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Leaders must shun ethnic, religious chauvinism- Lumumba

Eminent African scholar, Professor Patrick Lumumba, has urged politicians holding elective offices in Nigeria to emulate the pan-Nigerian spirit of the late former Senate Leader, Dr Olusola Saraki.

Professor Lumumba gave the admonition while delivering a public lecture on Leadership and followership in Africa, at the 10th Anniversary of Olusola Saraki Memorial Lecture held in Abuja.

The event organised by the children and associates of the late politician had the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, as Chairman of the occasion, while former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim was chairman.

Doing a critique of post-colonial Nigeria and Africa, Professor Lumumba expressed concern that successive leaders have fallen short of the expectations of their followers.

The guest lecturer therefore called for concerted efforts to bury the fault lines of religion and ethnic affiliations, to inspire national development.

Leadership is about service, those given the honour to serve are the servants of the people. But Africans have been asking this question since we regained our independence.

“Africa is suffering from a deficit of leadership. Tell me whether Sudan, Somalia, and Cameroun, are stable. Tell me, whether there is peace in Nigeria.

“As long as there isn’t peace in Nigeria, Africa will never be at peace. One in eight Africa is a Nigerian…We won’t attain our greatness as long as people in leadership appeal to the stomach, not the minds of their followers, as long as people are divided along the fault lines of religion and tribe. We have to exorcise the ghost of ethnicity, religion, ignorance and narrow-mindedness.” He said.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, described the late Saraki as a Nigerian patriot who should be emulated by today’s political class.

“He was one that earned the respect of many Nigerians. We appreciate the contribution of Senator Saraki. I also commend the tenacity of the organisers for inviting Professor Lumumba. I am pleased to listen to him. I urge my colleagues to take lessons from this lecture to move Nigeria forward.”

Former Senate President and son of the late former Senate Leader, Senator Bukola Saraki in his remarks said the topic of leadership and followership was chosen to reawaken national consciousness on an issue his late father was passionate about.

”we know that in his lifetime, any matter that concerned any of Oloye’s numerous followers usually touched him personally, passionately, and genuinely. His followers were his life.

They formed the core of his politics and well-being. He never took their loyalty for granted. He believed in the physical, intellectual, spiritual, and material development of his followers. He believed a leader is as good as his followers”, Saraki noted.

The Chairman of the occasion, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, commended the organisers for the topic chosen as he noted that it was most appropriate in view of the forthcoming general elections.

“We are into political activities and we are looking for leaders to steer the ship of State to an excellent destination, we must look at who a leader should be, what leadership should not be, what we should do as followers to ensure we have a good leader.” He said.

Writing by Victorson Agbenson; Editing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade and Annabel Nwachukwu