Nigeria’s former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, has urged governors across states of the federation to sidestep Federal Government’s alleged slow response and rise to the occasion in protecting Nigeria and Nigerians from rising insecurity and increasing economic hardship.
He said that since the central government has appeared helpless and missing from the battle field, it was important that regional actors who are at the receiving end of insecurity brunts to devise strategies that would address the challenges bedevilling the country.
Atiku who was the vice president of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 cautioned governors against relying on the apex government’s security and economic strategies, saying further delay in taking critical steps would only worsens the situation.
He added that rather than wait on the federal government for solution to Nigeria’s myraid of challenges, the governors should immediately convene a National Unity Summit aimed at proffering lasting solutions to issues of insecurity and economic challenges.
Through a statement on Sunday, Atiku said that it was important for Nigerians irrespective of religious, ethnic and political affiliations to jettison divisive tendencies and stand strong in salvaging the country for the benefits of unborn generations.
According to him, the major challenge facing Nigeria today is that we are drifting. We are not just drifting politically and economically. We are also drifting apart from each other. I have often said that the difference between us is not North and South, but between good and bad.
“I have repeatedly said that I am a Nigerian. Full stop. That is my identity. And now more than ever, we must ask ourselves this question: what does it mean to be a Nigerian? A Nigerian is one who is committed to the idea of the indivisibility of Nigeria and who is invested in respecting, even if you disagree with, the differences that exist within this nation space, and respecting the right of others to coexist with you irrespective of religious, regional or ethnic differences.
“That is what being a Nigerian means to me. And that is why I believe that all those who believe in Nigeria should stand up to be counted. It is not Nigerian to terrorise your fellow citizens. Up until about a decade ago, we did not have this. It is not Nigerian to abduct people. And this is undoubtedly a new menace that has low historical precedence in Nigeria.
“The truth is that if at a National level, we address these in Nigerian tendencies immediately and dispassionately, we would not have Nigerians congregating at a regional or sub-regional level to address these issues. What our present challenges, therefore, call for is not fragmentation but concentration. We must concentrate and focus our national willpower and resolve towards fighting these Nigerian tendencies.
“Governors representing some states have met. And I completely understand the necessity of their meeting and the wisdom of their decisions. But no matter how much you try to clap with one hand, the vibrations will not be the same as when you clap with two hands. We have a national challenge. And as Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” These problems were created by those with a regional mindset, and will not be solved by those with a similar mindset.
For too long, we have erroneously thought that the power to make effective changes lies at Aso Rock. But without the states, nobody can get to Aso Rock. That is why for anyone to emerge as President of Nigeria, he or she must secure enough votes in two-thirds of the states that make up the Nigerian federation.
“Let us apply this wisdom to our present challenges. I call on Nigerian Governors to stop waiting on Abuja to make changes and instead convene a National Unity Summit of all Nigerian Governors to iron out the thorny issues affecting the destiny of our nation until they figure out a way to resolve them.
“Forget about your party. Forget about your tribe. Respect your religion and allow it to bring out the better part of you. Meet together. Talk together. Come up with the solutions to all our collective challenges.
“And then go back to your states, and consult with your federal and state legislators, with a view to getting them to work with their colleagues to implement the solutions you came up with. That is how to save Nigeria.
“To keep waiting for this Federal Government to take the lead, and effect the changes that Nigeria needs to stop drifting, is to keep waiting for Godot. And that is a luxury we cannot afford.
“Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that “Man’s mind, stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimension.” Let me paraphrase him and say, Nigerian unity, stretched to a new frontier, should never go back to its original dimension.
“We must grow in unity. We must glow in the community. We must blow away disunity. We have no choice, considering the alternative, which is a calamity that we would not wish to return to. So help us, God. May God bless Nigeria as one peaceful, progressive, and indivisible nation,” the statement said.