This is an adaptation of MLK II famous speech ‘I have a dream’ to fit the Nigerian situation.
I am not happy as I pen these words on the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s historic speech for freedom, as our nation Nigeria struggles to reach its potentials.
Five score years ago, a British colonist, in a symbolic show of political sagacity amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates creating the largest black nation in the world, Nigeria. This momentous decree was seen as a great beacon of light and hope to millions of Nigerians who had hitherto been a scattering of ethnicities.
But one hundred years later, the Nigerian is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Nigerian is still crippled by the manacles of nepotism and the chains of economic discrimination. One hundred years later, the Nigerian lives on a crowded island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity brought by the flow of black gold. One hundred years later, the common man is still languishing in the corners of the Nigerian society and finds himself a beggar in his own land. So I have come today to dramatize a shameful condition.
When the architects of our republic wrote the words of the constitution and Fani-Kayode moved for independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every Nigerian was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba as well as others, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that Nigeria has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as the common man is concerned. Instead of honouring the sacred obligation, Nigeria has given the common man a bad cheque, a cheque which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this cheque – a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of prosperity and the security of justice. We have to remind Nigeria of the fierce urgency of the now. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of poverty to the sunlit path of social justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the sand of nepotism to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
But there is something I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we will always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those asking, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Nigerian is a victim of insecurity. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Nigerian’s basic mobility is from the village to the ‘face me I face you.’ We can never be satisfied as long as our graduates are left floundering in the unemployment market for years. We cannot be satisfied as long as our votes are stolen in rigged elections. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Go back to Makurdi, go back to Aba, go back to Sapele, go back to Gusau, go back to Lokoja, go back to the savannas of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Nigerian spirit.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.”
I have a dream that one day on the Islands of Lagos, the sons of indigenes and the sons of non-indigenes will be able to sit down together on the table of true brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Borno, a state sweltering with the heat of insurgency, sweltering with the heat of terrorism, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their tribe but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, up in Abuja, with its many politicians, with its myriad politicking and manipulation; one day right there in Abuja the Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Efiks and others will join hands with Igalis, Ijaws, Urhobos, Tivs, Idomas and others as brothers and sisters.
I have a dream today.