Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said that Nigeria’s founding fathers who won independence should take the blame for doing a poor job at nation-building.
In his remarks at a national dialogue and public presentation of 21 books in honour of Prof. Udenta Udenta, as part of activities to mark his 60th birthday in Abuja yesterday, September 5, Jonathan stated that Nigerian founding fathers paid greater emphasis on ethnic and identity politics at the expense of building Nigeria into a cohesive nation.
The former President said;
“Have we been able to convince ourselves whether we are a state or a nation? If we are a country and a state, how do we become a nation?
“I am not blaming our founding fathers but they failed to integrate us into a proper nation. They operated as individuals and so on. Of course, if you have read some of the comments of our former leaders, someone like (Obafemi) Awolowo made it very clear that there was no nation called Nigeria. That it is a geographical entity, it is a country, it is a state, it has laws but there is no nation.
“The country was so polarized especially during the early political party formation and the parties were regional parties. There was no sense of commitment to integrate Nigeria into an entity that you can say yes, this is a nation with core values, common philosophy and people will be patriotic to that nation.
“Most of the parties that time belonged to regions and there were no alliances for the purpose of ruling the country.
“When I compare Nigeria with a country like Tanzania, I feel that Julius Nyerere made his vision clear to make Tanzania a nation. They have different tribes, maybe not as many as Nigeria but one nation was at the height of his thoughts.”