Dialogue, robust debate and understanding are needed for national unity if Nigeria must overcome its current challenges, Ekiti state governor, Kayode Fayemi has said.
Speaking at the National Unity Summit held in Abuja on Wednesday, Fayemi said that these ingredients are needed in Nigeria and should not be used purposely to cause “structural divisions and stir up negative emotions”.
Fayemi who warned against turning “any and all disagreements and difference into zero-sum encounters in reckless brinkmanship or irresponsible populism”, urged Nigerians to be charitable with one another at all times and avoid being caught up in the “most sinister motives” of those with whom we find ourselves locked in disagreement.
He stressed that Nigerians must learn to effectively put the thorny matters that confront the nation into better perspective.
“Robust debate, principled disagreement, and honest skepticism are not in and of themselves bad for a polity; in fact, they comprise some of the main ingredients that make for a healthy system of governance and a thriving pluralism.
“What is bad is when divergences in opinion and interest are too hastily and opportunistically loaded with unhelpful baggage that play on structural divisions and stir up negative emotions as to turn any and all disagreements and difference into zero-sum encounters in reckless brinkmanship or irresponsible populism”, he said.
While noting that leaders across the country must embody the ideals of national unity and be seen as active torch bearers of unity at all times, the governor said this is the only way to build popular trust in “our actions and erase doubts about our intentions”.
“Unity cannot endure where injustice, exclusion, inequity and marginalization are embedded in the practice of governance. That is why as leaders, we must pay attention at all times to ensure that as we work to deliver on our mandate, fairness and equity are made our watchwords at all times”.