The place of leadership in forging bonds of communality is the place of purpose and deliberateness. The leadership must be very deliberate in managing diversity and in fostering kinship among variegated people. Nation building cannot be left to chance or to the whim of anyone. There must be purposive plans and actions towards uniting the people.
We cannot play possum about unity – most especially now. It has remained a reverie, and an elusive expedition for Nigeria. We yearn for it, or rather quibble about it, but we have not really applied ourselves to dismantling the iron curtains of ethnicity and religion.
As a matter of fact, it is a sheer pursuit of apparitions to assume or suggest that any single leader can unite Nigeria without the commensurate efforts of citizens to the cause. To unite Nigeria, there is a place for leadership, and there is a place for followership. Uniting Nigeria will involve Nigerians from all strata.
The place of leadership in achieving unity in Nigeria is the place of personal example. Leadership by deed not just by words. The leadership demonstrating the highest level of objectivity, fairness, and probity in dealing with Nigerians regardless of religious or political persuasion or ethnic background. The leadership showing sufficient inoculation against the contagion of religious and ethnic bigotry and exclusivism.
Where the leadership betrays prejudices, the followership sunders. The leadership is doomed to be assailed by a phalanx of discontents when it ignores the elements of inclusion.
This is the reason I applaud Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s first step as president-elect. In his acceptance speech, he gave away his bent and predisposition to bringing sundered people together. The focality of his speech was ‘’Whether you are Batified, Atikulated, Obidient, Kwankwasiyya, or have any other political affiliation, you voted for a better, more hopeful nation and I thank you for your participation and dedication to our democracy. You decided to place your trust in the democratic vision of a Nigeria founded on shared prosperity and one nurtured by the ideals of unity, justice, peace, and tolerance. Renewed hope has dawned in Nigeria.’’
Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo, said Tinubu set up a committee to meet with presidential candidates for reconciliation. Really, he does not have to, but for a president who wants to build consensus among the people; he is embracing his opponents. This is good sportsmanship. I believe this opens a window into the mentation of Nigeria’s president-elect. It says Tinubu will run an all-inclusive government – a government of national unity.
It is against this background that I consider the hostilities from Peter Obi, the Labour Party, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) despite the efforts at rapprochement by Tinubu as ill-advised. I wish Peter Obi would listen to wise counsel and not go down this scorched path. The election is done. There is nothing to be had on this path, but animosity, isolation, and tension. It is time for reconciliation and working together for Nigeria.
For his first shot at the top job, Peter Obi’s performance in the 2023 presidential election is commendable and a learning curve. But it was clear he had no chance of winning the election. He did not secure 25% of votes in 25 states and did not garner enough popular votes. I believe it will be more historic if Obi extends a hand of fellowship to the president-elect than chasing apparitions and chest thumping while at it.
If his pursuit for power is in the public interest, he must look beyond himself, and seek to support the next government for the good of Nigerians he professes to love. A Nigeria that works for all is what we need.
Tinubu has shown by his recent aspect, that he is of the nationalist phylum but with a surfeit of understanding of the imperativeness of building a nation on the back of consensual support, and responsibility. He must stay on this path. It will get rocky, but he must maintain equal oomph even when his efforts are unrequited.
A Nigeria that works for all is what we need.
Uniting Nigeria will need more than the ‘’body language’’ of the leadership. It will take deliberate effort, personal example, and a clear strategy.
Uniting Nigeria will be hard labour, but it is a task that must be done.
•Nwabufo, Nwabufo is a media executive.