President, African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has lent his voice to the contentious topic on the need to restructure the nation. The AfDB president made his views known, yesterday, in a lecture, titled, ‘Nigeria, a country of many nations: A quest for national integration’, during the 80th birthday celebration of General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.
He said: “As a way out of the economic quagmire, much has been said about the need for restructuring. I know the discussions are often emotive. Restructuring should not be driven by political expediency, but by economic and financial viability – the necessary and sufficient conditions for political viability.” Adesina bemoaned a situation where, after one year, participants in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme are often unable to gain employment in governments where they served, because they are not indigenes of those states.
He said: “That in itself, is an irony! The young graduates are often strangers in their own country. A country they pledged to serve. Opportunity is denied just because they were not born in those states! Even if they were born in those states, they are told to return to the states of their origin.” He also lamented a situation where Nigerians, regardless of how long they have resided in any place, cannot run for political offices in those states or locations, just because they were not born there.
“State governments, therefore, largely reflect nativism not residency, which further sends a message to non-indigenes that they do not belong. Over time, this has created greater insularism, splintering, a lack of inclusiveness, the promotion of ethnic and religious chauvinism, instead of promoting national cohesion, trust and inclusiveness.” He urged governments to be open to representation based on nationality, not on ethnicity, and build a society of mutual trust, where diversity is well managed.
“Unless someone can live in any part of the nation, work within the laws, and not be discriminated against, based on religion, race or culture, or place of birth, they will always be strangers in the nation. For Nigeria to be all that it can be, the youth must be all they can be. The future of Nigeria depends on what it does today with its dynamic youth population. This demographic advantage must be turned into a first-rate and well-trained workforce, for Nigeria, for the region and for the world.”
He stated that AfDB is exploring the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks — financial institutions for young people, run by first-rate young bankers and financial experts, to drive youth-wealth creation. “Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty. There cannot and should not be a Nigeria for the rich, and another Nigeria for the poor. We must build one Nigeria, where every citizen has the right to a decent life,” he said.
He said it’s time to create a movement of hope from the hardworking street vendors and small businesses to the largest business conglomerates. “We must create a movement of hope. Hope for a better Nigeria! Not a Muslim Nigeria. Not a Christian Nigeria. Not Eastern Nigeria, South-South Nigeria, Western Nigeria, or Northern Nigeria. But one Nigeria – a New Nigeria, created by a renewed commitment to use our diversity as our strength.”
He said further that it is time for Nigeria to embrace national cohesion and shun ethnic nationalities. He also called for change in economic, financial and business opportunities for young Nigerians, saying the old must give way to the new and there must be corresponding generational transfer of power and wealth to the youth. He said the popular folk saying should no longer be “the young shall grow,” it should, rather, be: “The young have arrived.” He noted that it is time Nigerians managed diversity for collective good, saying that by this, the country will forge incredible economic growth.