“Unfinished Greatness: Envisioning A New Nigeria,” Buhari, Gowon, Governors, Others Hail Fayemi  At Book Presentation 

President Mohammadu Buhari on Thursday urged Nigerian leaders to endeavour to share their experiences and vision through published work and regularly engage in discussions that centre round the future and greatness of the country.

President Buhari stated this at the public presentation of  “Unfinished Greatness: Envisioning a New Nigeria”, written by Ekiti State Governor and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

The President who hailed Dr Fayemi’s as an intellectual in government, said the new book should serve as a pointer to achieving the vision of the founding fathers of Nigeria which he described as ”work in progress”.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, President Buhari was of the view that “the more people of vision write about the future of a society the better it will be for that society.” 

The event which was chaired by a former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, also featured a keynote address by a former Director for Africa and West Asia, International IDEA, Prof Adebayo Olukoshi, and a panel discussion, on envisioning a new Nigeria by a member of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr Waziri Adio; Executive Director, Enough is Enough, Nigeria, Yemi Adamolekun; Executive Director, Dinidari Africa, Ndi Kato and Founder/ Executive Director, Connected Development, Hamzat Bala. 

The events had in attendance, Governors Babajide Sanwolu (Lagos); Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq (Kwara); Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), while the Governors of Akwa Ibom and Edo were represented by their deputies. 

General Gowon who also hailed Dr Fayemi for his valuable contributions to national discourse, said Nigeria needed more leaders with vision, vigour and good understanding of the key issues in the country.

The former Head of State who restated his belief in the greatness and oneness of the country, urged Nigerians to show more commitment to peace and progress of the country, said the Nigeria Prays which he leads was one of the ways the greatness of the country can be established.

In his keynote address, the Guest Speaker and former Director for Africa and West Asia, International IDEA, Prof Adebayo Olukoshi raised issues that bothers on the intrinsic relationship that should exist between the institutions of the country and its leadership.

Prof Olukoshi stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to transcend above narrow and parochial differences and find common things that bind the people of the country together to enable them forge a new consensus around dignity.

According to the renowned Political Scientist, while character can help build a nation, dignity would enhance its transformation, adding that this must begin from the journey of self-respect.

The Book Reviewer, Dr Joe Abah, said the author asserted that whatever defects Nigeria currently has can be corrected without having to collapse the whole structure and offered his perspective on why Nigeria has not fulfilled its undeniable potential. He pointed out that the theme of restructuring reverberates throughout the book, adding while many have taken the term ‘restructuring’ to mean different things, Fayemi simply describes it as a way to reimagine our country to make it work effectively for everyone.

“As Dr Fayemi said, we can correct the defects we have without having to collapse the whole structure. However, the need to reformulate our union will not go away and must be addressed if we are to move forward. Governance problems are unique, in that, left unattended, they only ever get worse, never better.

“To examine the act by which Nigeria becomes a nation, it is my opinion that we need to set in motion a process that culminates in producing for us a totally new Constitution. That process must start with a patriotic dialogue about the kind of country we want. Although our current Constitution is said to have been modelled on the Constitution of the United States of America, the American Constitution has a certain endogenous legitimacy that the 1999 Constitution lacks: it was not handed to the American people by a military regime. The opening lines of the U.S. Constitution says: “We the people of the United State, in order to form a more perfect union… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” It is imperative that Nigerians have an honest dialogue that leads to a more perfect union. The fact that “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” did not actually “give to ourselves the Constitution” constitutes a fatal flaw that cannot be cured by constitutional amendment. We need a new Constitution.

“Overall, the book makes a compelling argument for the need to restructure Nigeria, and for decentralisation and devolution predicated on an honest national dialogue. It also highlights the imperative of intelligent, people-focused leadership anchored on personal example. It is unapologetically optimistic about the future of Nigeria as a coherent entity founded on unity, freedom, justice and equity. The book is a useful contribution to the debate about the future of Nigeria at a time when many Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria are wondering whether and when Nigeria would ever fulfil its undoubted potential. Unlike many publications that focus only on setting out the problems, Fayemi’s book goes further to outline practical suggestions for tackling some of the thorniest issues in our polity today.”, Dr Abah wrote.

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