The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Thursday said the socio-economic and political challenges such as corruption, bad governance and insecurity were all traceable to bad leadership.
This came on a day Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, advised the various ethnic nationalities in the country to interface and dialogue with one another in order to move the nation forward.
But, the ACF in a communiqué, which was jointly signed by its leader, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, and Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi of Yoruba Unity Forum, and made available to journalists, after a closed door meeting that lasted for about four hours in Ikenne, stated: "That in order to address these and other challenges, a national dialogue is a desirable and must be carried out as a matter of utmost priority."
The group maintained that in order for selfless and committed leadership to emerge, there was need for a free, fair and credible elections to exist, adding that: "The interactions between the various groups and interests within the country be encouraged and sustained, with a view to boosting mutual trust."
"That we are all committed to the unity, progress and stability of Nigeria, governed with a sense of justice, equity and fairness.That Nigerians should de-emphasise issues that divide us such as ethnicity and religion, while emphasising issues that bind us together as a nation," the communiqué stressed.
Earlier, the host, Chief Mrs. HID Awolowo, had said the sole purpose of the meeting was to proper possible solutions to the problems facing Nigeria and hoped that the outcome would be beneficial to all.
Meanwhile, Amosun, who spoke when he received in his office a delegation of the ACF, said: "We should strive to live together in peace and harmony irrespective of tribe and religion, "noting that "there is no religion in the world that preaches violence."
He identified poverty as a major source of agitation and violence among the people, noting that "as government, we should be able to provide basic amenities for our people in order to reduce violence and crises in the country."
Earlier in his address, Mohammed had said the aim of the visit to the state was to have a dialogue with their counterpart in Yorubaland, the Yoruba Unity Forum, on how best to move the country forward and strengthen its unity.
He said ACF was convinced that sister socio-cultural organisations like the Yoruba Unity Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South-south Peoples Assembly and others should interact with one another for purposes of building bridges and breaking down barriers standing in the way of better understanding, trust and confidence among all Nigerians.
He identified challenges facing Nigeria as endemic poverty, illiteracy, diseases and unemployment.
He said the ACF delegation would discuss some of the issues at length with their compatriots in the Yoruba Unity Forum and "see how we all can do our part and help move our country on the path of peace, unity and progress."