From: Segun Babatunde in Bauchi
A former Director, Public Relations, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr. Andee Iheme, has lamented the dearth of visionary and purposeful leadership as the bane of the nation’s socio- economic and political development.
He stated that Nigeria has not made much progress because there has been no leader to drive the quest towards nation building.
Iheme who is also a Public Relations expert said that although there has made several efforts at nation building and at uniting the people through the introduction of Unity Schools, National Youth Service Corp, the now defunct National Sports Festival, among others, these have not yielded the needed results.
Iheme stated this while speaking as a Guest Speaker at a Special Prayer to mark Nigeria’s 61st Independence Anniversary, organized by the Chapel of Victory, ATBU, Bauchi Sunday.
According to him, “Nigeria has been making very serious efforts at nation building, if you look at history, when we started, we started with the introduction of unity schools in Sokoto and later in a place called Ogbosi and later in Warri, they all started as Regional Schools, that was in 1966. Later, by 1973, they were escalated and many states had it.
“We had the National Youth Service Corp, established in 1973, the idea was to bridge the gaps that exist in Nigeria in the area of tribe, religion, language, food and many other areas we have diversities. The Youth Service was a good attempt.
“Then we went to the National Sports Festival, also aimed at bridging gaps. We have a policy on federal character.
“But you see, all these things have not succeeded because Nigeria has not had a national champion to drive our quest for building this nation. We have not had a single person, who will rally us round and cause us to subsume all our idiosyncrasies and cause us to subsume all that divide us to come up as a nation and exist on one page, Nigeria has never had that.
“And because we have lacked a national champion, local champions are rising in the north, in the west, in the east. If we continue the way we are going, more local champions will come and all will be aimed at tearing Nigeria apart.”
He said that all through the book of Judges in the Bible, God raised champions for the Israelites and they cried out to him.
He wondered that, “are we crying out to God enough? Are our voices not reaching God as a cacaphony of voices, people crying out for different things, divergent opinions, divergent requests? We lack unity.”
According to him, “If we can cry out to God, God will send us a champion, the way he sent Moses to rescue the children of Israel from Egypt, the same thing at he sent Joshua, the same way he sent others.”
Iheme said that Nigeria has been missing it because all the leaders the country has ever produced since independence have been people driven by religion, tribe and ethnicity.
“Where we’re missing it as a country because we have not had one person who symbolizes our unity. All the leaders we’ve had were sectional, tribal and religious-driven leaders, we have not had somebody who unites us, somebody who is walking the talk.
“Nigeria called for a National Conference in 2014 and it was a disaster but Rwanda did it and succeeded and look at how they are living today. South Africa also did it inspire of the fact that they have 11 official languages, they’re still forging ahead together as the largest economy in Africa.”
He said that Nigeria must come together even in “all our quarrels and fights, we must sit down and talk, there must be a forum where we come together and discuss. Let’s come together and tell ourselves the truth. We’ve found our faces, we’ve quarreled but in the end, we’ll be better for it.”
He challenged leaders in the country to realize that if Nigeria must be one, they must change their language.
“This idea of wanting to gain relevance by being destructional, talking for your people should be stopped. Once you are in the National Assembly, you have dropped your local toga, you’re now a national figure and your discussions and body language should change. They should all be pointing to a single goal which is that of uniting the nation,” he advised.
Also speaking, the Chaplain, Patrick Ozuolor, said that Nigeria has gotten to a point where despondency has taken over the citizens
“God is God and he knew there would be a time in Nigeria that we will get into a point of despondency, that’s where we are now; despondency has taken over.
“God said he will answer speedily those who call upon him. We believe that prayers can solve the quagmire we are in right now and that is why once in a year, we gather Christians to come and let’s pray together and we believe that God will hear us,” he said.
On the state of Nigeria at 61, he said: “We are not doing well, outright, we are not doing well”.