Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, on Saturday said the 2015 Presidential election further divided the nation, as the election was marked by demarcations along ethnic, regional, partisan and religious lines.
Musdapher, who was CJN between August 2011 and July 2012, also warned that Nigerians were treading a path that threatens the continued peace and unity of the country.
Speaking as guest speaker at a lecture organised to mark the 75th birthday of the father of former Speaker of House of Representatives, Chief Alani Bankole, in Abeokuta, Musdapher said “it is rather worrisome that after over 100 years since the amalgamation of the northern and the southern protectorates in 1914, Nigerians seemed as divided as ever.”
“I am scared and deeply worried”, he said, adding that “the situation is grave.”
He said: “The union remains as un-negotiated union in the minds of many Nigerians. Hence, I am of the view that, without the clear understanding of the root causes or our seemingly confused social system, we cannot even begin to make up with the strategies and solution that are capable of dousing the negative effects of disunity and firmly bringing our nation within respectable or acceptable level of social decency”, he said.
According to him, these realities have thrown up the question of whether indeed Nigeria today is the amalgamation of separate regions in an arranged marriage that some argue only lasted while the matchmakers, colonial Britain, was still around and in control.
The former CJN noted that favouritism, nepotism and tribal sentiments had made it impossible to run a merit-driven-system in Nigeria.
He said: “Hard work, brilliance, honesty and integrity in our dealings are no longer rewarded. Rather, we celebrate mediocrity soaked in the corruption we claim is our common enemy.”
Noting that the fourth estate of the realm has a big role to play in this crusade, he said he was also aware “today that most media houses have an editorial policy and clear leaning towards sectional and myopic perspectives. Tribal and nepotic leanings are present in most issues debated or reported in our media.”
He said “The government-owned media showcase the activities of the government with little or no critique in contrast to the harsh realities faced by millions of subscribers of these news media.
“Newspapers and media owned and operated by politicians are mostly reflective of the interest of their principals as opposed to the need to permanently side with the truth and Justice.
“It has become commonplace for one to read of an ‘Igbo’ presidency or ‘northern’ presidency in line with a tacit approval of outright nepotism by majority of Nigerians.”
Musdapher however, urged the government to develop a tradition of continuity and positive transition from one administration to the next.
In his remarks, the celebrant, Chief Alani Bankole, said he would have celebrated his 70th birthday five years ago, but shelved it following the prosecution of his son, the former Speaker.
Bankole said, he had begun plans for the 70th birthday, but, when his son, who just relinquished office of the Speaker was arrested and prosecuted he had to cancel it.
He however, urged young politicians to practise developmental politics, saying, politics shouldn’t lead to hatred among themselves.
Dignitaries at the event include, Speaker of the House of Representations, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; his deputy, Hon.Yusuf Lasun; minority leader, Hon Oyenma Chuchu; Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun; former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba,; Secretary to the State government, Bar. Taiwo Adeoluwa; and the Managing Director and Editor-In-Chief, Vanguard, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye.
Others include, Former Judge of the World Court, Haque, Prince Bola Ajibola; former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido; former minister of sport, Mr Taoheed Adedoja; Oba of Lagos, HRH Oba Rildwan Akinolu, and the Oliwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanwo among other traditional rulers.