A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Peter Esele, on Monday told Nigerians to close ranks and remain steadfast to overcome current problems plaguing the nation.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin, Esele, a veteran trade unionist, lamented that a lack of love for Nigeria by Nigerians was one of the key factors hampering the nation from attaining national aspirations.
He expressed regrets that Africa’s most populous nation would remain rudderless and unable to achieve its set goals as long as citizens continue to exhibit wanton disregard for patriotism.
The former president of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria noted that Nigerians were not open-minded and also lacked genuine love for the country, in spite of their pretentions.
“What is prevailing is love for self. There is no love for the country, despite the grandstanding of our leaders.
“If you appraise most of the policies put in place in the country, even up to our Constitution, you will find out that there are always primordial interests behind the policies.
“If we make an economic policy, we do it to favour some people. If we do policy on forex, we do it to favour particular businesses.
“We make laws to favour particular ethnic group or geo-political zone.
“So, at the end of the day, we all pay for this folly because poverty does not know Hausa, Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba or Bini.
“Until we get to the level of placing competence above primordial interests, we are going to remain in this quagmire of under-development.”
Esele argued that between 1959 and 1966, the country was able to record appreciable growth.
He attributed the achievement recorded in that era to the healthy competition of the regions that made up the country at that point in time.
According to the activist, one of the things driving the human spirit is the zeal and competition to be better.
“There are negative sides of competition but I am talking about competition to be better, where we have a level-playing ground.
“Weighing the progress made then and situating it with what we have now, we find that we have done badly at present.
“The problem is compounded now by corruption. Not that there was no corruption then but it was not as pronounced as it is now.
“There is selfishness now. There is ethnicity now. We also had it then but not as it is now. We are more divided now than ever.”
Esele argues that the intervention of the military ought to have pushed Nigeria forward like what obtained in other countries of the world but that militarily intervention in Nigeria made matters worse.
“If you look at Malaysia and Indonesia when they were under dictatorships, they made progress and when they became liberal democracies, the progress continued.
“But in Nigeria, we did not have a similar approach. What the military did in Nigeria was to weaken the units and strengthen the centre.
“In other parts of the world, what we have is the military strengthening the groups.
“So one of the biggest challenges we face in Nigeria currently is that we moved from regions to states.
“We moved from 12 states to 19 states; then 21 states to 30 states and now to 36.
“All of these states were not created to unify Nigeria. State creation has fostered room for division not for harmony,” said Esele. (NAN)