Nigeria Won’t Disintegrate, Speakers Affirm

…As S/South Citizen Peace Summit Ends In PH

Participants at the one-day South-South Citizen Summit for National Integration, Peace and Security have expressed optimism that Nigeria would come out of the present doldrums which continues to threaten its corporate existence as a nation.

Speaking at the event which held at the Nabo Graham Douglas Law Auditorium, RiverState University (RIVSU) on Thursday, the speakers agreed that a glimmer of hope exists as long as the system enthrones a leadership with strong political will to steer the ship of state.

Organized by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), with the theme, “Reopen Conversation, Rebuild Trust”, the speakers declared that the myriad of agitations across the country, would also be resolved when the right attitude is adoptedby Nigerians from all spectrum of society.

They were unanimous in their resolve that since a problem identified is a problem solved, it behooved on both leadership and the led to consciously do the needful in the interest of peace, justice and equity.

Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim who fired the first salvo in his welcome address, stressed on the need for attitudinal change especially from the youths who constitute the larger majority in the country.

He expressed optimism that the summit would go a long way in breaking down the many barriers that has plagued the country, urging Nigerians to be united as outsiders would not solve our differences.

“There is not country as blessed as Nigeria. What we lack is the right leadership”, he said.  The commissioner appealed for dialogue as ‘brothers and sisters’.

He called on the youths to use the gains of the EndSars protest to galvanize themselves, even as he urged them not to allow themselves to be used as soldiers of negative propaganda and ugly narratives.

“We should have the spirit that unites rather than the spirit that divides.  You must use your population to change the narrative about Nigeria”, he charged the youths.

In his speech, the National President of NIPR, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo pointed out what he called failure of religious leaders to communicate to adherents, the right tenets and values embedded in the respective religions.

He said the problem of Nigerian lies in ethnic and religious divide, a deep seated hatred of people of the major ethnic groups among themselves.

Quoting a verse in the Quran, Sirajo who claimed to have traversed the length and breadth of the country, castigated Muslim scholars for not teaching their adherents that the holy book forbade Muslims fighting with Christians.

“The Quran teaches that Christians are the closest in compassion and commonsense therefore shows that you don’t fight with them because they are your closest brothers”, he said.

He also appealed to the youths not to make the mistakes of his generation.  In his words, “We are a tired and retiring generation.  It is sad that we are always having fond memories of yesterday, of what Nigeria used to be.  You should not stereotype anybody.  There is good and bad in all the ethnic groups”.

Malam Sirajo however believed that though Nigerians appear divided owing to their diversity, “We shall be united in diversity because our diversity is the greatest blessing or endowment, and that is what makes us great”.

Other speakers at the event include the Chairman, National Planning Committee, Dr. Ike Neliaku who regretted that the country is more divided today than it was four years ago,  adding that Nigeria is more of a country than a nation.

He stressed that all hopes are not yet diminished as according to him, “A new Nigeria will be built by new Nigerians.  We need to raise a new set of Nigerians to build a new Nigeria”.

He expressed hope as according to him, 63% are willing to build this new, cohesive and better Nigeria.

Chairman of the occasion and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt in his speech, commended the NIPR for taking a bold step to seek ways of promoting national integration, good governance and peaceful coexistence.

Others who spoke were Vice Chancellor of Rivers State University (RIVSU), Prof. Nlerum Okogbule, Eze IgbuUkpata III of Ekpeyeland, Eze Felix Otuwarikpo, PhD, Alhaji Amb. Nasir A. Uhor, JP and IGP, Solomon Arase (rtd), represented by AIG Dokubo who delivered the keynote address.

Highlight of the occasion was a Spoken Word Poetry by Graciano Enwerem with musical rendition by the New Jerusalem Singers.

Some dignitaries who graced the event were Mr. Stanley Job Stanley, Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State council; Chief Whip of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Evans Bipi, member representing ONELGA 1, Hon. Christian Ahiakwo, amongst others.


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