A former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has described the quit order by the Arewa youths to Igbo living in the North as baseless and called on Nigerians to do everything possible to strengthen the unity of the country.
He said Nigeria has “gone past quit notice” and other divisive tendencies after many years of harmonious co-existence of the various ethnic groups that make up the country.
Kalu, who was guest on an African Independent Television (AIT) programme: “People, Politics and Power,” monitored in Abuja, yesterday, said Nigeria had come to stay. He, however, suggested that the country should return to regionalism. The All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain said no strong politician would promote ethnicity and urged all hands to be on the deck to strengthen Nigeria’s unity.
Kalu described the quit notice issued to the Igbo to vacate the North by October 1 as baseless because, according to him, the threat came from “unscrupulous Nigerians seeking cheap popularity” and not the position of northern leaders.
“The quit notice means nothing because I know when northerners speak. I will see their hand when they speak because I was trained by them, so I know when they are serious.
“No reasonable northern elder will do that; did Adamu Ciroma say so; did Ibrahim Babangida say so; did Abdulsalam (Abubakar) say so? Will Aliko (Dangote) support that? Only people who are looking for cheap popularity are ranting.
“It’s just like me calling for secession, you would think I’ve gone nuts. The unity of the country is not negotiable.
“When you say northern elders, I don’t know whether Sultan, Emir of Kano and the likes are among them. If all these people come out and say we should quit; then we will quit. We are not afraid of quitting. But Nigeria’s unity is more important,” Kalu said.He said he would continue to preach one Nigeria and the virtues of President Muhammadu Buhari. He urged Nigerians to pray for the president to return to the country healthier.
“As long as I remain an APC member, I will continue to espouse the ideas and good qualities of President Buhari.”
The former governor also stressed the need for a strong and independent judiciary, as it would promote the rule of law. He said an upright judiciary is necessary as the institution remains the bedrock in any society and the last hope of the common man. He added that any issue between the executive and the legislature could always be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties by an independent judiciary.
Kalu said the clamour for restructuring and a plebiscite to resolve the national question will not be fruitful without the endorsement of the National Assembly.
He accused politicians of polarizing the country along religious and ethnic lines, especially as the 2019 general elections draw closer. Kalu also called for the return to a regional system of government, whereby the present six geopolitical zones could be renegotiated and increased to eight or 10 and made to assume the status of regions.
The frontline politician maintained that the nation cannot make progress under the current arrangement which he called ‘unitary democracy.’
“I feel Nigerians have gone a little bit crazy over certain issues. Some politicians have used their background and contacts to polarize the country and I have no apologies for what am saying.
“Few politicians preach religion when it is very good for them; they will preach ethnic group in order to win votes, and it has sunk into our psyche. Since the return of democracy, some leaders tell lies openly and people will be clapping for them. This has happened for almost 18 years to the extent that people who are now 18 years old have structured that as a way of life. You see betrayals here and there,” Kalu stated.
He said there were different fights in the country; “the fight between the rich and the poor, the fight between one religion and another, the fight between tribes, the other fight is among the minorities or the majorities over who is fully hated by other parts of the nation, and this is not right.”
He further posited that nation building requires time, trust, compassion, tolerance, perseverance and all kinds of things to help. Nation building is not one-day affair.
On the way forward, the former governor said Nigeria’s religious and community leaders have a huge responsibility to inculcate the culture of nation building among the citizens. He bemoaned the spate of hate speeches and rumour mongering in the polity and regretted that politics in the country has become a ‘do-or-die’ affair.
“The hatred is too much. I think the best way is to get religious leaders to start preaching peace. You cannot imagine that if something happens in Pakistan; they will go and kill Igbo or kill someone from the South. That is not right,” said Kalu. He added that the message of tolerance should be preached across the country. Source: The Sun News