It was the last day of the 2011 campaign. The venue was the International conference Center in Abuja. My attention was transfixed on the television as I watched the General deliver his touching speech. “I have fought drift and purposelessness in this country. I have fought corruption and indiscipline. I have fought indolence and betrayal of trusts. I have fought the Nigerian civil war and struggled for the unity of this country in many ways …… and in all I’ve done; I have never touched a Kobo of public funds”.
My heart brimmed with pride and reverence as I listened to him with rapt attention. As he continued with his speech, his voice trailed off and he battled to keep his emotion under control. The pain in his heart made his mouth to quiver feverishly, for a General, it was a rare sight. He removed his glasses to wipe the tears from his eyes. On that day, he showed a side of him not too well known.
Where I was sited, I battled with my own emotions as hot tears pricked my eyes. The tears in my eyes felt like a river threatening to overflow its banks. I yielded to its supremacy as hot tears trickled down my face. My sisters and brothers who ordinarily would’ve mocked me stayed quiet the whole time. They saw passion, pain and hunger for change written all over me. Not just in me, but also on the face of the General and countless Nigerians who broke down in tears for the love of country on that night April 13th 2011.
Exactly four years after that sober night of tears, lovers of the General had cause to have teary eyes again but this time, it was tears of victory. By some stroke of hard work, resilience, formidable alliance and masterful strategy, the opposition won power and an idea that once seemed impossible became an exciting reality. Expectations are high, hopes have been rekindled, and Nigerians now have cause to look into the future with optimism.
Change comes at a price. Nigerians paid the price by standing long hours against the scorching sun and in some places against torrential rainstorm to deliver the victory we now celebrate. The only thing they ask for in return is a fulfillment of the change promised. Nigerians want a break from the past. They desire a country where they can sleep with both eyes closed, they want the wealth of the nation to be enjoyed by all, they want a nation where honest hard work is rewarded and corrupt enrichment is sanctioned. A country where youths can earn a living through productive engagement. They yearn for sincere and honest leadership, one that is not immune to the suffering of the masses.
Change requires courage and demands patience. Courage on the part of the General and patience from the Nigerian people. Courage to make tough decisions and to curtail the appetite of vested interests who pooled their resources to realize his ambition. Patience is a hard currency in Nigeria. Our people must however realize that change is a process and that the ills of many years cannot be completely cured in a short time.
In the coming months, the change we clamoured for will demand more sacrifices from us, our expectations may take longer to materialize. As we move forward into the future, only a united nation, a vibrant and vigilant citizenry and a committed government can deliver the change we so desperately need.