Former Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has said that Nigerians can build a strong nation despite their differences.
Abdullahi stated this while delivering the Keynote address at the maiden annual University of Lagos Alumni Colloquium.
Abdullahi who spoke on the theme, ‘Is Nigeria Worth Saving?’ argued that while Nigeria may have been imposed on us as a result of the amalgamation of the North and South, same was the situation of many other countries of the world that have gone on to build a strong nation despite their differences.
He noted that, as against popular notion, it is not the British that introduced Nigeria’s constituent parts to themselves, adding that the constituent parts have always interacted long before the British arrived.
The challenge, according to him, is that Nigeria has failed to take deliberate steps to build a real nation out of the colonial legacy. This is why “our notion of Nigeria must derive from a deep historical consciousness that fuels an equally deep desire to deliberately build a country out of what providence has entrusted on us.”
The former Minister observed that the work of nation building is never done, and that all nations are a work in progress, adding that some of the countries with the presumed perfection, including the United States and United Kingdom, continue to speak about a more perfect union.
In his words, “Nations and empires take years to build. The lifespan of a nation cannot be reduced to human biological limits, 60 years may be a long time in the life of a man, but it is nothing in the life of a nation.
“When I say Nigeria has time to become a nation, it is not intended as an excuse for abdication of duty, but a call for everyone to do something and lay a strong foundation for the coming generation to build upon. We must rise above the pains of our present condition and ask ourselves what role we have to play.”
Abdullahi noted that in his study of history, nothing suggests that we should abandon the Nigeria that is possible, even in the face of daunting and sometimes intractable challenges.
He concluded that Nigeria is to the black race, what the United States is to the white race, China to the yellow race and India to the brown race. According to him, “to give up on building this Nigeria is therefore to betray our destiny. Nigeria, which is home to the largest number of black people on earth, is a country that is worth building and worth saving.”