Nigerian Government must address the fundamental reasons for agitations, President of Africa Development Bank, AFDB, Akinwumi Adesina, has warned.
In Nigeria, various ethnic groups have expressed agitations for secession following complaints that the Muhammadu Buhari regime is divisive and oppressive.
Adesina gave the warning on Saturday at the convocation of American University of Nigeria, AUN, Yola, Adamawa state.
The AFDB President also called for open, national dialogues without precondition.
He identified ethnic and religious diversity as strengths, but regretted that unlike in Singapore, the same factors are tearing Nigeria apart.
“Nigeria must start managing its diversity for prosperity.
“We must drive for national cohesion, not ethnic nationalities.
“We must address the fundamental reasons for agitations, by listening, understanding, removing prejudices.
“And allowing for open, national dialogues, without preconditions, but with one goal: build one cohesive, united, fair, just and equitable nation for all, not for a few or for any section of the nation or religion.
“Nigeria must learn from this experience and forge a new way of engaging among its diverse ethnic groups and religions.
“A nation, unified by a sense of common wealth, not a collage of ethnic nationalism. A nation driven my meritocracy, not ethnocracy, religiocracy or aristocracy,” Adesina said.
He noted that the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC was a very good idea: it allowed graduates from tertiary institutions to have one year of national service, largely (ideally) outside of their places of origin.
He nonetheless expressed displeasure that the real test, however, of “national service” is that it often revealed the lack of diversity.
As according to him, “after one year of service the NYSC graduates are often not able to gain employment in governments where they served, simply because they are not indigenes of those states.
“That in itself, is an irony!
“The young graduates are strangers in their own country, a country they pledged to serve. Opportunity is denied just because they were not born in those states! Even if they were born in those states, they are told to return to the States of their origin”.
In Nigeria, regardless of how long someone may have resided in any place, they cannot run for political offices in those states or locations, just because they were not born there.
State governments, therefore, largely reflect nativism not residency, which further sends a message to non-indigenes that they do not belong.
Over time, this has created greater insularism, splintering, a lack of inclusiveness, and promotion of ethnic and religious discrimination instead of promoting national cohesion, trust and inclusiveness.
“This needs to change,” Adesina stressed.
SaharaReporters, New York