Fayemi: Nigeria's Unity Guaranteed with Zik's Spirit among Nigerians – THISDAY Newspapers
David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi yesterday described the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as a nationalist who believed in the unity and indissolubility of Nigeria.
Fayemi, who spoke at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka venue of the 9 &10 combined Zik Lecture Series Anniversary Celebration 2021, noted that various political, economic and social problems afflicting Nigeria can be overcome if leaders and followers share a unity of purpose as demonstrated in the personality of Azikiwe during his lifetime.
Fayemi, who said a well-structured dialogue remains a major pathway to peace and progress, noted that there was nothing heroic in dying for a cause that dialogue and negotiations can help resolve.
Fayemi admonished Nigerians to bury their differences in order to achieve a greater and fulfilled country.
He stressed the need to develop a democratic system in Nigeria that meets the expectations of Nigerians and restore people’s trust in the government they voted into office.
Delivering a lecture on a theme that suits the mood of the nation: ‘Security, Governance and Nation Building,’ the chairman of NGF alluded to Zikism as a principle that will guarantee a prosperous Nigeria. The resource person noted that the great Zik of Africa championed the course of building a nation where the safety of every citizen is assured and where there would be equal opportunities for all, regardless of the language they speak, the place where they come from and how they worship God.
Fayemi further maintained that ‘the great Zik of Africa envisioned a country that would be “perpetual and indestructible”on account of its ability to remain adaptive and responsive to the shifting challenges and its commitment to meet the aspirations of every generation of Nigerians.
According to him, the indistructibility of Nigeria as envisaged by Zik is indeed best assured when the majority of Nigerians are emotionally connected to Nigeria because of what Nigeria is able to do for them. In essence, the legitmacy of the nation- state is not in making demands of patriotism but in the quality of life it provides for its citizens towards building mutual trust and common good’.
According to him, in his time Azikiwe scored many firsts that could only be recalled with awe and admiration.
“He was among the pioneering University-educated Africans who sojourned to the United States in their quest for knowledge and send-improvement. He was also a pioneering sportsman, public intellectual, journalist, newspaper proprietor – with 12 daily titles in his stable at one point in time-, owner of a pan-Nigeria athletic club, and author.
While arguing for the preservation of unity of Nigeria amidst agitations of groups like MASSOB and IPOB, Fayemi enjoined Nigerians to learn from experience of a smaller African country, South Sudan, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011only for a fresh civil war to break out within the new nation two years after achieving self-determination which led to the death of about 400,000 people with over 4 million people displaced.
Contending further that the Nigerian situation no matter how dire it looks is not irredeemable, Fayemi advocated the need to strengthen those pillars that unite Nigerians together rather than fanning the embers of disunity and disintegration which he said negated the ideals of nationalists like Azikiwe.Fayemi said: “I am convinced that the problems that we are called upon to address and redress in building a better country are not beyond our grasp to tackle. With good faith and a generous dose of goodwill, we can, as we have done in various occasions in our history, summon that Nigerian genius to build on the things we have successfully erected together.
“We must strive to do so in the spirit of the kinds of noble values and principles that inflamed the spirit of a youthful Azikiwe to enrol at Lincoln University in a quest to discover the innate goodness in the human species with a view to building a better and freer world. We must never abandon the spirit of inquiry and discovery that led Azikiwe to join other nationalists to seek to create a nation-state founded on the best ideals of a citizenship anchored on freedom and justice.
“We, the people of Nigeria,” must truly mean that our considered aspirations have fed into the document that would form the fundamental organising principle of our nationhood. The opportunities are there.”
Declaring the occasion open, the Chairman of the Anniversary Celebration and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi took the audience on memory lane on how Zik dedicated his virtues and intellects towards building a united and purposeful Nigeria. The governor who was ably represented by his Deputy, His Excellency, Dr. Eric Kelechi Igwe, said that the great Zik represented the symbol of nationalism and his contributions to socio-economic and political development of Nigeria accounts for the reason he is being celebrated by all segments of the society. He said security is central and fundamental to human existence, stating that section 14(2) of the Nigerian constitution explicitly provides that security and welfare of the people is the primary duty of government at all levels. He maintained that security cannot be divorced from socio-economic and political growth and development of Nigeria.