social change is an imperative with your 2011 elections, the fight against corruption, and responsibility at all levels of government
-- [You are] @ the point where your road to change is paved with action to improve food security, education, the environment, your energy needs and development and self-help – these important sectoral elements I have cobbled together with friends to call the FEEEDS or change-pillars of your nation;
-- [You are] @ the point where speaking out for credible elections must turn into reality – and thoughtful consideration as to how you get there; what choices you make; what path you take to have a transparent elections so that that the conduct of your polls can secure your democratic destiny. And I know the new INEC is trying to do these things.
Tonight is about my personal message to a country on being an advocate for you at every turn, as a supporter of your democratic destiny and as a friend who wants you to do not only well, but very well. Every generation is a force of energy and the generations in Nigeria today must be a force for these changes.
You know I am going to fast forward and pretend like today . . . this evening . . . is actually July 29, 2011, and I have just laid down my Nigerian newspaper (not going to say which one I would be reading) and the headline reads: This is the Nation that Nigeria Built! But what follows behind this phrase will be the most important thing: Voter turnout High; Confidence in INEC restored; Voter Registry (not perfect but credible); Elections Free and Fair; the FEEEDS issues are being addressed. These are the things I wish for you. Remember democracies are messy as they are about a clash of ideas, they are not about violence, they are not about corruption, but they are about transparent and credible elections.
So this evening . . . these are the things I wish for my friend, the nation of Nigeria. I believe in you and your future and I will be watching as you move forward. You could have no stronger advocate in your corner. I am departing at the end of August, but I will always be here in spirit. As I take my leave I want to wish you well @ 50. So as one friend to another I want to say thank or:
“Me Yatti” to those who know me as GimbiyanMuri
“Ndalo” for my friends from Nri Kingdom who know me as “AdaNri”
“EseunModupe” to my friends who call me Yeye Oba of Ogidi
“Palang” to my Horom friends
“Imela” to those who greet me as NneOma, and;
“Ndewo” to those who welcomed me as AdaMazi
I close by saying to all Nigerians . . . .
Wishing You Well @ 50 and a Credible Election in 2011!