By Chimezie Godfrey
Former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim says dialogue is the most effective way to build consensus and resolve conflicts in the country.
Sen. Anyim made the assertion Thursday on the occasion of the National Dialogue and Public Presentation of the book “Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices” at the Yar Adua Center, FCT, Abuja.
He said considering the many challenges that Nigeria is currently facing that the need for dialogue has become very urgent.
He said,”Dialogue is easily the most effective way to build consensus and resolve conflicts in any society. In Nigeria today where we are faced with many challenges, the need to engage one another in purposeful dialogue has become more urgent.
“The foundation of our country was laid on dialogue. Our forefathers constantly engaged one another in national conversations and dialogue at every stage of our political development from the colonial period to independence.
“The many constitutional conferences in Nigeria and in London provided opportunity for thorough discussions leading to consensus and agreements on the issues, concerns and fears of the different nationalities that make up Nigeria.
“Our current efforts at nation building and the modest achievements we have made as a nation over the years are the positive outcomes of the time and energy our forebears invested in national dialogues.
“We must, therefore, continue to embrace the culture of dialogue as a civilized way to settle our differences in Nigeria.
“This programme today has come at a good time to help remind us of the need for dialogue in our interactions at every level of the society especially as the next election cycle is approaching.”
Sen. Anyim noted that democracy thrives on dialogue and that it functions to build consensus, create understanding and enhance national cohesion even as amendments are made in the constitution and laws of the nation to reflect current realities and create new nerve links to peace and progress.
“I am, therefore, very pleased to be part of this national dialogue and public presentation of the book; Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices. Let me use this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Chido Onumah and all the contributors to this book for the wonderful work they have done.
“I have no doubt that the decision to go into this work was driven by share patriotism. I urge you not to relent in making your contributions to the development, peace and progress of our dear country.
“It is, therefore, now my pleasure to invite all of us to join me as I present this great work of patriotism for the benefit of the reading public and for the growth and well-being of our nation,” he said.
The Author and Editor of the Book, Mr Chido Onuma, in his presentation said that the book is a product of eleven years of planning, saying that the original idea was conceived in early 2010 to coincide with Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary.
“When we couldn’t get enough people to commit to submitting essays, we reworked the concept and move it to 2014 to mark the centenary of the creation of Nigeria in 1914. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. Eleven years later, we are grateful that the idea has materialized.
“I want to pay tribute to the original cast, Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of Premium Times, Ohimai Amaize, publisher of SignalNig, and the poet, Chiedu Ezeanah, whose creative genius when this concept was developed eleven years has sustained the ideas of this book. My friend, colleagues and collaborator, Godwin Onyeacholem, and Friday Inalegwu Ejilogo deserve all the credit for the invaluable editorial supply.
“Nigeria has been described as a country on its third missionary journey to a truly democratic nation. Unfortunately, the problems confronting Nigeria are not problems to be resolved by wishful thinking. What do Nigerians want? How did we get here? Where do we hope to be after 60 years of independence? These are issues that require urgent and practical national attention.
“October 1, 2020, marked Nigeria’s diamond jubilee as an independent nation. There are Nigerians who think one option open to the country is a revolution (like that I’d Jerry Rawlings in Ghana); there are those who say the problem of Nigeria is leadership and that if we get our leadership recruitment process right, every other thing will fall in place; yet, there are others who think the fundamentals of the nationhood are flawed and nothing will work if we don’t fix it.
” This book is the product of discussion on what needed to be done to rescue Nigeria. The aim is to give an opportunity to young Nigerians – the critical change agents – to help the country understand and sharpen its focus on those issues that hold the key to our collective survival as a people.
“The essays that make up Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices critically examine Nigeria’s social, economic, and political situation and explore the options open to us, suggest solutions and how to actualize them. They take a critical look at the country’s democratic experiment since independence in 1960 where the country is today and some the major issues that have dogged the country’s march to genuine democracy and nationhood.
“The essays are focused on different aspects of our national life, including whether the fundamental question of nation building that began six decades ago has been fully and or properly answered and what lessons we have learned or need to learn as a nation 60 years after independence,” he said.
The Keynote Speaker, Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi said noted that Nigeria is confronted with several challenges, adding that the loudest of the problems is the clamour for session.
He said that for him, the idea of remaking the nation should not suggest a total demolition of the present structure, that whatever defect that ails the country can be corrected without having to collapse the entire structure of the country.
On what is the imperative of nation building, he said that the task of nation building is never done, but urged that citizens should continue to seek new ways from generation to generation to better the nation. He stressed that the work of nation building is for all generations.
Dignitaries present at the occasion include the reviewer of the book and Editor in Chief, 21st Century Chronicle, Mahmud Jega, Former Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to African Union, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, the Chief Executive Officer, The School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG) Alero Ayida-Otobo, and a host of panelits.