Lawan disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday at a Public Presentation of a book titled: ‘ Foundation of Nigeria’s Unity’ authored by Prof. Sandy Onor, representative of Cross Rivers Central Senatorial District.
He warned that not doing so would decimate their patriotism and erect walls of division among the country’s regions, as well as further inflame calls for secession.
He said it behooved on leaders to lead in such a manner that the institutions and the citizens would feel their stewardship.
Lawan said that the unity of the country was a collective responsibility, hence must be created and sustained by all.
” Our founding fathers know they were not geographically separated but have differences in other areas, yet they decided to come together.
” They tried so hard to ensure unity in diversity.
The challenge is not ours as they had done their best but now it is the challenge of leaders of Nigeria.
” When leaders decide to lead very well, religion, ethnicity, geographical location will not matter but what will matter is unity, security and this is doable.
” This book is telling us that we have to go back and discover where we missed the road and retrace our steps.
” With all the challenges we have, there are still people trying so hard to create and sustain the unity of this country and we must all work together to make Nigeria a united country,” he said.
He commended the author saying that the book wouldn’t have come at a better time than now when the country is moving towards another general elections.
Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi, also called for the establishment of a National Integration Commission to strengthen the unity of the country.
Agabi, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said, “We are one people, God gave dominion to man which is what we have as a country.
Nigeria is not an artificial nation.
We are praying for good leaders but let us not despair as we will get there.
” We are one people and this must begin by respecting our constitution.
Though, the constitution may not be the best but it can be reviewed.
” We need a national integration commission for us to integrate the country and live in unity as a people,” he said.
Also, the Governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike, said that the country would not get things right until citizens begin to appreciate equity, fairness and justice.
Wike, who was represented by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, said it was important to pay serious attention to the federal system.
” In the beginning, there was no Nigeria, we had different ethnic groups and empires but we were brought together to become one Nigeria.
” Until we begin to make that Nigeria state on the premise of equity and fairness, then we can never get it right,” he said.
Meanwhile, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Women Leader, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe, commended the author for dedicating a chapter of the book to women.
Effah-Attoe called on Nigerian leaders to address the issue of national integration by looking at the past and building the future.
The book Reviewer, Prof. Christopher Ogbogbo, who is the Director of Research, Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja, said that the fundamental purpose of the book was to bring into focus the unity of the country.
Ogbogbo said that the 10 chapters and 333 pages of the book examine the problems of political elites and the need to stay together in spite of options in differences.
” Unity is a deliberate efforts of deliberate people and it requires unwavering commitment of people.
” The book focuses on the role of women as strong pillars prepared to forge unity and this can only happen when there is inclusiveness.
” The unity of Nigeria is critical and we must understand this through our history by learning lessons to forge ahead.
Hence, we should not allow individual interest to override collective interest,’ he said.
Ogbogbo called on Nigerians to make judicious use of their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to have a better and new Nigeria they crave for.
However, the author, Prof. Sandy Onor, said that it was wrong for anyone to describe Nigeria as an artificial nation.
Onor said, “You may be a Muslim, you may be a Christian or an Africanist, what matters is that we worship one God and so we must learn to love ourselves.
” There are good Nigerians everywhere, in the north, south.
We must ensure we live together in love and unity,” he said.