Kenyatta Tasks Nigeria’s President-elect On Inclusion, Dialogue With Opposition

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

0 354

Former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta tasked Nigeria’s President-elect, Bola Tinubu, on the need for inclusion and dialogue with the opposition for the success of his administration.

Kenyatta’s views were contained in the inauguration lecture he delivered on Saturday at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, as part of activities marking Nigeria’s 7th Consecutive Democratic Transition.

Delivering the lecture was titled: “Deepening Democracy for Development and Integration,” Kenyatta urged President-elect Tinubu to move beyond the election mood and embrace all Nigerians as his countrymen, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion and political affiliations.

He said; “I speak to you as a brother and also as an elder statesman in leadership.  The contest is now over and the hard work of building a prosperous and unified Nigeria now begins. 

“Upon assuming the office of the president, you will transcend from the tactical politics of an election and assume your role as Nigeria’s vision bearer. 

“This will demand a complete overhaul of the adversarial mindset that we as politicians are conditioned to embrace during the electoral process.”

As president, you must learn quickly to lead those who love you and those who loathe you with equal passion. 

“You’re Excellency, when a country is in an election mood the people and their leaders are more divided than ever and boxed into their various sectarian and partisan interests. 

“However, when you are the head of state and you take control of the armed forces you become the embodiment of the sum total of the many different ethnic groups and religions that make up your country and you become the symbol of unity. Indeed you become the face of Nigeria,” Kenya’s ex-president said.

He said; “I encourage you to surround yourself with the voices of those who will counterbalance the hardliners that feel entitled to a piece of your office. 

“You will lose nothing and gain everything by reaching out across the political, ethnic and religious lines to those who may feel aggrieved by your victory in one way or the other. 

“Please, allow them to exhale and be part of your vision for a greater Nigeria.” 

Real victory

Kenyatta reminded the incoming president that the real victory in his election would be in reaching out to all Nigerians.

He said; “Therefore, dear friends as you celebrate victory in an election and prepare to inaugurate a new president, remember that your victory is not just numbers as the Western democracy would have us believe. 

“But your real victory would be how you will reach out to all the voices in Nigeria and how every Nigerian will all feel included in your victory and see your government as their government; your agenda as their agenda; one Nigeria, one government for all.” 

Enemies of nationhood

Kenyatta listed negative ethnicity, religion and corruption economic greed as enemies of nationhood that have been detrimental to the development of democracy in Africa. 

He said; “If you look deeply at the crux of most of the conflicts in our continent, we either fighting for ethnic or sub-ethnic superiority of one community at the expense of others or we propagating divisive narratives that have their origins in religious differences or sectarianism.” 

Negative correlation

According to him, election cycles in Kenya created conflicts that had a negative correlation with the economy, creating unemployment and low GDP growth.

 He said; “When political temperatures went up, real GDP growth came down.  The facts do not lie.  In 1992, after the multi-party elections since the lifting of the ban on political pluralism,  real GDP growth contracted to 0.8 from 1.4% the previous year.

“In 1997, it dropped to 0.4% down from the previous 4,5%.  The same thing happened in 2008 when the economy virtually ground to a standstill. 

“The long and short of it is that after every election from 1992, our country will take a hit for up to two years. 

“Things will then settle and shortly thereafter we will once again be in campaign mood and the vicious circle will readily repeat itself. 

“This meant that during every election cycle, thousands of jobs were lost, investment and private sector confidence will shrink and revenues to the government will be strained with an adverse effect on our development agenda.” 

He recalled how as President, he invited the then leader of opposition in Kenya, Raila Odinga and some other politicians and the country to discuss the issues that have tended to create conflict.

It was then that I made the most difficult decisions of my presidency and I resolved two things.  Firstly, that I would develop promise no matter what and secondly, that I would not be the president that took Kenya back into any form of civil strife.

“ It was not weakness that led me to seek out the leader of the opposition at the time, the Hon. Raila Odinga.

“ It was the appreciation that it was not about him but rather the people he represented.  The millions who felt excluded and marginalized by our brand of politics and the imperfections of our democracy. 

“The things that we discussed in the days that followed culminated on the 9th of March, 2018 in what we Kenya refer to as the handshake, “ he explained.

Kenyatta said political leaders in Kenya then worked to make Kenyans feel included in the affairs of their nation.

According to him, “it was about how we could strengthen devolution to deliver on what the framers of our constitution had intended; it was how to make every Kenyan from large or small communities feel like the government was theirs; we recognized that when stripped down to its most rudimentary form, Kenya was just an amalgamation of different ethnic communities trying to co-exist peacefully within the borders that we find ourselves in.” 

Commenting on the lecture, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Reverend Matthew Kuka said that there must be political will to manage Nigeria’s diversity. 

Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Dr. Sa’ad Abubakar urged leaders to look beyond winning elections to planning for the future generations of Nigeria.



Mercy Chukwudiebere

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.