|Ms. Ifeyinwa Maureen Okafor|
(Being speech delivered by Ms. Ifeyinwa Maureen Okafor,LLB,MBA,FCA,FCIS at the IFEYINWA MAUREEN OKAFOR (I.M.O) 2015 FUND-RAISING DINNER at Oriental Hotel, Lekki Lagos on Saturday 19th, July, 2014 )
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
All protocols observed
I am truly honoured by those of you here tonight who have taken out time to grace this occasion. Some I have known for many years, some for a few months while working together on this project, even yet there are those although we have corresponded greatly, I am meeting for the first time today. You all are truly loved and appreciated equally. TEAM I.M.O.! You are great.
Thank you for putting this together.
In Nigeria, usually, political aspirants are a bit elderly and tend to be rich. So rich that going in, they do not have to organize these type of events. I think those who are in that category miss something great. And it is a loss to our democratic process. I am glad that my campaign has been varied and vagaried and I, not being rich in cash, am rich in friends and family who have stood with me in this uncommon journey of faith and courage. I celebrate you all. It is an immense blessing to have the opportunity of engaging you tonight. As you have come, I pray that you will also receive support for your vision.
I have chosen as title for this speech: THE INTERSECTION OF POLITICS AND BUSINESS.
WHEN Nigerians huddle online or in physical reality, they are usually in deep discussion on one of two topics; football or the fate of our polity. I believe that the preponderance of you here tonight are not politicians, but will agree that politics has a significant effect on our lives and businesses. I believe that since politics determines the atmosphere we operate in, it is time that we in the business and professional community play a more active role. Beyond advocacy and lobbying, we need to become investors and players.
The government of the day establishes rules and regulations guiding business operations. With tariffs, waivers, import duties etc, they decide the growth or demise of a particular business segment. Also local and international Investors follow the politics of the day to make decisions on capital flow. If the government is focusing on privatization, more private businesses will spring up. If the politics of the day is nationalization, private businesses will begin to close shop. Between 1999 and 2002, the Nigerian government focused on telecommunications and we witnessed massive investment in that industry from GSM operators, recharge card vendors, call center operators and so on. Recently (2010 – present), the politics has been Power sector reform and we are witnessing massive investment in Power generation, transmission, distribution and allied services. That is why in developed democracies, economy watchers critically follow the ideology and leaning of political aspirants as they are likely to become the future policy makers.
My Vision for IMO State encapsulated in the series ‘WHAT IMO NEEDS’ has been adapted in the brochure you have. It not only captures my thoughts for my Administration, it paints a picture of the preferred future we can all have if we dare to believe and then take the active steps to pursue and propagate that belief. Some might say we are not ready for this. I say we are long overdue. We just have to invest the resources to educate our people that we cannot stay in the rudimentary stages of development forever. We need to join developed nations. And we need to do so yesterday. Many people tell me that having a vision is not enough. They are right. But it is a start. And it is the right start. Vision is the start of what Dubai and other developed nations are today.
They say this, because many of our people beat down by poverty are only concerned about today. Then I say it is our responsibility as leaders to lift them up to where they can be concerned about the future. Like a business idea, a political leader gets the vision and is burdened with the weight of getting others to see it, and buy into it. Our challenge as a nation is often said to be leadership or the lack thereof. We have prayed. We have praised. We, business and economy leaders must now play the game of politics if we desire a developed nation in our lifetime.
Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and author of MY VISION; CHALLENGES IN THE RACE FOR EXCELLENCE says “There is no need for lengthy speeches (like this one), statements and eloquent words are far less important than our need for people who can build infrastructure’. I am therefore worried that given recent happenings, aspirants are playing down their campaign promises to be able to win the electorate and past leaders seeking re-election are apologetic about bringing development. I do not want to just win elections. I want to win the hearts of a people long impoverished and denied of the basics of life…water, healthcare, food security, the kind of stuff you find at the bottom of the pyramid. We NEED Real Change. The kind of change that can get Imo youth to stay, work in Imo after school and own a home before they turn 40. Change that will ensure greater successes in JAMB and SSCE. Change that ensures first class graduates would rather teach than work in other sectors because the environment for teaching attracts them. Change that involves equipping our hospitals so we don’t have to go to India and Germany to treat cough.
There is a desperate call for CHANGE! Youths are clamoring for a generational shift, women are clamoring for 35% representation. I am both young and female. I therefore represent real change in every sense of the word. For me, it is a call to battle. And battle we must. I am committed to fighting with all of my heart and might so help me God for the millions who cannot, who perish on our streets while we have arable land and abundant mineral resources.
I will fight with every breath I have to set up a government that will consistently put the people first on issues of education, healthcare and infrastructure. I will fight to put a government that truly loves and cares for its people. While providing social welfare, we will create 21st century infrastructure. With the same resources we will achieve more because we will be transparent and prudent and accountable. We will be persistent and adamant about good governance.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is much work to be done, to get the message of Real Change to the grassroots and to the urban electorate. That we will provide not just for their today, but more importantly for their tomorrows. We have the vision that generations will be born and grow up in IMO, we have the passion, and we need your help to get on ground and into the hearts of the people. It might look tough. But with God all things are possible.
Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to play your part in this epic journey. Together let’s make history. May God bless us all.
Thank you for coming.
Real Change is Here!