Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has said that the country is at the crossroads and that there is the need for all leaders from the six geopolitical zone to come together and discuss the unity of the country.
Speaking at the 60th birthday celebration of Governor el-Rufai, in Kaduna on Monday, Lawan noted that leaders, as well as stakeholders from all parts of the country, need to come together.
According to him, what we need in the country today is not building infrastructures alone but also, the capacity building of the people.
“Nothing has been done to address the multifaceted problems bedevilling the country like the issue of out-of-school children, to me, this is a time bomb.
“Those of us in leadership positions, we know what we need to do. We need to have courage and commitment and sustain them.
“Nigeria is at a crossroad, and more than ever now require the unity of the people. The issues bedevilling Nigeria today requires that all leaders, at all levels and in all parts of Nigeria need to come together.
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“What we need is not only infrastructure, but we need the capacity building of the people. In this part of the country, this report has been consistent and apparently, little has been done to reverse it,” the Senate President lamented.
Lawan, therefore, called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce policies that would return the over thirteen million out-of-school children back to school, so as to curb the rising number of illiteracy in Nigeria.
The Senate President said the report of 13 million or 14 million out-of-school children, mostly in the north, is dangerous for the country.
“Until we are able to reverse this kind of trend, no matter how much infrastructure you put, you will still have that social angle that will actually lead to serious insecurity, the kind that we experience or even worse, God forbid. So, we need to look at the people.”
Earlier, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, paid tribute to Governor Nasir, saying that, Nigeria needs leaders like him.
He described the Governor as a small-statured man with a massive engine capable of pulling anything to achieve a result.
He, however, said that Nigeria needs leaders like Nasir El-Rufai who will take tough decisions to achieve great results.
While thanking everyone who has been part of his success story, Governor Nasir El-Rufai said the most daring of the decisions he has ever made is selecting a woman and Muslim as running mate.
He explained that the choice of Dr Hadiza Balarabe was made to take religion and ethnicity off the table of religion in Kaduna state.
The Governor lamented that he inherited a state where everything has been religionised and ethnicised.
He said his government is implementing a pragmatic agenda because it wants to solve the problem to make Kaduna a home of pride for every Nigeria.
According to him, “a lot has been said about some the decisions I have taken over the years, what people call daring decisions, let me make a confession today, all the examples of the decisions that I have made that are supposed to be daring and courageous, the most daring one is that, last year, I took a decision to pick a woman, a Muslim as my running mate to contest election in Kaduna State, it was the most daring decision I have taken because, in this state, everything is religionised. If you invite someone to lunch, he would try to put religion connotation to it.
“We are trying to cure our state of that religionisation and ethnicisation and I thought the best way to do it is to take religion off the table of Kaduna State politics. That was why we finally settled for Dr Hadiza Balarabe.
“She confessed to me months after we had won the election that, when I called to inform her I was nominating her to be my running mate, she thought, oh, this man is going to lose election because of me. But, we won. And I say we probably won because of her, not the other way round.
“So, I want to thank our team. We have a very hard-working team in Kaduna. I have been blessed to have hard-working, intelligent people around who do all the work, while I end up taking the credit that I don’t deserve,” he said.