By Gabriel Chy Alonta
The Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, has said that Nigeria as currently structured is unfit for successful nation building and incapable of delivering full benefits of citizenship to every Nigerian.
Governor Fayemi, who spoke as a guest at the 9th and 10th Zik Lecture Series, organised by Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, also argued that no country can make progress if it fails to fix security and governance issues.
The combined Zik Lecture Anniversary Celebration themed, “Security, Governance and Nation Building”, took place on Tuesday at ASUU-NAU Secretariat, Orient Daily reports.
According to the guest speaker who spoke on ‘Nation-Building: Between Restructuring and Autonomy’, the myriad of intertwining security and governance challenges is an indication that the very foundation upon which the nation stands is either weakening or has collapsed.
He said, “It is clear that justice, fairness, and equity in the administration of commonwealth were fundamental pre-conditions for peace and unity to be won and sustained.
“If separation and secession are not as easy or simple as their proponents imagine, and given that they do not provide any guarantees that a better future can be secured through them, the demands for a national restructuring would seem to me to be worth keeping on the table for deeper consideration.
“Rather than violence, war or secession, Nigeria should focus on how to develop a democratic system that meets the expectations of the people and restore people’s trust in government; how to build a society that is governed by the rule of law; how to build an electoral system that is reliable and efficient; how to build trusted, dependable and efficient judiciary, among others.
“All these are at the very heart of what I see as the broad package of restructuring that we need to work towards”, Fayemi said.
Fayemi said rather than creating more states or giving autonomy to separatists proponents, that Nigerians should look beyond ethnic and religious differences to advance the unity of the country, positing, “Whatever is worth fighting for, is worth staying alive for”. He said the legitimacy of the nation-state is not in making demands of patriotism but in the quality of life it provides for the citizens towards building mutual trust and common good.
Also speaking, the Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, David Umahi, while eulogising Great Zik of Africa, said the theme of the anniversary was very germane and would help to advance security and governance in Nigeria. He said Zik’s contribution and legacies deserved to be sustained from generation to generation.
Umahi, represented by his deputy, Barr. Eric Kelechi Igwe, said security and welfare of the people remain sacrosanct, remarking that Nigeria cannot succeed or develop under the current insecurity situation. While calling for more attention to the security of lives and properties in the country, Umahi, who is also the chairman of South East Governors Forum, urged the Federal Government to tackle the insecurity bedeviling the country. He thanked the benefactor of Zik Lecture Series, High Chief Sen. Ben Ndi Obi.
Sen. Obi, in an address, commended the school management and the organising committee for ensuring the continuation of the series despite hiccups occasioned by the outbreak of the coronavirus. “The reality of today is not only a thing of immense joy to me but a graceful fulfillment of a life desire that started like a dream a decade ago”, he enthused.
Sen. Obi said the event theme represented the triple puzzles that had over the years eluded not just Nigeria, but Africa as a whole. “Nigeria is today confronted with unacceptable and worrisome security challenges, while governance continues to elude its citizens, and nation building cannot be achieved if we fail to fix security and governance”, he added. He also thanked the Anambra State governor for declaring a work-free day in the state in memory of Zik.
The university vice-chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, in a remark, said the event was intended to remember the life and times of the Rt. Hon. Nnamdi Azikiwe, GCFR, who, according to him, was the arrow-head of Nigeria’s independence struggle.
“The import of the of the lecture was not merely to regale in nostalgia for the life and times of the great Zik of Africa, but through the theme of these lectures, distill and disseminate the values and concepts that underpin his political philosophy, especially as we battle with the arduous task of nation-building”, Esimone added.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state, represented by Secreatry to State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, said there was need to document the achievements of ZIk, while canvassing for re-introduction of history to help pass legacies of Zik and other heros from generation to generation. “We need to mainstream history to our school curriculum to understand the efforts of our hero because our future lies in our past”, Obiano said.
Earlier, Prof. Uche Nwogwugwu, the Dean of Social Sciences, Unizik, said the lecture provides a unique opportunity for vivid interaction between teachers and learners, remarking that “the event attest to level of consciousness of our institution to our environment concern for security and good governance”.
The Chair, Zik Lecture Series, Prof. Ifeoma Vivian Dunu, had, in a vote of thanks, expressed profound gratitude to God, and commended the vice-chancellor, benefactor and committee members for their doggedness and commitment, which, she said, culminated in the success of the event. Dunu, a professor of mass communication, then expressed optimism that the future series would be more fulfilling and robust.
Prof. Uche Azikiwe, widow of the late Zik, on behalf of the family, also thanked the benefactor for the gesture, saying that with such, the name of the family can never be forgotten. She urged South East Governors to mark every November 16, a work-free day, and expressed optimism that the Federal Government would soon key in.
The cutting of the anniversary cake, award presentation and foundation-laying ceremony of Senator Ben Ndi Obi Institute for Legislative Studies in honour of the Great Zik of Africa, formed the high points of the occasion. Orient Daily gathered that the centre would assist the nation produce burn-fire legislative experts that would help rescue Nigeria from its current legislative quagmire.
The event had representatives of the five Governors of the South Eastern states, Iyom Senator Uche Ekwunife, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo, the Obi of Onitsha, HRH Alfred Nnameka Achebe, the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi and Prof. Au. Nnonyelu in attendance.