Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) Salihu Lukman has urged Nigerians to distance themselves from ethnic agitation champions for peace to reign in the country.
He also challenged political leaders to wake up to their responsibility by providing leadership on matters that have taken over every political debate by promoting national discourse on unity.
Lukman, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), while reacting in a statement in Abuja on Sunday to last week’s crisis in Shasha area of Ibadan, Oyo State between a Hausa tomato seller and a kiosk owner (Yoruba woman), which led to death of one person and destruction of property called on all Nigerians to embrace peace.
“While it is important that all law-abiding citizens dissociate themselves from all the campaigns of ethnic hatred going on in the country, we must caution our political leaders to wake up to the responsibility of providing political leadership on a matter that has taken over every political debate. As it is today, it is impossible to debate any issue in Nigeria without the attempt to interpret it along ethnic and religious lines.
“We need to appeal to our political leaders to take all the steps required to move our nation forward, away from these politics of ethnic hatred. The only way our children and Nigerians can be maximally and confidently competitive in every sphere in our contemporary knowledge driven world is when events in our country are inspiring citizens beyond the clamour for ethnic hatred.
“Instead of hating each other, can our leaders take steps to begin to push us to love each other? The need to guarantee justice at all times, irrespective of who is affected is about the only route for peaceful co-existence in the country.
“Once that is compromised, the foundation of our democracy will be eroded. The burden facing our political leaders is to begin to take every necessary step to move our people and our nation from all parts of the country towards ensuring fairness in every part of the country.
“The basis of fairness must be such that to love ourselves, we must love others. Once we can’t guarantee fairness, we should delete the word love in our vocabulary.
“Therefore, we must demand that our political leaders should show love to themselves by ensuring fair conduct of all citizens as a basis for citizens’ love to leaders and the nation.”
He expressed fears the level of intolerance may get worse as we move towards the 2023 elections.
He complained that the level of intolerance in the country on account of ethnic background is beyond imagination.
“Before Sasha, there were many reportedly alleged cases of communal violence across the country. Till today, there is hardly any reported position or proposal taken by any of our national organisations.