Governor of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola says the absence of strong institutions, equity, justice, political will and fairness was responsible for Nigeria’s wobbled nationhood and democracy.
He stressed that the country must find the courage to institute these virtues and values in its polity to build a strong, virile and prosperous nation desired by the citizens.
Oyetola said the time has come for the leaders to begin to look through the rear-view mirror to correct the anomalies in the journey so far by developing the political will to birth a nation and a democracy that will truly make Nigeria to occupy her place as the Giant of Africa.
He said this at the June 12 Democracy Day Public Lecture organised by the Osun Civil Society Coalition and the State Government which held at Aurora Event Centre, Osogbo.
According to him, the theme of the lecture, “The Making of a Nation and Nigerian Democracy in Progress: Issues and Prospects” remains an attempt at examining the nation’s missteps and milestones on the road to democracy and nation building, with a view to setting bricks for building the nation and democracy that the forebears envisioned.
Oyetola who described June 12 as a sad reminder of the nation’s missed opportunities on its journey to nationhood, democracy and good governance, said “the celebration of the day should provide the citizens with the opportunity to rethink and retool their nationhood and democracy to avoid a repeat of those sad days.”
He said the acknowledgment of June 12 as Democracy Day remains a tribute to courage, and commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the recognition.
Speaking further, Oyetola said: “With dozens of natural resources in commercial quantities buried in our soil, thousands of human resources in the nation, a burgeoning population of youth who constitute over 60 percent of the nation, the profile of the nation as the most populous black nation in the world, there is no doubt that Nigeria has all it takes to lead the world if it gets governance and leadership issues right.
“Nationhood and democracy rest on strong institutions, equity, justice, political will and fairness. The absence of these kernels was responsible for our wobbled nationhood and democracy.
We shall have to find the courage to institute them in our polity to build a strong, virile and prosperous nation that we desire.
“The road to nationhood and democracy is in looking through the rear-view mirror to correct the anomalies in our journey so far, including those that made the fate of June 12 to befall us, and having the political will to birth a nation and a democracy that will truly make us to occupy our place as the Giant of Africa.
“But the time has come for us to rely on our shared values and the things that bind us together to build a nation and a democracy that will deliver values and the good life to our people and make us take our place in the comity of nations.
“June 12 is a sad reminder of our missed opportunities on our journey to nationhood, democracy and good governance as a nation. It should ever provide us with the opportunity to rethink and retool our nationhood and democracy to avoid a repeat of those sad days.
“The truth must be told that these centrifugal issues dangling menacingly on the head of our nationhood and democracy are artificial at best. They are creations of the political elite. The lessons of June 12 where Nigerians voted without regard to ethnic or religious bias are enough evidence that Nigerians want to stay together.”
Oyetola who identified the grey areas in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as a clog in the wheel of progress and fortune of the nation said, “the Constitution does not respect and fairly address our diversity and our warped federalism which does not deliver equity, fairness and justice to the people.
“Nigerians want to dialogue to correct the anomalies in the system and to determine the essence of their corporate existence. It is heartening that the National Assembly is currently carrying out Constitutional Amendment discussions across the nation to correct these anomalies.
“We shall need to continue to take advantage of every opportunity to continue to interrogate the essence of our nationhood and democracy to make them strong and resilient,” he added.
In their separate lectures, the Pioneer President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Hassan Sunmonu; Former Nigeria Ambassador to Philippines, Dr. Yemi Faronbi and a lecturer in Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Tunji Ogunyemi advocated good governance as panacea to national socioeconomic and political development.
According to them, democratic dividends can only be best enjoyed under a good government that listens to people’s yearning and critical stakeholders.