Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has called on leaders and people of Nigeria to imbibe the virtues of truth, forgiveness and transparency, which he said are panacea to the challenges of rapid development and national unity.
Speaking as the guest lecturer at the 3rd Convocation lecture of the Gregory University Uturu, Abia State, Governor Ikpeazu stressed that there cannot be true national unity and development unless the leaders and people of Nigeria speak the truth about their past and consequently forgive each other.
Citing the post-genocide experience of Rwanda to buttress his position, Governor Ikpeazu said that it was easy for Rwanda to become what she is today because the people and leaders of that country spoke the truth of their genocide experience to each other, and forgave themselves thereby paving the way for national unity and development of the country.
His words: “It will be difficult for us as country to achieve national unity and development if we shy away from speaking the truth about our past as a basis to seek forgiveness from each other.
“Rwanda is what it is today because after their genocide experience, they spoke the truth about the ugly event and forgave themselves, that is why Rwanda is today, one of the leading lights in Africa.
“Today Rwanda turned 360 degrees from a country that was nearly wiped away by war in 1994 to an emerging economic power house and success story in 2018.
“Rwanda had a problem, they solved their problem by identifying the cause of the problem, identified everyone’s role in the problem, ensured everyone accepted their roles in the problem and took steps to ensure that the problem never occurs again.
“As leaders in Nigeria, we must tell ourselves the truth about our past, including the civil war. We have a problem as a nation, and this problem is bedeviling our development and unity as a country. Therefore, we must identify this problem, it’s remote causes and those behind it, and make everyone to accept their role in the problem.
“That way, we can begin to tell ourselves the truth about the problem, seek for forgiveness and also ensure it does not happen again. That way, we will achieve national unity and wholistic development as a country.
“Again, leaders must see their role as a duty that must be carried out in the interest of all and eschew greed for power and material acquisitions because corruption in our system is as a result of greed by those in power which in turn is also aided by those who are not in power.”
Speaking further on the need for transparent leadership in Nigeria, Governor Ikpeazu said that leaders must take responsibility for their actions as a sure way to lay solid foundation for development.
He cautioned against the society’s attitude of celebrating people of questionable character as heroes.
“Unfortunately, what we have today is a situation where people of questionable wealth and character are celebrated as the heroes of the community and role models to the young ones. Any society that celebrates material acquisition without questioning the process of the acquisition is rolling down a steep slope.”