Aloysius Attah and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Former president of the Senate, Ken Nnamani, has identified ethnicity as the clog in the wheel of development and progress of the country since independence.
He also blamed the founding fathers of Nigeria as those who laid the foundation for ethnicity instead of nationalism.
Nnamani, who spoke yesterday, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, when he delivered the 13th convocation lecture, regretted that the country has followed the train of African states that failed to rise to the expectations of post colonial rule.
Speaking on the topic: “National Integration, Peace and Development,” Nnamani identified political mismanagement as part of the reasons for failure of Nigeria to rise to its manifest destiny. He said the politics of Nigeria’s founding fathers was not suitable for the challenges of post colonialism.
“Instead of abandoning the ‘divide-and-rule’ strategies of colonial administration, they amplified it and created a sense in which we did not see ourselves as first and foremost Nigerians. They exaggerated and exploited the cultural and religious differences of the Nigerian people instead of weaving the tapestry of national unity from these splendorous diversities. We are living today with the legacies of this initial error of perception by our leaders, who reinforced the politics of ethnic dominance rather than politics of national unity and development,” he said.
On restructuring, political institutions and national integration, Nnamani said one of the misfortunes of the country is that Nigerians have inherited political and economic institutions that undercut sustainable political and economic development.
He said Nigeria’s skewed federalism has endangered democracy and development and advised that Nigeria go back to true federalism, so that states could compete in economic development and also manage their local affairs.
He noted that those failures and problems fuel the call for restructuring.
Nigeria, he said, has a leadership recruitment problem, hence, the need for effective leaders, who will inspire hope and execute the tasks of national unity, integration and development. He blamed Nigeria’s poor record on national unity and integration on poor leadership and called for a process that recruits transformative and problem-solving leaders imbued with patriotic zeal.
Those leaders, he said, will create institutions of efficient production and fair distribution and inspire faith in the Nigerian project by telling stories of national unity and integration.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku said Nigeria, from inception, has been bedevilled by strong centrifugal forces, but pointed out that national integration with continuous conscious efforts to wield ethnically and religiously plural societies into the modern nation states has become the desideratum.
Chairman of the convocation lecture, who was former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, in his remarks, described the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe, whom the university was named after as a great source of inspiration to humanity who pushed for national integration in a great way.
….Pic caption: Chairman, Governing Council, Alhaji Azeez Bello, Former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku and former INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega during the 13th Convocation Lecture of Nnamdi Azikiwe University yesterday. Photo: Aloysius Attah