Vice President Kashim Shettima, on Friday, urged the leaders of the 10th National Assembly to embrace divergent views and work for the sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy.
“Democracy thrives when we agree that every voice holds value and each perspective significant,” Mr Shettima said in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, while declaring open a two-day retreat for the National Assembly leaders.
Mr Shettima, harping on why leaders should remain humble and united in serving the people, said Nigeria is a blessed country with great hope, and that political power is a gift from God.
“We are going to spend more years of our lives outside power than in power. Power, to me, is a humbling experience. Power should be used for the good of the people.
“We are the luckiest among Nigerians. We are not better than our next-door neighbours,” he said while referring to his old classmate at the University of Ibadan, who was the brightest then in their class, but was now “languishing in a mediocre bank”.
The vice president said those who lead the country are merely the people’s representatives, and not because they are the best.
Apparently highlighting the importance of Nigeria to Africa’s and global affairs, Mr Shettima talked about the exponential growth in the country’s population and asserted that “If Nigeria fails, the black man has failed”.
“One out of every four black men is a Nigerian. The trajectory of global growth is facing Africa, and Nigeria will make or mar that transition.
“Let us make Nigeria work,” he urged.
Mr Shettima said he considered it a “rare privilege” for him to address the gathering which had in attendance the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, and the past leaders of the National Assembly, including Ahmed Lawan, David Mark, Ken Nnamani, and Pius Ayim.
The former speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who is now the chief of staff to President Bola Tinubu, was also present at the retreat’s opening ceremony.
Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State, who had accompanied President Tinubu to the U.S. for the 78th UN General Assembly meeting in New York, was represented at Ikot Ekpene by the Deputy Governor Akon Eyakenyi.
But Mr Eno, as soon as he arrived at Uyo on Friday afternoon, drove to Ikot Ekpene where he met with Mr Shettima and the Senate President, Mr Akpabio, and other visitors to the state.
Mr Shettima assured of a cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature, most especially since Mr Tinubu, himself, and other top officials of the administration served previously as members of the National Assembly.
“For the first time in our history, the heart of the executive branch of our government is serviced by the alumni of the National Assembly. Both the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President are proud alumni of the National Assembly. The Secretary to the Federal Gkovernment is one of us.
“We cannot, therefore, afford to go to war. Not because we are going to overlook each other’s transgressions, but because you are going to engage with those who know the gravity of your work and would never take you for granted,” the vice president said.
“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has, with utter certainty, reassured us that we are not in government to go to war with the National Assembly. We are here to collaborate and march towards shared values.”