Baba Negedu, Kaduna
National Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Chief Audu Ogbe Thursday disclosed that, Nigeria had never needed integration and cohesion after the civil war like now, adding that the prevailing economic hardship is making it difficult for Nigerians to be patriotic.
Audu Ogbe, who was the immediate past Minister of Agriculture, also said hardship has made it difficult for Nigerians to listen to sermons of nationalism and patriotism.
He made this disclosure in a speech made available to journalists in Kaduna on Thursday evening by the ACF spokesman, Emmanuel Yawe.
Yawe said the ACF Chairman delivered the speech at a meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja recently.
According to the speech, the former agriculture minister lamented that, vicious criminality has sown fear in all Nigerians, while economic challenges exacerbate pain in Nigerians’ daily lives and mistrust continues to aggravate division everywhere.
He, however, said that, in spite of the challenges, Nigeria cannot afford to surrender to despair or yield to anarchy and chaos, as doing so would be tantamount to defeatism.
Ogbe said: “At no time in our nation’s chequered history since the civil war have we been in greater need of these cherished ideals, listed above. But at no time has their realisation become more challenging and almost unattainable.
“Integration? At this time when the trumpets of disintegration are blaring so loud from so many quarters? Confidence building in the midst of near-panic? Cohesion measures when the glue of unity seems so dry and weak?
“Besides the tension and apprehension engendered by the endless devaluation of our currency with the attendant inflationary pressure on society make life too rough for society to listen to sermons on nationalism and patriotism. But we must try because the alternative is unthinkable. Luckily too, there is still a vast abundance of goodwill and resolve by Nigerians to stay together and overcome our challenges.
“Perhaps it is time for the executive arm from federal to state levels to request our elected representatives to embark on a fresh mission to the people in which a fresh message of integration shall be delivered, while the challenges confronting governments can be brought to their knowledge.
“Regional groups, socio-cultural associations, religious and other community leaders can and should equally be fully briefed and mobilised to lend support to this effort. We are a religious people, very religious indeed, but not particularly godly in view of our weaknesses in public and private pursuits, but God is good and will not ignore our prayers and abandon us in our hour of need.
“I may add that nothing will better create confidence than the immediate set-up through appropriate mechanisms of special courts to try those caught in transgressions, such as kidnapping, murder, rape, arson, trafficking in human parts and possession and marketing of dangerous weapons. Let the public hear that government is proactive. Let the guilty be penalised and the innocent set free as dictated by the principles of the rule of law.
“For the current circumstance where there is total silence on the judicial front, there is too much room for speculation, mischief, outright lies that those arrested are being let off through the back door on ethnic and religious grounds.
“We wish to say that among the multiplicity of challenges confronting us, one very tough one is the economy. There is no doubt that this administration has invested heavily in infrastructure and we commend them heartily. A strong infrastructural outlay is the only guarantee for solid and lasting economic growth.”