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Jonathan Lauds Past Leaders, says “Nigeria’s Unity is Non-Negotiable”


President Goodluck Jonathan has again disclosed that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. He did during an address to the nation on Nigeria’s centenary celebration.
While extolling the virtues of past leaders including Generals Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Abdulsalami Abubakar, the president noted that the causes of terrorism are mainly “corrupted values and ignorance”. Below is a full text of the President’s address:
” Dear Compatriots,
1. I extend warm greetings and felicitations to all
Nigerians as we celebrate our nation’s centenary; a
significant milestone in our journey to Nationhood.
2. One hundred years ago, on the 1st of January
1914, the British Colonial authorities amalgamated the
Southern and Northern Protectorates, giving birth to the
single geo-political entity called Nigeria which has
become our home, our hope, and our heritage.
3. I have often expressed the conviction that our
amalgamation was not a mistake. While our union may
have been inspired by considerations external to our
people; I have no doubt that we are destined by God
Almighty to live together as one big nation, united in
4. I consider myself specially privileged to lead our
country into its second century of existence. And as I
speak with you today, I feel the full weight of our
hundred-year history. But what I feel most is not
frustration, it is not disillusionment. What I feel is great
pride and great hope for a country that is bound to
overcome the transient pains of the moment and
eventually take its rightful place among the greatest
nations on earth.
5. Like every country of the world, we have had our
troubles. And we still do. We have fought a civil war. We
have seen civil authorities overthrown by the military.
We have suffered sectarian violence. And as I speak, a
part of our country is still suffering from the brutal
assault of terrorists and insurgents.
6. While the occasion of our centenary
undoubtedly calls for celebration, it is also a moment to
pause and reflect on our journey of the past one hundred
years, to take stock of our past and consider the best
way forward for our nation.
7. Even as we celebrate our centenary, we must
realise that in the context of history, our nation is still in
its infancy.
8. We are a nation of the future, not of the past and
while we may have travelled for a century, we are not
yet at our destination of greatness.
9. The amalgamation of 1914 was only the first step
in our national journey. Unification was followed by
independence and democracy which have unleashed the
enormous potentials of our people and laid the
foundation for our nation’s greatness.
10. In challenging times, it is easy to become
pessimistic and cynical. But hope, when grounded in
realism, enables and inspires progress. Therefore, as we
celebrate our first century of nationhood and enter a
second, we must not lose sight of all that we have
achieved since 1914 in terms of nation-building,
development and progress.
11. Today, we salute once again the great heroes of
our nation – Herbert Macaulay, Ernest Ikoli, Dr. Nnamdi
Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa
Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alvan Ikoku, Chief
Harold Dappa-Biriye, Dr. Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony
Enahoro, Mallam Aminu Kano, Mokwugo Okoye and
Chief Michael Imoudu among others.
12. We must be inspired by our past to overcome the
obstacles we face in the present and honour our
forebears by realising the promise of a Nigeria that is
not only independent but also truly unified, prosperous
and admired the world over.
13. The history of Nigeria since independence is the
story of a struggle to fulfill our great promise. The
discovery of oil in our country in the late 1950s offered
new hope of prosperity but we have not always been
able to reap the benefits in a fair and equitable way.
14. The situation was not helped by political instability
and the frequent suspension of democracy by military
coups. During the civil war, the very existence of our
country was cast into doubt but through it all, the
promise of a Nigeria that is united, free and strong
remained in our people’s hearts.
15. Thanks to the efforts of our statesmen and women,
and millions of ordinary Nigerians, the union endured
and flourished. I would like to specifically commend
members of the Armed Forces for their contributions and
sacrifices to keep Nigeria one.
16. General Yakubu Gowon had the wisdom and grace
to declare that the civil war had seen “no victor, no
vanquished” and welcomed, “the dawn of national
17. It was in this spirit that General Olusegun
Obasanjo collected the instruments of surrender at the
end of the war and later became the first military ruler in
our country to hand over power voluntarily to a
democratic government.
18. While the Second Republic did not last, his fine
example was later followed by General Abdulsalam
Abubakar who paved the way for our current democratic
dispensation which has lasted longer than the previous
three put together.
19. As we celebrate our centenary, I believe that it is
vital that we focus our thoughts on the vast potentials of
a unified and progressive Nigeria; and build on the
relative stability of the Fourth Republic to achieve
accelerated national socio-economic development.
20. I also believe that the future greatness of our
country is assured by the favourable tail winds of a
resilient population, ecological diversity, rich natural
resources and a national consciousness that rises above
our differences.
21. We are a unique country. We have been brought
together in a union like no other by providence. Our
nation has evolved from three regions to thirty six states
and a Federal Capital Territory.
22. We have transited from the Parliamentary to a
Presidential system of government. We have moved our
capital from the coastal city of Lagos to Abuja, at the
centre of our country.
23. Today Abuja stands as a monument to our national
aspiration for greater unity; it symbolises our dream of a
modern nation unhinged from primordial cleavages and
designed as a melting pot of our diversity.
24. If, in our first century, we could build a new capital
city, we can surely build a newer, stronger, more united
and prosperous Nigeria in the next century that will be
an authentic African success story.
25. The whole world awaits this African success story.
With our sheer size, population, history, resilience,
human and natural resources and economic potentials,
Nigeria is divinely ordained to lead the African
26. That is why I am confident that in the next 100
years, those who will celebrate Nigeria’s second
centenary, will do so as a united, prosperous and
politically stable nation which is truly the pride and
glory of Africa and the entire black race.
27. The key to the fulfilment of that vision is our
continued unity as a nation. Perhaps one of the most
amazing stories of our political evolution in the last
hundred years is that an ordinary child of ordinary
parentage from a minority group has risen to occupy the
highest office in our country.
28. As we march into the next hundred years, it is my
hope that mine will no longer be an extra-ordinary story
but an accepted reality of our democracy that every
Nigerian child can pursue his or her dreams no matter
how tall; that every Nigerian child can aspire to any
position in our country, and will not be judged by the
language that he speaks or by how he worships God;
not by gender nor by class; but by his abilities and the
power of his dreams.
29. I am proud and privileged to have been elected
leader of Nigeria and I consider it my solemn
responsibility to act in the best interest of the nation at
all times.
30. Dear compatriots, in line with the thoughts of that
great son of our continent, Nelson Mandela, let us not
judge ourselves, and let not the world judge us by how
many times we have stumbled, but by how strongly we
have risen, every single time that we have faltered.
31. Even as we remain resolute in our conviction that
our union is non-negotiable, we must never be afraid to
embrace dialogue and strengthen the basis of this most
cherished union. A strong nation is not that which shies
away from those difficult questions of its existence, but
that which confronts such questions, and together
provides answers to them in a way that guarantees
fairness, justice and equity for all stakeholders.
32. My call for the National Conference in this first
year of our second century is to provide the platform to
confront our challenges. I am confident that we shall
rise from this conference with renewed courage and
confidence to march through the next century and
beyond, to overcome all obstacles on the path to the
fulfillment of our globally acknowledged potential for
33. I have referred to national leaders who did so
much to build our nation in the past hundred years but
nation-building is not just a matter for great leaders and
elites alone.
34. All Nigerians must be involved in this national
endeavour. From the threads of our regional, ethnic and
religious diversities we must continuously weave a
vibrant collage of values that strengthen the Nigerian
35. The coming National Conference should not be
about a few, privileged persons dictating the terms of
debate but an opportunity for all Nigerians to take part
in a comprehensive dialogue to further strengthen our
36. I am hopeful that the conference will not result in
parochial bargaining between competing regions, ethnic,
religious and other interest groups but in an objective
dialogue about the way forward for our nation and how
to ensure a more harmonious balance among our three
tiers of government.
37. My dear compatriots, as we celebrate our
centenary, the security situation in some of our North-
Eastern States, sadly remains a major concern for us.
Just yesterday, young students, full of hopes and
dreams for a great future, were callously murdered as
they slept in their college dormitories in Yobe State. I
am deeply saddened by their deaths and that of other
Nigerians at the hands of terrorists. Our hearts go out to
their parents and relatives, colleagues and school
38. We will continue to do everything possible to
permanently eradicate the scourge of terrorism and
insurgency from our country. We recognise that the root
cause of militancy, terrorism and insurgency is not the
strength of extremist ideas but corrupted values and
39. That is why our counter-terrorism strategy is not
just about enforcing law and order as we have equipped
our security forces to do. It also involves expanding
economic opportunities, social inclusion, education and
other measures that will help restore normalcy not just
in the short term, but permanently.
40. I want to reassure Nigerians that terrorism, strife
and insecurity in any part of Nigeria are abhorrent and
unacceptable to us. I urge leaders throughout Nigeria to
ensure that ethnicity and religion are not allowed to
become political issues.
41. I hope and pray that one hundred years from now,
Nigerians will look back on another century of
achievements during which our union was strengthened,
our independence was enhanced, our democracy was
entrenched and our example was followed by leaders of
other nations whose ambition is to emulate the success
of Nigeria; a country that met its difficulties head-on and
fulfilled its promise.
42. Finally, Dear Compatriots, as we enter a second
century in the life of our nation, let us rededicate
ourselves to doing more to empower the youth of our
country. Our common heritage and future prosperity are
best protected and guaranteed by them. We must
commit our full energies and resources to empowering
them to achieve our collective vision of greatness in this
second century of our nationhood.
43. That is the task before our country; that is the
cause I have chosen to champion and I believe we will
44. I wish all Nigerians happy Centenary celebrations.
45. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
46. I thank you.”

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