The speech by ex president Olusegun Obasanjo, when SW PDP met with President Goodluck Jonathan, shortly before the 2011 presidential election.
‘’Mr President, we are here because we believe in what I call Nigerian dream. Mr President, we from the South West we were the first to collectively stick out our head to say this is the way, and what is the way? ‘’The way of Goodluck Jonathan for Nigeria. A Nigerian dream entails collective aspiration, collective hope, collective objective, collective target and collective fulfilment. It also entails our communality.
And what is our communality in Nigeria? What is the communality between me and my brother from Sokoto? What is the communality between me and even my brother from Yenagoa? What is the communality between me and my brother from Maiduguri? What is the communality between me and my brother from Badagry, or even from Ekiti? It is Nigerian identity. Nigerian Identity! That is our communality.
“If you say the communality is that we belong to the human race, so do the Europeans, so the Americans, so the Asians. But we are one communality, one identity, Nigerian identity. If we have a common identity, then we can have a common Nigerian dream.
”For me, I see a Nigeria dream of land of unity in diversity. For me, I see the Nigerian dream in equal opportunities for all Nigerians; land of freedom and choices; land of prosperity, fairness, peace and justice; land of love, care, harmony among its people; land respected internationally and playing its rightful role within the comity of nations and land where no one is oppressed, discriminated against, enslaved or disadvantaged.
‘’For instance, let me go to an element of one of the aspects of the dream. When I was a young man, leaving secondary school, there was only one university in Nigeria. The opportunity for young men to go to university in Nigeria was then limited. Today, there are 117 universities in Nigeria, expanded and enhanced opportunities. We have to match that with opportunity to access to employment and to good living standard. Your Excellencies, this I believe is attainable and as a political party, we in PDP have dreams.
“We have set about actualising our Nigerian dream. You will see this in the formation of PDP. The history of the PDP speaks for its self. The constitution of PDP, the manifesto of our party and the performance of our party so far. We have set our hands on the plough and there is no looking back for PDP.
‘’Drawing from our national Constitution which upholds Federal Character, we are the only political party that enshrines Federal Character in our Constitution through zoning and rotation.
”And we should be proud of that. For us and for the foreseeable future that remains sacrosanct, I am an apostle of Federal Character under Murtala/Obasanjo administration and I cannot now preach anything different. The accident of history of the recent past must be understood for what it is, an unexpected situation and PDP as a party has addressed that issue.
‘’At the last meeting of BoT of our party last Saturday, the issue was tabled by the president as it was raised by three distinguished members of our party a day before that BoT meeting with the President. I was mandated to take up the position of the party with the three distinguished members of our party who raised the issue. They are General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Muhammed and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku.
“The following day, that was last Sunday, I took up the matter with General Ibrahim Babangida, who expressed to me that the issue is not the accident of history, but rather it is the issue of perception in some quarters that Federal Character, zoning and rotation, as established and practised by PDP, have been jettisoned and permanently cancelled.
‘’I, on behalf of the BoT, allay the fear and I promised a public report while he briefs the other two party members with whom we saw the president on the eve of the BoT meeting.
‘’What am I saying? What am saying simply is that Federal Character, zoning and rotation in our party is alive and kicking. I personally see the practice of Federal Character, zoning and rotation of key political and governmental positions and offices by the PDP, if it will continue to be the ruling party in Nigeria, I see that position beyond my life time. It will only happen when unity, stability and democracy have been established with full confidence and trust by everybody in the system and within the polity and among the participants for factors of competence, performance and track record to become predominant. PDP should be praised for being the only party that enshrined Federal Character, zoning and rotation in its constitution and also practicing it.
‘’PDP has brought stability and substantial predictability to the polity and to the system. I do not know who will be the President of Nigeria after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. That is in the hand of God. But with the PDP policy and practice, I can reasonably guess from where in terms of section of the country from where the successor to President Goodluck Jonathan will come and no internal democracy or competition will be hereby destroyed.
‘’The recent resort to sentiments and emotions of religion and regionalism is self-serving, unpatriotic and mischievous to say the least. It is also playing on dangerous emotive issues that ignite uncontrollable passion and can destabilise if not destroy our country. It is oblivious of the sacrifices others have made in the past for unity stability and democracy in Nigeria in giving out their lives, shedding their blood and in going to prison. I personally have done two out of these three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will serve the best interest of Nigerian dream.
‘’Let me appeal to those who have embarked on those dangerous roles to desist from taking us on a perishable journey. A common identity as Nigerians there is more that binds us than separate us.
‘’I am a Nigerian born a Yoruba man and I am proud of those identities, as they are for me complimentary. Our duties, responsibilities and obligations to our country and citizens and indeed as leaders must go side by side in our likes and demands. There must be certain values and virtues that would go concomitantly with our dream.
‘’Thomas Payne said and I quote: “My country is a world.” For me my country I hold dear. On two occasions, I have had the opportunity, thanks to God and thanks to the people of Nigeria, to work for my successors in the government of Nigeria. On both occasions, I never took the easy and destabilising route of ethnic, regional or religious consideration. Rather, I took the enduring route of national, uniting and stabilising route. I worked for both President Shagari and President Yar’Adua to succeed me. Not just because they are Muslims, northerners or Hausa/Fulani, but because they could strengthen the unity, stability and democracy of Nigeria. We, of course, with all the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists, for doing what is right for our country; that is in the nature of the burden of leadership. A leader must lead, no matter whose ox is gored.
‘’In the present circumstance, let me reiterate what I have said on a number of occasions. Electing Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in his own right and on its own merit, which is there to be seen as the President of Nigeria, will enhance and strengthen our unity, stability and democracy and it will lead us towards achievement of the Nigerian dream.
‘’We are impressed with the report that Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has already taken a unique and unprecedented step of declaring that he would only want to be a one term President. If so, whether he knows it or not, that is a sacrifice and it is statesmanly. Rather than vilify him and pull him down, we, as a party, should applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him. He has taken the first good step. Let us encourage him to take more good steps to achieve what we need to achieve for this country by voting for him in landslide victory as the first elected President of Nigeria on basis of our common Nigerian identity and for the purpose of actualising the Nigerian dream. God bless you all.’’
This speech was delivered shortly before President Goodluck Jonathan’s election in 2011