President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday pleaded with Nigerians to allow the government to work first before unleashing criticism on them.
The president said this as part of his remarks at Nigeria’s 52nd anniversary lecture which held at the auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.
President Jonathan condemned political conflicts and what he referred to as media war against government activities and called on Nigerians to be patient because the issues of development are not like a hundred meter dash.
“I will plead with us as Nigerians that whenever we elect a government into power, whether in the local government level, at the state level or at the federal level, at least for the sake of the country allow the government to work before you go into unnecessary overheating of the system,” he said.
“When you think about Power for example, everybody knows that even if it is only infrastructure or even to provide water, there is nothing that you use the magic wand to provide for the people, it takes time,” Mr Jonathan added.
Delivering the lecture titled Nigeria: Security, development and national transformation, former Ghanaian president, John Kufour asked – what is responsible for the stumbling block in the transformation of a country seen as the giant of Africa? He also attempted to answer it-insecurity on the part of the citizens.
Stumbling blocks to development
Mr Kufour said only a government that delivers on security and development could earn its continued stay in office and that despite their diversity, Nigerians as individuals are proud, intelligent, industrious and entrepreneurial.
He however regretted that this resourcefulness had not yet impacted fully to the advantage of the nation or to the rest of the continent which expects Nigeria to become a major growth pole.
The former president said with the appropriate policies and institutions in place, Nigeria could fulfil that expectation.
He said: “The challenge is to accelerate the pace of development by using institutions of the Federal Constitution as a nursery ground for producing leaders who are national in outlook and with a missionary zeal to transform this nation.
“This will help to mould the contending ethnic and religious groups into harmony and help to remove the perceived mutual distrust among them.
“Leaders so emerging would not be limited to championing the causes of their home state, tribe or religious group, but rather focused on deeds and pronouncements which convincingly and positively impact on the entire citizenry of the federal republic.
“Nation building is the systematic evolution of the political, economic, social and cultural well-being of all the various component parts of the state.
“Indeed the transcendent factor should be the common citizenship of all the stakeholders no matter the tribe, gender, religion, economic or social status as your Constitution stipulates.
Mr Kufuor identified history, tribe and religion as factors that conspired to put a major stumbling block in the path of Nigeria’s destiny.
He advocated the cultivation of a national identity based on shared values, tradition, history and aspirations.
He said Nigerians should develop a high national consciousness where they consider themselves first as Nigerians before anything else, saying, those in leadership should also share in the vision of one nation and one people.
The former President said political leadership must collaborate with businesses, public organisations and institutions to ensure that public security is guaranteed to maintain a stable environment for development of both the people and the state.
“If there is no security, there is no liberty and if there is no liberty, life is not meaningful and society reverts back to the law of the jungle i.e. the survival of the fittest and man’s primary objective of forming a state is defeated,” he added.
An Economic Historian and a discussant at the event, Professor Ihedu Ivwerebo, said Nigeria has been attempting to enshrine democratic system which is a culture. He said all the past 13 years experience was part of the culture.
He stated that the challenge facing the country was leadership infidelity.
“The elites are unfaithful to Nigeria that made them. They go out and speak evil of the country”, adding that, impatience of Nigerians that we ought to have arrived was also contributing to the challenge.
Leaders should listen
The Director, Center for Democracy and Development, Jibrin Ibrahim said the crisis of insurgency, indigeneship, access and control over petroleum, political crisis was also a problem.
“The conflicts we have are deep and serious but we have the resilience to subdue them. Presidents don’t transform a society except the people play a major role in the transformative process.
“Nigerian leaders play minimal roles in transformation. Unions and the masses demonstrated against military rule. The January protest in which I was part of, the issue was not fuel subsidy but massive corruption.
“It is too easy when you are in power to think all powers are with you. Those in power should listen more to those out of power as we search for the way out.”
The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, said the lecture marked another critical milestone among programmes of independence. He said deeper knowledge of national issues would offer solutions to national problems, assuring that the President will remain committed to discussions.