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Restructuring must give priority to Nigeria’s unity always, says Saraki


Bukola Saraki

• Laments 12m out-of-school children

The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has said that any restructuring must give precedence to the unity of Nigeria at all times, and put the interest of the country first.

He also subscribed to an economic restructuring of Nigeria where all the six geopolitical regions become equal partners in economic development and growth to move the nation forward.

Besides, Saraki said that the north should key into efforts at developing its potentials in order to enhance its economic and social capacities and lift its citizenry from poverty and deprivation, saying that the north is still backward in education.

The Senate President who addressed Northern Senators at a retreat organized by the National Assembly in Katsina yesterday, said that restructuring of the country has been a major issue of debate in Nigeria today, pointing out that either “ for good or for ill, is the front burner issue in the polity at the present time.”

According to him, “I have intimated elsewhere that one problem with all the talk about restructuring is that the discussion is not being framed properly – and certain precepts are missing. I have said, and it is my firm conviction, that we must give precedence to the unity of Nigeria at all times, and put the interests of the country first. We must not be afraid to think outside the box. We must not be afraid of

In a statement by his Head of New Media, Olu Onemola, Saraki argued: “My own restructuring is when we work towards economic development in every part of the country, so we can all take pride of place in the Nigerian project, and no region is seen as a weak link.

“When we oversee the budget process to ensure equitable spread of critical infrastructure in every corner of the country, so that no region is left out of the gains of economic recovery. When we create jobs and enhance food production so our people do not go hungry. When we educate our children so that they can realise their full potential and partake in the promise of the future.”

On why the north should develop its asset base, the Senate President remarked, “Few will disagree with me when I say, therefore, that a North that is economically strong and vibrant is better placed to negotiate on restructuring or whatever else.”

He also lamented the poor education in the north. “It is with that eye on the future that I call our attention,once again, to the estimated 12 to 15 million children not currently in the education system – the highest number of out-of-school kids in the world.”

According to him, “It is a stain on our collective conscience that such a huge demographic is without education in the 21st century. We simply cannot abandon millions of Nigerian children to the trap of ignorance and poverty. It behoves us, therefore, to come up with policies that will lead to a significant drop in the out-of-school population, and improve on the numbers as we go along. The crisis in education also manifests itself at tertiary level.”

“When it comes to private universities in this country, the statistics tell the story: the North has the least number. However we look at it, access to education is a serious challenge in the North. We need to change the game, to empower our people to compete on equal terms with the rest of the country, and the world.”

Saraki pleaded with the northern leaders to ensure that they contribute to the economic development of the region, pointing out that “We have
to create an enabling environment for economic activities, and mitigate those factors that discourage investment.”

Also, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman, Northern Senators Forum, expressed concern over increasing wave of kidnapping, Boko Haram, and other forms of criminality in the northern part of the country.

In a paper, chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Ibrahim Coomassie called on northern state governors to work together to fashion out a northern agenda that would take care of all the various interest in the region.

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Bukola Saraki
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