As Nigeria celebrates her 63rd independence anniversary, it serves as both a time for reflection and a stark reminder of the challenges that still persist.
It is a day to remember the courage of individuals like my cousin, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro, who stood up for his beliefs and played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s journey towards independence, adding that his dedication to the cause firmly established him as one of the heroes of Nigeria’s independence movement.
A statue of Chief Anthony Enahoro stands proudly in front of the Edo State House of Assembly, immortalizing the nationalist who played a crucial role in shaping Nigeria’s destiny while his commitment to political change and freedom continues to inspire me in my dedication to serving the people of Edo State.
The legacy of my family is intertwined with the story of Nigeria’s struggle for independence. My grandfather, King Ogbidi Okojie, was a fearless and iconic figure known for his unwavering resistance against the British colonial rule. His steadfastness symbolized not only bravery but also the determination to preserve local culture and traditions in the face of external pressures. His legacy serves as a wellspring of inspiration for my commitment to advocating for fairness, equity, and justice.
In addition to Chief Enahoro and King Okojie, my cousin, Cardinal Okogie’s spiritual leadership has left a profound impact on many lives. His devotion to faith and service to the church underscores the importance of values, compassion, and empathy, qualities that underpin my humanitarian work.
My father, Hon. Prince Albert Okojie, OON, a former politician, played a crucial role during the era of Awolowo, contributing to the victory of the first Esan governor, Ambrose Alli, and the creation of the Mid-West region. Figures like Queen Idia and Amina of Zaire have also instilled in me a sense of responsibility and a deep commitment to public service and advocacy.
However, as we celebrate 63 years of independence, we cannot ignore the pressing challenges that continue to plague our nation. High inflation, widespread poverty, hunger, and illiteracy have become epidemics in our land. These issues require urgent attention and collective action.
The list of challenges is extensive, ranging from human rights violations and insecurity to the high cost of fuel, Nigeria’s growing debt, inadequate infrastructure, electricity shortages, poor healthcare systems, unaffordable tuition, and the need for significant investment in human capital development.
We must also address gender inequality, create jobs, reverse the brain drain, promote a thriving manufacturing sector, and take care of our service personnel and civil service workers.
Eradicating hunger, poverty, and illiteracy, developing tourism, empowering women and youth, and fostering a society built on truth, integrity, transparency, accountability, and good governance are essential components of my mission to build back better for Edo State.
While I am fully aware of the immense challenges we face, I am committed to working tirelessly to address them and improve the lives of our fellow citizens. However, we must collectively reorient our thinking to tackle the following several critical concerns:
Mass Psychosis and Self-Denial: A significant portion of our population seems to be gripped by mass psychosis and self-denial. Addressing this issue requires awareness and education to provide accurate information and dispel misinformation.
Food Deficiency: Food deficiency leads to hunger and confusion. We must acknowledge the severity of this issue and work on sustainable solutions, including agricultural development and food distribution programs.
The Role of Women: Recognizing and valuing the contributions of women is essential for our collective well-being.
Democratic Process and Power Dynamics.
Democracy alone cannot solve all our challenges. We need to explore innovative approaches beyond traditional politics.
Self-Sufficiency and Self-Reliance: Shifting our mindset towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance is imperative.
Knowledge Empowerment: Empowering ourselves with skills and education is crucial for development.
Public-Private Partnerships: Collaboration between the government and the private sector can drive progress.
In the upcoming governorship election in Edo State, voters should carefully evaluate the character and vision of each candidate. Truth, integrity, accountability, and transparency are on the line, and it is essential to choose a leader who can lead Edo State toward a better future.
As we commemorate independence day, let us remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “We are all tied together in the single garment of destiny.”
Together, we can overcome our challenges and build a stronger, more prosperous nation. God bless Nigeria, and God bless Edo State.