Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) has urged Nigerian youths not to build on the mistakes of past and present leaders even as he regretted his generation of Nigerian leaders has failed the country.
“I want to point out that before independence, we had three regions, Western, Northern and Eastern Nigeria. That was how we started. After independence, those who could not win elections on their own began talk about, I am Igbo, I am Hausa, I am Yoruba, I am this and that. NADECO led us to where we are today. The military tried to set these things but the politicians as we all know returned us to the era of I am Igbo, I am Yoruba and so on and so forth. It is now the responsibility of the youth. I join you in saying that our generation must have failed, our generation failed you. We tried as individuals but collectively our generation failed. So, for those of you who are coming behind us now, you must correct those mistakes, and move our country forward”, he stated.
He made the remarks at a lecture delivered Tuesday by the former Minister of External Affairs, and Deputy Chairman for 2014 National Conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi on African Countries: Politices, Democracy and Ethnicity at Agip Hall, Muson, Lagos. The programme was attended by two other discussants; Dr. Sa’idu Ahmad Dukawa, a Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science Bayero University, Kano and Ms. Yemi Adamolekun, Executive Director, Enough is Enough (EIE), among other eminent Nigerians from different professions. Nwachukwu who was chairman of the occasion remarked while summarizing the lecture that since his generation has failed Nigerians, and it is, now the responsibility of the youth to move the nation forward, and not to dwell on their past mistakes.
He said Nigeria today is structurally defective while he called for a true federal system. According to him, “We do not have a balanced Nigeria and until we have a balanced Nigeria, we will continue to have problems like we have now. This was what the National Conference addressed and I attended that conference. I thought it would give me an opportunity to present my case before a balanced Nigeria.
“Where do I really belong? I am Ike Nwachukwu from an Igbo father, I am Umaru from a Northern Hausa Fulani mother from Kastina, I am married to a Yoruba woman who is from Egba. So who do I belong to? The National Conference gave me an opportunity and luckily I had to lead the South Eastern delegates. We went through the conference, night over night. I was with all the delegates at the conference, trying to find solution to Nigeria’s problem and we believe that we did.”
He added that “It is not necessary to continue making reference to past National Conferences, which includes Jonathan conference or Obasanjo conference or Babaginda conference or Murtala Muhammed conference and others in the name of government of Nigeria. When shall we come down to take the bull by the horn and save ourself less pain and create a strong united Nigeria? You must be a Yoruba or Igbo or Hausa before you are who you are. But when you begin to translate who you are, ethnicity leads to ethnicism that is where the problem is and Nigeria cannot play more of ethnicism than really being a Nigerian.”