July 18, (THEWILL) – The Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Salisu Mohd Lukman, has challenged political parties and leaders to take the unity of the country seriously and prioritize it ahead of other considerations as the campaign for the 2023 presidential election heats up.
Lukman cautioned that unless the political leaders school themselves in the art of consensus building and dispassionately use the same to resolve most of the nation’s teething problems, including the leadership question, the much-parroted unity may continue to elude the country.
He declared that unless and until “Nigerian politics is developed in such a way that elections go beyond who emerges as a leader, which happens only every four years, to the point when it is expanded to include engagements between leaders and citizens to contract support for initiatives being taken or to be taken in order to address challenges, national unity may continue to elude us as a nation and problems of avoidable conflicts leading to loss of lives and property will continue to confront the country.”
In an opinion article, titled, “Nigerian Politics and Question of National Unity,” Lukman regrets that politics in the country often succeeds in transforming leaders to regional champions for the exclusive protection of resources of that region.
He observed that such a disposition to exclusivity ends up building envy and resentment so much that national consensus is hardly built around any issues of note, including restructuring or true federalism.
Against this background, he stressed that the campaign for equity, fairness and justice are misconstrued.
He said: “Campaign for equity, justice and fairness, which should be about finding the right balance for the country becomes limited to self-protective scheming, often directed to defend the repressive framework, which undermined the capacity of political institutions to serve as vehicles for consensus building in the country.
“Part of the problem, which is resulting in further compounding the challenge of national unity is that Nigerian politics has succeeded in transforming almost every political leader into a regional leader. Instead of nationalist leaders who prioritize initiatives that can unite Nigerians, many political leaders are simply regional leaders who only engage in politics with the objective of ensuring that they protect what they imagined the control of their respective regions, and where possible seek to increase the scope of resources being controlled.”
He argued that while ethnic and regional contest for leadership may persist in the near future there is an urgent need to elevate the nation’s politics to encourage robust engagement of Leaders while strengthening initiatives that facilitate national Unity.
Lukman added: “As a nation, both citizens and political leaders need to come to terms with the reality that we all need each other to be able to build a nation that guarantees a good livelihood for citizens from all sections of the country.
“Nigeria can fulfil its destiny as Africa and world power with leadership that is a rallying point for good governance based on fair representation, justice and equity. It is debatable if any of the constituent parts and the respective ethnic groups – Igbos, Yorubas, Hausa-Fulanis, Tivs, Efik, Igbibios, Urobos, or any other individual ethnic group can attend greatness and satisfactorily fulfil the aspirations of its members.
”Democratic governance offers Nigeria the rare opportunity to reorient the politics of the country to develop the framework for continuous engagements, negotiations and agreements. For this to happen, Nigerian politics must produce political leaders who are able to embrace all parts of the country as their constituency and engage political leaders from the regions based on capacity to support them to provide new leadership to their people that are able to win support for political agreements, which may not be simply about cheap access to elective and appointive positions by the regions.”
Ahead of 2023, Lukman further urged the political parties to work hard on an agenda that promotes national unity and called on the ruling All Progressives Congress to use the coming national convention of the party to modify the APC manifesto in that line.
He said, “An integral part of the campaign for national Unity should include how the party should handle negotiations for the emergence of the party’s standard-bearer for 2023, along with the principle of equity, justice and fairness.
“Nigerian politics should begin to focus on mobilizing political leaders and establishments to facilitate national unity.
“Political leaders from all the six geo-political regions must recognize that they can’t have everything. Therefore, the notion of exclusive possession of everything of value in Nigeria is impossible.
“Ab initio, political leaders and citizens must recognize that something just has to give for regions to maximize what they can have. The spirit of sacrifice by all will be required in order to guarantee any prospect for regional development under a united Nigeria.
“It however needs to be stressed that any choice made by political leaders should not be expected to be perfect or unassailable. If choices made by leaders are to achieve the desired objectives of meeting the expectations of Nigerians, they must be engaged by both citizens and leaders must also recognise that they need to engage citizens to be able to win their support.”