Amid herdsmen killings, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has urged Nigerians and governments to look beyond prejudice and hatred.
He said this as guest lecturer at the University of Lagos Convocation Lecture titled Inclusion: Path to a new nation.
As panacea, Ambode urged Nigerians to jettison ethnic pettiness and religious bigotry and entrench ture federalism.
“Resolving the problems regarding federalism and the herdsman’s, as with so many other problems, requires us to look beyond prejudice and hatred.
“Exploiting fear and bias is easy and sings well in the short-run. Over the longer-term, it is a bitter cup that cures nothing but ferments greater hatred and larger problems.
“Unless we join in concerted efforts to help each other toward a better, more, united Nigeria, we all shall fail in our different ways. “The rest of the world sees us as black, African and Nigerian and will deal with all of us in the same manner.
“That larger world cares little about the internal divisions we see as so profound. In this context, we are in the same boat and share the same fate.”
Turning to the graduates, the governor said: “I ask that you refuse the old ways of ethnic, religious and regional bias that have plagued our national politics for so long.”
Ambode also charged them to assume the active stage of human affairs “where what you learn must be put to use and practice. Employ what you have gained here for the good of Nigeria and hold true to the mindset that our ethnic and religious differences makes no one a lesser or better person.”
Speaking on the achievements, of his administration, Ambode assured that he would make the state fully integrated so that one part is well connected to any other.
He reiterated the need for Nigeria to implement the federal system as originally intended, and said that doing so remains the right path to rescue the country from the doldrums and myriad challenges inhibiting growth and development.
“Nigeria’s present political structure is seriously affecting the efficiency of both state and local governments,” and added that for states to give optimal service to their citizens, the principle of inclusion, as practised in Lagos, where anybody, irrespective of race or creed can rise to the pinnacle of their chosen career, first needs to be applied to the division of power between the federal and state governments.
“There recently has been clamour for devolution of power and true federalism. While much of this talk is good intentioned, I believe it misses the crucial point.
“The linchpin of good governance is not found in the system deployed but in the quality of its administration.
“We must implement the federal system as it was intended to be. Therefore, too much power has resided in the national government. This has been to the detriment of the authority and efficiency of both state and Local governments.
“This has caused a governance vacuum of sorts. The Federal Government is burdened with tasks beyond the reach of its best competencies.
“The states and local government are dissuaded from treating many matters of a local nature that are better left in their hands due to their greater knowledge of local conditions.
“We need to shift some functions/responsibilities from the national government to place more of it in the hands of the states. This is how we give federalism the best chance to work.
“Until we do this, calls to abandon the current system serve not to fix the underlying problem,” the governor said.