It gives me great joy to be in your midst today. Much greater is my happiness and the honour I feel to be at the historic seat of the Caliphate a place where history, culture, religion and tradition merge to form the architecture of one of the world ‘s most impressive and venerable civilizations.
The influence and zest of this institution have not been impaired by time. Rather, its traditions and people continue to stand tall and to remain faithful to the best of their traditions and culture while incorporating that which is useful and benign from the progress of modernity.
I pay homage to his eminence the Sultan of Sokoto and to the people who continue to be a source of Nigerian pride. The Sun will always rise from Sokoto to shine light on the people and lead them into prosperity. Your Governor Aminu Tambuwal represents the new hope of a new progressive political era. The people of Sokoto made a good choice in electing him governor. A man of and for the people and a true patriot, his commitment to advance the welfare of the people is remarkable. We must support him in his mission to bring greater development and prosperity to Sokoto for the benefit of all of her people.
To my Oba and father, the Oba of Lagos,Oba Rilwan Akiolu I say congratulations on your elevation as the Chancellor of this great institution. Your appointment represents the best of Nigeria and signposts the promotion of unity, peace, harmony and better understanding.
It demonstrates how we must continue to use our diversity for prosperity. Again, let me state that I am proud and honoured to be with you and to be in the presence of such esteemed people who represent the best of the wide, tolerant and committed leadership Nigeria needs as we move toward prosperity, peace, hope and justice for each and everyone of us who call themselves members of the Nigerian family.
The Usmanu Dan Fodio University is a great institution located in a great city, named after a great man. I am glad to be associated with this University and privileged to be honored by the institution today. The man after whom the institution is named was a foremost Islamic scholar.
An extraordinary leader who understood the deep yearnings and needs of the people. He provided visionary yet practical leadership and taught us all that we must be ready to personally sacrifice to advance and secure those things in which we truly believe. He fought that we may live as better human beings. He struggled that we might know prudent leadership and the fairness and justice that arise from such leadership.
I marvel at the principles he lived by. I have taken courage from his many examples of courage in the face of open danger. We all should receive inspiration from his profound achievements. One of his most powerful quotes readily comes to mind. “Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it”. We find instructive the lessons of history-past and present even as I call on all our academic institutions to ensure that history is taught in our schools. This way we prepare future leaders for the task ahead.
The conscience of our nation has been under attack for many years. We were led down a path in whichbad was deemed good and good was deemed inconvenient. We were handed a way of governance in which anything goes and too much went – as if gone with the wind. Our present was squandered and future mortgaged.
A few people took as their own what God intended to belong to all Nigerians. This was not the way of Usmanu Dan Fodio. This was not the way to build the nation we seek. It was the way to lay waste to our dreams and to jettison all the lessons that heroes such as Usmanu Dan Fodio and our forefathers taught us.
Yet, human nature is such that it cannot exist for long without true and justice. For a period, darkness may descend and a lie may rule. But not forever. Society needs justice and fairness as much as the body needs food and water.
With last year’s election, the national conscience awoke. The people rejected the distorted arrangements of past governments in order to make room for a better future. They had once again found the courage that Usmanu Dan Fodio had bequeathed them. They had rediscovered their way and their right to pursue it.
Today we all participate in an epic struggle. We seek to undue many years of misgoverance and its myriad consequences. The process is hard because good is always harder to achieve than evil. Creation is always more difficult than destruction. Greed is easier than greatness.
Yet Nigeria has begun the process of turning to its better self. The government of President Buhari is cleaning out the rot of years of galloping corruption and avarice. This government is also moving to pursue policies that will spark development and bring prosperity to long oppressed Nigerians.
Be reminded that this will be a battle. No battle is easy. We must be firm in our resolve to reform this nation. We must have the courage to stand fast in the times of difficulty, having faith that the rightfulness of our cause will see us through to the success of our collective efforts and yearnings.
The truth today is that Nigeria has the greatest opportunity to get it right with a leader like Mr. Muhammad Buhari.
Another truth is that Nigeria and Nigerians are suffering under the yoke of corruption. The economy is based on a model no longer sustainable given the realities of today’s markets and global trends.
There is much to fix. President Buhari is committed to fixing them. But he needs your support and patience. He cannot do it all alone. We must stand beside him or else we may be knocked down and not stand at all.
Thus, let us be resolved to see reform and change that will make Nigeria rise as the nation it should be. Education and enlightenment have much to do with the success of this national reclamation. This University must be at the fore front. It must strive to be the best and produce students who think as much of this nation as they do themselves. That is how this revered institution may do honor to the name it bears.
This is how this institution may ensure that the ethics and principles of Usmanu Dan Fodio continue to have life and continue to breathe life into the progress of this nation. This how we all join hands – no matter our faith, place of origin, ethnicity or social station- to make our nation live up to it promise and that the sun may never set on building a better day in a better Nigeria.
By Bola Tinubu