Group Managing Director of Afrinvest, Ike Chioke, has called for Nigerians to unite, saying that failure to do so will slow down national integration and undermine national development.
Chioke, who spoke at his alma mater, the Federal Government Jos Old Students’ Association 16th National Convention, with the theme ‘Fostering National Unity,’ said “Nigeria’s unity has been called into question.”
On the value of unity, he noted that since Nigeria’s Independence in 1960, successive governments had prioritised promotion of national harmony.
He stated that Unity Schools were established in the aftermath of the Nigerian Civil War by then head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), as a reconciliatory move to heal a devastated nation and promote harmony among the citizenry; hence, the Federal Government colleges have the Latin motto, Pro Unitate, which means ‘For Unity.’
“Once upon a time, our faith in one Nigeria was unimpeachable, unshakable and unquestionable. In 1952, a Fulani man from Sifawa in Sokoto Caliphate, Mallam Umaru Altine, was elected as the first Mayor of the City of Enugu. Fast forward 70 years and what we see in Nigeria today is a glaring lack of national unity and consciousness, no sense of nationhood, absence of patriotism and open hatred among the people.
“For instance, I, as an Igbo man, who has lived in Lagos for over 12 years, cannot aspire to a public office in Lagos because of my tribe. The same thing goes for a Christian Yoruba man who has lived all his life in the North East. He can never contest for a public office because he is judged first by his tribe, then by his religion, and not at all by his competence,” he said.
He identified cases of non-indigenes being deported from where they live to “states of origin” that they have never visited, emphasising the importance of embracing one another, regardless of tribe or language.
“Are we not all Nigerians?” he queried. “Despite being blessed with enormous natural endowments and human capital, the Nigerian economy is on the brink of collapse, with no clearly defined strategy in place to deal with the effect of domestic and global headwinds. Inflation levels are at a record high, unemployment is getting worse, and the country’s debt keeps piling up.”
He urged the acceptance of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege’s bill, while outlining why Nigerians needed unity more than ever. According to him, such a bill will inspire citizens to share a common vision of Nigeria. In a sense, Nigerians may be attending unity schools and being socialised with similar characters, values and patriotic ideals.
Chioke noted, “About two years ago, ‘A Bill For An Act To Alter The Provisions Of The Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria1999 To Define Who Is An Indigene Of The State’ was sponsored by Omo-Agege. The bill seeks to provide for indigeneship by application and the interpretation of the word ‘indigene’ by amending Sections 31 and 318 of the 1999 Constitution, with a view to conferring indigeneship of a state on any resident that has consistently lived in that state for at least 10 years.
“If this bill can be passed into law, it will help us achieve the cohesiveness and integration that we need as a nation. That way, a Hausa man that has lived for the last 15 years of his life in Enugu will not feel alienated and could well have been running for election to the House of Assembly in 2023.”
He added that unless Nigerians took proactive and intentional steps to close the ethnic, religious and political divisions, and pursue inclusivity, national unity would remain elusive in the country.
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