*Fayemi: Inflammatory statements by those in authority causing disunity
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and a former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) have stressed that regardless of the diverse challenges which ranged from economic, religious and even cultural that Nigeria has been grappling with since independence, the country would attain greatness.
Buhari and Gowon stated this yesterday in Abuja, at the public presentation of a book written by the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi titled “Unfinished Greatness: Envisioning a New Nigeria.”
Gowon, who was the chairman of the occasion, said as an individual, he believed that Nigeria was a country made for greatness.
He said: “I find the title of the book quite interesting. It treats two major issues that Nigerians are concerned about. First, is the question of why Nigeria, with all her potential has not attained greatness.
“As an individual, I believe Nigeria is a country made for greatness. That is the reason why I led like-minded individuals and all groups to pray without ceasing for the growth of our land.
“Regardless of the diverse difficulties we have – socio, economic, religious and even cultural – that we have been grappling with since independence, our country shall yet attain the greatness that we all want.
“This is the ideal for which every nation has fared regardless of its position on the development index. The notion of our greatness is evolutionary.”
Gowon noted that the second notion addressed by the book was the leadership question.
According to him, “we speak of leadership that seeks to make our unity in diversity work. We speak of leadership with determination to eradicate poverty, disease and ignorance in the land; we speak of leadership that is concerned with making democracy work in a manner that makes citizens truly enjoy its dividends.
“Broadly, we speak about leadership that makes Nigerians extremely proud. Kayode must have been moved to ponder these issues from his vantage position as a two-term Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum.”
The elder statesman stressed that he had associated with Fayemi for several years, saying he graced the occasion to enjoy a presentation of a good book written from the perspective of a fertile mind.
“Fayemi has written a book to tell us that this country is great. There is still unfinished greatness. This country has a lot to drive to make it the perfect country that we all love.
“I like you all to leave here believing that it is Nigeria and you can contribute to making it greater than what it is today. This will have been improving from independence to today. Nigeria has to continue to exist as a nation that we are all proud of,” Gowon added.
Also, Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari said he holds Fayemi in high esteem.
Gambari said: “He (Buhari) has high regards for Dr. Fayemi for many reasons. First, Dr. Fayemi was his Minister for Mines and Still Development and he was a trailblazer because he brought into that office vision, energy and commitment. Dr. Fayemi was part of the team that brought President Buhari to power in 2015 and was part of the transition from the previous government to the present one.”
The president stressed that though the vision of the founding fathers of the nation had not been fully realised, but added that the country was a work in progress.
Buhari said practice and politicking without a vision could become extremely unproductive for a country that needs to move forward.
He said it was a combination of people of vision, intellect and practice; experience, records of achievement in public service, that in his view qualified people for Leadership.
Buhari added, “Coming back to Nigeria, it is very true that the vision of our founding fathers has not been fully realised, it is a work in progress. That is why I think it is important that this book should be read, this book should be praticalised, this book should serve as a pointer. Obviously, we want to congratulate Dr. Fayemi for being another trailblazer, not only in the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, but also in the governance of this country.”
On his part, the Governor of Kano state, Dr. Abdulahi Ganduje said it was always important for intellectuals to take an active role in politics.
He noted that the reason why intellectuals were needed in politics was because they are always great thinkers, “they make a good forecast, they analyse conflicting issues and try to find out the areas of convergence and the areas for divergence.”
Ganduje stressed, “Some people are advocating that governance should only be for intellectuals, but it is contrary to bureaucrats, but we have seen how important it is. Unfortunately, in developing countries, intellectuals are afraid of governance, they are afraid of delving into active politics because they regard politics as a dirty game. But politics is not a dirty game.
“Also, some think intellectuals, when they delve into active politics, they resort into too much analysis and sometimes, people say too much analysis leads to paralysis.”
Speaking, the author of the book, Fayemi said over the last few years, Nigeria had been buffeted on all sides by a myriad of problems. He said like many others, he had experienced discomfort at the ease with which cheap and populist options which, yesterday, might have been laughed off as fringe ideas have gained in influence to become mainstream.
His words: “In the meantime, those who have held on to the goal of Nigerian oneness and unity have found themselves pushed to the margins and placed on the defensive.
“Matters have not been helped by the inflammatory partisanship which many in leadership positions have adopted in part to score points against opponents but also in order to be recognised by their communities as truly representing their concerns.
“Too many seem to have forgotten that leaders should lead and not simply reproduce the base sentiments and narrow perspectives they encounter on the hustings.
“Leading means understanding the local concerns that are exercising the minds of our constituents, placing these in a wider context which as leaders we are uniquely positioned to see, and formulate approaches that provide a meaningful and responsible way forward. ”
Fayemi emphasised that the country has been faced with a conjuncture of complex and uncommon challenges which must be confronted openly, head-on, and purposefully, rather than being denied, swept under the carpet, or simply wished away.
He noted that while courageously admitting to and seeking ways to redress the challenges, it was important to remember that everyone comes from somewhere, and in the journey embarked upon as a country, many wins have been recorded, while a web of interdependencies bind everyone closely together.
Fayemi said: “This reality should serve to condition and modulate our responses to the real challenges we face not with a view to throwing the baby out with the bath water but in a determined effort to filter the bath water so that it is purged of the impurities that could discomfort the baby.
“It is this approach of seeking to build on our many gains as a country and a people whilst recognising and engaging our contemporary difficulties that underpins this book.
“We have had moments of greatness in all spheres of our national life and human endeavour. We have also seen many difficult days in our forward march to even greater heights.
“Problems must be understood to be part of our unfinished quest for greatness. And greatness has to be our permanent watchword as the only destiny that is acceptable to us and to Global Africa which earnestly looks up to us for leadership.”
Fayemi therefore expressed optimism that Nigeria would surely fulfill destiny as a united country built on justice, freedom, equity and the rule of law.
Delivering his keynote address, Prof. Adebayo Oluksohi said the book brought a message of hope that the challenges confronting the country have built up enough that Nigerians were ready for a kind of transformation.
He said Africa cannot continue to count on foreign aid for the transformation of the African continent, saying the continent cannot continue to play second fiddle in the international system.