Nigeria is better and stronger as one nation, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday.
He said “despite occasional inter-ethnic tensions in our national history, it seems to me that we have all agreed on one point that, notwithstanding our diversity of ethnicity, culture, language and religion, Nigerians are better together; even stronger together.
The President spoke at a Colloquium to mark All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed TInubu’s 69th birthday.
The Colloquium, the 12th in the series, was a hybrid, holding virtually as well as at the Coronation Hall of the Government House in Kano where some guests led by host Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and the celebrator were seated.
President Buhari who participated virtually as Chairman, spoke from the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo spoke from the Villa.
Among key dignitaries in Kano were APC caretaker Chairman and Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni and former interim National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande.
Many of the expected guests including the vice president and governors, were stranded in Abuja because bad weather prevented planes from landing at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport yesterday morning.
The President said the drive for unity “has been a constant factor in Tinubu’s outstanding political career, from the time he served in the short-lived senate of the Third Republic to his involvement in the struggle for the actualisation of the June 12 mandate of the late Chief MKO Abiola, to his much-acclaimed period of service as Governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007.
“The ranks of Asiwaju’s political collaborators, whether as party members, comrades in the struggle, members of his cabinet, or his advisers, assistants and political associates, have always reflected a pan-Nigeria attitude.
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“I believe all of us here can also confirm that the same outlook of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other like-minded Nigerians eventually made possible the coalition of four political parties into what we now see as our great party, the All Progressives Congress,’’ he said.
The President also noted that the Colloquium, over the years, had proffered answers to Nigeria’s social, economic, political and cultural issues.
“I think the lessons of this Colloquium are clear. Our very best course of conduct, whether as leaders and citizens, is to now ensure that justice and harmony reign in Nigeria; to devote the resources of our country solely to its development and for the benefit of all our citizens; and in the process, to ensure that every Nigerian feels comfortable in every part of Nigeria.
“We all have a stake in the Nigeria project and, while playing our respective parts in its unity, peace and progress, we must constantly keep faith with the promise of a greater Nigeria”.
“I think this Colloquium is a fitting reflection of the service that Asiwaju has given, not only to Lagos State, but to Nigeria and Africa; as well as his continuing commitment and influence, as one of the great pillars of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
The President said his experience working in all parts of the country showed possibilities of a strong, united nation.
“I can also relate personally to the ideals of one Nigeria. As a military officer, I have served with great comrades from all the nooks and crannies of our country. I have seen over and over again that their goodness or failings did not depend on ethnicity or religion.
“In the course of my career, I have also been opportune to serve in all parts of Nigeria, seeing first-hand the enticing possibilities of a strong, united nation.
”More importantly, I fought for the unity of Nigeria during the civil war of 1967 to 1970, and I saw first-hand the unspeakable horrors of war, not just on fellow soldiers on both sides, but on the civilians: innocent children, women and elderly citizens that they left behind. As we all know, the peace-building, recovery and reconstruction that followed could also not have succeeded under an atmosphere of inter-ethnic animosity.
”We must count our blessings in Nigeria and see in them the crucial factors of peace and unity.”
Tinubu spoke of how government should continue to spend to create job for the teaming unemployed which the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS) puts at 33 per cent.
The Colloquium ran with the theme: Common Bond, Our Common Wealth; The imperative of National Cohesion for Growth and Prosperity,” had eminent speakers, including United Nations Development Programme Resident representative Muhammed Yahya, Executive Director HoP Africa Dr. Nindir Nansoh, Osun State Goveror Adegboyega Oyetola and Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. It was moderated by Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Geofery Onyeama.
However, Liberian President George Oppong Weah and former Sierea Leone President Ernest Koroma could not connect online.
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