By Austin Oyibode
Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State Governor on Thursday called for a stop to biased ethnic patriotism which he observed was militating against the growth of Nigeria as a nation.
In an address he read to commemorate Nigeria’s 55th independence anniversary in Asaba, the Delta State capital, Okowa who called for prayers for Nigerian soldiers who are battling insurgency in some parts of the country, stated that Nigerians should be dedicated to building a country that would be pride of all Nigerians.
According to him, “We are looking towards changes, which we hope will put paid to the divisive and destructive use of ethnicity as a social construct for defining our identity as a people,” restating that “bickering, excessive confrontation and biased ethnic patriotism are not in accordance with the spirit of the current dispensation.”
The Governor who said “our elites and leaders of thought must as of necessity, re-channel their energies towards building a progressive society”, paid glowing tribute to those who fought for Nigeria’s independence.
“October 1, 1960, has become a day etched in the minds and hearts of all Nigerians as evidence and symbol of when Nigeria gained freedom after years of struggle against British colonial rule; Independence Day of any country is a moment of pride and glory and on this special occasion, we pay glowing tributes to freedom fighters like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa and Tony Enahoro among others, who fought selflessly for the freedom of our country and sacrificed their comfort to free their fatherland from the clutches of the British who ruled Nigeria,” he said, adding, “I imagine the best way to celebrate Nigeria’s independence is to pay tributes to Nigeria’s extraordinary men and women in uniform who are battling insurgency to restore peace in the North east.
“As we celebrate, let us pause to remember and pray for our compatriots who as I speak, are in trenches battling insurgents to save our country; we should also spare thoughts for their families and the internally displaced persons in various camps; we need to pray for our President, Mohammadu Buhari, in his push to rid our country of insurgents, who are determined to destabilize our dear nation,” he stated.
Governor Okowa used the occasion to reassure Deltans of his administration’s interest in their welfare, disclosing that there was an increasing investment in not just roads, schools, healthcare facilities and other physical infrastructure but also in youths development through genuine empowerment, asserting, “what should become more important should be the quality and efficiency of the policies and programmes of government.”
While appealing “to all Deltans to rekindle their faith in our unity and peaceful co-existence, we should strive to live as brothers and sisters, because we are by divine intervention, already a people with one destiny,” Governor Okowa assured the people that “government will continually strive to fulfill the desires of our people by diligently and systematically initiating and implementing programmes that will touch the lives of the teeming population of the State through entrenchment of probity, openness and accountability.”