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Leaders, major obstacle to national unity, say Fayemi, Jega

By Muywa Adeyemi (Lagos) and Azimazi Momoh Jimoh (Abuja)
02 December 2021   |   4:04 am
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, have lamented the lack of commitment of people in leadership to national unity.

Former INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega

• APC govs to adopt consensus national chairman
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, have lamented the lack of commitment of people in leadership to national unity.

At a summit on cohesion, organised in Abuja by a socio-political group, National Prosperity Movement, the Ekiti State helmsman noted: “To be sure, unity cannot endure where injustice, exclusion, inequity and marginalisation are embedded in the practice of governance.”

Fayemi continued: “I have often shuddered at the spectacle whereby some among us, who have been entrusted with leadership responsibility, very easily slide into the role of ethno-regional champions, xenophobes and zealots.”

He stressed that fostering unity in a context of multiple diversities requires fulsome attention to equity, justice, fair play and merit.

The NGF chief, who spoke as special guest of honour at the occasion, advised: “It is normal that leaders must have their ears to the ground and feel the pulse of the people, who elected them.”

In his keynote address, Jega berated every civilian administration since 1999 for not doing enough to promote national unity.

He stated: “In any case, the attention paid to the question of national unity and integration by successive military regimes has not been matched by successive civilian administrations. Except for sloganeering in the Third Republic, when Shehu Shagari as the National Party of Nigeria’s (NPN) presidential candidate and subsequently the President, popularised the slogan of ‘One Nation, One Destiny,’ subsequent civilian administrations, especially since 1999, seem to have, more or less, presided over the undermining, if not destruction, of the bases and foundations of national unity and integration in Nigeria.”

Jega counselled: “National unity can only be predicated on mutual trust and understanding, reciprocal friendly/brotherly/sisterly relations, as well as shared interests, values and aspirations.”

IN the meantime, governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have begun consultations on how to adopt a consensus candidate for the national chairmanship of the party at its convention holding next February.
 
The governors were said to have taken the decision to ensure a rancour-free convention and enthrone a leader acceptable to all.
 
Their position wears an appearance of the module adopted by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that resulted in Senator Iyorcha Ayu’s emergency as consensus national chairmanship candidate before the convention.

A credible party source, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that the governors have begun the search for new chairman following President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence not to interfere with the entire process.
 


It was gathered that unknown to those mounting pressure on the President to show interest, he had told people closer to him that he was not pleased with the turn of the Adams Oshiomhole experience.
 
The source disclosed that the APC helmsmen have shortlisted former Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, his Benue State counterpart, Chief George Akume and former of Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari for screening.
 
He said: “We have micro-zoned the office to the North Central, and we are already consulting among ourselves on who will serve the party better among the three of them.
 
“What we are doing is normal. Apart from Mr. President, it is the governors that own the party. We have our people, and we are the leaders at our different states.”
 
Asked what would happen if other tendencies outside the Progressive Governors Forum decided to support another candidate at the convention, the source submitted: “That will be interesting and unexpected. But it is only two or three governors that may decide to do something different from what the majority might have decided.”