“As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison”. - Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 - 2013)
With those words, Mandela stepped out of Victor Vester Prison after 27 years and to lead a phenomenal national reconciliation after decades of racial war in South Africa - one that can at best be described as the most historic success in contemporary world history.
Nelson Mandela died on Thursday, December 5, 2013 but his legacies will continue to challenge all leaders. Indeed, he has set standards that leaders of today and those of the future must strive to meet.
The most significant lesson of Mandela's life and leadership is that conflicts and wars can be resolved with a leadership that is able to free itself from the bitterness and hatred that might have produced it. Whereconflicts and wars persist, it is most likely a reflection of levels of bitterness and hatred that drive the actions of leaders. Invariably, they become part of the problem.
For us in the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), we are truly inspired by the life, leadership and above all, challenged by the legacies of Mandela. At this momentous period of the passage of this great world leader from Africa, we commit ourselves and call on all leaders at home and abroad to free themselves of all bitterness and hatred as primary conditions for resolving conflicts.
As leaders, we note in particular that our nation, Nigeria, and continent, Africa, are both in dire need of leaders that can rekindle the Mandela phenomenon and spirit of reconciliation. We recognize, sadly, that although Apartheid and colonialism might have been dethroned, our country and continent still faces crisis of underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty, which is aggravating levels of bitterness and hatred among our people.
Unfortunately, many of usleaders are not able to pull ourselves out of our peoples’ understandably bitter feelings – feelings that produce hatred and stagnatesgovernance and society. As a result, both leaders and citizens appear locked in the archetypal Mandela prison wall.
This certainly is our reality in Nigeria today. As Governors united under our great party, All Progressives Congress (APC), we are truly inspired by the life, leadership and legacies of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and hereby state our unequivocal commitment to true national reconciliation.
Pursuant of this renewed commitment, we pledge our support to our party leadership and the need to continue to mobilize all patriotic and progressive Nigerians to come and join our party, so that together, we can rededicate ourselves to a national rescue mission that begins with national reconciliation.Nigeria needs all citizens to believe and have faith in a united country as a primary condition to harness our abundant resources. All citizens must recognize that we are better off as a united people.
These are functions of leadership, not moral suasion. Together with our leaders in APC, we shall work hard in the coming days and months to move Nigeria and Nigerians towards national reconciliation. This is the best way to honour the legacy of Mandela. It is the step that we must take as leaders, to achieve genuine freedom.
Therefore, on this sad occasion of the passage of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, we enjoin all Nigerians to celebrate this distinguished and great African by supporting our party's national crusade for unity and reconciliation.
Long Live Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Rest in peace!
Progressive Governors’ Forum