* As Obasanjo emerges Leadership Person of the Year
* Borno Gov wins Governor of the Year
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
ABUJA—Former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, has said that Nigeria’s quest for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council may remain elusive as long as the country was yet to overcome basic economic and security challenges.
Gambari, who spoke at this year’s Leadership Award and Conference in Abuja, noted with dismay that Nigeria had not been able to overcome its basic challenges more than 100 years after its amalgamation.
The renowned diplomat, who is the founder of the Nigerian-based Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, SCDDD, regretted that the nation was still grappling with nation-building when it should be consolidating on its growth and development as a leading black nation on earth.
Gambari lamented that it was a paradox that Nigeria, the world’s eight largest exporter of crude oil, endowed with many precious resources, still had more than 70 per cent of its population living below the poverty line and remained a relatively poor country in the world.
‘Difficult for Nigeria’
The former top public servant said that it would be difficult for Nigeria to take a permanent seat at the world’s body with the barrage of challenges still starring it in the face.
Gambari said: “We cannot lay claim to a permanent seat at an enlarged United Nations security council when the Nigerian Armed forces have not been able to demonstrate exemplary capability in the Defence of our territorial integrity.”
He pointed out that the myriads of challenges hanging on Nigeria’s shoulders needed to be urgently addressed by the leadership if progress was to be made and take the country into a new era of progress and prosperity.
To be able to achieve success, Gambari suggested that the negative forces working against the country must be deliberately and urgently tackled to pave the way for peace, security and development.
He said: “In reclaiming Nigeria, the use of overwhelming force to degrade the military capacity of the terrorist group, the mobilization of neighbouring countries and the West African sub-region to collectively fight the scourge and to drain the swamp which is to embark not only on massive relief of the victims but on socio-economic recovery and reconstruction of the areas of the country that have been devastated by the activities of the terrorist group.
“Furthermore, youth unemployment has to be tackled head on so that extremist groups would not be able to recruit from a pool of unemployed youths for violent extremist actions.
“It is difficult to exaggerate the fact that Nigeria needs intensified efforts at peace-building in various parts of the country; hence public policy must respond to and apply effective peace-building strategies to existing and emerging area of crisis in the country.
“More importantly are the economic implications of continued terrorism and insurgency in the Northeast for Nigeria’s international economic relations as security is a critical demand for any rational investor-local or foreign.
Potential of being a great nation
“It is obvious that Nigeria has the potential and possibility of being a great nation as well as a significant player in the comity of nations. However, the realization of that noble objective would continue to elude us so long as these enemies of the Nigerian state hold sway.
“Nigeria, as the pre-eminent black and African must not only fashion a grand design but also the appropriate strategy of achieving that design, but also the appropriate strategy of achieving that design.
“Neither complacency nor wishful thinking or for that matter mere verbalisation of our ambition can lead us to our cherished goal.”
According to him, these constraints among others, consist of political fragility, political volatility, ethnic and religious mistrusts, intolerance and violent extremism.
He said: ”As if these were not enough ,recently the international market prices of the crude oil dominated mono economy of the beleaguered federation nose- dived thereby further compounding the fate of a country evidently at the crossroads.“
He further explained that of all the vices which had reared their ugly heads in enmity against the Nigerian state, ethnicity or rather the wrong use of ethnicity, ranked as one of the most dangerous.
“In my view no measure can blunt ethnic jingoism and advance the cause of national unity more than a determined, honest and manifestly fair effort to treat all Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnic origin, equally before the law as well as the promotion of and respect for the human rights of all Nigerians,” he said.
Boko Haram menace
The former Nigerian Permanent Representatives to the United Nations noted that the menace of Boko Haram represented one of the greatest threats to the Nigerian state and national security by negatively using religion and sectarian violence to undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
The former UN agency boss also took a swipe at the nation’s successive leaders, saying they were either inept at combating corruption or were out rightly corrupt themselves.
Chairman on the occasion and former Health Minister, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said in reclaiming Nigeria, citizens must redefine the terms under which the Nigerian people engaged with one another.
Adeluyi said: “We need to redefine for ourselves the terms under which we the Nigerian people will engage; we need to address the structural faults that the union presently has.
“We simply need now to demonstrate that Nigeria’s leaders can team up, come together and pull together with passion and compassion to work for the good of all Nigerians. We need to redefine for ourselves the terms under which, we the Nigerian people will engage ourselves. We need to forge ahead with the urgent tasks of catching up with the rest of the world which has continued to move ahead in leaps and bounds.”
Obasanjo, Borno Gov
He commended the Chairman of the Leadership Group, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, describing him as an entrepreneur of boundless optimism and uncommon focus and a former Presidential aspirant as well as being on Board and Management of the paper for the foresightedness and thoroughness in selecting recipients for the award.
Among the top awardees of the event is former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who bagged the Leadership Person of the Year, while Borno State governor, Shettima emerged, the Leadership Governor of the Year.