Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says Nigeria will continue to
grapple with the crisis of severe and debilitating socio-economic
problems unless it gets the structures of the federalism and
governance right.
Atiku stated this in a paper titled; “The Challenge of Unity,
Diversity and National Development: Nigeria at a Crossroads’’, which
he delivered at the formal public presentation of the Daily Stream
newspaper, at the Banquet Hall, Nigeria Air force Conference Centre,
Kado, Abuja.
According to him, the current system, which is characterized by a
focus on sharing rather than production, is clearly not conducive to
He noted that virtually all the development indices had not been
favourable to Nigeria: 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.
“For Nigeria to develop – or even make any appreciable progress – we
must re-structure Nigeria’s political, administrative and political
“That way we can free resources that would otherwise go to unviable
ventures and projects, then commit same to areas that directly cater
for and benefit the people.’’
He said restructuring would facilitate the emergence of a leaner
bureaucracy, enhance efficiency, block wastages and promote more
prudent management.
He said this would make for happier constituent units more committed
to the progress and unity of the country and the emergence of a sense
of nationhood.
“However, I am not here just to lament over the sad and unenviable
state of affairs in Nigeria.
“I firmly believe in the viability of the Nigerian Project, I remain
unshaken and completely persuaded that we can eventually change the
story of Nigeria for good by collectively making Nigeria a productive,
prosperous, peaceful and united nation whose people are happy and
contented and one that is able to really lead Africa and assume a
pride of place in the comity of nations,’’ he added.
Atiku, who narrated his experiences from his recent trip to Malaysia,
said he had concluded arrangements to assemble a class of economic
experts to brainstorm on the best ways to boost the economies of the
three tiers of government in Nigeria.
The former vice-president, who affirms that Nigeria is truly in
crossroads, said “the problem with our federalism is that over the
years it has become so skewed in favour of the centre that it impedes
our economic development, distorts our politics, weakens our people’s
commitment to the country and threatens our existence as a united
He, therefore, stressed the need to discuss and agree on the kind of
federal structure desirable for the country.
“Reverting to the regions of the past seem untenable because those
minority groups which feel that they have been liberated from their
bigger, dominant neighbours, are unlikely to accept a return to that
older order.
“We may consider using the existing the geo-political zones as
federating units because they will be more viable economically and
address some of the minorities’ concerns?
“If we prefer to keep the current state structure, could we consider
introducing a means-test such that a state that is unable to raise a
specified percentage of its revenues from internal sources would have
to be collapsed into another state?’’
Abubakar, who described himself as more of a businessman than
politician, said he would never implement a uniform National Minimum
Wage structure across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal
Capital Territory (FCT).
He said under his leadership, state governments in Nigeria would be
allowed to pay their workers’ salaries based on their respective
financial standing.