Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said that Nigeria needs to be restructured.
Atiku said that the current ethnic and religious clashes bedevilling Nigeria are symptoms of the disease, adding that they themselves are not the illness.
“We must address the root causes of the various symptoms of insecurity Nigeria now faces.
“Nigeria needs peace, unity and prosperity. But all three of these virtues are dependent on Nigeria having social justice. Without justice, there cannot be cohesiveness in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation as Nigeria.
“Nigeria has foundational issues, which we have to resolve. Until we resolve those issues, our nation may not fulfil its potentials of being the beacon of light for the Black Race, even if we have the most righteous people at the helm.
“It has been said by many behavioural scientists that ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’
“We have been operating from the same unitary foundation, and have given it several names since January 15, 1966. Other than slight name changes, the mould has remained the same, and the yield has changed a little.
“Yes, there will be improvements and retrogressions here and there, due to the character and personality differences of the men and women at the helm. However, until the foundational fault lines are addressed, whatever progress one man makes, can be undone by his predecessor, often in a matter of months.”
The former vice president said that if half of the people expend their energies pulling Nigeria in one direction, and the other half counter by pulling her in the other direction, the motherland will never know peace, unity and prosperity.
“Nigeria needs to restructure to avoid the various failed state prophecies, first advanced by an American think-tank against Nigeria in 2006. Most recently regurgitated by the Financial Times of London, about a month ago. To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” he said.
Explaining what a failed state is, Atiku said that “a failed state is a political sovereign geographic territory whose government has deteriorated to a level where it cannot fulfil a sovereign government’s basic responsibilities, such as the security of life and property, and upholding law and order.”
“We should have done this long ago. I can only point to the Chinese proverb that says ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’
“We ought to understand that the collapse of Nigeria into a unitary system was an ad hoc temporary solution to a challenge that emerged after the January 15, 1966 coup decapitated the central and most regional governments. It was not meant to be a long term solution.
“Lessons have been learnt since that time, and nobody would be foolhardy enough to repeat such unfortunate actions that took Nigeria through such difficult periods. Moreover, our institutions are now much stronger than they were during our infancy.”
Stop Reading Ethnicity, Religion To Security Issues, FG Warns
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has called on Nigerians not to heat up the polity by ascribing ethnic or religious meanings to security issues.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this on Monday in Abuja at a media briefing on the progress made by the government in war against terror and banditry.
Mohammed warned that the matter should not be politicised.
“I think my response to it is that we should please lower the temperature. We should stop politicising security matters. We should stop reading ethnicity or religion to purely security issues.
“Efforts are being made to contain these issues and other issues.”
The minister said in January alone, the armed forces have neutralised 158 “criminal elements”, adding that the Federal Government is aware of its responsibility to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.
According to him, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would not relent in adapting to “changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing.
“This is in addition to scores of other terrorists and armed bandits killed during air strikes. Some 52 criminal elements were arrested, with scores of arms, ammunition and equipment recovered. Troops have also rescued a total of 17 kidnapped victims across the country.
“In addition, a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil, 1,724,000 litres of stolen automotive gas oil (AGO) and 500,000 litres of dual purpose kerosene (DPK) have been recovered.”
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, was also at the media briefing.
Responding to a question from a journalist, Mohammed acknowledged the fact that there were challenges, but the country had recorded progress and the security situation “is by far better than what we met in 2015”.
He explained that prior to 2015, suicide bombings by Boko Haram terrorists were taking place in every parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said the Boko Haram terrorists walked freely into the FCT and environs to wreak havoc on facilities including the Force Headquarters, UN building while churches and media houses were not spared.
Mohammed said the number of lives that were lost prior to 2015 were undoubtedly more when compared to the period Buhari had been in power.
He added that before they took over in 2015, many local government areas in the North East were under the control of the terrorists but not a portion of land in the area is under their occupation currently.
The minister said schools were closed down for fear of attacks and many communities were deserted in the North East before the administration took over.
Mohammed specifically recalled that when he took some media team on tour of the North-East in 2015, many roads were deserted and houses had been levelled by the terrorists.
He said the administration was fully aware of its responsibility to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians and would not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to national security and civic wellbeing.
The minister reiterated the president’s promise to re-energise and re-organise the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police.
He enjoined Nigerians to support and encourage the security agencies as they live up to their billing of dismantling the operations of both internal and external extremists and criminal groups waging war against the country.
Delaying Restructuring Boosting Ethnic, Religious Hatred — DG PGF
Again, Salisu Mohd Lukman, Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), has urged the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker Committee to hasten implementation of the recommendations of the Governor Nasir el-Rufai APC committee on true federalism.
He said the delayed response of the party towards restructuring the polity was bolstering hate-mongers and ethno-religious champions across the country with dire consequences for the nation’s unity.
Lukman also expressed concern that the position canvassed by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, in response to the recent ultimatum issued by the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to bandits marauding the state’s forest reserves had tended to misrepresent President Muhammadu Buhari.
In an opinion piece he sent to this medium entitled ‘Ethnic and Religious Hatred and Deceitful Campaign in Nigeria’, Lukman urged the party to act fast and halt the polarisation of the country.
He said the situation had made it impractical to have a national consensus on problems confronting the country, including rising criminality.
He said: “As our society and nation is more polarised, the problem of criminality gets bigger and overwhelming.
“Unfortunately, rather than pushing leaders of political institutions and actors to strengthen their relationship in the country in order to initiate uniform responses in tackling common challenges across the country, we seem to be more disposed to getting them more polarised.
“Regrettably, for our leaders to continue to enjoy our support, they must identify with our divisive choices.
“Otherwise, the electoral prospects of our leaders will remain in jeopardy. This is a reality, which has imposed the leadership of hatemongers.”
The APC, he insisted, must find a way out of the challenge, especially against the position canvassed by the presidential spokesman.
“There has to be a way out of this mess. Our political leaders and our party need to assert their authority in mobilising alternative responses, which should inspire Nigerians to rise above the current high wave of ethnic and religious hatred in the country that is weakening our capacity to arrest and prevent criminal activities.
“No doubt, every Nigerian must be worried about what is going on.
“Much more troubling is the fact that the pronouncements of Mallam Garba Shehu on these issues tend to unfortunately accentuate our polarisation.
“While recognising that it is necessary for the government to make some public responses to most of these developments, should it come from the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President?
“The way things are, it is difficult not to conclude that mandated agencies of government are unable to discharge their statutory responsibility as required because once the president’s spokesperson makes public statements, the capacity to initiate any more response may be obstructed.
“At this point, as APC members and as Nigerians, it is important to appeal for moderation in the way this issue is being managed.
“With the level of polarisation in the country, crazy responses from people such as Sunday Igboho and their likes in every part of the country are further worsening the situation. That can never be the goal of the government,” he said.
The PGF DG, therefore, challenged the APC CECPC, working with the party’s tripartite committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to consider unfettered implementation of the recommendations of the Gov. el-Rufai committee on true federalism.
He added: “Certainly, if the party was able to move recommendations contained in the report of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai committee to the level of implementation, the current levels of misplaced anger against the APC and the Federal Government in the country would have been moderated.
“What may be required in the circumstances is for the APC Caretaker Committee led by His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, to initiate internal processes of consultations both within the party and across the executive and legislative arms of government.
“Given that there already exist APC tripartite consultative committee, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with both the party chairman, HE Mai Mala Buni; Senate President, HE Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiala, and PGF chairman, HE Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha, and Chief of Staff to President, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, serving as members, the initiative to commence processes of implementation can be started.
“We need to appeal to our leaders and our party to rise to the occasion of this challenge facing our dear nation beyond the current public anger.”