2023: Nigerians can pick president from any zone, says Lawan
Ahead of the 2023 general election, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said distrust among political leaders was creating tension in the country, noting that it was also responsible for the many challenges bedevilling the nation.
Lawan stated this at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation’s Policy Dialogue on Democracy and Unity of the State yesterday in Abuja.
The Senate President described the incessant face-off between the North and South over power shift as needless, noting that what Nigeria needs is a “leader that will give sense to the people and provide everything within the constraint of resources.”
He added: “When we have a marriage and there is mutual suspicion between the parties, that means the marriage may begin to suffer a bit. What we need is to be open as leaders to all manners of people. And we shouldn’t allow suspicion among us because when political leaders allow for suspicion among themselves, the outcome is that the ethnic nationalities will behave the same way.
“Our major problem is the suspicion between the different ethnic groups. Otherwise, why will someone bother where the president comes from? Let the president come from anywhere but what we need is leadership that will give sense to the people and provide everything within the constraint of resources that the people need. But when we suspect each other, that is when people crawl back to their ethnic enclaves.”
Describing the political class as a clan irrespective of their political parties, Lawan suggested that leaders must continue to unite and engage one another to make the country a better place.
According to him, the country could be great if the political class decides to be selfless and honest.
He described Jonathan as a man with abundant traits of humility, fairness, equity and justice, adding that, “what you are doing as a former president is to show an example of what our leaders can do outside of the office.”
Speaking further, Lawan said: “You are a man of peace because you believe in Nigeria and the unity of this country.
“After you left office in 2015, you decided to work for the unity of this country and its leadership to ensure that the country remains united. You are a unifier and we believe you mean well for this country.
“When you were in office, I was in the opposition but I supported many of your policies and opposed some. My belief is that you have demonstrated very clearly that this country can be great.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, in his remarks, noted that Nigeria was going through many challenges that have continued to pose serious threats to its unity and corporate existence.
According to him, democracy thrives on the mutuality of trust between government and the people and among the different groups within a state.
He observed that one of the major sources of problems in the continent was the inability to manage diversities, maintaining that war won’t bring peace to the continent.
“In Africa, we need to harness our diversities and differences and translate them to strength for a more peaceful and prosperous future. Our diversity is often misconstrued to be the source of our challenges, but I feel if properly harnessed, it will be the source of our greatness.
“One good way to make progress in this regard is to strengthen government institutions to improve integration, equity and social inclusion in our various nations.
“Let me affirm that the weapons of our warfare in times like this should be love, justice and hope. The pursuit of these virtues will guarantee sustainable peace and unity in Africa.”
“While guns, drones and other artilleries may win the war, to win the peace we need to constantly engage in meaningful conversations in order to reach compromise on issues, affecting us all,” Jonathan said.
Speaking, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, said having a dialogue on Nigeria’s democracy to make it work rather than the divisive tendencies of the moment was most pressing especially as gladiators begin to take a position for 2023 general election.
He maintained that the concept of ‘One Nigeria’ must come to mean more than it currently does to the average citizen.
“A united Nigeria will thrive on political stability and social security. It also goes without saying that the quality of the public education system and that of the public health system must be high. Both must deliver free to affordable services. It is only then that people will belong because they want to, not because they must,” he said.
On his part, Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri called for the abolition of the state of origin and indigeneship from the 1999 Constitution.
Decrying the level of disunity in the country, Diri, who has represented his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, maintained that expunging the item from the constitution would foster unity in the country.
“We can’t continue to blame our colonial masters for our problems. We should look inward. As Nigerians, we should forget our colonial masters and live together. Those who drafted our constitution prescribed state of origin but we need to expunge some of these legal limitations by removing that. We should replace it with the place of residence,” he noted.