Eniola Akinkuotu and Lekan Adetayo
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says Nigeria is currently at a crossroads as poverty, unemployment, inflation, infant mortality and other social vices are on the increase.
He, therefore, called on Nigerians to unite in the demand for true federalism.
Atiku said this while delivering his speech at the formal public presentation of the Daily Stream newspaper in Abuja on Thursday.
He said, “A huge pall of pessimism hangs over a section of the citizenry, and the ranks of those who harbour real doubt about the future of the country swell by the day.
“The country is truly at a crossroads, and things are made worse by the cocktail of economic, social and political problems which we have had to contend with, and which add to the abysmally low estimation of our country even by its own citizens.”
The former Vice-President recalled that life was better in the First Republic because each region was allowed to grow at its own pace while the Federal Government was weaker.
Atiku, however, noted that following the creation of states, the Federal Government became very powerful while the federating units became poor, thereby, deepening poverty among the populace
He added, “Our beloved country has been in the throes of severe and debilitating social and economic problems. Virtually all the development indices have not been favourable: massive and pervasive poverty, double-digit inflation, unemployment, dwindling foreign exchange receipts, poor GDP growth rates, high infant and maternal mortality, high levels of illiteracy, and millions of school-age children out of school.”
Atiku said the many problems facing the nation were already threatening the unity and the existence of the country. He, therefore, urged Nigerians to come together to renegotiate the terms of our union.
The former vice-president said no leader could make far-reaching positive changes in the country except the current political structure is changed.
He added, “To be sure, good leaders do make a difference in the fortunes of countries. However, leaders operate within structural constraints imposed by constitutions, laws and regulations and the local and world economy.
“But the most germane question we need to ask ourselves is: must we really continue to live together as one country amidst such a pervasive climate of disunity, which is impeding our development?
“My prompt answer to this is yes, we should remain together because it is the best option, and because we will be stronger, greater, and better in one piece than in pieces.”
Attempts to get reactions of President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, did not succeed. He had not responded to an email and an SMS sent to him as of the time of sending this report. (Punchng.com)