September 12, 2022

Tribalism over national interests stifling Nigeria — Ex-governor, Nwodo


By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja

FORMER Governor of Enugu State and ex-national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Monday, said tribalism on the side of the ruling class is partly the reason for the myriad of challenges bedeviling the country.

This was even as he said President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration had been one of the major drivers of ‘nepotism’ and ‘tribalism’ in recent times in the country.

Speaking on the achievements of leaders in the early times of Nigeria politics, Nwodo expressed disappointment over the current spate of insecurity, and dwindling state of the nation’s economy.

He charged the Nigerian youths to think nationally and remain steadfast in championing the needed change in the country.

He spoke at a 2022 National Debate, with the theme: ‘the way forward Nigeria’, organised by Monday Diamond Foundation, MDF, in Abuja.

He said: “How did our founding fathers get us independence? They led the fight for other states in Africa to get independence. So, one will say that in their own time, they had a vision and they actually achieved what they set out to achieve. In terms of developments, the North, the East and the West were developing almost at pari-passu with each other.

“They developed with the God given facilities that they found in their areas of authority. In the North they had the groundnut pyramid, they had cotton, they had rice and steel and with this, they viewed their roots. They built Ahmed’s Bello University and other things that were necessary for the development of their region.

“Awolowo and his team built the Coco house and that time it was the biggest building anywhere and they developed Ibadan as the biggest city and shopping centre in Africa. In the East, Okpara and his team, with oil from Palm kernel, were able to build the University of Nigeria, Nusula; the first indigenous university that was built in our country.

“They developed the greatest network of growth. They had industrial layouts stretching from Port Harcourt to Enugu and indeed they grew the fastest growing economy in the entire world.

“Again, we have lost that opportunity. We have gone back to regional, tribal, religious politics. Unfortunately for us, the administration we have in our country today at the national level has driven tribalism and religion to very far and unrecognisable points.

“You can’t have all the headship of all the armed forces and paramilitary organisations, all coming from one part of the country and from one religion. It has never happened. It has not created unity; it has created disunity.

“It has created suspicion, it has created fear of those who are not represented but they are being suppressed by those heading those agencies. That is the problem. Now, before this, all governments that have built Nigeria, to a greater or lesser extent, have tried to develop our country, one way or the other.

“You can name those that succeeded largely and those that did not succeed enough, but the situation we have now, I don’t think that any of us envisaged that our economy will be grounded to the point it is now.

“The insecurity, in spite of the fact that if I say, if I am President, the only people who can help me to maintain peace in Nigeria are people from my tribe and I put them in charge everywhere. We have seen the results that it can not work. Instead, there is a lot of insecurity in our country.

“So, the charge I am leaving for you younger people is, you must be patriotic, you must think nationally, you must have an eye on where you want to take us to.”

Similarly, the wife of Ex-Governor of Imo state, Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha, urged political leaders to give less attention to issues bordering gender and pay more attention to developmental issues.

“Until we begin to give less attention to gender issues and begin to look at issues as it were, we will now begin to get it right. With the family and habits while in well, of course, the position of women cannot be put down”, she said.

On his part, the convener of the 2022 national debate, Monday Diamond Ani, while bemoaning the current state of the nation, urged Nigerians to objectively vote for a candidate that has the capacity of advancing positive developments.