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“We are looking for a Nigerian President” – Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
As the 2023 general elections is fast approaching, Nigerians are beginning to see the need to put our differences, particularly ethnic differences, aside in our quest for a visionary and competent leader.
The echoes of a new Nigeria and a leadership devoid of ethnic biased or religious bigotry, is the position in every other zonal and cultural forums across the nation as of today, not just the Northern Elders Forum (NEF). Afenifere, Ohaneze, Pandef and Middle-belt forums also endorses this. Detribalised President
For us as a nation destined for greatness, affliction must not arise the second time. The mischievous ruling elites have successfully ruined the gains of brotherhood and unity of purpose. The type of leadership bequeathed to us during the era of Zik of Africa, Awo and Balewa in the first republic have been supplanted with nepotistic and corrupt mindedness of today.
Imagine that Awolowo for example, is short-sighted with nepotic and little mindedness of the present gladiators, he would have sited the university at Ile-ife at his home town, Ikenne. Thus, it would have been the University of Ikenne, instead of the bigger picture and the glory of today – Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) – supposedly, named after the him.
Our beloved country, Nigeria has become so polarized to the extent of total breakdown and huge trust deficit. The current president, Major General MUHAMMADU BUHARI’s impunity, divisiveness and tyrannical postures, has further deepened the issues of mistrust and increased our fault-lines.
Since he came into power, he has consistently shown, through his actions and utterances, that he has many biases, which is unfortunate. Sad and unfortunate.
For example, when he (Buhari) was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), he displayed his nepotistic tendency very glaringly by concentrating most of the projects in the North and to the absolute exclusion of the South.
Addtionally, many of his appointments favour the North. The service chiefs, Inspector General of Police (IGP), head of agencies, for example, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries and many more that time and space would not allow me to mention are all picked from the North. Furthermore, his principal staff and personal aides are mainly from Daura, his birth place.
From all indications, Buhari has not proven himself to be a nationalistic leader but a sectional leader, an ethnic warlord and a nepotic leader. His leadership has divided Nigeria more than building a country that is united. And in the history of Nigeria, it will be on record that one General Buhari came, and instead of building a united nation, he was building a divided one.
In a country that has been divided along ethnic lines, the examples of General Ike Nwachukwu, the family of our beloved former Head-of-State Murtala Ramat Mohammed, the Adeleke’s from Ede, Boss and Funmi Mustapher,, and yours truly are examples of the reflection of what Nigeria should be.
General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd), a completely detribalised Nigerian was born on September 1, 1940, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State by an Igbo father and a Fulani mother.
He is married to a Yoruba woman, Gwendolyn Tonyesia Yoyinsola Ejiwunmi of Ofada, Abeokuta, Ogun State, whose mother is a Kalabari woman from the Bob-Manuel Ruling House of Abonema, Rivers State. His sons and daughters are married to Nigerians from all parts of the federation. In fact, Ike Nwachukwu is one man that is a complete definition of Mr Nigeria.
Our late head of state, Murtala Muhammed, Hausa by tribe, married a Yoruba woman Chief (Mrs) Ajoke Mohammed. The blissful and peaceful marriage was blessed with children who followed the nationalistic footsteps of their parents. The daughter, Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode is married to a Yoruba and the son, Abba Risqua Mohammed, my personal friend, a highly detribalised Nigerian.
The Adeleke’s also are typical detribalized Nigerians. Sen. Raji Ayoola Adeleke, a Muslim and Yoruba married an Igbo Christian woman, Nnnena Esther Adeleke. The marriage produced four successful nigerians: Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, the father of popular Nigerian singer Davido, Senator Ademola Adeleke, also known as the dancing senator and the late Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, former governor of Osun state and auntie Dupe who were all born in Enugu, the Eastern part of the country. Like their parents, the children loom(ed) larger, than just been an Ede or Osun or Yoruba men – they are/were Nigerian men and women.
Another person worthy of mention is Boss Gidahyelda Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. The Adamawa-born is one of those Nigerians with a heritage of cross-cultural marriage. He is married to Funmilayo, a Yoruba woman from osun State in the Southern Nigeria, it is not uncommon these days, but North-South handshake is still a scarce commodity.
Lastly, yours truly is the product of an inter-ethnic marriage between the Northern and Southern extractions. And, by choice, I had a cross-country marriage and I have also had the privilege of working with many Nigerians from different ethnic backgrounds.
The profiles of the aforementioned is a true reflection of what Nigeria ought to be, a detribalised Nigeria, where tribe and tongue may differ but in brotherhood.
It is time for us to stand up to build the nation of our dreams. Nigeria needs a new model; we need a leader that is a Nigerian before tribe. A patriotic and honest President. So help us God.
ARISE ‘O COMPATRIOTS
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI