From Amos Okioma
The Federal Government must redouble its effort to ensure the national integration of Nigerians, in order to curb some of the challenges faced by the country, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson has said.
He spoke in Yenagoa, while delivering a keynote address at the 8thExecutive Committee of the Supreme Council for Non-Indigenes in the state and the investiture of the organization’s patrons.
The Commissioner told the multicultural audience that, the integration of all Nigerians will promote peace and secure the well-being of the people and commended the leadership of the Supreme Council for Non-Indigenes for their efforts at contributing to the social discourse that will bring about development and peace.
Iworiso-Markson, however, noted that, integration may not always bring peace, as the problem with Nigeria today is not, because of the absence of peace, but lack of justice.
He said: “Justice is key to achieving, ensuring and perpetuating peace in the country. When we seek peace and exclude justice from the picture we are just paying lip service to achieving peace. To put it graphically, each time justice is missing in the foundation of our search for peace, it will be as if we place the cart before the horse. Certainly, we won’t be able to achieve any serious movement towards our objective.
“What is missing in the country today is justice. One precursor that will bring justice and ultimately guarantee peace is restructuring. The time has come to restructure the country, in line with advanced federations of the world.
I do not want to propose anything different from what our leaders in the South-South and our governors, especially my boss, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson have proposed.
“Suffice to say that, President Muhamadu Buhari must quickly set machinery in motion to ensure that, the issue of restructuring is addressed once and for all. Incidentally, his party, the APC has also agreed that restructuring will be doing justice to every sector and region of our country. For the avoidance of doubt, the restructuring that the South-South envisaged will include fiscal federalism.
“The issue of peace in the crisis-ridden North Central Nigeria, where suspected Fulani Herdsmen have been accused of complicity in mass murder and expansionist tendencies, and myriad of other challenges facing the country could be resolved faster if everybody is served justice. Justice, to me, is one drug that cures all”.
Iworiso-Markson added that, Bayelsa state has enjoyed sustained peace in the last six years, because of the commitment of the government to ensure peace and social justice to all, regardless of creed and tongue.
According to him, the government of Governor Seriake Dickson is conscious that, lack of accountability, transparency and commitment to social welfare of the citizenry are also variants of injustice.
While thanking the Non-Indigenes for their role in boosting the local economy and living in peace with the natives, the Bayelsa Government Spokesman assured them of a more safer and conducive state for them to freely live in and do their businesses.
The Guest Lecturer, Raimi Lasisi, who spoke on the topic: Peace Building and National Integration in a Pluralistic Nigeria: The role of non-indigenes said, the threat to social integration is posed by the actions and inactions of individuals and select groups, who continue to provide incentives for violence, conflict and war in many parts of the country.
“Needless to say that, when violent conflicts persist, the drums of disintegration become easily echoed in any society and this is particularly true of pluralistic or multi-ethnic countries like Nigeria. Globally, there are several indicators that threaten peace and integration of nations. These indices all revolve around the balance of power issue which determines the level with which a nation lords over another especially for political, economic and social (ethnic and religious) reasons.
“However, amongst the most pressing of these indicators that threaten peace building and social integration; negative ethnicity as well as religious extremism are the most vicious” Lasisi said.
In their separate remarks, the Chairman of the occasion and Special Adviser to the Governor on non-Indigene, Barr. Alex Dumbo and the President Supreme Council for Non-Indigene, Bayelsa State chapter, Alhaji Ade Bakare thanked the government for given them a sense of belonging in the state.
They said, about nine non-indigenes in the state are political appointees of the government, a development that is novel and a clear indication of their acceptability by the government.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, who was represented by the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bub raye Dakolo, commended the non-indigenes for their contributions to the development of the state.
On his part, a lawmaker in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Parkinson Macmanuel appreciated the group for finding him worthy as one of their patrons and promised to continue to support them.