By Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt
Immediate-past director-general of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, has declared that Nigeria is not yet a nation-state a country made up of many nations.
Peterside disclosed this while speaking at the annual October 1 Conversation, organised by a good governance advocacy group, Unity House Foundation (UHF) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, with the theme: ‘Where are the people’.
He said: “Nigeria is not necessary a nation-state, but it is a country we cannot deny that fact. Nigeria is made up of many nations forced by common colonial experience and within the past 100 years, have been trying to fund an indivisible bond of nationhood, where traditional and national lines of nations are blurred.
“Unfortunately, our history is littered with our struggle to become a nation-state. Nigeria is first an emerging communiy of nations in a holy or unholy marriage, doing everything possible to make the marriage. This for me is the first challenge, as a nation we have to deal with the challenge of nationhood.”
Speaking at the event, a communication expert, Dr. Godstime Orlukwu, said Nigerian cannot be called a nation-state yet, until the citizens are able to ask some questions and provide the needed answers.
Orlukwu said: “I agree that there are some questions we need to ask ourselves and answer as a people as we grow and navigate in our journey to nationhood. For now, we cannot call ourselves a nation-state in the strictest sense of the word.”
Also speaking at the event, a legal practitioner, Golden Tamuno, said the country as in some sort of surgery, pointing out that democracy exists only where people were allowed to decide who governs them and how they should be governed.
Tamuno said: “Our country actually is in some sort of surgery. Democracy is founded on the notion that it is the people who decides who govern them and how they shall be governed.
“The universal declaration of human rights provides that everyone has a right to take part in the government of his or her country directly or through freely chosen representative.”
Earlier in his remarks, UHF convener, Kingsley Wenenda Wali, the event was to provide opportunity and platform for the masses to speak with and to ourselves, rather than screaming at each other.
Wali said: “The Unity House Foundation as the name suggests, is a congregation of Nigerians, who truly believe that a country was foundation is built on knowledge and sincere conversations, is sure to make more progress, than whose foundation is built on fear, lies, deceit and the tales that divide us.
“Arising from that, we decided that we must grow an organization that addresses our fears, as well as our hopes and common aspirations. And because we believe that knowledge is key, we decided that we must provide opportunities and platforms for civilized conversations.
“We are convinced that if we speak with and to ourselves, rather than screaming at each other, then we shall begin the journey of understand ourselves better and appreciating those things that actually unite us.”