Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has called on Nigerians to work towards the promotion of the country’s unity and its corporate existence.
The governor also condemned the overzealousness of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, who withdrew the security detail of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, saying that no amount of intimidation would solve the challenges of Nigeria.
Governor Wike spoke, on Thursday, during the sixth Zik lecture series in honour of the first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, where he (Wike), chaired the occasion.
According to him, “Irrespective of the side of the political and social divide we may belong, we all share a common responsibility as leaders and ordinary people to advance and preserve the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria, which for me, is the greatest honour we can ever give to the memory of the Great Zik of Africa.
“But in committing ourselves to this mission, we cannot also continue to deny the challenges that we presently face as a nation and the choice that we must make to preserve the nation’s unity in the midst of increasing agitations for political and economic restructuring sweeping across the country”.
The governor said like every “other pluralistic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society”, Nigeria’s diversity remained the abiding source of the country’s collective strength and resilience.
Governor Wike added: “However, our diversity is under severe stress and even becoming rather a threat to our collective progress because of embedded fault lines in the existing political and economic structures of the country.
“Unfortunately, our failures as a people to resolve these structural defects continue to trouble and negate national cohesion and development. For, it is vain to expect peace in injustice; unity in inequity and progress where governance is bereft of accountability, respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, and where national institutions are easily politicized, weakened and rendered ineffective”, Wike stated.
The governor commended Senator Ben Obi for the very creative initiative as well as the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka for providing the intellectual platform for the effective propagation of the timeless ideas and enduring values of the Great Zik of Africa.
He said: “Today, we are gathered here to honour the memory of one of the greatest sons of Igboland, of Nigeria and of the black race, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, under the auspices of the Annual Zik Lecture Series instituted by my senior brother, Senator (Dr.) Ben Obi.
“Whatever verdict history records, no one can deny that Zik was not just one of the foremost architects of the Nigerian nation; he was also among the most towering figures in the history of Africa’s politics.
“The Great Zik, therefore, deserves all and every honour his apostles, and, in deed, a grateful nation, can bestow to keep his memory alive and in the consciousness of the people”, Governor Wike expressed.
He said the choice before Nigerians was to “build inclusive, equitable and participatory political and economic systems where everyone justly benefits from the proceeds of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, which are lacking in the present authoritarian political environment, where protests are easily cast as dissents, where inequity and impunity are promoted as national policies, and where our rights and freedoms are easily denied”.
The Rivers State governor decried the level of impunity displayed by the Inspector General of Police in the withdrawal of the security details of the Governor Obiano, pointing out that he suffered the same fate during the Rivers rerun elections.
Governor Wike also said Nigerians would resist the plot to manipulate the 2019 polls. He said the lawless actions of the Inspector General of Police revealed the plan to use intimidation as a political weapon.
Founder of the Zik Lecture Series and Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee, Senator Obi, said that the Lecture Series was initiated to cerebrate the legacies of the first Nigerian President and to immortalise him.
Delivering the sixth Zik Lecture, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo, traced the developmental challenges facing the country to the foundational problem orchestrated by the colonial administration.
He called for restructuring of the country on the premise of a knowledge-based economy and agriculture.