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Solution to ethnic divisions lies with political leaders says APC chieftain, Lukman

Tunde Opalana

A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Salihu Lukman has charged political leaders across party and ethnic divides to sincerely rise to the challenge of finding solutions to the deteriorating ethnic division that threatens the fabrics of Nigeria’s unity.

Worried by the current circumstance the nation finds itself, he said rather than political leaders committing themselves to the unity of Nigeria founded on peaceful co-existence and justice, the majority of them recklessly engage in politics of ethnic hatred.

Citing the reported clash between Hausas and Yoruba traders in Sasha, Ibadan last week among other recent unfortunate developments particularly in the Southwest, the party chieftain said it is alarming that till today, there is hardly any reported position or proposal taken by any of the national organizations.

Rather, he said all that followed has been a clamor by ethnic bullies and warlords mobilizing support against ethnic groups they considered as their enemies.

Lukman who is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) on Sunday, in a personal statement that does not represent that of APC or the PGF said “once leader takes a position based on ethnic sentiments without the humility to consider positions of other members who are part of organizations he/she is leading, such a leader is nothing more ethnic bully or warlord”.

He bemoaned very respected citizens including political leaders, scholars, civil society activists, religious and tribal leaders for taken sides based on the need to defend their ethnic groups without any moderating voice and wondered how can there be any solution to the problem of ethnic hatred when everyone is a warrior and warlord defending his/her claimed ethnic group?

Warning of the inherent danger in beating divisive war drums, he said “everyone must be aware of the dangers ahead. It may be tempting for people to argue that let everyone goes his/her way if we cannot peacefully co-exist. Unfortunately, the human cost of a breakup may be more expensive than those making noise in the media space could ever imagine.

“One hears of responses of political leaders to all the debates going on in our country and it is difficult not to worry that either our political leaders don’t understand the full weight of the challenge facing the nation or we have all just abandon our sense of justice.

“Most people, including our political leaders, today recklessly respond to all reports about wrongdoings of citizens with references to ethnic and religious differences.

“The few cases of deliberations in the chambers of the National Assembly, for instance, were even more worrisome as members just adopt positions based on ethnic consideration, maybe expectedly so”.

The Director-General admonished politicians aspiring for political offices ahead of 2023 to first be preoccupied with how to salvage the country and the people they wanted to govern.

He said “yet, in all this madness, we have people who want to be elected to rule societies whose complexity is beyond attracting votes of one ethnic group.

“Do these aspiring leaders want to be elected or they want to conquer citizens, especially those that have already defined themselves in terms of ethnic credentials?

“As we move towards 2023, this is going to be a serious problem. Our parties must be able to consider new approaches that should challenge our political leaders to become leaders and champions of peaceful co-existence.

He, therefore, charged leaders of political parties to come up with initiatives to guide the position of their members by appealing to leaders to rise to the challenge of developing proactive responses to the problems of insecurity being compounded by ethnic hatred in the country.

“Our parties must wake up to take all the necessary steps to make decisions, which should guide the response of every leader and member. This is not just a partisan matter.

“What does it take to guide the position of party members? Wouldn’t a meeting of one of the national organs of the party be sufficient enough to guide the position of party members specially elected representatives?

“In the case of APC, our Caretaker Committee should be able to convene emergency meetings to begin to strengthen the process of engendering sustained peaceful co-existence in the country.

“This is because apart from being a ruling party with the responsibility of providing political leadership, it is also a party that has committed itself to bring about political change in the country.

“Part of the advantage APC has at the moment over other parties is the fact that we are in the process of reconstituting our leadership at all levels. For the party to be able to exercise this advantage and gain the appeal of Nigerians, it should consider taking all the necessary steps to ensure that ethnic bullies and warlords are disqualified from emerging as leaders at all levels.

“Or put differently, only candidates with proven commitments to our peaceful existence as a nation will be qualified to hold party positions at all levels”, he pleaded

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Augustine Aminu

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