PRESIDENT JONATHAN’S 53rd INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY NATIONAL BROADCAST
His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
On the Occasion of Nigeria’s 53rd Independence Anniversary
Tuesday 1st October, 2013
1. Today marks 53 years of our Independence as a nation. First and
foremost, I would like to say congratulations to us all. Through thick
and thin, we have built this country together. Through triumphs and
trials, we have developed a Nigerian identity in our own way.
2. In truth, Nigeria is still a work in progress and we are
challenged everyday to keep building in spite of the various obstacles
that we face. Our strength has been in our diversity. If we look back
over the years, we can say confidently that there is every reason to
3. Today’s Independence anniversary is unique because it is the last
before we mark our centenary. On January 1, 2014, Nigeria will be 100
years old as a country, following the amalgamation of the Protectorates
of Southern and Northern Nigeria in 1914.
5. But this year, I will not. Because, today of all days, we should
not be scoring political points. On the contrary, in this last year of
the first century of our Union, we should be addressing our future as a
Nation and a people!
6. I admit that these may not be the best of times for our nation.
Our people are divided in many ways – ethnically, religiously,
politically, and materially. I cannot hide from this reality. I cannot
hide from my own responsibilities.
7. As we prepare to mark the centenary, therefore, today offers us an
opportunity to reflect on our long journey to nationhood and the
progress we have made so far. Whatever the challenges that we may face,
we have every reason to be proud of our national accomplishments; we
have every reason to remain proud and optimistic. Our collective
national journey has witnessed great watersheds, thanks to our spirit of
endurance, perseverance and sacrifice. Getting the rest of the job done
with determination and courage is just a matter of time. We are
Nigerians, a nation of talented people, endowed with resources,
potentials, and Divine Grace.
8. In our journey to greatness as a nation, we have built an economy
that is robust and erected enduring infrastructure and institutions of
democracy. Our social system is now more inclusive, open and
compassionate. We are waging a steady battle against poverty,
unemployment, and corruption. Our sense of community, solidarity and
shared expectation is strong and capable of withstanding the present
social, economic and political challenges that still confront us.
9. In saying this, I am reminded of the comments I made a week ago to
a cross-section of Nigerians in New York during the 68th United Nations
General Assembly. I declare now as I declared then: we have a duty as
Nigerians, whatever may be our differences or prejudices, to always put
10. Our politics should be an art of patriotic labour and selfless
service to the community, particularly by the political elite who are
placed in positions of great trust and responsibility. Politics has its
own high moral principles which abhor distracting and divisive rhetoric.
As men and women in leadership, we must continually focus on service,
duty, responsibility, and the next generation. Those who are elected to
govern at all levels must focus on improving the lives of our people,
not selfish ambition.
11. In the words of the American theologian and author, James Freeman
Clarke, ‘a politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the
next generation’. Whether we are Muslims or Christians; rich or poor;
from the North or the South; East or West; regardless of our political
affiliations, this is the time for every one of us to be a statesman!
12. My clarion call therefore, on this special day, is that we should
begin to align our political utterances and conduct solely to the
nobler passions that unite our people. Politicians do not make a nation;
ordinary folks do.
13. Our nation is made great by the big and small efforts of regular
citizens. These are the teachers and men and women in academics who
inculcate the knowledge and wisdom that transform into tomorrow’s
wealth; the traders and market women who tend to our everyday needs; the
farmers whose labour feeds the nation; the artisans whose work ensures
that our homesteads are well maintained; the doctors, pharmacists,
nurses, accountants, bankers, engineers, and other professionals who add
value to our lives; the sportsmen and women and those in the creative
industry who bring honour and fame to our nation;
14. And the men and women of our armed forces and security services
who toil day and night so that you and I may live in a safe and secure
15. It is the individual and collective heroism of these regular
folks that has placed our nation on the path of greatness. Politics and
politicians sometimes distract the people and create unnecessary
16. But our independence celebration is about the same people, the
people of Nigeria: their industry, sense of mission and purpose, and
their patience and perseverance as we navigate historical turns in our
march towards prosperity and self-sufficiency. Today, I salute the
people of Nigeria.
17. My Compatriots, history has proven that nations take time to
evolve. We should rejoice in our democracy because it enables us to be
united by our differences, not destroyed by them. And, there is no more
crucial time for us to be united than now.
18. The threats we face may be real and immediate. But we are not
alone in this regard. It is a difficult season for much of the world:
industrialized or developing; rich or poor. What matters are the lessons
we learn, the wisdom we demonstrate, and the victory we snatch from the
jaws of likely defeat.
19. And I tell you, more than anything else, there are lessons to
learn, and every cause to be thankful. If I must cite one example, take
Syria. As we all pray and work for a return to normalcy in Syria, it
would be helpful for us to reflect on the fact that Syria was once a
peaceful, thriving, multi-cultural nation which played host to a mosaic
of religions and ethnicities.
20. But that once idyllic nation has today become a theatre of human
misery of unimaginable proportions as a result of the activities of
21. Fellow Nigerians, the spectre of extremism haunts every democracy
in every corner of the globe. While we celebrate our independence and
good fortune, our hearts must grieve for those who have lost loved ones
in numerous terrorist activities around the world.
22. Back home, I admit being overtaken by deep feelings of grief,
whenever news reached me of the appalling atrocities in some of our
States, especially the North Eastern part of our country. Just two days
ago, terrorist elements attacked the College of Agriculture in Gujba,
Yobe State killing a number of innocent students of the institution and
other residents in cold blood, most of them in their sleep. This act of
barbarism is a demonstration of the extent to which evil forces will go
to destabilize our nation. But I assure you, they will not succeed.
23. My heart goes out to the families of all those who have fallen
victim of these dastardly acts. Our Administration will not rest until
every Nigerian is free from the oppression of terrorism. I reassure you
that no cost will be spared, no idea will be ignored, and no resource
will be left untapped in the quest to enable our people live without
24. On this day, I implore every Nigerian – wherever you are,
whatever language you speak, whatever your religious persuasion,
whichever Political Party you support -: let us join together to fight
this evil of extremism.
25. On behalf of us all, I commend our Armed Forces and security
agencies for their dedication and bravery in the face of grave danger,
and in the name of our collective liberty.
26. Fellow Nigerians, this is a time to pull together behind the
national cause: the cause of our freedom, and our future. We must
rekindle the spirit of Nigeria, to ensure that every democrat and every
lover of peace in this great nation continues to live in a free,
peaceful, and secure Nigeria.
27. On my part, I re-dedicate myself completely to the service of
this great country. I was elected President to continue the process of
building a prosperous nation where hopes, dreams and aspirations would
be fulfilled. Nigerians, home and abroad, want a country they can be
proud to call their own. I am pleased to affirm that, no matter the
challenges we face, we are on the right path to greatness. Our
Transformation Agenda, which is part of the overall vision of making
Nigeria a land of greatness, has been delivering positive and
28. On May 29th this year, I presented to the nation a mid-term
report of my Administration’s Transformation Agenda. This was conceived
as an integrated policy aimed at reconstructing not only institutional
governance for effective and efficient service delivery, but also a
re-orientation of national norms and values. The document captured the
essence of our agenda in relation to core objectives and achievements.
29. I have been consistently mindful of the weight of public
expectation to find solutions to the challenges that confront us because
the mandate we have is a free and sacred one. In all that I have done, I
have been guided by this sacred obligation, to work hard for the good
of Nigeria and to make life better for Nigerians. I want to assure
everyone that Nigeria, under my leadership, will not fail.
30. Exactly 53 years ago today, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa urged us
to ‘move with quiet dignity to our place on the world stage’. I am sure
that there have been times when every one of us must have questioned
how closely we have followed that injunction.
31. But again, I can reassure you that Nigeria’s place on the world
stage today is strong and safe, and it is certainly a place of dignity
and respect. We must continue to build on this by remaining a nation and
a people committed to ideals, the noblest humanitarian values, and the
rule of law.
32. Our Constitution is anchored ultimately on the idea of freedom
and fundamental rights: freedom of expression; freedom from
discrimination; freedom to vote and be voted for, and the right to human
dignity. These are the core values of a true democracy. These are the
values of which we must never lose sight.
33. In my address to the UN General Assembly last week, I emphasized
the crucial role of democratization in improving the fortunes not just
of this country, but of our entire continent. Democratic values
encourage diversity. They encourage discourse. They encourage
disagreement. This is the joy of democracy.
34. It enables us to have an opinion. And ultimately, the ballot box
gives us all the opportunity to instigate change. When democracy works,
it does not destroy a nation. It unites and defines it.
35. Fellow Nigerians, our Administration has taken cognizance of
suggestions over the years by well-meaning Nigerians on the need for a
National Dialogue on the future of our beloved country. I am an advocate
of dialogue. When there are issues that stoke tension and bring about
friction, it makes perfect sense for the interested parties to come
together to discuss.
36. In demonstration of my avowed belief in the positive power of
dialogue in charting the way forward, I have decided to set up an
Advisory Committee whose mandate is to establish the modalities for a
National Dialogue or Conference. The Committee will also design a
framework and come up with recommendations as to the form, structure and
mechanism of the process.
37. The Committee will be chaired by Dr. Femi Okurounmu while Dr.
Akilu Indabawa will serve as the Secretary. The full membership of the
Committee will be announced shortly.
38. I expect the Report to be ready in one month, following which the
nation will be briefed on the nomenclature, structure and modalities of
39. Fellow Nigerians, the past 53 years have seen Nigeria evolve on
an epic scale. Our progress since independence has not always been
smooth. This is, after all, our Fourth Republic; but despite all its
flaws, it has lasted longer than all the previous three put together.
That is progress and it proves that, our differences – real and imagined
– notwithstanding, we are, in every sense, a united nation.
40. This is no time for the harmful clutches of parochial sentiments
and the politics of bitterness, impunity, arrogance and unhelpful
indiscipline. We must stand as one, with absolute commitment and resolve
to resist any force that threatens us and the sanctity of our union.
41. I want to thank all our country men and women who have stood by
this Administration in the midst of mounting challenges and enormous
42. I recognize that it is not easy to keep believing in the
possibilities of our greatness when our faith is constantly challenged.
But let me assure you that, if we do not despair, we shall reap the
reward of our labour in due season.
43. It is my prayer that, another 53 years from now, our children and
grand-children will look back on our effort and be thankful that we
kept the faith.
44. May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
45. I wish you all a very happy 53rd Independence Celebration.
46. I thank you.