The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on Tuesday lamented that Nigeria is daily splitting along ethnic and religious lines and that the country, as currently constituted, is not working.
He said this at the 2017 Annual Conference and Induction Ceremony of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC) tagged, “Myth and Reality of Agitations: The Place of Consensus Building”, in Abuja, where he said that division is not only becoming wider by the day, ”but gradually destroying the future of the country.”
“As a nation, however, we have to tell ourselves the hard truth. Nigeria, as currently constituted, is certainly not working well. Nigerians are not only dangerously split along ethnic, religious, and sectional lines, the gap is widening on a daily basis.
“The trend of insults and divisive verbal attacks traded by younger ones against one another’s ethnicities, sections, and religions on the social media on every matter do not also inspire any hope of a brighter future.
“Therefore, I believe the constituent parts of this country must come together around the table immediately to discuss and agree on how to fix the country. I also believe that the 2014 National Conference Report is a starting point”, he said.
According to him, the 2014 National Conference report remains the most recent roadmap produced by every shade of opinion and group in the country.
Mr. Ekweremadu expressed confidence that the nation can overcome her problems through the deployment of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). He added that mediation and conciliation had been necessary tools in dispute resolution.
Disappointed that the report (2014 conference report) had been ignored for long, he said, “It is rather unfortunate that several months after the Senate requested Mr. President to transmit the report to the National Assembly for legislative actions, nothing has happened. We only read a recent statement credited to the presidency to the effect that it has no confidence in the confab report.
“I do not believe, in good conscience, that a report produced by the cream of all spheres and units of the Nigerian society is worthless. Does the present government intend to set in motion a process to convoke another conference, whose outcome it can trust? That will be a waste of time and resources. But, whichever way we look at it, Nigerians must work out a blueprint for a workable, equitable, and prosperous nation”, he said.
He however applauded the fact that the ADR now thrives in the country and practitioners are eager to lend their expertise and weight to the consensus building efforts.
Mr. Ekweremadu’s position aligns with that of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who recently at an event in Abuja also urged the government to implement aspects of the 2014 report which he said had panacea for the nation’s numerous challenges.
Meanwhile, a professor of African History, Isaac Albert, at the event called on President Muhammadu Buhari to embrace the instrument of mediation and reconciliation in order to resolve the intractable Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east and militant activities in other parts of the country.
While stressing that key players in the Boko Haram insurgency were profiting from the crisis and as such would not want it to end, he urged Mr. Buhari to, ”embrace the leader of the insurgent group, Abubakar Shekau, as a way of bringing the battle to an end.”
President of the ICMC, Emeka Obegolu, said the Institute preferred the promotion of mediation and conciliation for dispute resolution.
“They are vehicles to the enthronement of political, communal and ethno/tribal peace and harmony in Nigeria. We are challenged to continue to interrogate the incessant crisis that bedevils the polity and threatens to tear the social fabric of our society apart,” he said.