Donald Duke

Akinwale Akintunde

Former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Mr. Donald Duke has asked Nigerians charged Nigerians to defend their fatherland from those who seek to desecrate it.

Duke, however, said solution to diverse challenges confronting the country lied in the collective resolve of eligible voters to take Nigeria from clueless leaders.

He gave the charge at the headquarters of Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC), Gbagada during the church’s Revival and Evangelism Training Service tagged a Night of Divine Increase last Thursday.
At the service that attracted thousands of worshippers from different parts of Lagos State, Duke observed that Nigeria “presently at the lowest ebb.”

If not checked promptly, the former governor said this could lead the country into a situation where anger, anxiety and utmost distrust not only for the leadership, but fellow citizens could become prevalent.

Rhetorically, he asked what led the country to the point it was today, lamenting that almost all Nigerians “have the answers or at least, faint idea of it.”

He, therefore, urged Nigerians “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.”

Duke noted that time had come “to stand up against all forms of inequalities and discrimination. 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 explained.

He said the future “appears bleak for the youths who knew nothing about history. For my generation here today, it is a burden that is hanging on us. Posterity would be unkind to us if we do not do something about it.

“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 speaking to you is a clarion call to each and every one of us, particularly our young people here to recognise our strength in our diversity.

“This is to awaken our young generation to democratic activism and 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.”
He said without doubt, industry and creativity, Nigeria would remain an overgrown, underfed and over-indulgent geographical description and not a nation.

He identified certain challenges that must be overcome if the country would achieve greatness, noting that the first was the challenge of social and economic dichotomies.

Duke said 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. The next challenge to tackle was building institutions of democracy and development. 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.

He said: “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, transparent and steadfast.”
Duke dwelt on 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.”

“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, vote and participate or seek office you are eminently qualified because you feel, there is nothing you can do to make a difference.

“If you 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 ourselves.”