Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor says history, tribe and religion are major stumbling blocks to Nigeria's growth and development.
Kufour said this in a lecture entitled: "Nigeria: Security, Development and National Transformation", which he delivered on Tuesday in Abuja to mark Nigeria's 52nd independence.
He said that the trio conspired to put a major stumbling block in the path of Nigeria's destiny. He urged Nigerians not to relent in helping the country out of the "unflattering perception of disunity and parochialism".
The ex-president, therefore, advocated for the cultivation of a national identity based on shared values, tradition, history and aspirations.
He said Nigerians should develop a high national consciousness where they consider themselves first as Nigerians before anything else.
He said that those in leadership should also share in the vision of one nation and one people. Kufour asked Nigerians to support the country's leadership to enable Nigeria overcome its challenges.
He identified imbalanced development as a major cause of insecurity in Nigeria, saying that the situation was costing the country the opportunity to be the giant country that it could and should be.
"Naturally, imbalanced development that involves horizontal inequalities is an important source of conflict and that is costing Nigeria the opportunity to be the giant nation that it can and should be.
"In common parlance, development is growth through a series of progressive changes without end. It is therefore a process, not a level. It is a path to achieve certain goals which add up to improve the quality of life of a community and its people."
He observed that in spite of their diversity, Nigerians as individuals were proud, intelligent, and industrious people.
Kufour expressed regret that such resourcefulness had yet to impact fully to the advantage of the country and the rest of the continent, which he said, expected Nigeria to become a major growth pole.
He, however, said with the appropriate policies and institutions in place, Nigeria could fulfill that expectation.
"The challenge is to accelerate the pace of development by using institutions of the federal Constitution as a nursery ground for producing leaders who are national in outlook and with a missionary zeal to transform this nation.
"This will help to mold the contending ethnic and religious groups into harmony and help to remove the perceived mutual distrust among them.
"Leaders so emerging would not be limited to championing the causes of their home state, tribe or religious group, but rather focused on deeds and pronouncements which convincingly and positively impact on the entire citizenry of the federal republic.
"Nation building is the systematic evolution of the political, economic, social and cultural well-being of all the various component parts of the state.
"Indeed the transcendent factor should be the common citizenship of all the stakeholders no matter the tribe, gender, religion, economic or social status as your Constitution stipulates."
The former Ghanaian President also said that only a government that delivered on security and development could earn its continued stay in office.
He, therefore, said that the political leadership must collaborate with businesses, public organisations and institutions to ensure that public security is guaranteed to maintain a stable environment for development of both the people and the state.
"If there is no security, there is no liberty and if there is no liberty, life is not meaningful and society reverts back to the law of the jungle - the survival of the fittest and man's primary objective of forming a state is defeated."
In his contribution, a university don, Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, advised those in leadership positions to always listen to suggestions from the ordinary people to guarantee peace and transformation of the society.
The lecture was attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, members of the Federal Executive Council and top government functionaries.