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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

If you missed it!! Read President Jonathan's Independence Day Speech

For those who missed the nationwide address this morning and are interested in what GEJ
had to say, here's a full text of his independence day speech:
Address by His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
On the Occasion of Nigeria's 53rd Independence Anniversary
Tuesday 1st October, 2013
FELLOW NIGERIANS,
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 celebrate.
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.
See the rest after the cut:

4. Beloved country men and women, traditionally, the Presidential address on this symbolic
day has served two purposes. It has, quite rightly, been used to remind all Nigerians about
our heritage. It has also allowed my predecessors and I to comment on our stewardship to
the nation and make political capital out of a state occasion.
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 Nigeria first.
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 nation.
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 tension.
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 extremist forces.
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 fear.
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
encouraging results.
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 the Dialogue.
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 expectations.
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.
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