The Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja, Prof. Michael Adikwu, has decried what he termed the widening gap between the political leaders in many African countries and the people, saying it is disheartening.
Adikwu made this known, Sunday, during the 13th Federal Government College, Jos Old Students Association (FGC-JOSA)’s National Convention and Annual General Meeting in Abuja.
The don, who delivered a lecture on the theme: “Peace and Unity for Sustainable Development in Nigeria,” attributed the rising insecurity and disunity in the country to absence of social justice.
“In many parts of the world, wealth and material distribution do not follow any laid down principles.
“Those who already have and their descendants seem to have access to various things of life such as good schools, good drinking water, etc; while others feel neglected.
“Unity, peace, human security, good governance and economic growth are interrelated.
“One of the major aspects of good governance that must be looked at critically is the relationship between the ‘governors’ and the governed.
“In many African countries for instance, the leaders are too ‘distant’ from the governed,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor, who is also an alumnus of the FGC Jos, said it was disturbing that “many leaders today do not even know the need of their people.”
“When a leader knows the need of his people, he can bring in an economic change that can trigger political changes and vice versa.
”For now, in Nigeria, one can argue that this could be the reasons some people are resistant to promote any economic change as they are comfortable with the current political climate that gives them dominance over the people,” he said.
According to him, for good governance, all strata of society, be it ethnic, religious, the poor, illiterate, etc, should be “equidistant” to the leaders.
He noted that productivity, growth, structural transformation and improvements in the distribution of income would become easier “when government is close to the people’’.
He also attributed the insecurity in the country to poverty level.
”In many parts of the world, people live under one dollar per day.
”Such people are just waiting for anything that will trigger already bottled-up discontent. This is one of the major causes of looting and thus encourages street riot,” he said.
He said that to guarantee the protection of lives and property, peace studies should be included in school curricula for all levels of education.
The don, who also advocated peace club formation in schools, said studies on how to strengthen the idea of Unity Colleges, which was to foster unity, should be carried out.
The National President of FGC-JOSA, Mr Michael Magaji, said the theme of the occasion was driven by the big challenge of peace and unity in the country.
”We believe this tribe of Nigerians called Unity School Old Students are the only Nigerians who came and saw peace and unity at the very early age of their lives.
”Today, it is a big challenge in Nigeria when you talk about peace and unity.
”We never knew conflict; we were always together.
”I didn’t know where my class mate was from, I didn’t know his religion, I didn’t know his tribe. We never bothered about these.
“We need to come back to the society and I say we should be moulders of peace, we should be moulders of unity because we have experienced it,” he said.
He said that there was the need to advocate for peace and sustainable development.
Magajii, who said every year, the members of the association meet to deliberate on issues relating to its alma mater and on how to tackle the education sector challenges in the country, adding, there could not be development without education.
The Principal of the school, Mrs Victoria Pam, said there should be reasonable social, political and economic justice for all the citizens and social cleavages in the country to achieve sustainable national development.
Pam, who was unhappy over the declining education standard in the country, said all hands must be on deck toward reviving the sector.
The Chiroma of Gulumbe in Gwandu Emirate, Kebbi State, Alhaji Mohammad Ahmad, said alumni associations in the country could assist in education development by regrouping, reuniting and ensuring that they contributed their own quota in the sector.
According to Ahmad, who is also an old student of the school, if there is any shortfall that the government cannot meet in one’s alma mater, the alumni association can help by contributing its quota either financial, morally or educationally.