PASTOR POJU’S WELCOME ADDRESS AT THE 32ND THE PLATFORM 1ST OCTOBER, 2022
I want to welcome you to this Platform event, we are celebrating our 15th Anniversary and 32nd edition. We started in 2007, the first event held at Excusé moi, then later moved to TBS as the crowd began to grow. We held one edition that had between 19,000 to 20,000 people in attendance.
In 2010, The Platform took a different turn when we were told we couldn’t use TBS because the government was going to hold Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary there. We decided to cancel that edition of The Platform but upon discussing with a few folks in church, someone suggested we drive it as a media event by gathering people into a small hall and broadcast to our viewers. Little did we know the impact this decision made in our conference room will have upon the nation.
However, going on TV did come with its attendant challenges. One of which was the fact that once the cameras were switched on, it slightly changed the emphasis as people i.e. the speakers got conscious that they were not just addressing the thousands gathered in a place but a much wider national and somewhat global audience. People also began to criticize the meeting offering different thoughts.
However, one thing I must say which brought great encouragement was that as I traveled the nation preaching, I met with various Nigerians in different parts and everyone kept saying ‘don’t stop’, please continue the good work. Many of these people I never thought will sit and watch The Platform.
I extended an invitation last week to someone when I was told her father who is 90years old and a regular viewer of The Platform will like to be physically present at this edition for the first time. It is people like this who keep us going with their encouraging words.
In this edition, I actually planned on simply putting up a stage and pre-record this, featuring 15 most memorable speeches given at The Platform. However, I thought that will be a cop out seeing the times we live in.
After much exchange of ideas to have a live program, we decided to look for a theme that will address issues but clearly avoid turning the event into a platform for any form of political campaign or secretly pushing a partisan agenda.
The theme is, ‘A better Nigeria is possible: why, what and how, what the next leadership should look out for.’
The vision is to present ideas and thoughts that will be useful to those pursuing political offices that they can run with and use in shaping policy. For me, these are 3 ways in which national issues can be approached in terms of response;
Resignation occurs when people believe they can no longer change the outcomes of where they are and exit to places where they feel their dreams and aspirations will be realised.
Revolution is another response and this can connote the use of force or violence. If recent history has thought us anything, it is that those who tried to use violence have left their countries worse off and destroyed infrastructure, years of labour without making any changes whatsoever – the Arab Spring is an example.
Those nations that have emerged and grown in the last 50 years have not adopted this method.
I grew up seeing life from a place where I understood the power of persuasion and diplomacy. I was born as the 3rd child; the first is a lady, the 2nd a man so the position of first born was gone and the position of first son was gone, and then the last is a lady so the position of last born was also gone. A last born can cry as the baby of the house and get things done, the first born can be authoritative and you have to listen, the first boy too has authority. But when you are in the middle there’s no authority; if you shout no one listens to you, if you cry they say you are being childish.
So I came to understand very early that the way to get things done was to create a win win situation for everyone to get your agenda through. If you want the authorities to respond to you, you have to start building bridges, alliances among people, become the best friend of every child in the family so that when you want to push your agenda you have the support.
We must understand that if people resort to extra legal means and it causes problems, and those of us who consider ourselves elites who have visas on our passports will be the first to exit, leaving those who have no means to bear the brunt. These people who have no means are the masses and the way democracy is designed they will determine who gets elected next year.
The last option is renewal, which is really the way reformation does happen and this is when the leadership (from my interaction with people, the leadership of this country watches this program) makes a conscious decision knowing that their own failures will throw up either of the two options.
Therefore, renewal is the responsibility of leadership. Renewal is the process that empowers the people in a nation to work together to create a common vision about the nation’s purpose and how to achieve success.
Five Things I Propose To The Leadership
- Whoever gets elected on 25th February 2023 must paint a clear cut vision for the country that can be sold to the citizenry about how Nigeria will look in years to come and the position she will occupy among the committee of nations. A very clear and precise vision that is understandable to all.
- Whoever wins should form a government of national unity – what I mean is go beyond the confines of your political party to select talents that will send an all-inclusive message to everyone.
I am not naive and know that in politics it can be seen if you want to do that as monkey dey work baboon wan chop but it needs to be done.
A friend of mine, a church member wrote this on Twitter many years ago, he said, many people say technocrats should come into government, I will tell you who the technocrats is. When I was in Ife, one time I was cooking, my roommate and I and a friend of ours came in as we cooked and we shared our meal with him. But surprisingly, this friend of ours always showed up anytime we were cooking, he knew when we were making the food and he will come in and sit. He said, my friend was a technocrat.
In other words, the politicians have gathered it, campaigned and laboured and then somebody comes in. I’m saying this to say that I understand how it is in politics and that people have invested their time and resources and believe that they should be rewarded. But this should be a strong consideration in bringing this country together in terms of nation building.
- Restore greater confidence between those who are governed and the political leadership by giving specific time frames in which certain things will be done. Be it within the first three months, six months and a year, things you can be held accountable for even if they are low hanging fruits. Achieving goals no matter how small it is builds confidence between the citizenship and leadership.
- Bringing in the youths into governance in visible positions. Understanding the way politics works, they don’t have the financial might to make contributions that might earn them seats at the table. This must be consciously done to restore confidence in people.
- Lastly, the legislative arm is probably the most important arm of government in a democratic institution. We need them to drive the constitutional reforms without which the executive arm is hamstrung.
Once again, I want to thank all our speakers for accepting to speak at this time. You have all been consciously chosen to speak to the nation at this time. Some of you are speaking for the first time, however, I want you to know I have been thinking about you speaking for at least two years.
I have never asked for the content of any speaker before an event nor interfered with anyone’s thoughts – when people come here to speak, they come to speak freely according to their convictions. However, I will strongly appeal that we keep the discuss clean, idea based and about the future of our country. This is not the time to further aggravate our fault lines, what we all seek is progress as we are all Nigerians.
Lastly, I want to thank all volunteers over the years. Some if them may no longer be with us, i.e The Covenant Nation. It has been years of sacrifice and labour. I remember a young staff sleeping in the office continuously for seven days to meet up with the demands in the early days of The Platform. So to all the volunteers, I say thank you for 15 years.
God bless Nigeria.