Governor Kayode Fayemi of the ruling All Progressives Congress says Nigeria is not “a nation” as he urges peace, justice and inclusion to make the most populous African country a united entity.
“Fact is, development will only thrive when we have a nation. To have a nation is to have a consensus on a definition of what nationhood means to Nigerians,” said the Ekiti governor. “It means we must galvanise support for its progress. We have not arrived at that destination yet, but our mission is to build it.”
He also noted that the “work we put into the process of nation building, national coalition, peace and justice will determine how far we go,” stressing that “the route to nation building is peace and the root of peace is justice and inclusion.”
The Ekiti governor further stated that Nigerians had an opportunity to continue strengthening their bond of unity despite how challenging the process could be.
He explained that Nigeria required concerted efforts and solid cohesion ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Mr Fayemi, a former presidential aspirant and chair of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, stated this on Wednesday in Abuja during a panel discussion titled ‘Nigeria’s Unfinished Greatness and Next Steps’. The discussion was part of activities to mark the 70th birthday of Mathew Kukah, Catholic bishop of Sokoto Diocese.
According to Gloria Balleson, a panel member and human rights activist, Nigerians must go beyond wishful thinking and insist on national growth if they want greatness.
Ms Balleson said the judiciary should be strengthened to operate independently to achieve justice and equity.
“The judiciary needs such strength to hold political leaders accountable as immunity granted the leaders is frustrating that. When laws are applied for a specific subset of people, it is no law,” she explained. “Leaders in Nigeria are often above the law. In normal societies, leaders are to be held and upheld to a higher threshold.”
Ms Balleson added, “Section 308 of the constitution gives political leaders immunity which gives them a lot of latitude.”
Governor Simon Lalong, the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, had described Mr Kukah as “a man of wisdom, who demonstrates courage and strength to say what is right so as to contribute to nation building.”
Mr Kukah is a critic of the APC regime under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“He is good trouble,” the governor said of the Catholic bishop.