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Nigeria’s Diversity Is Untapped Asset – Emmanuel

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Nigeria’s diversity is one of the country’s greatest untapped assets and strengths for national development, peace and progress, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel has declared.
The Governor, who stated this on Thursday while delivering a lecture at the Arewa Media Interactive and Development Forum held at Arewa House, Kaduna, said the country must rise to this reality and fortify those foundations with the bricks of faith, patriotism and love as Nigeria needs new foundations to confront the challenges of today since Nigerians are inherently united.
According to Governor Emmanuel, “For decades, the drumbeats of our nation have filled and seared the ears about the fragility of our unity and the elasticity of the tolerance of our diversity. Some have prophesied the imminent demise of our nation, so many scenarios depicting the coming Armageddon have been pushed, prognosticated and predicted. But in all of these, our nation still remains intact.
“ Though the contours of our unity may not be straight, though the lines of development may be zigzag, the tone and tenor of our discourse discordant and divergent, but the soul, the spirit and the identity of our nation remain sacrosanct. And on this, all Nigerians of goodwill have come to a solid agreement”.
He noted with admiration that Nigeria is a nation that is diverse, and beautiful as a coat of many colours as what tends to divide us should bring us together.
 ”Is it tribe, is it language, or is it food, or is it dance or is it religion? Take, for instance, the consumption of kola nuts. Few know that it is grown in the Southwest, used for prayers in the East, and consumed for recreation in the North. It comes to life among the Yoruba, gives life in Igboland and is lively in the jaws of the Hausa man. In the same way, a lot of our onions come from the far North; it enriches Ofe Nsalla in the East, Ewedu in the Southwest and Afang soup in my house in Uyo.
“We quarrel over religion yet when a big business deal is hatched, no one asks why Ahmed praises Allah and Adewale shouts Hallelujah. Both of them are smiling at the same bank.
It was the same country that built a marvel of a pyramid from groundnut in Kano. Experts came from Malaysia to learn about palm produce in the South-South and South-East regions, respectively.
And cocoa underwrote the prosperity of the Western Region. Oil was in the backdrop then. It is same Nigeria, the same tribes, the same faiths, the same language, the same historical backgrounds, the same geography. So if I may ask, what changed?”
He noted that Nigerians were glad when the late Maitama Sule orated on the floor of the United Nations and rejoiced when Wole Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for Literature, advocating for more unity despite our diversity.
“In the rougher days of Boko Haram, the militants burned churches and mosques, and they slaughtered Muslims and Christians. Who were the soldiers fighting to save the whole of the country? We did not say it is a Northern fight, so no Southern soldier should go there. It was not a Fulani soldier or an Ibibio infantryman.
It was the Nigerian soldier. When bullets are fired it does not bear a message on what tribesman it should fall. It hits a human, a Nigerian whatever the name of his God or the tribe or language he confesses”, he declared.
He noted that the country still has more diversity than unity, questioning what happened to Nigeria where a Southerner can win an election in Kaduna, or a Fulani man could win an election in Lagos?
In his words, “We have had it in the past. We can have it again. I am sure that a good number of those listening to me now must have heard of Umaru Altine, a Fulani man from Sokoto, who was popularly elected as the first Mayor of Enugu in 1952 and he stayed in office till 1958.
The Western Region House of Assembly also had an Igbo man, Emmanuel Ebubedike, from Ozobulu in present-day Anambra State, as the Representative of Ajeromi/Ifelodun/ Badagry Constituency. We can point to several other examples”.
He regretted that efforts of some founding fathers at laying a solid foundation for national unity and cohesion had been destroyed, saying “what we see nowadays is a country where ethnic champions drive the narrative, and the cacophony of discordant voices makes it difficult for us to hear ourselves”. 
“This has been given expression in the numerous calls for restructuring, resource control and even an outright division of the country along ethnic and tribal lines”, he added.
Governor Emmanuel explained that several reasons had been adduced for this state of affairs as many individuals and groups had taken umbrage at the over-centralization of power at the centre, perceived marginalization of some parts of the country as these were sore points that gave a fillip to the agitations for balance and equity in the country. 
He warned that we could not afford to run a country where some people felt marginalised or not carried along and described such ill-feeling as a potent threat to the unity of the country. 
“We must ensure that there is equity and justice and that no part of the country is made to feel less of itself as this will definitely not augur well for our union”, he admonished.
He blamed most part of the nation’s current problems on the elite, stating that the Nigerian elite stoked the hate between one part and another. 
“And we are seeing them in the debate over VAT, restructuring, zoning, herdsmen and these are not too difficult issues to resolve. VAT calls for fairness between us. To restructure is for all to feel like the brother’s keeper. It ensures we all eat from the same pot and no one goes home hungry or deprived. Zoning means abiding by a formula that works for all”, he said. 
According to Governor Emmanuel, as a way forward, Nigerians must sit down and talk to themselves, rather than talk at themselves.
“We must listen to understand, rather than listen to respond. We must build bridges of unity rather than walls of division. We must realise that every part of our country is an equal stakeholder in the Nigerian project and work actively to harness the best of our diversity for the good of our country.
“There must be a level playing field and equal opportunities for all Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from or what language they speak.
“Development plans and projects of the government must also be spread evenly across the country so that a sense of fairness and justice will permeate the land. We must take deliberate steps to integrate ourselves and unify the country. One quick step we can take in this direction is a little tweaking of the format of the National Youth Service Corps.
“This was one of the instruments designed to unify our nation but which hasn’t quite achieved this purpose. I suggest that we make it mandatory for States to retain a certain percentage of youth corpers in their public service every year. This way, we would create employment and state civil services would be more multi-ethnic as unity is a creative process”, he said.
He noted that the situation where any part of the country was denied commensurate benefits from resources harnessed from that part would further alienate the people there and weaken the bond of nationhood, noting that the leaders must work to restore hope and confidence in the unity of the country.
“Far too many of our compatriots identify more with their tribe and ethnic group than with our nation. We don’t need more Ibibios, or Fulanis, or Igbos, or Yorubas, or Ijaws, or Hausas. What we need is more Nigerians!”, he added. 

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Rivers Crisis: PDP Chairman Hails Jonathan’s Call For Truce

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The Lagos State chapter Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Philip Aivoji, has described former President Goodluck Jonathan’s call to end the political crisis in Rivers as commendable.
Mr Aivoji commended Jonathan  in an interview with The Tide‘s source on Monday in Lagos.
Recall that Jonathan had on Monday implored Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers  and his predecessor, (the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT) Chief Nyesom Wike, to sheathe their swords in order to douse the political temperature in the state.
The former president, who spoke at the inauguration of the N222.1 billion Trans-Kalabari Road construction, emphasised the necessity for Fubara and Wike to collaborate to promote the  progress and prosperity of Rivers State.
He noted that the political tension in the state was excessive and worrisome, and would not contribute to  development.
Jonathan said that destabilising Rivers State would adversely impact the Niger Delta region and could also trigger crises across the country.
Reacting to Jonathan’s admonition, Mr Aivoji described the former President as a man full of experience in mediation and conflict resolution, even at the international level.
“Jonathan is a leader in the party and a leader from South South; there is nothing wrong stepping in to broker peace. It is a good one,” the PDP boss said.
He, however, said that the former President should go further to speak the truth to the warring parties and point out  to each of them where they had erred.
“This is the way to settle issues. If we want to resolve it, we must tell the truth to them.
“The ex-President is an elder, he is an experienced person, who has been meditating in international affairs. Let us see how it goes,” he added.
According to him, the former President, being experienced mediator, must dig deep and probe the cause of the crisis.
“He (Jonathan) has seen it all. Peace of graveyard will not help the matter, they should resolve issues.
“We hope that the nitty-gritty will be looked into and the constitution of the party will be followed if they are true members of the party,” Aivoji said.

 

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Group Carpets Amaewhule Over Political Crisis In Rivers 

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A group, Coalition of Rivers State Leaders of Thought (CORSLOT) has blamed the former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Martins Amaewhule, for the escalation of the political crisis in the State.
The coalition, which stated this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, said Rivers State would not have been in its current political situation had Rt Hon Amaewhule played the sacred role providence bestowed on him.
The text for the briefing which was read by the Convener, High Chief Sunnie Chukumele, and co-signed by Prof (Mrs) Reginah Azunwena, Odinaka Osundu, George Ijoma and Elder Anuage Menegbo, also commended Governor Siminalayi Fubara for his peaceful disposition despite the crisis, adding that this disposition has marked the governor as a man of peace.
“Pitiably under him, the world saw a legislative arm of government that was vehemently out to frustrate the executive arm with all sorts of negative actions against the governor and the government of Rivers State.
“Had Martins Amaewhule seen the state as sacred, he would have mediated in whatever were the issues between our former governor, His Excellency, Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Wike. Amaewhule failed woefully to play a stabilizing role which his exalted office gave him ample role to play”, they said.
The Coalition also called on former Governor Nyesom Wike to have a rethink on the political crisis in the state as he has a cardinal role to play in the resolution of the impasse.
“CORSLOT wishes to advise trouble entrepreneurs and eye service politicians of Rivers State origin to take note that power belongs to God Almighty and the people.
“Rivers people are taking note of these political actors.
“Rivers State is owned by Rivers people and not  self seeking politicians”, they said.
“We begin by appreciating the governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalaye Fubara, for working assiduously for peace by embracing and working with the Presidential Peace Accord of 2023 and to state that it is in recognition of this that the governor has won awards and honours within the state and Nigeria”
The Coalition also thanked the Governor for attending to the needs and welfare of citizens of the state, particularly the welfare of civil servants and the planned employment into the Civil Service.
“CORSLOT further recognizes the governor’s attention on infrastructural development in the state with his continuation of projects he inherited from previous administrations and indeed his bold initiatives of new ones.
These come with spiraling advantages”, they added.
They also urged the governor to take immediate steps to fill his cabinet with men and women who have the capacity to add value to the State.

By: John Bibor

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Council Boss Hails Fubara Over Successful Project Commissioning

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Following the successful commissioning of the  Andoni Section of the Ogoni-Andoni- Opobo Unity Road by Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, the Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Hon. Enyiada Cookey-Gam has commended the number one citizen of the state for his multiple  infrastructural development projects that have direct bearings on the lives and well -being of Rivers people, especially in NgoTown, headquarters of Andoni Local Government Area and its adjoining environs.
The Chairman maintained that the road, as commissioned, will provide connectivity between coastal communities, cities, and hinterlands, facilitating the movement of people, goods and services, which enhances trade, commerce and tourism, and also contributes to local economic development and the local government area’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
On the event, Hon. CookeyGam lauded the efforts of the initiator of the project, 24 years ago, Dr.Peter Odili, former governor of Rivers State, for his determination and love for the people that found expression in the initiation of the Unity Road project which has been able to connect the catchment local government areas of Khana, Andoni and Opobo/ Nkoro, including the neighbouring states.
He described both Dr. Odili and Governor Fubara as beacons of infrastructural development.
The Chairman of Council also urged Andoni people to guard against vandalization and theft of the facilities that have been put in place for their betterment.
He further admonished the people of Andoni in particular, and Rivers people in general, to support the good work the Governor has come to do despite distraction from some politicians in the state who do not mean well for the people.

By: Bethel Toby

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