Nigeria haunted by concentration of political leadership along tribal, religious lines – Jonathan

FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan has said Nigeria is being haunted by what he described as the concentration of political leadership along tribal and religious lines.

Jonathan said this in an address at the 13th Joe-Kyari Gadzama Public Lecture which held virtually and physically in Abuja with the theme: ‘Redefining Democracy: Yearnings of the Minority in a Democratic Setting.’

“I believe that from independence, the political evolution of leadership in Nigeria has been too concentrated along tribal and religious lines and that is still haunting us today,” the former president said.

Jonathan further observed that the ‘swelling disenchantment’ that resulted in coups and counter-coups was the fallout of the nation’s inability to manage diversity and downplay differences since the country gained independence.

“It is obvious that calls for fragmentation seem to be getting louder among some segments of our nation,” he added.

Commenting on agitations for self determination in parts of the country, Jonathan noted that where the minority felt they were not relevant, there would be a tendency to fulfil their destiny with a different approach.

According to him, that tendency gave rise to unending agitations and resistance movements across the world.

On federal character in appointments, Jonathan said the Federal Character Commission (FCC) over many decades “may have been doing its best to give everyone fair representation and a fair sense of belonging, but there are still many who feel that this agency of government has not fully addressed the challenges of accommodating minorities.”

Noting that the success recorded by the FCC had been restricted to the civil service, the former president observed that “many believe that the commission does not address inequalities in political appointments and sensitive areas like the military and public sector appointments.”

In an interview with Arise TV, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari had said his appointments were not based on ethnic or religious considerations but rather hinged on merit.

However, Jonathan said he believed that Nigerian leaders could do more to eliminate ethnic sentiments in the country.

    “Looking to the future, I can say that our leaders can do a lot more to eliminate ethnic sentiments in our society, enthrone merit and build a system that gives citizens equal opportunities to excel.

    “There has to be a united, strong and cohesive Nigerian nation of patriotic citizens for any structure or system to yield the promise of our shared prosperity,” he said.

    Jonathan further stated that several years after independence, Nigeria should be an advanced economy with effective social security systems like countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    But he expressed regrets that the country was lagging behind in economic development.

    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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