Speaking at the national dialogue and public presentation of a book, ‘Remaking Nigeria: Sixty years, sixty voices,’ in Abuja, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday likened Nigeria’s unity to a marriage.
He said marriage cannot be declared as non-negotiable, while doing everything to sow seeds of discord in that same marriage.
Atiku said, “I find it amusing when people declare Nigeria’s unity as fixed and non-negotiable while doing everything in their power to destroy that fragile unity.
“Nothing in the relationships among peoples is fixed for eternity. You cannot declare your marriage as non-negotiable while doing everything to sow seeds of discord in that same marriage.
“You can whip groups of people into forming a country but you cannot whip them into forming a nation.
“Nations are built through conscious or even unconscious agreement by peoples who believe that being together is, on balance, more beneficial than being apart.”
He also stated that the government at the federal level had not done enough in nation building, accusing them of undoing the achievements of previous administrations in that aspect.
The former Vice President added, “Over the past six years, the leadership of this country at the federal level hardly embarked on nation-building. They may have been making (utterly confusing and unproductive) efforts at economic development.
“However, it can be rightly argued that they have been un-building the nation by taking conscious and deliberate actions that not only make nation-building more difficult but also undo the achievements made in that regard by previous administrations.”
On the insecurity ravaging the country, Atiku said bandits, kidnappers and insurgents have been allowed to operate boldly. Therefore, there was the need to fix the country to prevent it from sliding into disaster.
Atiku said, “Yes, the Chibok girls had been kidnapped and held in captivity seven years ago. Yes, conflicts between herders and farmers had been with us before 2016.
“But who would have thought that our country would become a haven for kidnappers and all manner of bandits to the extent that their nefarious activities would become a major industry?
“They have been allowed to operate so openly and brazenly that it would surprise no one if they applied for registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission and listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
“Five years ago, the Abuja – Kaduna Road was not a virtual no-go area. The South-East was not a virtual war-zone, and Amotekun was not needed to protect lives and property in the South-West.”
Without mincing words, he also blamed the Northern region and the country for not doing enough to check the encroachment of the Sahara Desert and the drying out of Lake Chad, saying that this was responsible for trajectory of the insurgency in the North-East and the banditry across the Northern states.
He therefore urged that the call for restructuring should be heeded, stressing that the country must be restructured in a manner that allows various segments develop at their own pace and not be held back by the centre or other segments.