•Nigeria’s problems surmountable, says Fayemi
•Anambra credible elections, greatest birthday tribute to Zik —Ngige
•Leadership vacuum created in Igbo land by absence of Zik yet to be filled —Ohanaeze spokesman
By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Luminous Jannamike
Former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, urged political leaders to unite in order to save Nigeria from imminent disintegration.
Jonathan spoke at the 2nd Igbo Nsukka Zik Annual Merit Award in Abuja with the theme: ‘Preserving Zik’s Legacies for National Unity’.
Other leaders who spoke at the event included Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, a former governor of Anambra State and Chief Rochas Okorocha, also a former governor of Imo State.
The Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who spoke at a similar event in Awka said the various political, economic and social problems confronting Nigeria could be overcome if her leaders and followers shared a unity of purpose to get them solved.
This is even as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has said the greatest tribute on this year’s posthumous birthday of the first President of Nigeria and great Zik of Africa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, is the credible November 6 governorship election in Anambra State.
Nigeria needs leaders who’ll unite country—Ezeife, Okorocha
While extolling the late nationalist, Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, for placing premium on a united Nigeria during his lifetime, Jonathan said: “I believe that the ideals, philosophy, and wisdom of the late Zik are very relevant now, as we seek to chart a way forward for our beloved country at this particular moment in our nationhood.
“While most political pundits insist that the potential for Nigeria’s greatness remains potent, our nation has continued to grapple with the consequences of poor management of our diversity and differences.
“When I convened the 2014 National Conference as President, my intention was to create an environment that would enable our citizens to dispassionately address these issues that are pushing us towards divisive politics and sowing seeds of discarded unity in our polity.
“I believe that, in a complex and divisive country like ours, the journey of nationhood and march to greatness is not a sprint but a marathon. However, to get it right, we need to do much more to unite our people and integrate our society, in order to build a nation of selfless patriots. That is the kind of country envisioned by our nationalists; that is the only way to turn our huge population, rich diversity, and outstanding resourcefulness of our people into a positive force that would transform and enhance the greatness of our dear country.”
Speaking also, a former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said Nigeria had the potential to be the greatest black nation on earth, but lamented that the country was on the verge of failure because of the parochial tendencies of some political leaders.
According to him, “Nnamdi Azikiwe refused to leave Nigeria, because he was well-concerned about a united Nigeria, and saw the country as a nation that will make all black men proud. If the late Zik were to come back to life today, he cannot recognise Nigeria. He will see the country as a colossal and monumental failure.
“But do we continue in failure? I think God has prepared a new Nigeria. Very soon, the Almighty will send someone who will make us happy again. We will do it, and when we are dead, our children will make Nigeria so great.”
In his remarks, Senator Rochas Okorocha posited that the late Zik of Africa would never have supported the separatist agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Nonetheless, he urged the government to dialogue with and forgive the youths for what he described as their ‘misplaced demand’.
In urging Nigerians to vote for a detribalised leader as President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor, the ex-Imo governor said: “In choosing your leaders for 2023, don’t vote any politician on the basis of what they said they will do but on the track record of what they have done in the past.
“”The tribe or religion of who governs is immaterial. If a man has not shown a sign of peace in the times past, he will not show it as the president of Nigeria.
“”It is disheartening that we don’t see the frontiers of our brotherhood in this country today rather we see separations. I am sure Zik will condemn in its entirety any call for secession.
“”I am wondering what Zik will say to IPOB. I am certain he will say: ‘My sons and daughters, the Biafra agitation is an ill-wind which will blow nobody any good. So, let us embrace one another and ensure that peace will reign.’
“I am equally sure Zik will ask the federal government to embrace the youths and forgive them for they know not what they do.”
The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards of excellence to some notable Nigerians for following the footsteps of the late Azikiwe in seeking the oneness of all Nigerians and also improving on the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria.
Some of the Zik’s Award recipients include: ex-President Goodluck Jonathan; the Etsu Nupe, HRH Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar; the Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi; Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello; former Minister of Women Affairs, Chief Mrs. Josephine Anenih; former State House CSO, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (rtd), amongst others.
Nigeria’s problems surmountable—Fayemi
Fayemi, who spoke as the guest lecturer at the combined 9th and 10th lecture series to mark the posthumous birthday of Nigeria’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe said a well structured dialogue remained a major pathway to peace and progress for the country.
According to Fayemi, who is also the chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, there was nothing heroic in dying for a cause that dialogue and negotiations could help to resolve.
The annual Zik Lecture Series was instituted by Senator Ndii Obi at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
Urging Nigerians to bury their differences in order to achieve a greater and fulfilled country, the Ekiti governor stressed the need to develop a democratic system that could meet the expectations of Nigerians and restore people’s trust in the government they voted into office.
In the lecture titled, “Nation-building: Between Restructuring and Autonomy”, Governor Fayemi said Nigerians must learn to manage their differences in order to achieve the goal of a better and more perfect union.
He said: “The indestructibility of Nigeria, as envisaged by Zik is indeed best assured when the majority of Nigerians are emotionally connected to Nigeria because of what the country is able to do for them and in the quality of life it provides for its citizens.
“In his time, Nnamdi Azikiwe scored many firsts that can only be recalled with awe and admiration. He was among the pioneering University-educated Africans who sojourned to the United States in their quest for knowledge and send-improvement.
“He was also a pioneering sportsman, public intellectual, journalist, newspaper proprietor with 12 daily titles in his stable at one point in time-, owner of a pan-Nigeria athletic club, and author.
“I am convinced that the problems that we are called upon to address and redress in building a better country are not beyond our grasp to tackle. With good faith and a generous dose of goodwill, we can, as we have done in various occasions in our history, summon that Nigerian genius to build on the things we have successfully erected together.”
Anambra credible elections, greatest birthday tribute to Zik —Ngige
The Minister in a statement by his Media Office in Abuja, said he was not surprised President Muhammadu Buhari did not allow Anambra sink into chaos, especially against backdrop of threats of election boycott, reinforced by scarring spate of violence and killings.
He said President Buhari, who has already felicitated with the winner of the Anambra governorship election, Prof. Chukwuma Soludu of the All Progresive Grand Alliance, APGA, is a quiet promoter of peaceful elections and co-existence just like Dr. Azikiwe.
He said Nigerians are positive that this trend of credible election shall continue, while noting that the election of Professor Soludo “at a material time Anambra is nearly overcast by the shadows of a second term gubernatorial fatigue, clearly aligns with Azikiwe’s emancipative vision of showing the light so that the threatening darkness begone.”
According to him, “President Buhari has paid an immeasurable tribute to Zik with the conduct of the Anambra governorship election widely acclaimed as credible. The President appreciates the place of Anambra as the cradle of Igbo civilization, as well as the fulcrum of its republican entrepreneurial spirit. With Anambra down, the President knows full well, the entire South East will be in disarray.
“I recall that it took a President Buhari to give Zik a deserving resting place by completing the long abandoned mausoleum and library at his Inosi Onira residence in Onitsha.
“It is the same President Buhari who started work at the Second Niger Bridge, currently nearing completion. This is a project that was made a vanishing bait by successive governments at every general election.
“As a Zikist myself, I often reflect on Dr. Azikiwe’s philosophy of economic determinism that Africa should look inwards, ‘that nobody except Africans can determine the future of Africa and that black is not synonymous with lack; and being black, not an eternal confinement to backwardness.
“This philosophy finds expression in Buhari’s backward integration agenda especially the revolutionary agricultural policies, towards a self-reliant, food-producing nation.
“Being conversant with Zik’s vision for the greatness of Africa in world politics, also spurred the moderate achievements Nigeria recorded in international labor diplomacy since Buhari assumed office in 2015; where we moved from being a bench warmer in the ILO to the deputy membership of its Governing Board in 2017, and now full (Titular) membership. A Nigerian, Sen. Chris Ngige, for the first time in history, became the chairman of the Government Group of Governing Board of the ILO between 2019-2020.”
Leadership vacuum created in Igbo land —Ohanaeze spokesman
In a related development, the National publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said if Azikiwe were alive, the case of detained leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu would not have been prolonged as it is as ZIK would have met President Muhammadu Buhari to make him see the need for dialogue.
Ogbonnia said the absence of Azikiwe has created leadership vacuum in Igbo land yet to be filled by anybody.
In his speech entitled “If Zik were alive”, delivered at an event in Abuja organized by Igbo Nsukka United Front in honour of The Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ogbonnia noted that the most intricate and complex problem facing Igbo people is the case of Nnamdi Kanu, saying that if Azikiwe were alive, solution would have been found.
“The most intricate and complex challenge to the Igbo at present is the case of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“Kanu is a persuasive visionary charismatic leader whose followership is catholic. Like most visionaries, Kanu has identified the various ills in the Nigerian society and how the Igbo are victimized in the process.
“He has raised the awareness and consciousness of the Igbo youth that anybody against Kanu is considered either an oppressor or an agent of the oppressors.”
Vanguard News Nigeria