John Shiklam in Kaduna
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar at the weekend renewed his call for the restructuring of the country positing that it has become inevitable.
Presenting a paper at a memorial conference in honour of the late Military Governor of defunct Northern Region, Gen. Hassan Usman Katsina, which held at the Indoor Sports Hall, Murtala Square, Kaduna on Saturday, he urged Nigerians to support calls for the restructuring of the federation in order to strengthen its unity and stabilize its democracy.
“I believe that restructuring will eventually happen whether we like or support it or not. The question is whether it will happen around a conference table, in a direction influenced by us and whether we will be an equal partner in the process.
Or will it happen in a more unpredictable arena and in a manner over which we have little influence? It should be at a table and we need to be at that table. A nation is an organism; it grows, it evolves, it changes, it adapts. And like other organisms if it does not adapt, it dies”, the former vice president said.
Buttressing his argument for restructuring, Abubakar said: “My focus here, however, is to show that the north and Nigeria have not been served well by the status quo and there is need for change.
Who among us who went to primary and secondary school in the 1960s had much to do with the federal government? Did the northern regional government wait to collect monthly revenue allocations from Lagos before paying salaries to its civil servants and teachers or fixing its bridges and roads?”
Noting that the fragile unity of the country was being threatened with sentiments and urged the North not to shy away from agitations for restructuring the country, he said, “I am not trying to be a messenger of doom but to alert us to the serious challenges ahead if we do not take immediate corrective actions both in our economic and our politics.”
The former vice president advocated for a revisit of the current geopolitical zones and make it the federating units so as to stop the clamour for creation of additional states. He added that the federating units could decide to have as many local authorities as they desire.
“As our history has shown, a strong centre does not translate to a strong and better base. We should begin to think strategically about how to develop this region (North) as a collective and our states in each geopolitical zone should embark on how to work together to share responsibilities”, he added.
He warned the North against thinking that restructuring the polity will be a mistake, pointing out that as long as the federal government continues with its over-riding power, instability will continue to bedevil the country. Abubakar argued that “national integration was achievable in Nigeria when we (North) do the little things that will help in that regard including intangibles such as values, ideology and sense of investment that help to foster sense of national integration.”
In his remarks at the occasion, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulraman Dambazau (rtd), urged Nigerians to use the 1999 Constitution to fight for their rights rather than resorting to violence which has no legal grounds.
Buhari called on Nigerians, especially northerners to emulate the virtues of the late Gen. Katsina.
The President said his administration was improving on current anti-graft war and called on elected office holders to strive for good governance which, he said, is what Nigerians deserve.
“Nigeria has come a long way as a democratic nation. So the rights of all Nigerians is in the 1999 constitution, they must abide by the constitution to achieve whatever goals.
“I call on all elected persons to give good governance to the people, Nigerians deserve good governance.
“My leadership is improving on security and fighting corruption. Boko Haram insurgency has been brought under control. We must unite as a nation for national integration” the President said.