By Abdullahi Olesin, Ilorin, Adebayo Waheed, Ibadan and ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI, Kano
Former Nigerian permanent representative to the United Nations, Prof Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, yesterday warned against recent the development in the country resulting from hate speech and ethnic intolerance, saying they are reminiscent of the antecedent situation of the 1967 civil war which the country cannot afford a second time.
He expressed dismay over the increasing spate of hate speech, ethnic and regional irredentism as well as intolerance, noting that they are deepening and resulting in seeming unreadiness and unwillingness of Nigerians to live together in peace.
Gambari spoke against the backdrop of agitations for ethnic sectionalisation emanating from the Eastern and Northern youth groups in the country.
“This nonsense must stop. It must stop because Nigeria cannot afford it”, the former envoy who is also the Chancellor of Kwara State University, Malete, stated at the 5th convocation of the eight-year old institution.
Speaking at the event, he said, “We can’t afford it because it is distractive. At a time when we seek to reposition our country for stronger national cohesion and economic resurgence to play our destined role in Africa and the world, we do not need this distraction. Government across the country need a peaceful political and security atmosphere that allows them to concentrate on delivering the promised dividends of democracy to the people.
“We can’t afford it because it is disruptive and dangerous. Divisive agitations and violent conduct, or call to violent conduct, can result in unexpected and undesirable consequences. The little fires starting to burn across the country must not be allowed to result in a conflagration from which none can escape.
“We can’t afford it because it hurts our image in the region, in Africa and around the world. What investor, donor or ally would confidently associate with a country under threat of disintegration, confusion or instability? None. If we are to leverage on our considerable economic potential and human capital, we have no choice but to demonstrate to the world that we are a viable destination and ally. Our size and diversity should therefore, be taken as advantages that help us to build a great economy with huge political influences”.
He added that the recent developments in our country should be of concern to all well- meaning Nigerians, even as he expressed worry that some compatriots seem to have forgotten so soon the great prize they paid fighting the civil war.
Gambari said, “Lives were lost, properties were destroyed and nation building was stunted. I appeal to our leaders, political, traditional, religious and business, to not only speak out against the negative developments, but also to take immediate positive action to bring an end to them. Otherwise, their actions could be interpreted as collusion with the forces of division and violence”.
He, however, praised government at all levels as well as individuals for their efforts to calm the situation, saying that such efforts were necessary to prevent a breakdown of law and order, imbue confidence in government by citizens across the country and strengthen national unity.
Gambari who noted that there was clamour for discussions on various national issues, including the review of the structures of the nation’s governance, recommended that “the 2014 national conference document is a useful starting point for such review and the federal government should provide enabling environment for such open discussion that will lead to review to commence and reduce tension in the polity.
“In this regard, I must also call on agitators for the review to continue to pursue this objective in the context of dialogue and law and order. I believe that government is presented with a great opportunity to develop a strategy , platform, legislation or policy for kick starting the dialogue”, he added.
On the administration of KWASU, Gambari asked the state government to ensure adequate funding of the institution.
His words: “The university is,however, presently enmeshed in financial difficulties. I have been constrained to mention this because I believe that an open and honest assessment of the situation is the most helpful way forward. KWASU is the pride of Kwara state and to have become an institution borrowing a staggering sum of close to a billion naira just to pay staff salary, at its tender age,is a worrying development and unsustainable.
“If we can only pay staff salaries, how can the university management provide other facilities for teaching and research as well as welfare for students? We must not be reduced to a situation whereby all collections will obviously be diverted to servicing loans. The end result is definitely half- baked graduates.
“While as acknowledge that the state government is trying to give the necessary support, this is a clarion call to all stakeholders in this KWASU project to come to the aid of this great citadel of learning that has been making not only Kwara state proud but the country as well”.
On his part, Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, described KWASU as the emerging world class university, noting that within the space of time of its existence, it has been blazing the trail leaving indelible mark on the sand of history.
He said, “No doubt,then, that the university has come of age among the comity of universities worldwide and it is neither by its power nor might but by the grace of God, he noted.
The visitor to KWSASU equally acknowledged that the journey so far in the last one year had not been that particularly rosy, especially with the global economic downturn that has affected the nation’s economy.
“The unwavering commitment of this administration and indeed individuals to make things better has nonetheless made the difference”, he added.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, said a total of 1,010 students were graduated, with 36 of them bagging first class degrees.
Don’t Set The Country On Fire, Yoruba Youths Tell Northern Elders
Meanwhile, the Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA) has appealed to members of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) not to set the country on the kind of fire they will never be able to put out.
Apparently reacting to a statement credited to spokesman of the forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, reportedly backing the Coalition of Northern youths that Igbos should vacate the North within three months, the association’s president, Olalekan Hammed, said the Arewa leader had YYSA was concerned because Yorubas were dragged into their fissure when it was argued that it was money made from groundnuts produced in Northern Nigeria that was used to develop Southern region.
The Yoruba youths group reminded the former university administrator that the Western Region was developed with the money generated from available resource