There are particular moments in the history of Nations when there is a palpable feeling that something new is about to emerge; that the nation can be transformed. Often it begins with hopelessness and cynicism. It may be that the Nation has laboured under oppressive and divisive circumstances, living with poverty, inequality, bitter ethnic and religious division, and hate. But in the midst of poverty, corruption, ethnic and religious divisions hope begins to be built in the hearts of some, a new vision is birthed in these people. of the number are men and women, young, old, married, single, united by the common belief that the nation can be reborn, that a new nation can be forged from the furnace of pain and despair, that a nation of great values is possible, that the people can be united, that they can together fight corruption, reject the politics of identity and religion and unite around the values common to the attainment of dignity and fulfilment for all.
They are united in the belief that a new tribe can emerge. A tribe of men and women from all tribes, ethnicities and faiths, built on principles, that all persons are created equal, that resources attain their greatest use when they are rendered for the benefit of all, that our best talents must be applied in every task, that we must respect the rule of law and the centrality of law and order, that none will be allowed to steal or waste public resources, that we will prefer and reward excellence and merit, that Government is to create the circumstances for the happiness and prosperity of the majority, that the life of the Nigerian person is our most precious resource, that we must love our nation and love each other, and protect the weak and vulnerable. This new tribe is one whose ethos is of hard work, whose creed is that all honest labour is dignifying, worthy of respect and reward, and that integrity is not negotiable , that our word must be our bond, that personal desires and ambitions must be moderated by faith, and consideration for others. And so from the many tribes, ethnicities and identities will arise a New People. A new Tribe.
We are at that moment in our history. And it is the historic responsibility of the new tribe to develop an understanding of who we are meant to be as a people, , to develop the capacity to define our place in human history by reaching deeply into the core of our humanity to find the purpose or reason for our existence. Are we here to live sub-human lives in one form of deprivation or the other? aligned along parochial lines, ignoring merit and value and upholding narrow identities, permitting corruption if it is done by those of our tribe or faith?
In the womb of this New Tribe is the greatness of Nigeria. But Greatness can only come from the willingness of the few to make the sacrifices necessary for the emancipation of the many. This new tribe can build a new nation. I invite you to join the new tribe.
●●Professor Yemi Osinbajo delivered this at the The Future Africa Awards ceremony in Lagos on Saturday.