…Declares support for a united Nigeria
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, asked the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to urgently forward the report of 2014 National Conference report for appropriate legislative action.
According to the Senate, deliberations on the recommendations of the conference will be the way forward for the country, even as it harped on the nation’s restructuring as a way out of its numerous problems.
The upper chamber’s call is coming against the backdrop of separatists’ agitations in the land but it declared its support for a united Nigeria and warned Nigerians to desist from actions and utterances capable of jeopardising the corporate existence of the nation.
The request for the 2014 confab reports followed submissions made to that effect by senators mostly of All Progressives Congress, APC, during the debate on a motion, entitled: “The need for National Unity and Peaceful Coexistence in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe), and co-sponsored by 106 others.
Senator Lawan’s motion had four prayers which were all taken, but there was an additional prayer by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North), that the Federal Government be urged to urgently forward the report of the 2014 Conference to the National Assembly for deliberation.
According to him, “we must, as a nation, address those issues that gave rise to agitation, Nigeria must be a nation that is based on justice and equity.”
Senator Ohuabunwa’s motion was seconded by Senator Adeola Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Lagos West) and was unanimously adopted by the senators.
Also contributing, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central), said: “We are asking that those recommendations (of the confab) be brought to us. They should be implemented where necessary”.
On his part, Senator Jonah Jang (PDP, Plateau North), said: “I agree that the report should be tabled before the Senate and let us look at what Nigerians want. And then we can look at the major issues that are affecting this country because I believe the conference deliberated on so many issues affecting this country.”
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over yesterday’s plenary, said the patriotism exhibited by senators was one thing that made the Senate stand out.
He also said disagreement among the different ethnic groups was unnecessary, adding that the country was better off united and that a just and equitable society should be the concern of every Nigerian.
Ekweremadu, who appealed for restraints from all quarters to ensure a prosperous nation, urged the government to address the complaints of citizens as well as make laws to guard against reckless utterances.
“It’s not time to look at ourselves as either black or white. Our beauty lies in the mix of our colours. We must show leadership as leaders. It is not time to leave the leadership of this country to adhoc tendencies.
“In doing so, we must address the fears and complaints of our citizens. I believe this is what we have started today.”
The motion was the only issue discussed yesterday at plenary for three hours as Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, ensured almost all the senators contributed.
Earlier in his presentation, Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, expressed concern that the greatest challenge facing Nigeria today was the threat to national unity, with centrifugal forces calling for self-determination, ethnicity and religious intolerance to envelope national consciousness.
He observed that national integration had been the priority of government which saw the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, unity schools system, federal character principles and many other affirmative policies intended to achieve national integration and peaceful coexistence, among others.”
Other senators in their contributions, harped on the need to address issues that had led to agitations across the country.
Senator Sam Egwu, PDP, Ebonyi North, who noted that there had been a lot of Injustice in the country, said there should be a guided restructuring and called on the leaders to be very careful in handling the agitations.
Although Egwu stated that the agitations of those calling for secession do not enjoy the support of majority of Igbos, he called for caution in handling issues of restructuring as he feared it might tear the country apart.
Also contributing, Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central, said since 1960, Nigeria had experienced “series of convulsion” in its journey to nationhood.
‘’As we desire to have a single nation, it is very important that politicians from all sides of the divide and from all political zones recommit and rededicate themselves to the unity and collective peace and happiness of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Politicians from the South-East, South-West and South-South must have the courage, conviction and the consistence to insist on one nation. similarly, politicians from the North must have the courage, conviction and that consistence to insist that this is an indissoluble union,’’ he said.
On his part, the Deputy Senate Whip, Senator Francis Alimikhena, APC, Edo North, noted that this was not the time to wake up the consciousness of the military or drum for any secession.
On his part, the Chief Whip, Senator Olushola Adeyeye, APC, Osun Central, said the nation was at a point where it was obvious that both the leadership and the citizenry have shown that they had learned nothing from history.
“The history of the world has clearly shown that unity pays. They realise that having tiny, disparate and nonviable economic units cannot be completed in the world. We must conduct ourselves in such a way that we can stay united.
‘’Unity is not an end in itself. It ought to be a means to an end. We must destroy the myth of the greener grass. Every section of Nigeria thinks that life is better elsewhere. The truth is every part of Nigeria is struggling. We have a duty to turn it into paradise. We can make it, if we work together and stay united.”
Similarly, Senator Magnus Abe, APC, Rivers South- East, said: “We have a union that is not perfect but we could make it better. There is no country that becomes a great country merely by circumstance or by chance.
‘’Great nations are built by the sacrifice of its citizens. Our diversity is our greatest challenge but it is also our greatest strength. We must come together and build a strong, virile, prosperous nation.”
On his part, the Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, PDP, Taraba South, who also posited that no section of the country could go it alone, said that if one person from a part of the country was arrested for treasonable statements, same should apply to anther from another part of the country for a similar offence.
“We must work together for the strength of this country,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, PDP, Akwa Ibom North – West, observed that forces of disintegration have risen up all over the country as a result of piled up anger among ethic nationalities, coupled with issues of marginalization and feelings of persecution.
He said: “Nigeria has been a country of motion without movement due to poor leadership. But we cannot compromise on its unity, we must do everything possible to keep this unity. We can only make progress as a nation if we remain united. But we must caution our children against hate utterances.”
It would be recalled that former President Jonathan appointed 492 delegates to the National Conference which held for 151 days at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, on March 17, 2014.