Issues militating against Nigeria’s quest for nationhood are still around ten years since concerns were first raised about such problems at the first Trust Annual Dialogue, chairman of Media Trust Limited Malam Kabiru Yusuf said in Abuja yesterday. He spoke in a welcome address at the 10th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “Nation building: Challenges and reality” at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Yusuf recalled that the first dialogue which addressed the theme ‘The Nigerian question: the way forward’ had highlighted major problems confronting the country but said sadly, many of the issues have not gone away. He said, “Since 1999, with return to party politics, these doubts about the future of the country have become common in the media and among opposition politicians. Some of these debates, though loud, are healthy and Daily Trust has done its bit in giving a platform for these exchanges.
“We have gone further by starting an annual Daily Trust dialogue where leaders from various fields are invited to analyse these issues and offer solutions. This is our tenth dialogue and I don’t think many of you will be surprised that our concerns of a decade ago are still with us today.” He said problems such as poor governance, crumbling infrastructure and dearth of good leadership have continued to stare the nation in the face despite the many efforts made to address them.
Malam Kabiru Yusuf said Media Trust Limited introduced the dialogue series as part of its contribution to nation building and has invited notable persons including five former Nigerian heads of state and presidents as well as other notable statesmen and women from across Africa, such as Mrs Winnie Mandela, President Jerry Rawlings Dr. Mo Ibrahim to offer suggestions on nation building.
He said this year’s theme which centers on “Nation building: Challenges and reality” is part of the efforts towards achieving that goal, more so as Nigeria is on the verge of celebrating 100 years of existence when the Northern and Southern protectorates were brought together to form one country. He also said Nigeria has every reason to celebrate as it has come a long way after fighting a civil war, gone through military rule and is now grappling with democracy.
Yusuf said the choice of the chairman for this year’s dialogue was due to the need to have a neutral and no nonsense person and that it settled for Mr. Festus Mogae because there is no one more suitable than the former Botswana President who he described as “blunt and indifferent to power.”
He said the life of Mogae who quit the stage after serving the two terms constitutionally allowed, should serve as an education to Nigerian leaders who usually overstay their welcome and when forced to leave, move to hilltop mansions and continue to breathe down on the nation. “Someone told me Mr. Mogae has retired into an ordinary house inside a golf estate. He is a living testimony that there is after all, life after the presidential villa,” he said.