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Why we must restructure Nigeria, by Atiku Abubakar


Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar

• Ex-VP says Buhari yet to learn from the past on farmers, herdsmen clash
• Leader wants NNPC sold to end N’Delta crisis

Former Vice President and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar, yesterday called for the restructuring of the country.

At a public presentation of a book entitled We Are All Biafrans by Chido Onumah in Abuja, Atiku said his call was based on ongoing allegations of marginalisation by some Nigerians.

According to Atiku, the structure of the country is heavily defective as it does not provide the enabling environment for growth and progress among the 36 component states of the federation.

The former vice president who spoke against the backdrop of renewed agitations by militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) recalled how Nigeria once operated a federal system at independence that allowed the regions to retain their autonomy, raise and retain revenues, promote development, and conduct their affairs as they saw fit, while engaging in healthy competition with others.

He said: “Agitations by many right-thinking Nigerians call for a restructuring and renewal of our federation to make it less centralised, less suffocating and less dictatorial in the affairs of our country’s constituent units and localities.
“As some of you may know, I have for a long time advocated the need to restructure our federation. Our current structure and the practices it has encouraged have been a major impediment to the economic and political development of our country. In short it has not served Nigeria well, and at the risk of reproach it has not served my part of the country, the North, well.
“The call for restructuring is even more relevant today in light of the governance and economic challenges facing us. And the rising tide of agitations, some militant and violent, require a reset in our relationships as a united nation.”

Atiku who chaired the occasion noted: “Some may say that we are saddled with more urgent challenges, including rebuilding our battered economy, creating jobs, fighting corruption and securing our people from terrorism and other forms of serious crimes. I believe, however, that addressing the flaws in our federation will help us address some of those very economic and security challenges facing this country.
“Nigeria must remain a united country. Our potential is enormous. But I also believe that a united country, which I think most Nigerians desire, should never be taken for granted or taken as evidence that Nigerians are content with the current structure of the federation.

“Making that mistake might set us on the path of losing the country we love or, as Chido Onumah puts it, result in our ‘country sleepwalking to disaster.’”

He continued: “Let me quickly acknowledge that no federal system is set for all time. There are always tensions arising from matters relating to the sharing of power, resources and responsibilities. But established democracies have developed peaceful mechanisms for resolving such conflicts among the tiers of government. They recognise that negotiations and compromises are eternal.”

Blaming over-dependence on oil for the rot in the polity, he canvassed the devolution of powers and resources to states and local governments, a tax-centred revenue base, diversified economic activities and productivity in order to enlarge the tax base, an end to the indigene-settler dichotomy, and state police to augment the federal police for the states that so desire that system.

He thereby urged well-meaning Nigerians to refrain from assuming that anyone calling for the restructuring of the federation is working for the breakup of the country.

“An excessively powerful centre does not equate national unity. If anything, it has made our unity more fragile, our government more unstable and our country more unsafe . We must renegotiate our union in order to make it stronger. Greater autonomy, power and resources for states and local authorities will give the federating units greater freedom and flexibility to address local issues, priorities and peculiarities.

“ It will help to unleash our people’s creative energies and spur more development. It will reduce the premium placed on capturing power at the centre. It will help with improving security. It will promote healthy rivalries among the federating units and local authorities. It will help make us richer and stronger as a nation.”

Atiku who fielded questions on the multifaceted problems besetting the polity advised the authorities to use the “carrot and stick “approach to resolve the problems associated with militants in the Niger Delta region.

Recalling how he came up with the master plan for the development of the Niger Delta, he disclosed that he was the brain behind the establishment of the Niger Delta Ministry, wondering why the ministry was sited in Abuja as against the original intent of siting it in the Niger Delta to be able to address the developmental needs of the oil-rich region.

Atiku also enjoined the authorities to privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and set aside no less than $20 billion to address the developmental needs of the Niger Delta region.

Regretting that Nigeria had the misfortune of ending up with “accidental leadership,” he expressed the hope that the country would get the right leadership in due course.

He expressing dissatisfaction with President Muhammadu Buhari over the spate of the farmers-herders clashes in the polity saying: “We have a leader who is not prepared to learn from the past.”

Atiku who recollected how he lost 300 cows to cattle rustlers from neighbouring Cameroun said: “Again, here we come back to the same economic challenges that are facing the country but we also have a leadership that is not prepared to learn from the past and the leadership that is not prepared to lead.”

He, however, gave Buhari a pass mark over his performance in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency, and on the ant-graft campaign just as he maintained that Buhari needs more time to fix the comatose economy.

He insisted that as long as the problems of insecurity in the Niger Delta persist, Nigeria would not be able to tackle the problem of power supply since it remains dependent on the supply of gas.

Recalling the Philippines experience, he insists that the viable solution to the power problem remains the establishment of captive power stations dependent on hydro, coal and other sources of energy supply.

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    Did he just gain admission into a tertiary institution where he was freshly schooled on the essence of true federalism?Or perhaps telling us his eight year regime with OBJ was done in his slumbers?Did he not perceive the agitators as enemies of the state during his drunkenness with power?Somebody had better sensitised him he won’t score any cheap political points under this guise.He just lacks the locus standi by every moral standard!

    • iwe paul

      I wonder which presumed leader in Nigeria has ‘locus standi by every moral standard’. Atiku was only the vice-president in those hapless 8 yrs he was the OTA FARMER’S Vp. Please just concentrate on what he said. Does it make sense to you?

      • challeng

        Obj never gave him a break in that 8yrs always problems. I think he is more in touch than those that came from the military.

  • Ifiok Sampson

    Surprisingly sound logic and candid assessment of our current situation by one who has had the opportunity of championing the things he is advocating now but didn’t. I expect the Presidency to fire back at him sooner than later though. Perhaps reopen his case files!

    • Marcus Ijele

      Bros, not so. Remember OBJ, made that man a dummy? While I took his sound suggestions with a pinch of salt becuase it could be a campaign statement, I shall not refer to the time he was a VP because OBJ did not give that man breathing space to function,neither was he given the type of chance conducive for this type of suggestions. OBJ, with the worst character of I know it all, would have even slapped some terrible charges on him so that he would be detained. The North and by extension, politicians having a notoriious character of saying one thing and doing another, one will find it difficult believing he is sincere. That if he becomes the President tomorrow, he will implement these things. He still has the ample oppurtuinity of telling his thoughtless brother to do something about his suggestions because they are there in the last CONFAB.

    • amador kester

      Well thats what i may aptly call vodoo democracy if that ever happens to transpire. I mean the vexatiously preposterious and pretencious scenario in which when a man talks the truth you open his case files

  • sir Oscie

    Great speech Baba Turaki.

    The truth is Bitter and can only the said by you, Kudos for the the speaking it.

    A true Statesman and leader like you helps in the development and building of a great country for the younger generation.

    Restructuring is the way forward for Nigeria and those privileged to be in power should look inwards for the development of our states which I believe will help give the youths(Boko haram, IPOB, MASSOB, The Avengers, OPC, etc)who are taking up arms against the states a sense of belonging and properly engaged, because an IDEAL mind is a TIMEBOMB.

    Turaki, real CHANGE is possible with you.

    We’re blessed to have you.


  • Mr. Abdin

    With the call for the restructuring of Nigeria by Nigerians is a welcome development but we had to put it at the back of our mind that Federalism is a complex system that is multi- dimensional in nature which differs from one country to another and Nigeria is not an exception. Well done Turaki for advise and Buhari deserves commendation for his effort in keeping the country as one. .

    • amador kester

      The president has to urgently restructure this morbid system to make it functional enough to pass the sociopolitical stess tests of survivability. They have already been telling him so and contemporary time events are equally telling him so

  • Mizch

    “He said: “Agitations by many right-thinking Nigerians call for a restructuring and renewal of our federation to make it less centralised, less suffocating and less dictatorial in the affairs of our country’s constituent units and localities.” WORDS OF THE ELDERS ARE WORDS OF WISDOM. THAT SHOULD BE PUT ON GOLDEN LETTERS.

  • AZZO

    Well, this whole thing is confusing. Let us start the question with, which is Atiku’s party now? This latest action throws in the debate. I have not been religiously following events as the unfold but I think I might be right in saying that I can not remember the last time Atiku attended or was invited to attend a seminar since the election of PMB as the APC presidential flag bearer (of course apart from when he launched his Ricco Feed silo in Abuja recently). Now what troubles me is that the first public seminar, speech et al he is attending is that organised by Biafra agitators in which he is advising restructuring as the way forward for the country. As innocent and possibly with good intent as this appears, it is a bit ominous in the eyes of many wouldn’t you say? I will not ask where he was in his days as the country’s number two person as I am privy to the situation and circumstances he found himself then. But I get an impression that there is some feeling of vendetta being nursed on the alter of retributive justice with this current situation. I pray I am wrong and that this is just a subtle political campaign.

  • leonardsonyekwere

    If Nigeria is still together by 2019 and if Atiku Abubakar runs for President, I shall work to help him become the next president of Nigeria. And once he settle down as the president, I will remind him of his pledge to restructure Nigeria and work with him to re-position Nigeria for viability.