Let me start by saying how truly honoured and privileged I am to have just been decorated as the Grand Patron of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos State branch. But it is a bigger honour to have been asked to felicitate with you at another yearly thanksgiving of our Interdenominational Divine Service, which is called IDDS 2021, with the theme: “A new beginning, a new dawn and a new glory”.
A year ago when we were at the Shepherd Hill Baptist Church where our CAN President, Dr. Samson Supo Ayokunle, admonished us and challenged us, the first index case of COVID-19 had not happened in Nigeria. A year ago, we hadn’t seen the unprecedented security challenges facing our dear country. A year ago, we hadn’t seen the huge destruction that came out of the peaceful EndSARS protests that we witnessed in Lagos. A year ago, we hadn’t seen the recession that has culminated in the economic crises in our country and the world. And so, everyone of us here today has every reason to thank the Almighty God that has kept us because it has been a difficult year.
Lagos also witnessed an unprecedented protest that started peacefully. Our youths, the leaders of today, voiced their grievances to all of us in government and this led to the destruction that we have never seen before in this part of the world. We were asking ourselves, “How did we get here?” We have also seen that within that one year, Nigeria’s economy had been hit by recession. We have seen high numbers of unemployment. We have seen huge security challenges that have shaken the foundation of our country. We have seen all of the economic challenges that have not only hit Nigeria but have hit the bigger parts of the entire world.
It is a time that the topic we have taken here today, “A new beginning, a new dawn and a new glory”, cannot be better imagined and cannot be better put forward. Is it the security situation in our country? It calls for prayers now more than ever before. It calls for our intercession. It calls for all of us to come together, stronger, bigger and better.
We have all witnessed the challenges of our country. We don’t have any other place that we can call home. We need to be very careful not to turn the security issues in our land into an ethnic, religious or tribal war. We need to be careful to ensure that we bring out and we isolate criminally-minded people in our communities. Let’s avoid tribalising it, giving it an ethnic coloration or turning it into a religious issue. We are the largest country in Africa; where will we go to? Who will take us? We have no other land than here and that is why I said that, indeed, Nigeria needs a new beginning.
We are fighting not only health and medical wars because, like I told us, COVID is still around; all of us are masked up; we cannot even identify ourselves. We can’t hug ourselves. We can’t greet ourselves and we can’t even shake ourselves. So, we have a health issue that is bothering all of us. We have an economic issue that is challenging us. The country is just coming out of a recession – let us hope that it really comes out of it- when people find it difficult to earn a living, when people find it difficult to eat three decent meals a day. We are confronted with security challenges. We cannot afford to add political instability to it.
Today, more than ever before, we need to come together as a nation. We need to come together as the body of Christ. Our leadership in the Christian faith needs to come stronger together, irrespective of your individual differences, and let us hold the beacon and the light of the nation together and pray to the Almighty that during our time, greater and better things will happen. Not under your watch, will we see a crumbling nation or crumbling state. It will never happen and it will never happen in your time.
For my government and me, we will continue with all our strength to serve you and serve you well. We will continue to use every breath that God has given to us. Transparently and truthfully, we will continue to push all the economic pillars that we have set for ourselves. For Traffic Management and Transportation, I will come here some day and say to you that our railways have started working. I will come here some day and I will declare to you that we have opened up 16 brand new jetty terminals that you can use for water transportation. I will come here one day and I will declare to you that we have built the biggest children hospital in West Africa. I will come here one day and I will tell you that we have built an Infectious Disease Research Centre, the biggest in Africa, so that when another pandemic comes, we can begin to produce vaccines in Nigeria, in Lagos. We do not need to wait for anybody in America or India for them to produce vaccines for us.
These are commitments that we are putting together. Because of the strong youth population that we have, I will come here one day to say that our entertainment and tourism industry is second to none in the whole of Africa. Because, indeed, we would have galvanized and we would have encouraged those youths to be real entrepreneurs, the people who can carry our culture and our tourism outside the shores of our country. Finally, I will come here one day to talk boldly about Security and Good Governance and I will be able to tell you that, indeed, we all can sleep with our two eyes closed because by that time we believe that what we be have been asking for under the State Police would have come to reality and we can put our money where our mouth is and I can fully protect each and every one of you. This is the Lagos of my dream. This is the Lagos that I see. This is the Lagos that we are promising you. And this is the Lagos that we believe is possible for each and every one of us.
Excerpts of Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu’s speech at the Interdenominational Divine Service organized by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the Apostolic Church, Ketu on February 20.