Speaker, Kukah task Nigerians on national cohesion

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha

Alhaji Abbas Tajudeen, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Bishop Mathew Kukah, Founder of the Kukah Centre, have urged Nigerians to work toward building a united nation.

The duo made made the call at the National Integration Conference with the theme: “Revisiting the National Question: Nigeria’s Elusive Search for National Integration”, organised by the Kukah Centre.

The conference, which was held in Abuja on Friday, was organised with support from Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO).

Tajudeen, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, said that Nigeria’s pluralism and its vast diversity in ethnicity, language and religion, remain a valuable asset to the nation.

He said that embracing and leveraging its pluralism would propel Nigeria towards a more unified and prosperous future where the collective strengths of its diverse population would be fully harnessed.

“Our diversity should be our strategic advantage, making us more resilient, innovative and cohesive as a nation.

“Our ongoing constitutional amendment process also aims to strengthen these mechanisms, promoting a more inclusive, fair and just society.

“As your representatives, we pledge to continue promoting policies that foster integration, celebrate our diverse heritage and build a stronger and more united Nigeria.

“I challenge us all, as a people, to reject bigotry of any kind and embrace tolerance, empathy, and unity,” he said.

Tajudeen said that by so doing, a Nigeria, where every citizen is valued and empowered, would be built.

“Let us work towards a future united by the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood in one strong, indivisible nation,” he said

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Tajudeen spoke further: “Although Nigeria is a diverse country, the central challenge remains in balancing diverse interests in a way that promotes national unity while respecting the identities and rights of all constituent groups.

“The burden of fostering national cohesion and effectively managing diversity rest on leaders across all facets of our society. The challenge is for government, religious organisations, traditional institutions and families.

“Holding government accountable, promoting economic empowerment, inclusive governance and education are important tools in fostering national unity,” he said.

He called for the review of the primary and secondary school curricular to ensure that young Nigerians understood the various cultures and religions in the Nigeria.

Kukah, while stressing the urgent need for nation building, urged all Nigerians to stop the blame game and unite for the good of the country.

“Building our nation is not about apportioning blames. It is about the urgency of national integration.

“National integration doesn’t necessarily mean everybody must be the same. It is for us in Nigeria to understand the intricacies of managing diversity.

“National cohesion is important because without it, it is impossible for us to grow.

“This country is increasingly in recession. So, the urgency of national cohesion is a call that we must make and continue to make,” he said

Kukah said that anybody, who called himself or herself a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, should believe in the Constitution and build Nigeria.

Mr Annup Vyas, Head of Conflict, Stability and Security, FCDO, in a remark, said that as a partner in Nigeria’s democracy, UK is pleased to be supporting efforts to build a stronger and more resilient Nigeria.

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Vyas said that integration and the democratic institutions that promote unity usually face many challenges.

He, however, expressed confidence that with the discourse and the important decisions that came from it, the nation had the potential to identify new ways to overcome such barriers .

“Unity, purpose and national cohesion can help unlock Nigeria’s potential and generate inclusive growth for all.

“So, I hope this discussion will pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for all,” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Ephraim Sheyin

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