Senator Ekweremadu: Nigeria’s progress depends on our unity

Nigeria can only make progress if its ethnic nationalities move closer in the spirit of national unity, says Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President.

Ekweremadu expressed sadness at the disturbing trend of mutual suspicion and ethno-religious bigotry that appear to define national engagements in the recent past.

The development, he said, puts the future of the nation in grave danger.

The Deputy Senate President spoke his mind while receiving an award as INDEPENDENT National Legislator of the Year 2017.

Ekweremadu said like every other concerned Nigerian, members of the National Assembly (NASS) are worried by the state of insecurity in the country and crises fuelled by ethnic, religious, and political differences.

While responding to the challenge thrown at the lawmakers by Alhaji Isa Funtua, Chairman of the occasion, who in his earlier address urged Nigerians from every parts of the country to work more for the unity of Nigeria, Ekweremadu said the Senate, under the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki, would soon come up with a template which would help to make the country more secure.

“When the chairman spoke, he challenged us to find a way of dealing with the present level of disunity in our country.

“I want tell you that we accept this challenge. We are as concerned as other Nigerians.

“Nigeria can only make progress when we are united, when we see ourselves as brothers and sisters, and we treat each other as one.

“The Senate has set up a committee headed by the Senate Leader to look at the security architecture of this country.

“Because when you are talking about security, what we say and what we do all give attribute to the security and insecurity that we have.

“They all feed into the system and make us secure or insecure. So, I believe that by the time they finish their work, the Senate will come up with a template that will help this country to be more secure.”

The number two man in the Senate lauded the management of INL, and said Nigeria today needed people who were independent in their thinking and vision, noting that these were the only things that would drive a united and prosperous Nigeria.

“I have looked at the people that are being honoured today and one thing is common, they are independent people like INDEPENDENT newspaper.

“And I believe that I speak their minds if I say we will all continue to be independent.

“Today, Nigeria needs people who are independent in their thinking and their vision. Such independence is the thing that will drive a united Nigeria,” the lawmaker said.

Also speaking at the occasion, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa – who bagged the INDEPENDENT Man of the Year 2017 award – said Nigeria might not become the great country it seriously craved for if it continued to neglect the youths who are the fulcrum of every society.

The governor, who linked the high rate of insecurity in the country to growth in population, especially of youths, said: “Government at all levels should begin to pay more attention to our youths.

“We must make consistent efforts to empower them; we need to strengthen technical education and the polytechnics in the country, so that the youths will be equipped with relevant skills to become self-reliant rather than going about with certificates, seeking jobs that are not available.

“Until we do that, we may not have the great country that we seek today.

“We must also look at family planning, because the level of insecurity that we have in the country is borne out of the joblessness of our youths, we must find a way to control our population growth.”

The governor commended the publishers of Independent Newspapers for the award and thanked his predecessors for working with him to ensure that the dividend of democracy gets to all Deltans.

He used the occasion to emphasise that most of the challenges facing the country would be a thing of the past if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted credible elections.

According to him, “Once we conduct elections that are credible, it will be good for this country.”

The governor dedicated the award to Deltans for their support to his administration and their commitment to a peaceful state, he said, the investment destination of all.

In his opening remarks, chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Ismaila Isa Funtua, had enjoined the media to be balanced in its reportage, citing the example of the Benue massacre, which received huge attention while the more recent massacre in Zamfara State did not.

He expressed suspicion that this may have been so because, perhaps, there were no underlining issues of ethnicity or religion involved.

Funtua also praised the efforts of the publisher of Independent Newspapers, Chief James Ibori, and the newspaper outfit itself, explaining that running newspaper business in Nigeria was very tough due to the fact that news was read online for free despite the difficulties involved in keeping the business afloat.

He said: “I will like to appeal to the media to do your utmost to promote the unity of this country.

“The media should try and unite Nigerians and stop fanning the embers of disunity.

“Whether we like it or not, we are being divided unnecessarily. We are being divided by some people for selfish reasons.

“We must not allow that because Nigeria belongs to us all and we must do our best to sustain the peace we enjoy,” he said.

The awardees included Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of the Year 2017; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Man of the Year; Governor Samuel Ortom, Governor of the Year, Security, and Governor Nyesom Wike, Political Icon of the Year.

The rest are Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Grassroots Governor of the Year; Governor David Umahi, Governor of the Year, Agriculture; HRM Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife, who was honoured as the Bridge Builder of the Year 2017 while Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, former national caretaker committee chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) received the award as Party Leader of the Year.

Alhaji Razak Okoya bagged the Life Achievement Award of the year; Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly received the Outstanding State Legislator of the Year.

The epoch-making event witnessed the attendance of dignitaries such as Otunba Titi Laoye-Tomori, Deputy Governor of Osun; Dame Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Deputy Governor of Rivers State; Tunji Bello, Secretary to Lagos State Government who represented Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

Others are Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife; Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Chief Razak Okoya, Tony Elumelu, Senator James Manager, Omoba Tunde Ajibulu, Dame Edith Okowa, wife of the Delta State governor and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State.

Also in attendance were Sam Amuka, Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers; Demola Seriki, a former Minister; Hon. Yakubu Barde, Minority Whip, House of Reps; Prof. Bernard Odoh, SSG, Ebonyi State, who represented Governor Dave Umahi; Hon. Lawrence Onoja; Princess Ajudua; Nicholas Ossai, Tim Owhetere, David Edevbie; Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, Hon. Lanre Ogunyemi; Hon. Omotayo Oduntan-Oyeladun and Nollywood actor, Saidi Balogun, also who received the award as Actor of the Year.

Get more stories like this on Twitter and Telegram

Recommended Stories