Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has advocated the unity of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and the promotion of a smooth transition from ethnic nationalism to a state where the citizen is the ultimate as the foundation upon which the nation's hope for national development can be anchored.
Akeredolu made this known, during the 2018 Democracy Day celebrations held at the International Culture and Event Centre (The Dome) in Akure, yesterday.
He revealed that the solution to the multifarious problems confronting Nigeria is the unity of all ethnic nationalities in the country.
"This is the foundation upon which our hope for national development can be anchored.
"There is no way Nigeria would be divided if the people living in the country come together in unity.
"I will fight for Nigeria till I die. Let us build one Nigeria together. Our survival as a people depends on collaborative efforts.
"The choice of our being together was made a long time ago by nationalists who preceeded us, but they worked at it. We must hand over a better Nigeria to our children, we owe them that duty," he said.
The Governor added that the day afforded Nigerians the opportunity to assess the journey so far and be reminded of the dogged residence of the people to ensure the enthronment of self rule.
"We are reminded of sacrifices paid by legends like Chief M.K.O Abiola without which we won't be here today.
"Nigerians had reasons to support transition to civil rule. The current actors have a duty to ensure that the deaths were not rendered insignificant by our omissions.
Akeredolu further attributed the challenges in the country to diverse languages which meant a lot.
"If we speak the same language, it means a lot. We are diverse people and that itself should be a sort of strength if there is unity," he said.
Also, Chairman of the event, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, said unity was often referred to in many things associated with the country, like in the national pledge and anthem.
"That tells you how important unity is. Unity, to a country like Nigeria with over 400 ethnic groups, becomes very critical and important.
"Democracy day is to consider the aspect of unity and to answer the question 'Why is it difficult for us, in our 58 years sojourn as a nation, to achieve unity, he said.
Earlier, Guest Speaker of the event, Dr Wale Okediran, in his lecture titled "Nigeria Unity: The Challenges, Prospects And The Way Forward", noted that the problem of ethnicity is common to multi-ethnic societies or countries which can manifest to ethnic misunderstanding and lead to ethnic cleansing.
He said the Nigerian situation shows that the ethnicity factor is a vital and vibrant one which has, and still affects the evolution of the country.
"Like in most other parts of the world, the phenomenon has generated competition, tension and conflict in the inter-group relations in the country.
"While these have sometimes and do seem to threaten national unity and reconciliation, the fact remains that leaders of government and elite of the various ethnic groups have major roles to play in minimizing the negative effects of ethnicity", he said.
Okediran, who is the former National President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) and former member, House of Representatives, said for Nigeria's stability and the achievement of national unity and reconciliation, it is imperative for Nigerians to see themselves as belonging to one indivisible country.
He added that the reign of justice, equity, fairness and respect for the rule of law and the rights of all citizens wil go a long way in guaranteeing true national reconciliation in Nigeria.
"Nigerians have shown that they can accommodate themselves and co-exist, what is therefore required, is a conscious pursuit of the relevant policies and programmes that will foster the bonds of unity in the country and help bring down the barriers to reconciliation often created by ethnicity.
"There is no doubt that there are certain structural imbalances in the current Nigerian state, hence the clamour for restructuring.
"The clamour cannot be wished away and it is imperative that practical and realistic steps should be taken to address causes of the current discontent in the land.
"It is also imperative that national integrative policies, such as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Federal Character Clause, in terms of admission into Federal Unity Schools and universities should be consolidated and expanded, instead of the reyrogressive policy of reducing the catchment area for federal institutions", he stated.
Okediran suggested the adoption of 'quota', a policy he said is akin to the US policy of 'affirmative action' and targeted at addressing the imbalances among groups, especially those identified as marginalized in the society.
"It follows that for the sake of addressing the urgent for ethnic harmony and integration in the country, this policy should be conscientiously pursued.
"Non-ethnic affiliations such as trade unions class and professional affiliations should be encouraged. This latter policy would help to break the boundaries of ethnicity, foster unity and national integration", he said.
The Guest Lecturer however, hinted that justice, fairness and equity would further engender the peoples' trust in the system and minimize the ethnic antagonism that have tended to undermine reconciliation in Nigeria.
"The surest way to achieve this, is through the entrenchment of good governance in the country", he said.
Dignitaries who graced the event include; Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly (ODHA), Rt Hon Bamidele Oleyeloogun, State Chief Judge, Justice Olanrewaju Akeredolu, Secretary to Ondo State Government (SSG), Hon Ifedayo Abegunde, State APC Chairman, Engr Ade Adetimehin, member representing Ondo Central Senatorial District, Senator Tayo Alasoadura and members of the State Executive Council.
Also at the ceremony were; Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Frederick Akinruntan, Chairman of OSOPADEC, Hon Gbenga Edema, Commissioner representing Ondo State in the Public Complaint Commission Board, Chief (Mrs) Cecelia Fayase, Chairman, SUBEB, Princess Oladunni Odu, representative of Ondo State in the Board of NDDC, Hon Lucky Ayedatiwa among numerous others.