•  Says, only patriotism, good leadership will

David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

A former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has said the attainment of Biafra Republic or other secessionist struggles will not guarantee peace for Ndigbo, or any other group or region canvassing for division.

Ribadu spoke on Wednesday as a guest lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, when he delivered the institution’s pre-convocation lecture with the topic: ‘Leadership and challenges of National unity in Nigeria,’ saying the problem of Nigeria is not its heterogeneous nature, but lack of patriotism among the citizens of the country.

The former EFCC chairman stated that the problem of the country is also in its inability to get the right crop of leaders, saying that this leadership inadequacy has contributed to compounding the nation’s problems, from widening the parochial divisions among its citizens to active participation in plundering the nation’s patrimony.

He said: “For years of our existence as a country, we have grappled with several challenges. There is mutual suspicion and ethnic jingoism that has deprived us of reason, sense of justice and fairness. We laugh and hug in public and plot against each other when we retire to our ethno-religious enclave.
“Clearly, our challenges of nationhood are linked to the inadequacies of some of our leaders at all levels. It is the leaders that chart and navigate the way for the flocks to follow, and it is the leader’s action, inaction and body language that dictate the tune for the dance steps of the public.”
He advised those clamouring for secession as the only solution to their problem to think deeply, saying if the problem of Nigeria were its heterogeneous nature, countries like Somalia and South Sudan which are mostly same religion, culture and tradition would have known peace.

“Exclusive ethnic identities are inventions of our political elites. On the basis of the argument of those who scorn diversity, Somalia ought to be a model country of unity, growth, and development. Almost all its population are Muslims, and speak a language. But what is the reality on ground?
“Let us look at South Sudan. Before it broke away from Sudan, the assumption was that it would know more stability, prosperity and unity after independence in 2011. But the country has continued to suffer ethnic violence and has been in civil war since 2013,” he stated.

Ribadu, while offering solution to the problems of the country, said only the right kind of leaders and belief in the country would help heal it again. He eulogised Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, whom the institution was named after, saying it was in his wisdom that he insisted on the unity of the country.
The former EFCC chairman described him as a man who exemplified the unity of the country, having been born in Zungeru, Niger State (North) of Igbo parents (East), but succeeded in dominating the politics of Lagos (West) for a long time.

“Our continued existence, I make bold to say, therefore, as one indivisible entity, very much depends on how we decide to be each other’s keeper. We should consciously refuse to give in to the weight of that which divides us.
“Rather, we should celebrate our togetherness, which, I believe far outweighs whatever differences we have. We must resist all temptations by enemies of our collective progress, and resist the influence of hate mongers, be it politicians of religious leaders,” Ribadu said.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Joseph Ahaneku, said the pre-convocation lecture topic is apt, and no one could best do justice to it than a man of Ribadu’s standing.
He eulogised him as a firm leader who is known for his stand on matters pertaining to corruption.
Nnamdi Azikiwe University has been engaged in activities marking its 11th convocation, which is a weeklong event.
The VC had on Tuesday presented prizes to 70 best graduating students of the institution for the 2015/2016 academic year, 39 of which he said are female students.
He said most of the girls were offering courses hitherto thought to be male dominated, and yet were topping their classes.

Ahaneku said: “Some of the girls are even doing courses like engineering, and are also doing well, they are part of the people we are presenting prizes to today. In Nnamdi Azikiwe University, we have a culture of celebrating excellence. We do this to encourage and spur up other students.”

Ahaneku had earlier unveiled a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, as one of the three persons the university would be conferring honourary doctorate degrees on.
He said Nnamani would be honoured for distinguishing himself in office and his role in maintaining peace in Nigeria.
The other two are Alhaji Shehu Malami, a former Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, and Mr. Clement Nwogbo, an entrepreneur with diverse interests in telecommunication and power infrastructure.