By Ademola Babalola
Ibadan — Apparently miffed by the lack of patriotism on the part of Nigerians to the development of the country, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria,Stuart Symington, on Monday preached the message of hope and prosperity of the country, with an appeal to all to have confidence in its growth and development.
He said while it was true that talks over 2019 general election dot the landscape, he urged the people to join hands together and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of Nigeria.
Symington who alluded to the diverse human and natural material resources that are abound from the North to the South of Nigeria, said in unity, love and oneness will Nigeria reach its destined height.
He said Nigerians should rather be more concerned about the country being peaceful, united, secure and prosperous this year and beyond.
The Nigeria of Symington’s dream, according to him, was a country boasted of rich human and natural resources, which can translate to advancement of ideas, stronger institutions that would make the country richer, stronger and more prosperous.
He spoke at the University of Ibadan, at a dual event to commemorate the 2018 World Earth Day.
Symington said once peaceful coexistence is sustained this year, he expected Nigerians to be able to make informed choices in the 2019 elections.
He lauded the diversity, resilience, wisdom and energy of Nigerians as extraordinary, urging educational institutions to continue to produce the greatest products for the improvement of the country.
Speaking further, he enjoined Nigerians to especially commit their lives to preserving the country’s land resources and treasures like lakes, lagoons, mounts, animals and forests.
Especially, Symington urged Nigeria to preserve forests for agricultural production purposes as well as institutions like the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with its potential to generate agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
In addition to calling for the perseveration of the earth which he described as a factory of life, Symington urged Nigerians to improve the earth and not deplete it.
He bemoaned the herdsmen/farmers clashes in Nigeria which he threatens the country’s coexistence, calling on government to regulate cattle rearing.
Drawing from experience in the United States, Symington said the government and cattle owners could achieve a win-win situation if government took over the rearing of cattle using control ranches and gave returns to the cow owners.
Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Idowu Olayinka, represented by Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Emilolorun Aiyelari, decried desertification of forests and destruction of farms by grazing activities of herdsmen.
He assured audience of the research collaboration between the University of Ibadan and the United States consulate towards addressing environmental problems, which he noted threatened the continued existence of humanity
Olayinka said: “Many Nigerians will spend much of this year thinking about what will happen in 2019. My mind said it is extraordinarily important for every Nigerian to spend this year thinking about what to do to make Nigeria more secure, peaceful, prosperous and united.
“I don’t think Nigeria can lose a day or a year in its history by sitting down to find a solution to its problems and employment to that person looking for a job. We have a group called the Young African Leaders Initiative. Members of this movement exchange ideas about questions on development. The most important thing of all is Nigeria.”
He added: “In the first year of my stay in Nigeria, I traveled to all the 36 states of the country. Everywhere I reached, people said they have leadership challenge at the local, state and national levels. My first reaction to push back the question is that the country is in democracy, the people are the leaders, they are the government. You did it in 2015.
“Two weeks ago, I was in Kaduna and I suddenly realised that there is a challenge because there are two sides to leadership; the leader and the ship. In a democracy, the people are the ship, the pilot is only there for a time but the ship remains. The most important thing is not what Nigeria will do in 2019 but what they will do now because they are the ship.