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Buhari’s Presidency Has Made Nation-Building More Difficult –Atiku

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Former Nigeria’s Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has berated the present administration of President Mohammadu Buhari for its failure to make any meaningful impact in nation-building and moving the country forward as one indivisible entity.

Atiku, who chaired the public presentation of a new book entitled, “Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices”, which took place at the Yar ‘Adua Centre, Abuja, on Thursday, said over the past six years the leadership of the country at the federal level hardly embarked on nation-building.

“They may have been making (utterly confusing and unproductive) efforts at economic development.  However, it can be rightly argued that they have been un-building the nation by taking conscious and deliberate actions that not only make nation-building more difficult but also undo the achievements made in that regard by previous administrations.

“As we all know there were deliberate attempts made since the 1960s to forge a nation out of Nigeria: states creation, federal character, the NYSC, power rotation, unity schools, and multiple federal agencies.  However imperfect, these were genuine attempts at giving each segment of the country a sense of belonging and a semblance of justice and equity and promote interactions among our peoples”, he said.

According to him, all it has taken is one administration in six short years to tear up the fabric of that unity and make more Nigerians lose faith in Nigeria and question the rationale for having one united country.

“One lesson there for all of us is the need to always be vigilant and be prepared to defend our democracy, for it is through the democratic process that we can more easily promote the unity of our country.

“I strongly believe that Nigeria can and will remain one strong and united nation with significant strides in economic development to improve the lives of our peoples.  However, we must not take it for granted. We must work hard at it and make necessary compromises to accommodate one another”, he added. 

He noted that hard work and compromises are necessary for restructuring the country, especially in terms of the relationship between the centre and the constituent states and between the public sector and the private sector.

“We do not need to reinvent the wheel; there are numerous examples of success from around the world for us to borrow from while adapting them to our local conditions. When we start developing with what we have, more of our people will want to identify with the country, love the country and commit their lives to the country. When that happens, especially with fairness and justice, nation-building accelerates, however imperfectly. This is why I find it amusing when people declare Nigeria’s unity as fixed and non-negotiable while doing everything in their power to destroy that fragile unity.  Nothing in the relationships among peoples is fixed for eternity.

“You cannot declare your marriage as non-negotiable while doing everything to sow seeds of discord in that same marriage. Countries can be created by force. You can whip groups of people into forming a country but you cannot whip them into forming a nation. Nations are built through conscious or even unconscious agreement by peoples who believe that being together is, on balance, more beneficial than being apart”, he further explained.

The former VP also observed that while our nation-building has been imperfect and wobbly, it is not and should not be a good excuse for our very poor effort at development, adding that  development inspires pride, hope, patriotism, emulation and that is a great magnet for patriots.

Atiku said development and nation-building do not happen by themselves because, according to him, they are guided by people, especially leaders, thoughtful, insightful, and visionary leaders who are willing to make sacrifices and reach compromises.

“When people see their leaders making those efforts genuinely, and experience improvements in their lives, they are likely to follow. Nation-building is not just what elites or government officials do. Trade, social and cultural exchanges by ordinary people are critical components of nation-building.

“In fact, you cannot build a nation out of people who do not have meaningful interaction.  And to facilitate meaningful interaction among peoples you need infrastructural development, including roads, bridges, ports, markets, parks and so on.  In these efforts governments lead the way although the private sector has important roles to play once the government does the heavy lifting, provides incentives, and sets the rules for competition”, he stressed.


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