Former presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has called for unity and tolerance, urging Nigerians to shun religious and ethnic divisions.
The former Anambra State Governor gave the charge on his official X account to mark the 2023 International Human Solidarity Day.
The International Human Solidarity Day, marked on December 20, focuses on celebrating unity in diversity, reminding national governments about their commitments to international agreements and fostering solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including poverty eradication.
“Today, we join the global community in celebrating the International Human Solidarity Day, which is dedicated to strengthening our global unity in diversity and to help in fostering international cooperation on the eradication of hunger and disease at the global level,” Obi said.
In the lengthy address, Obi maintained that the crises of hunger, poverty, and inequality were not peculiar to any ethnicity or religion but were troubles that afflicted the country in general. Thus, he enjoined all political leaders and citizens to continue to embrace social justice and social equality in order to form a formidable front against the numerous challenges that confront the nation.
“On the national level, Nigerians need to solemnly remind ourselves of the need to tear down the walls of ethnic and religious divisions that have continued to divide us and instead emphasize our unity and leverage our diverse and rich cultural and ethnic identities and strengths to advance our national progress.
“Unfortunately, we have, today, as a nation, become more sharply divided than ever. Our dear nation is more polarised today than it has ever been, fueled by overwhelming tribal and religious sentiments among the people, resulting in the unwillingness of Nigerians to cooperate and work together towards achieving national growth and development.
Obi blamed the widening polarisation on the insensitivity of politicians and the country’s unethical democracy, culling statistics from the Africa Polling Institute report, in which Nigeria’s Social Cohesion Index (NSCI) stood at 39.6%, a monumental shortfall from the 50% benchmark.
“I, therefore, wish to use this occasion to remind Nigerians that the problems of hunger, poverty, and inequality are not specific to a particular ethnicity or religion but cut across the nation. Thus, the task ahead of us, as political leaders and as citizens, is to continue to beat the drums of unity, social justice, and social equality to form one united front that will stand in solidarity against the many challenges that confront our nation.
“That will mark the beginning of our journey to a new and united Nigeria, which remains our dream and overriding purpose.”