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TEXT OF NBC ANNUAL LECTURE BY PROFESSOR (AMB) IBRAHIM A. GAMBARI, CFR, OCRT

  • September 5, 2018
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BROADCASTING AND NIGERIA’S ETHNO-CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS DIVIDE: BRIDGING THE GAP  

BEING A TEXT OF NBC ANNUAL LECTURE

BY PROFESSOR (AMB) IBRAHIM A. GAMBARI, CFR, OCRT

FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER OF NIGERIA, FORMER AMBASSADOR OF NIGERIA TO THE UNITED NATIONS AND FORMER UN UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL, AND FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN

SAVANNAH CENTRE FOR DIPLOMACY, DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT (SCDDD), ABUJA, NIGERIA

Protocols;

I. Introduction

            I feel highly honoured to be invited to deliver the 2018 Annual NBC Lecture and I thank the staff and management of National Broadcasting Commission ably led by its Director General Mallam Modibbo Kawu for thinking it proper to sustain this tradition. And, I am delighted to share with this distinguished audience my thoughts on the topic given to me by the organizers of this event: “Broadcasting and Nigeria’s Ethno-Cultural and Religious Divide: Bridging the Gap”. My presentation would of necessity be in the context of the challenges and options essential for stabilizing the polity and enthroning an enduring peace, national unity and inclusive democratic governance in Nigeria.In this regard, my basic premise and starting point in addressing the subject of this lecture is simple. The real divide in Nigeria is not ethnicity, culture or religion; rather they are the mis-use of these elements and the perpetration of inequality along class and regional lines in our country.  And the gap must be bridged through conscious national integration efforts aimed at promoting unity and equitable socio-economic development and democratic consolidation. In bridging the gap, new messages of national solidarity and strength in our diversity should be escalated to counter the dubious narratives of ethno-cultural and religious divide being perpetrated especially by politicians close to national election times in order to continue to divide and rule the country. 

2.     I wish to add elements of two other and perhaps more dangerous divide;

(a) Violent extremism and terrorism; just as the perpetrators do not respect or recognize national boundaries, they do not respect religious, ethnic or cultural affinities. Hence, we have to unite against and defeat them by adopting and implementing national, regional, continental and global strategies. 

(b) Growing poverty and economic inequality; figures show that in 1980, those living beneath poverty line constitute 6.2% of our population. The estimate now is that they are up to 44.2% of our total population. Of recent, the UK Prime Minister said their number is 87 million, making Nigeria ‘home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world. In recognition of this ugly situation our VP Prof. Osinbajo said that his Administration has committed N500 billion to poverty alleviation. We can do more of course and adopt comprehensive strategies like India and China where millions of their peoples have been lifted out of poverty. 

3.    Ladies and gentlemen, Nigeria is at a cross-road. Nigeria has never been this divided in the history of her existence and as Abraham Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Worrisome, is the mis-use of our diversity in terms of Ethnicity and Religion, continues to pose grave dangers not only for our socio-economic development, but of the very existence of Nigeria as one strong, united and prosperous nation. This is coming amidst the mounting tensions in the country especially as we approach the 2019 elections. While it is true that doomsday scenarios painted ahead of the 2015 elections did not materialize, thanks to the efforts of some eminent persons, key initiatives and the responsible actions of the top players. There should be no room for complacency. Peaceful and credible 2015 elections were the outcomes of combined efforts of stakeholders, including civil society organizations, individuals and the international community. These forces must again be mobilized once more to build on the gains of the last General Elections. The 2019 elections must be the game changer!  

4.   Meanwhile, hate and inciteful speeches have attained new heights by the day and unless concrete actions are taken to stem this ugly situation, the path to anarchy is being encouraged. I believe the time has come for us to chart a way forward out of this and I am pleased to note that NBC is ready to lead this task of broadcasting peace, unity and finding lasting solutions to our national challenges and help pull the rug from the feet of the perpetrators of the destructive politics of religion and ethnicity. The promotion of constructive dialogue is essential in this regard so as to protect the integrity and unity of our country. Unlike in the immediate past, we must begin to talk to each other rather than talking at each other. I can tell you that my Centre, the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development has been working hard to provide a platform for such dialogue.

II. NIGEERIAN STATE IN RETROSPECT 

5.     In a paper I presented in Washington DC some years ago, which has turned out to be prescient, I talked about The Nigerian State and its Enemies…The inspiration for this came from the famous book by the Australian-British Philosopher, late Professor Karl Popper, titled The Open Society and Its Enemies. Ladies and Gentlemen, these enemies are the ones who are fanning the flames of division, ethnicity, religion, hate and inciteful speeches in the country and we need to put them into their proper place in other to move forward as a nation. Who are they and how can we defeat them?

6.   These enemies of the Nigerian State are groups characterized by certain negative tendencies, phenomena and traits, which, taken together, constitute serious impediments to the growth, development, corporate existence and efficient functioning of the Nigerian State which serves the interest of the many rather than the few. In other words, they critically undermine the emergence of a strong, united, vibrant, prosperous and just nation.  While the enemies of the Nigerian state, which are identified and discussed here, are by no means exhaustive, they constitute, in my view, severally and collectively, some of the most vicious agents at work to either tear Nigeria apart or at least blunt the full realization of the great potentials, which our nation possesses

7.   Of all the vices, which have reared their ugly heads in enmity against the Nigerian State, it seems to me, the mis-use of ethnicity and religion and cultural diversity ranks as one of the most dangerous. In my view, no measure can blunt ethnic, cultural and religious jingoism and advance the cause of national unity more than a determined and sustained efforts to isolate the perpetrators while at the same time making honest and manifestly efforts to treat all Nigerians, irrespective of their ethnic origin, equally before the law as well as the promotion of, and respect for, the human rights of all Nigerians. Writing two centuries ago, Uthman Dan Fodio, a great reformer and leader, had this message for us: “One of the swiftest ways of destroying a kingdom (or State) is to give preference to one particularly tribe over another, or to show favour to one group of people rather than another. Justice and respect for the diversity of our nation are the prerequisites for a Republic that is at peace with itself and consolidates its unity and its democracy.

8.     Any meaningful analysis of the enemies of the Nigerian state is bound to identify national indiscipline and elite greed as factors at work against our society. Indiscipline manifests itself in a general unwillingness to abide by laws and regulations designed to achieve a smooth functioning of society as well as the failure to observe the minimum requirements of etiquette and ethics in official and unofficial interaction. It is said only half that one of the distinguishing features of Nigerians is that we readily devise at least ten ways of circumventing every new law or regulation that is passed. National indiscipline prevents the orderly achievement of national goals as an inordinate amount of time is spent on trying to get people to display the minimum orderly behavior, without which society can only degenerate into the Hobbesian state of nature in which human life would be brutish, nasty and short. 

9.   Elite greed is a phenomenon, which manifests itself in the inordinate ambition to illegally amass wealth in breach of public trust, abuse of public office, and official corruption and the lack of a capacity to distinguish public from private wealth. Greed among the elite has tended to transform competition for public office into a “do or die” affair, in which the winner must take all. Public office is increasingly seen, not as a call to service and public trust, but as an opportunity to despoil the “Commonwealth”. The phenomenon of elite greed is, however, not confined to the public domain, as the elite in the private sector have also developed an insatiable taste to acquire wealth far in excess of their legitimate capacity. The Nigerian State is the worse for it, and the Nigerian people the worst hit, as scarce resources that should otherwise have been used for development are expropriated by a greedy few.  

III. THE DYNAMICS OF THE CHALLENGES OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION AND OVERCOMING THEM

10.     The point must be made, nonetheless, that we are not unique in that quite a number of multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious societies constantly have to contend with similar or even aggravated tension and conflict arising from the ramifications and implications of their diversity. Within Africa and especially in Ethiopia/Eretria and South Sudan there is now a sad reality that separation as a solution to addressing the challenges of diversity is an illusion.   In all cases, however, preventing state fragility and building national unity and integration require developing a rules-based and values system in a dynamic balancing which keeps the whole together. In other words, preventing things from falling apart so that the center can hold should be the best approach. A classic case is the tragic break-up of the nation of Yugoslavia which, under the iron grip of Josip Broz Tito, founding father of the Non-Aligned Movement, enjoyed a measure of stability for about 48 years – between 1943 and 1991 when the nation began to disintegrate following a series of wars between the federating nationalities. 

11.     Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make reference to a statement by the late General Murtala Mohammed which appears to me as a most succinct characterization of our political experience as a nation: despite our great human and material resources, we have not been able to fulfill the legitimate expectations of our people. Ethnicity, mis-use of religion, tribal and divisive considerations have denied us of the focus that was the promise at independence to build a respectable democratic and economically vibrant nation deserving the respect of all.  Sadly, he could as well have been speaking of today’s Nigeria!  After almost 20 years of return to civil democratic governance, our political class is yet to imbibe a proper appreciation of the imperative for a sense of patriotism driven by the principles of fairness, equity and inclusivity in the overarching interest of our nation’s cohesion.

12.     Instead, they have elevated the spirit of manipulation and exploitation of the cultural diversity and ethnic differences which define our nation – real, imagined or contrived – into an exalted art form.  Driven by a manifestation of intellectual laziness and an abysmal lack of faith in the national ethos, these soldiers of fortune seize on any and every narrow, sectional cause to pursue their unbridled quest for power and relevance. In the process, they have succeeded in practically turning the people, “we the people”, of Nigeria into mere onlookers – the veritable sovereign from whom the political class derive their legitimacy and relevance in the first place!  

13.     The path to greater Nigeria, must lie in our collective efforts to ensure the evolution of a truly nationalistic political process which is capable of democratically throwing up the ideal national leader who must profess absolute faith in a Federal, secular, sovereign and independent Nigeria; possess the virtues of honesty, truth, decency and zero-tolerance for corruption in all its ramifications; possess the highest level of disposition to the defence and promotion of the Constitution and the Laws of the Federation; possess consistent cognitive leadership capabilities especially in strategic policy formulation; unwavering believe in the rule of law; must be transparently de-tribalised; and possess good command of the art, ethics and strategies of statecraft and diplomacy especially as we live in an increasing globalized world.

IV.   ADDRESSING THE REAL DIVIDES IN NIGERIA 

14.      In my opening remarks, I argued that there are real divides in Nigeria and they are not cultural, religious or ethnicity. The question then is what are they? In my view, there are two main ones. 

(a). Socio-Economic Inequalities

15.   The obstacles to building of a common citizenship and common commitment to Nigeria, an important aspect of our nation-building are growing socio-economic inequalities. How can we have a common citizenship when the person in Ilorin has a radically different quality of life from the person in Yenagoa?  Or when the woman in Daura is more likely to die in childbirth than the woman in Ibadan? It is through the development of the economy and equal opportunities for all, or through the development of social welfare safety nets, mature nations try to establish a base-line of social and economic rights which all members of the national community must enjoy. Secondly, socio-economic inequalities across the country fuel fears and suspicions which keep our people divided and easy to manipulate for destructive political purposes. 

16.      Let me draw your attention to some of these socio-economic inequalities. If we take the level of immunization of children against dangerous childhood diseases, we note that while the South-East has 44.6% immunization coverage, the North-West has 3.7% and North-East 3.6%. If you take the education of the girl-child as indicator, you see a similar pattern of inequality with the South-East having an enrolment rate of 85%, South-West 89%, South-South 75%, North-East 20%, and North-West 25%. Only 25% of pregnant women in the North-West use maternity clinics, while 85% of the women in the South-East also do. It is not surprising that 39% more women die in child-birth in the North-East, compared to the South-West. Education and poverty levels are also important dimensions of inequalities across Nigeria.  If we take admissions into Nigerian universities in the academic year 2000/1, we see that the North-West had only 5% of the admissions, while the South-East had 39%. 

17.   These inequalities pose two related challenges. Firstly, high levels of socio-economic inequalities mean that different Nigerians live different lives in different parts of the country. Your chances of surviving child-birth, of surviving childhood, of receiving education and skills, all vary across the country.  If different parts of Nigeria were separate countries, some parts will be middle income countries, while others will be poorer than the poorest countries in the world! A common nationhood cannot be achieved while citizens are living such parallel lives. Inequalities are a threat to a common citizenship.  Secondly, even in those parts of the country that are relatively better off, the level of social provision and protection is still low by world standards. The 20% that are poor and unemployed in Bayelsa State are still excluded from common citizenship benefits.  We therefore need a Social Contract between the people on the one hand, and the state and nation on the other.  The state and nation must put meeting the needs of the disadvantaged as a key objective of public policy.  Such an approach can make possible a common experience of life by Nigerians living in different parts of the country and elicit their commitment to the nation. Instead of resorting to the divisive politics of indigene against settler as a means of accessing resources, a generalized commitment to social citizenship will create a civic structure of rights that will unite people around shared rights and goals.

(b)  Poor Governance. In one of his visits to the African continent while in office, former US President Barrack Obama, said what Africa needs is not strong men (leaders) but strong institutions. This is half-truth, for Africans need both and they need good governance. Among the many characteristics of democracy is good governance. Good governance is about inclusiveness and the rule of law amongst others. These two speak to our topic and worry about the dangers of divide along fault lines.     

V.  BROADCASTING IN NIGERIA 

18.    So, what is the role of broadcasting in the context of socio-economic gap, impact of poor governance on our nation’s diversity? The history of broadcasting in Nigeria is a long one, beginning with the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation and Western Nigeria Television (WNBC/WNTV in 1959. Other regions quickly followed. The foundation of broadcasting in Nigeria was therefore based on regionalism and ethnicity. A multiplicity of broadcasting to cater for various interests is by itself a progressive pursuit. However, there must be a control mechanism to curb the excesses bordering on national cohesion and integrity. It is the application of inclusiveness in governance and the application of the rule of law that would ensure a healthy management of broadcasting in a diverse country like Nigeria. Furthermore, we face a new challenge of the new media. A platform for social media is easily accessible to individuals and can reach wide range of people even in the remotest places unrestrained. These new challenges where millions are reached without control constitute a challenge in broadcasting. Concerted efforts must be made through institutional reforms to curb the excesses of the social media especially with regards to hate speech. I will return to the issue of the tragic consequences of hate speech on our polity. 

19.     Hate speech is the major worry we need to address. In doing so, strategic civil education must be embarked upon.  Federal government agencies like the NBC, NOA and various organs for propagation must beginning to inform and create mass movement for the prevention of hate speech. To achieve this therefore, schools, political parties grassroots communities must be reached to enlighten them on dangerous, incisive, and hate war of words that is harmful to our society.

20.   The Nigeria Broadcasting Code is very clear about what broadcasting should do or not do. Let me paraphrase what it says in Section 0.2.1: The cardinal responsibility of broadcasting is to inform, educate and entertain, and this shall not be at the expense of national interest, unity and cohesion of Nigeria's diverse, social, cultural, economic, political and religious configuration. Therefore, it says, no broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder, be repugnant to public feeling or contain an offensive reference to any person, alive or dead, or generally, be disruptive to human dignity. Whatever broadcasters do, they must be guided by these principles.

21.   Radio and Television have the capacity to transform societies, but they could also destroy if they are not used in line with what has been prescribed in the Code, which I cited above. This is because of their far reach. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. In a society like ours, naturally, there will be fault lines. But such fault lines in themselves are not the problem, until they are exploited. Unfortunately, that is what has been happening in Nigeria in recent times. The nation's fault lines are being exploited for political reasons. Our ethnic and religious plurality is being turned into an albatross. Age-long problems, like farmers-herders clashes and cattle rustling, are being viewed from the prism of ethnicity and religion. This has exacerbated the problems and, in turn, fuelled senseless killings and counter-killings. For example, clashes between farmers and herders in Nigeria predate the country's independence. Communities across the country had developed their own mechanisms for handling these clashes and preventing them from escalating. Today, however, the situation has changed. When clashes occur, it is framed in ethno-religious narrative. forgetting that in Zamfara, which is the hotbed of cattle rustling, those who rustle cattle are Fulani and Muslim, while those whose cattle are rustled are also Fulani and Muslim. Can we then impute religion or ethnicity into this? This is where broadcasting comes in. Despite the advent of the social media, broadcasting remains the source of information and entertainment for most Nigerians. With majority of our people still residing in the rural areas, and with epileptic electricity supply, radio remains the medium of choice. Your portable transistor radio runs on batteries, hence the lack of electricity is not a problem. Many mobile telephone handsets also come with built-in radio, making it easy for anyone with such handset to listen to the radio and to get the latest information or disinformation. Television is a distant second, but it is very powerful, because it contains audio with visuals. Due to the combined reach of radio and television, one can only imagine how effective they can be in spreading information, real or fake. Combined with the power of the social media, broadcasting is a double-edged sword that can develop or destroy.

22.   Let's look at what happened in Rwanda in 1994. The genocide that left 800,000 people dead was largely catalyzed by the role of the government‐controlled Radio‐Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). The radio station, which was widely listened to, led the racist propaganda against Tutsis, moderate Hutus, Belgians, and the United Nations mission UNAMIR. It was therefore not a surprise when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda convicted three news media executives for genocide. According to the Tribunal, the three media executives used a radio station and a twice-monthly newspaper to inflame ethnic hatred that eventually led to the massacres at churches, schools, hospitals and roadblocks. In particular, the radio station guided killers to victims, broadcasting the names, license plate numbers and vehicle license-plate numbers of Tutsis. In just 100 days, an estimated 10% of Tutsis and moderate Hutus were wiped away. We do not pray for a repeat of such in our dear country, Nigeria but we must not say it cannot happen. That is why those who run broadcast organizations in Nigeria have a huge role to play by not inflaming passion, especially at a critical time like this when hundreds of lives have been lost to many crisis. Broadcasting organizations must adhere strictly to the broadcasting code, show a great deal of responsibility and demonstrate a high level of patriotism in order not to aggravate the challenges facing the country, especially in the area of security. While persuasion is preferable, the certainty of sanctions should be an important element of ensuring compliance.

23.   As preparations for the 2019 general elections enter a critical phase, the ethno-cultural and religious fault lines will likely take centre stage during political debates, rallies, radio and television gingles etc. There is no doubt that issues such as re-adjustment of our Federal arrangement both in terms of the number of its constituent units as well as the fiscal regime, poor governance, ensuring that Secularism is practiced as provided in our Constitution, these discussions should however not degenerate to the use of foul language and hate speech. In an article published in the Daily Trust recently,Prof Jibo Ibrahim has drawn attention to some disturbing developments during the recent Governorship elections held in Ekiti State. These centre around what appear to be violations of the Broadcasting Code and the need to fairly and transparently handle the investigation of the role of the sitting Peoples Democratic Party( PDP) government and the opposition All Peoples Congress(APC).The article  drew attention to the looming danger of hate speech during this 2019 election season.

24.   Another issue in the Ethno-cultural divide is the indigene versus settler question that should be comprehensively addressed as soon as possible. As long as ethnic groups are able to integrate with their host communities living peacefully and contributing to the socio-economic development of such communities, they should be considered as citizens and not suffer discrimination when it comes to seeking political offices once they fulfill the  necessary requirements, seeking admission for their children in educational institutions, ownership of property etc. The migration of people from one community is not going to end any time soon not only in Nigeria but other parts of the World.

25.   The use of religion has been subtle but very disturbing in the sense that it appears to influence the attitude of many public officials in decisions taken on National issues.It is fairly common to hear allegations of marginalization based on religion or ethnicity in  recruitment into Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDA’s) by individuals or groups on radio and television  despite the fact that the Federal Character Commission(FCC) should statutorily have an input in  recruitment exercises in the Public Service.

26.    It is important to add peacebuildingefforts, especially in the context of the ethno-cultural and religious divide in Nigeria. This would enable parties promote public policy that must respond to and apply effective peace-building strategies to existing and emerging areas of crises in the country especially at the political level.  An effective peace-building strategy is one that is not only holistic but carefully targeted in addressing structural causes of conflicts and fragility. 

Examples onPersonal Responsibility, Recognizing Heroic Act by an Individual 

27.    The story of the 83year old Abdullahi Abubakar, the Imam that saved close to 300 Christians from being massacred during the recent widespread killings in Plateau state in his mosque by the invading Fulani Herdsmen is a heroic example that must be encouraged and rewarded.Alhaji Abubakar, should be offered a national honour, on account of exemplary and sacrificial heroism. Too often, honour has been dashed out incestuously to members of the political class who have little or no record of accomplishments.  

2019 Elections and Democracy in Nigeria

28.   Ladies and gentlemen, this lecture would not be complete without making reference to the 2019 Elections and, in essence, the “rebirth” of democracy in our nation.  When Nigeria would have a new opportunity to address the country’s challenges and to deepen its democracy and deliver its dividends such as quality social services, including especially education and health, prosperity and security of life and property. And to achieve these overriding objectives, we must put a permanent end to impunity and zero-tolerance for official corruption.  Furthermore, political parties in Nigeria must abandon “the current political normadism where the sole purpose is for acquisition of power in order to satisfy parochial interest of the political class (and not of the people). Hence, it is important that parties are based on issues, group interests and ideology”. Whilst it is important to have successful elections, periodic elections in themselves, do not ensure good governance. Elections are not an end in themselves rather a process leading to the real business of governance. Elections 2019 in Nigeria must represent a watershed with the potential to cross a threshold into a new era in global governance and human experience. 

29.   Our political parties must meet the expectations of the kind of leaders that Nigerians want. In this regard, we must demand for leadership that is inclusive and knowledgeable about socio-economic development issues. We must demand leaders who respect and uphold the constitution and obey the rule of law. The political parties must throw up candidates who have a clear vision for the future of our country and who are pro-active in addressing the obstacles to the realization of that vision. In this regard, the political parties need to ensure that their flag bearers must reflect the 3C’s: Competence, Capacity and Character. 

30.   When our political parties succeed in meeting these expectations of Nigerians in a fair and competitive process and produce leader who by words and deeds, is able to convince a large enough section of the Nigerian elites and the wider public about a vision for a greater tomorrow, then Nigeria will truly be on the way to national greatness. While our experiences especially in the recent past have been disappointing; today, we have every reason to believe that the future is likely to be better. Like never before, Nigerians have recognised the power of PVC’s to bring about change.   

31.   The government on their part must empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free and fair election in 2019 and beyond. We must give our support while insisting on a permanent end to impunity and zero-tolerance for thuggery and manipulation of elections. Elections 2019 in Nigeria must be the game-changer. We all must pledge for peace conduct and credible outcome of the 2019 Elections. It is my strong belief that by saving democracy, we would be saving Nigeria and by saving Nigeria we would be saving Africa because of the demonstration effect of enthroning good democratic principles in Nigeria and for the continent as a whole. It is often said with slight exaggeration that wherever Africa is going, Nigeria will get there first. Hence, it is important that Nigeria leads in the right direction.   

Summing UpRecommendations

32.    The Construction of Positive Narratives: Support should be provided for creative writers in Nollywood, Kannywood, radio and television to create new narratives showing how the interaction between the two groups could be peaceful and mutually beneficial. Above all, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), as an institution with presence across the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the country, should provide these critical services.

33.  Good governance in political, economic and corporate spheres;  Now is the time to build strong governance structures and institutions and for the Government to articulate national strategies for bridging the gap in the  socio-economic development in the context of the Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs), which were unanimously adopted by the United Nations at its last General Assembly especially goal 16 which emphasizes peace, inclusion and building of national institutions.  And now is the time for those in power to embark on strategic communication with the elite and people of Nigeria as a whole in this regard. 

34.   Inclusivity:  Where citizens feel included and come to understand that their voices count on an everyday basis, standards of governance are improved and the political culture benefits through improvements that ensue in the conduct of politicians. Inclusivity also contributes to the processes of nation and state-building which remain unfinished parts of the national agenda. It is within our grasp as a nation and a people to turn the corner. We must find the will to call a stop to all the factors that have hampered our progress to date.

35.     Peacebuilding; It is difficult to exaggerate the fact that Nigeria needs intensified efforts at peacebuilding in various parts of the country. Hence, public policy must respond to and apply effective peacebuilding strategies to existing and emerging areas of crises in the country. An effective peacebuilding strategy is one that is not only holistic but carefully targeted in addressing structural causes of conflict and fragility as well as non-military threats. There is still an unfinished peacebuilding agenda in the Niger Delta that ranges from repair of environmental degradation to economic revitalization of many of the communities in order to provide assured means of livelihood for the people. Meanwhile, in the North-East, as military victory over Boko Haram accelerates, it is not too early to start contemplating the nature and scope of the peacebuilding efforts that might be required. Consensus is evolving that peacebuilding efforts in the North-East must entail three components; de-radicalization of the youth through training and employment creation; supporting the re-integration of internally displaced persons; and undertaking the reconstruction and development of the conflict-affected areas.  There was a consensus in the National Conference, at least in principle, on the need to make appropriate budgetary provision available for the 3Rs in that region of Nigeria.

36.     Addressing youth’s unemployment: Furthermore, youth unemployment has to be tackled head-on so that extremist groups would not be able to recruit from a pool of unemployed youths for violent extremist actions. In a country with over 10 million unemployed (graduate) youths, it is not out of place to observe youths getting involved in several social vices, taking up arms and being restive in different parts of the country.   

37. Promoting issues based politics not the easy recourse to ethnic/religious sentiments.

Conclusion

38.    Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, perhaps more than at any other time in Nigeria, this is a defining moment in our journey for national unity, national integration and national development. In the past, against all odds, we have been able to overcome similar challenges we faced as a country. As the 2019 elections draw near, we must commit to making it peaceful, freer and fairer. The broadcasting corporation and indeed all of us have a big role to play in bringing this about so that the forthcoming 2019 elections in Nigeria must be the game-changer.  It is in our individual and collective interest to do so. We cannot, and must not let our expressed differences along ethnic, religious or cultural lines define us. Instead, our diversity should and must form the basis for our vibrancy, rejuvenation and unity as a nation so that we can achieve the goal enshrined in the famous motto E Pluribus Unum – ‘From Many, One’! 

Thank you for listening

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