By Ifeanyi Olannye
Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta says Nigeria will become a better nation and able to harness its untapped resources if the people become more united.
The governor stated this on Monday at the 2021 Sam Epelle Memorial Gold Paper Lecture, organized by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in Asaba.
He said the endowments and resources of the country could not be harnessed and put to full economic use without unity.
He said that unity was at the heart of progress, sustainable development and wealth, adding that unity would help Nigeria to harness untapped resources.
“It will create a place called home for our young generation, put Nigeria on global stage for good reasons and inspire a spirit of greatness.
“Nigeria needs unity today and always. We can become a better nation if we work together.
“From all indications, bad governance, ethno-religious conflicts and lack of faith in the electoral process, are major causes of disunity in the country.
“The sad reality is that we seem to derive more comfort, protection and security from our ethnic identity.
“The concept of one Nigeria, therefore, is still just a theory. Another factor responsible for our current disunity is the lack of political will to devise a Constitution that supports true federalism,” he said.
He said that the country is in dire need of good leadership that would entrench the desired unity, sustainable growth and development in the nation.
The governor said that leadership is pivotal to whatever social change that was desired in any society.
He said the theme of the lecture – “Reinventing Nigeria’s Unity for Global Relevance In the 21st Century: Issues of Identity, Governance and Stability” – was apt.
“It aimed at making the country better and more relevant in global affairs in the years ahead.
“The nation lacks a true national leader with a clear determination and focus to unify the country.
“It is the leader that charts and navigates the way for the flock to follow and it is the leader’s action, inaction and body language that dictate the tunes for the dance steps of the public.
“There is no doubt that inefficient leadership is the major challenge retarding the growth and sustainable development of Nigeria.
“Having such a unifying person would have been one big leap, because it could have taken care of the most central challenges of our country.
“With a good leader, the country would immensely benefit more from its ethno-religious diversity”.
He called on the federal and state governments to pay more attention to the engagement of youths as, according to him, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Earlier, the President and Chairman of NIPR’s Governing Council, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo, thanked the governor for hosting the Institute’s annual lecture in Asaba.
He lauded Okowa for the massive dividends of democracy he had bequeathed to the people of Delta in the last six years.
On his part, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr Emmanuel Ogidi, said as public relations practitioners, members of the institute are expected to proffer solutions to societal problems and help to rebuild the nation.
Chief Patrick Ukah, who doubled as State Chairman of the Institute and Secretary to the State Government (SSG), said the lecture was instituted over a decade ago in honour of Late Dr. Sam Epelle.
He said Epelle was the founding father of the Institute and that it had become a unique platform to drive conversation and set agenda to resolving critical societal issues.
The high point of the event was the investiture of Gov. Okowa as Patron of NIPR. (NAN).