Former minister of External Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari has expressed concern over the growing tensions in the country ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Gambari who was also Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations cautioned politicians to eschew hate statements.
He observed that the prediction of violence ahead of the 2015 elections did not occur due to efforts of eminent and peace loving Nigerians, and advised that there should be no room for complacency as we approach the 2019 elections.
Gambari while speaking at the 2018 Annual Lecture of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) yesterday in Abuja, argued that Nigerians have never been more divided in the history of the nation’s existence, than they are now, adding that this is a defining moment in “our journey for national unity, national integration and national development.”
He noted that the peaceful and credible 2015 elections were as a result of combined efforts of stakeholders, including civil society organisations, individuals and the international community adding that these forces must be re-mobilised once more and more vigorously to build on the gains of the 2015 general elections so that the 2019 general elections should be a game changer in terms of peaceful and credible outcome.
He insisted that political parties must meet the expectations of the kind of leaders that Nigerians want. He said, “In this regard, we must demand for leadership that is inclusive and knowledgeable about socio-economic development issues. We must demand leaders who respect and uphold the constitution and obey the rule of law. The political parties must throw up candidates who have a clear vision for the future of our country and who are pro-active in addressing the obstacles to the realisation of that vision. In this regard, the political parties need to ensure that their flag bearers must reflect Competence, Capacity and Character”.
Stressing that the 2019 elections in Nigeria must be the game-changer, Gambari said, “ We all must pledge for peaceful conduct and credible outcome of the 2019 elections. It is my strong belief that by saving democracy, we would be saving Nigeria and by saving Nigeria we would be saving Africa because of the demonstration effect of enthroning good democratic principles in Nigeria and for the continent as a whole.
“Political parties should ensure they meet the expectations of the kind of leaders Nigerians want as Nigerians want leadership that is inclusive and leaders that respect, uphold the constitution and obey the rule of law.”According to him, “The manipulated gaps must be bridged through conscious national integration efforts aimed at promoting unity and equitable socio-economic development and democratic consolidation. In bridging the gaps, new massages of solidarity and strength should be escalated to counter the dubious narrative of ethno-cultural divide being perpetrated by politicians especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.
“The growing poverty and economic inequalities in the country is also fueling the divide in the country as Nigeria is said to have many poor people than any nation of the world. Nigeria has no business being a home to the poorest people in the world, efforts should be made not just to alleviate poverty but to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.”
Director general of NBC, Modibbo Kawu said because broadcasting is a platform which reflects the social space, it can often be a conveyor of the deep emotions associated with ethno-cultural and religious divide, hence the need for broadcasting to be a bridge-building industry.
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