The Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has said that in order to confront the various issues bedevilling the nation, Nigerians must start by first conquering the demon of mutual suspicion and distrust which he said has “poisoned our politics and subverted our will to achieve the necessary consensus that is so crucial to marching confidently towards our destiny as a great nation.”
He also urged Nigerian youths to see Nigeria as a country that is still in the hands of architects and builders who would determine its future, rather than a fallen or collapsing edifice.
Fayemi stated that the work of nation-building is for all generations, hence the need for young people to peacefully and actively engage in order to build the country of their dreams.
He spoke at a one-day conference tagged ‘The Discourse’ held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, on Thursday.
Governor Fayemi noted the diverse calls and agitations for the disintegration of the country with different ultra-nationalistic groups calling for secession. He, however, said that the idea of remaking a nation “should not suggest a strategic demolition for us to erect a totally new structure.”
He said the focus of all Nigerians should be about how to reinvent the nation, work for the prosperity of the people and ensure peace and prosperity.
He said: “We are today contending with a restive youth population who want a clean break from the baggage of the past, to embrace a future where everyone can live full and productive lives in a safe and secure country.
“Amid these issues, different groups have offered solutions, and continue to work hard at fixing the country. Others have a more fatalistic outlook, with calls and agitations for the disintegration of our country, and with different ultra-nationalistic groups calling for secession from Nigeria.
“I, therefore, tend to assume that the idea of “arresting the drift of this nation towards the precipice” itself stems from the latter mindset that sees the country as a fallen or collapsing edifice rather than a country still in the hands of architects and builders who would determine its future.”
While stating that the description of the 1914 amalgamation by many people as a mistake may be wrong, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) said the task of forging a nation out of this “colonial invention rests squarely in our hands.”
Fayemi’s paper was delivered by His Special Adviser on Communications and Strategy, Mr Akin Rotimi.
He asserted that one major area that the successive generation has failed is the tendency to stigmatise difference and weaponise diversity, stating that social categorisations such as ethnicity and religion must not be allowed to become the boundaries for inclusion or exclusion.
On participation in politics and governance, Dr Fayemi urged the youths to engage and make themselves a politically active constituency, far more engaged in public affairs, and a bloc influential enough to be courted by politicians.
“Rather than bemoan the insensitivity of the sceptical comments made by veteran politicians regarding the abilities of young politicians, you should instead see them as a summons to reflection and contemplation to explore the problems and prospects of youths in Nigerian politics today.
“All things considered, the biggest roadblocks on the highway of youths’ participation in politics are those laid by the youths themselves.”
“The road ahead is challenging, but I ask that you keep the faith. I have no doubt that Nigeria is a viable country and that her place in the comity of great nations is well assured. With all hands on the deck, we will make this land a place of pride,” Fayemi stated.