Calls for Nigeria’s Division Will Fail – US Ambassador
Amid growing calls for secession, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, says Nigerians who preach unity will overcome those calling for secession.
Symington said this at an event held in commemoration of the 241st anniversary of American independence in Abuja on Thursday.
The US envoy said his country and Nigeria shared many similarities, most notably, diversity.
He said the first American President, George Washington, had warned that those who sought to weaken a country would always seek to start by causing disunity.
Symington said like America, Nigeria would remain a united country because of its determined people and leaders.
He said, “Every time we have been challenged, we overcame danger because we had visionary leaders committed to union and citizens committed to ensuring justice for all.
“Today, Nigeria is fortunate to have such leaders and citizens. Together they are dedicated to keeping Nigeria united and just and to ensuring every Nigerian is heard and taken into account and treated fairly.
“Together, those Nigerians will overpower any call to divide this nation. Thanks to them, thanks to you, the lamp of unity and justice burns brightly both in our nations tonight. And sight of a united Nigeria’s light lifts Africa and with it, the world.”
The US envoy said Nigeria’s diversity was an inspiration to many countries.
He said just like the US, Nigeria’s plurality was a source of strength.
Symington added, “Wherever I meet a Nigerian, I ask ‘what do you like the most about your country?’ I like our diversity, our resilience, our energy, our warmth, our spirit, our food.’
“Just like the United States, Nigeria is a wonderfully diverse nation whose differences and diversity are sources of strength and reason for pride.”
In a similar vein, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo and a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, have said that Nigeria can learn vital lessons from the US as one of the long-lasting democracies in the world.
They spoke at an event put together by the Public Affairs Section of the United States Consul General in Lagos to mark America’s 241st Independence Anniversary.
Soludo said, “The point to be made is that America’s progress is clearly a product of dialogue and discussion because there is no perfect democracy in the world and America does not claim to be perfect. However, they discuss and get things done through dialogue and that is why they have constantly remained a success story and reference point on the world stage.’’
Soludo, who harped on the need for Nigeria to do the same, added, “What we expect in the long run in Nigeria is that we would be the largest black nation on earth because one out of six blacks in the world is a Nigerian. Therefore, we can become the third largest country by 2050 and probably one of the top 10 largest economies in the world as well. However, it will take the sweat of the current almost 200 million Nigerians to make it work and become a reality.
We have got to dialogue and work hard. In a democracy, you don’t shoot, you talk. I think we would continue to talk and I firmly believe that if we sincerely do that, we would make perfect progress as a country just like America has done.”
Obanikoro also commended the US for consolidating on its democracy over the years, having gained independence in 1776 and urged Nigeria to take a cue from the American example.
On his part, the US Consul General in Lagos, Gen. F. John Bray, re-echoed the fact that the yearly event was in celebration of the American dream and had been made possible by the good works and contributions of the country’s founding fathers.
Dignitaries at the event included, Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; a former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former governors of Delta State, James Ibori, and Emmanuel Uduaghan respectively; Jimi Agbaje as well as former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, and wife, Onari; and the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman.
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