Kukah, Utomi, others caution against violent reaction to agitations
• Lament hate speeches, quit notices
Some prominent Nigerians yesterday cautioned against the deployment of hate speeches and violent communication in the ongoing debate on restructuring.At a forum organised by the Covenant Christian Centre in Lagos yesterday, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah; Minister of Trade Industry and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah; political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi and the Chairman, Editorial Board of ThisDay Newspapers, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, warned that military or violent reactions in repelling agitations would not promote the unity and development of the country.
Other speakers at the event were the Vice Chancellor, Igbinedion University, Prof. Osaghae Eghosa; business analyst, Roman Oseghale; former member of the Nigerian Green Eagles, Mr. Segun Odegbami; and the convener of the platform, Pastor Poju Oyemade.Kukah, in his presentation titled “The Weakness of Power” warned that the country is at the tipping point where anything could go wrong .
“Nobody knows what will trigger what, as it is in the country today. It is therefore necessary for everybody, both the agitators and the reactionary, to exercise caution,” he warned.While he deplored the use of violent communication and hate speeches in agitating for restructuring on the premise that everybody in Nigeria appears to be angry and uncomfortable with the way the country is, including those who are against the demand for restructuring, the cleric said it was the military mindset of President Muhammadu Buhari and one of his predecessors, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, that made them to say they fought a civil war to keep the country united.
According to Kukah, the fact that the problem which Buhari, Obasanjo and all those in that category fought to keep the country together still remains shows there is a problem that must be addressed by all. “Whosoever wants to rule Nigeria must be ready to cope with her anger,” he said.Enelamah, who delivered the keynote address, said even though the country is facing daunting challenges in solving its problems, it would require the people to join hands together to move it forward.
According to him, what the Buhari administration is doing is to create an enabling environment by removing possible constraints that could impede growth and investment.The minister stressed the need for Nigeria to inspire a new generation, which must start from the existing one, that would be committed to building a virile country. “The vision of the present administration is to make Nigeria one of the easiest places to do business. This will make everybody benefit, which is the essence of good governance,” he siaid.The minister added that immediately this is done, all the agitations would stop.
Although Utomi, in his contribution titled “Restructuring as a path to overcoming the lottery effect and the tragedy of the commons”, concurred that the issue of system needed to be addressed because there is the belief that Nigeria is not working, he said it did not mean restructuring as it is being demanded would produce good governance. “The problem we are facing is the failure of leadership,” he said.
Utomi said the demand for the creation of more states has not resulted in good governance just as the agitation for increased revenue allocation for states has not resulted in good governance.According to him, state governors, civil society organisations and political parties are not really doing as much as they ought to in the agitation for restructuring.
Utomi equated the activities of those deploying hate speeches in demanding restructuring as the same with those deploying force or threat to resist it, saying the issue is nothing to kill about.Adeniyi, who spoke on “A nation on the edge, which way forward” noted that the Arewa youth ultimatum to Igbo residing in the north has been withdrawn “but its damaging effects are still there and unprecedented.”
According to him, the ultimatum itself was triggered by the hate speeches hauled not only at the northerners but other non-Igbo people by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, without considering that the same way he is alleging marginalisation, other parts of the country are complaining, but in different ways.
He warned that many Nigerians are angry at the system and such anger must be properly managed otherwise it could lead to disaster for the country. He suggested that the country must find a way to make governance more responsive, saying the dysfunction at the centre is responsible for the challenges in the country.Putting the blame directly on the governors, political parties, the judiciary, National Assembly and members of the civil society organisations in the country, Eghosa said it was not easy for the Federal Government to devolve power to states and local government it created. “It is like man asking its creator to concede power to it,” he said.
In his presentation, “Federalism is restructuring and restructuring is federalism”, the don said those championing the agitation for restructuring have no locus standi to effect and cannot effect anything.
Eghosa noted that the onus is on the governors to use their position to clamour for the agitation. He blamed the National Assembly for failing to restructure Nigeria, adding that the judicial review system is one of the instruments for restructuring.Odegbami, who spoke on “With sports, we can change Nigeria” noted that sports have gone beyond the games and advanced to tourism, building of infrastructure and health facilities and they are also a powerful weapon to facilitate the unity of any nation.
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