From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians to promote the country’s unity and corporate existence.
The governor also condemned overzealousness of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, forwithdrawing security detail of Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano.
Wike noted that no amount of intimidation would solve Nigeria’s challenges.
The governor spoke, yesterday, as chairman of the sixth Zik Lecture series, in honour of the first president of Nigeria, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra.
“Irrespective of the side of the political and social divide we may belong, we all share a common responsibility as leaders and ordinary people, to advance and preserve the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria, which, for me, is the greatest honour we can ever give to the memory of the Great Zik of Africa.
“But, in committing ourselves to this mission, we cannot also continue to deny the challenges that we presently face as a nation and the choice that we must make to preserve the nation’s unity in the midst of increasing agitations for political and economic restructuring sweeping across the country.”
The governor said just as every ‘other pluralistic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society,’ Nigeria’s diversity remained the abiding source of the country’s collective strength and resilience.
“However, our diversity is under severe stress and even becoming rather a threat to our collective progress because of embedded fault lines in the existing political and economic structures of the country. Unfortunately, our failures, as a people, to resolve these structural defects continue to trouble and negate national cohesion and development. For, it is vain to expect peace in injustice; unity in inequity and progress where governance is bereft of accountability, respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, and where national institutions are easily politicised, weakened and rendered ineffective,” Wike said.
The governor commended Senator Ben Obi for the creative initiative as well as the university for providing the intellectual platform for the effective propagation of the timeless ideas and enduring values of the Great Zik of Africa.
He said: “Whatever verdict history records, no one can deny that Zik was not just one of the foremost architects of the Nigerian nation; he was also among the most towering figures in the history of Africa’s politics.
“The Great Zik, therefore, deserves all and every honour his apostles, and, in deed, a grateful nation, can bestow to keep his memory alive and in the consciousness of the people,” he said.
He said the choice before Nigerians is to “build inclusive, equitable and participatory political and economic systems where everyone justly benefits from the proceeds of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, which are lacking in the current authoritarian political environment, where protests are easily cast as dissent, where inequity and impunity are promoted as national policies and where our rights and freedoms are easily denied.”
The governor decried “the impunity displayed by the IGP, in the withdrawal of security details of governor Obiano,” and pointed out that he suffered the same fate during the Rivers rerun elections.
Wike said Nigerians will resist any plot to manipulate the 2019 polls.
Founder of the lecture series and Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee, senator Obi said it was initiated to cerebrate the legacies of the first Nigerian president and immortalise him.
Delivering the lecture, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, a former minister and president general, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, traced the developmental challenges facing the country to “the foundational problem orchestrated by the colonial administration.”
He called for “restructuring of the country on the premise of a knowledge-based economy and agriculture.”