Stop Dividing Nigeria, says Olawepo-Hashim

Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim

By our Reporter

Leading challenger to the mainstream political parties and the presidential candidate of the People’s Trust , Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has expressed shock and dismay at the increasing ethnicization of the February presidential race by high-ranking state officials.

Hashim warned that the trend is an unwitting attempt at ‘Somalisation’ of Nigerian politics.

Speaking in Lagos at a brainstorming session on finding national consensus over the state of the nation, Olawepo-Hashim slammed those in high offices who are dangling 2023 presidential ticket as a political carrot, describing them as “agents of ethnic balkanisation and political retrogression.”

The presidential hopeful who alerted the nation to the emerging deterioration of standard and norms in high offices, said it alarming that the Vice President of the nation was, allegedly leading the ethnicisation campaign.

Hashim wondered why the high office of Vice President should be dragged in the mud of tribal bigotry.

“That reprehensible statement promising 2023 presidency to the South West should never have emanated from the Office of the Vice-President. That office transcends tribal thinking. The presidency is and should be a rallying point for all Nigerians irrespective of tribes or religions,” Olawepo-Hashim said.

He pointed out that tribal campaign hinged on 2023 as a promissory note confirmed the shallowness of political discourse as issue-based campaigns have been jettisoned by the two mainstream political parties, warning that “Nigerians have grown beyond this bigotry through inter-marriage, electoral endorsement and business union.

“As early as first republic, the Tiv people elected a Kanuri man as their representative to the Northern House of Assembly. In 1993, late Chief Moshood Abiola beat Bashir Tofa in Kano. Today, so disappointedly, some top leaders instead of building on our achievements in the area of national unity are busy pushing to split and reopen old wounds and rancour among our people.’

Wondering why politics and campaign cannot be about higher ideals of national unity and prosperity, the PT candidate affirmed that the presidency of Nigeria should be about merit, competence and passion to deliver on good governance, not the drumming of ethnic card or the promotion of tribal advantage.

“The Presidency must be about how further to unite the country, not how to divide it more. It must be about progress, not how to foster under-development. It is not about ethnicity or religion but on what you have to offer the people and the state.

“Those seeking re-election campaign on their records, using state funds to curry votes through trader-moni and other contraptions is very cheap and ridiculous. Let us focus on the realities of under- development threatening our collective existence.

“For me and our party, we preach a pan-Nigerian agenda as a modern state where citizenship is for individuals, not based on ethnic or religion. I will be a President of all Nigerians, regardless of their political, religious, tribal inclinations,” Olawepo-Hashim said.