Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi has stressed the need for collective efforts of leaders and citizens, in resolving challenges facing the nation.

Bello made the call on Friday in his Independence Day address to people of Kogi, entitled: “Nigeria at the Crossroads”, as the nation celebrated its 61st independence anniversary.

He said that resolving the challenges facing the nation remained in the hands of all in government, from top to bottom and across all political lines, and every citizen, that would simultaneously move the country forward.

He harped on urgent solutions to poverty, restiveness, equality, inclusiveness, justice, insecurity amongst others.

Mr Bello said that proffering solutions to the problems confronting the country was the only way to ensure that by 2022, Nigeria would have reversed its challenges.

“Nigeria faces the challenge of finding more equitable models of security, unity, peace and shared prosperity, to strengthen the very basis of her coexistence.

“These challenges will require intentional action by leaders and the led alike, particularly as we march toward a change of baton in our national leadership in 2023.”

Bello said the present and the next Nigerian leadership must now accept the task of modifying a solution, generally acceptable without undermining the basic premises of the nation’s constitutionality.

He listed ‘Four Principal Pillars of Inclusiveness’ within the Nigerian context, to include, the constitutional guarantee of equality for citizens, irrespective of their personal beliefs.

Others, he said were, feelings and inclinations, equity, unity and the fear of God, which he said to be the principal bedrocks of a diverse but egalitarian society.

“My concept of a united Nigeria is not one where everyone is held down by force or fear, but a nation which guarantees all citizens security, unity and peace. It must be equitable and allow everyone to thrive on his own merits.

“Tribe, religion and class must not be used to discriminate against or marginalise anyone and civics must encourage cooperation and integration as a cardinal tenet of citizenship.

“We have to start substituting place of residence for state of origin and finding ways to immediately and brutally punish corruption in private and public spheres.

“Our politics and leadership must transform into a service that ensures the quality of life is high, despite social status while essential goods and services are affordable.

“Our local job markets must deliver jobs to people at their levels of learning, skills and experiences,” Mr Bello said.

Mr Bello said that citizens should leverage on Nigeria’s diversity positively, adding that the many tribes, religions and geopolitical differences was an advantage not available to many nations.

“In many fields of endeavour from professional callings to sports careers, Nigeria have had a larger pool of human resources to draw from, and have accordingly succeeded much more than many nations without similar privileges.

“However, the nation has had many times when it fell below her installed capacity in meeting the challenges of a rapidly advancing world,” Bello said.

Bello reiterated the commitment of his ‘New Direction Administration’ to continue building bridges that would bring Kogi residents together.

“I have often and severely warned my officials at all levels to eschew divisiveness and encourage cooperation and integration among the people, themselves and between residents and others, as a cardinal objective of governance.

“As a result, we have had the pleasure, over the last six years, of seeing our diversity of tribes, religions, age, class, gender and ability, working together in closer harmony than at any other time before to move our state forward,” he added.

The governor noted that the nation must have economic stability, be a family-friendly place where parents could raise the next generation well, adding that it would require income equality, especially across the genders.

Bello asserted that his administration was founded on these principles and while it was still progressive, the state had journeyed a good part of the way.

He explained that Kogi was the emerging paradigm for cooperation and integration as a basis for coexistence, instead of the previous divide and rule tactics which failed politicians and harmed residents.