From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General, All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Mohd Lukman, has challenged political leaders to take steps to push Nigerians to love each other, suggesting the need to guarantee justice at all times, irrespective of who is affected as the only route for peaceful co-existence in the country.
He further noted that considering the circumstances Nigeria found itself as a nation, there is need to start the campaign that any political leader who overtly or covertly defended criminality must be regarded as either a criminal or one with intention to commit crime too.
In a statement he issued in Abuja last weekend, the PGF DG lamented that the level of intolerance in the country on account of ethnic background is beyond imagination, adding that the source of it borders on how issues of justice are compromised in virtually every part, affecting every section of the country.
He further suggested that the political parties should consider new approaches to challenge political leaders to become leaders and champions of peaceful co-existence.
The statement titled ‘Cries for Justice: Sasha and the Burden of political leadership’, Lukman noted: “The level of intolerance in the country on account of our ethnic background is beyond imagination. The source of it borders on how issues of justice are compromised in virtually every part, affecting every section of the country. In the circumstance we find ourselves as a nation, we should begin to campaign that any political leader who overtly or covertly defended criminality must be regarded as either a criminal or one with intention to commit crime too. Why should we allow any form of defense of criminality to dominate political debate and contest in the country?
“This is the main reason why we vilify every political leader that is not from our tribe, which then produce some fear in us that made us not to allow ourselves to be defeated by such candidates. Given that ethnic groups are being tagged as criminals, there is all manner of political mobilisation based on ethnic undertone,” denoted in the statement.
Speaking further, he suggested that: “As we move towards 2023, this is going to be a serious problem. It is important that our parties are able to consider new approaches that should challenge our political leaders to become leaders and champions of peaceful co-existence.
With all the attacks against APC, it has the best potential of coming up with initiatives that can push political leaders to work for peaceful co-existence in the country.
“This is because apart from being a ruling party with the responsibility of providing political leadership, it is also a party that has committed itself to bringing about political change in the country. As a member of the party, I am always proud to acknowledge the fact that our leaders don’t shy away from recognising problems.
“In the current circumstance our nation find itself, recognising the problem should revive the commitment of our leaders for the unity of Nigeria founded on peaceful co-existence based on justice.
“This should mean that, if in the past our politics overlooks situations whereby political leaders recklessly engage in politics of ethnic hatred, why shouldn’t a party of change take steps to sanction political leaders who promote it? Part of the advantage APC has at the moment over other parties is the fact that we are in the process of reconstituting our leadership at all levels.
“For the party to be able to exercise this advantage and gain the appeal of Nigerians, it should consider taking all the necessary steps to ensure that ethnic bullies and warlords are disqualified from emerging as leaders at all levels. Or put differently, only candidates with proven commitments to our peaceful existence as a nation will be qualified to hold party positions at all levels.
“The disappointing reality is that this may not happen if meetings are not taking place. There is no way any party or any group can come up with the kind of required response without meetings. Through meeting positions of all groups and sections of the country can be considered. We must therefore appeal to our leaders to prioritise the need for meetings and ensure that when meetings hold honest and open debates take place.
“Without debating and taking all the necessary steps to produce leaders in our parties who are committed to the unity of the country founded on peaceful co-existence based on justice, it is almost predictable that candidates for elections would largely be ethnic bullies and warlords. Once candidates are ethnic bullies and warlords, political competition will continue to be characterised by violence.
“As things stand today, issues of national unity and peaceful co-existence are being taken for granted. Largely because they are being taken for granted, it would appear that we only consider initiatives that can guarantee sustainable national unity when there is threat to national peace.
“Once those threats are lowered, our leaders just returned to status quo even where there are already proposals on the table to facilitate political negotiations. Those proposals simply become shelved and political debates returned to the control of ethnic bullies and warlords.
“We need to appeal to our political leaders to take all the steps required to move our nation forward, away from these politics of ethnic hatred. The only way our children and Nigerians can be maximally and confidently competitive in every sphere in our contemporary knowledge driven world is when events in our country are inspiring citizens beyond the clamour for ethnic hatred.
“Instead of hating each other, can our leaders take steps to begin to push us to love each other? The need to guarantee justice at all times, irrespective of who is affected is about the only route for peaceful co-existence in the country.
Once that is compromised, the foundation of our democracy will be eroded. The burden facing our political leaders is to begin to take every necessary step to move our people and our nation from all parts of the country towards ensuring fairness in every part of the country.
“The basis of fairness must be such that to love ourselves, we must love others. Once we can’t guarantee fairness, we should delete the word love in our vocabulary. Therefore, we must demand that our political leaders should show love to themselves by ensuring fair conduct of all citizens as a basis for citizens’ love to leaders and the nation,” the statement read.