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Atiku disagrees with Jonathan, Buhari, Babangida; says Nigeria’s unity is negotiable

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UNLIKE statements by both former and present serving Nigerian heads of state, Atiku Abubakar said Nigeria’s unity could be renegotiated.

The former Nigerian vice-president stated this during the public presentation of a new book entitled ‘Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices,’ which he chaired at the Yar ‘Adua Centre Abuja Thursday.

He said it was amusing to hear people declare Nigeria’s unity as fixed, yet they do everything to destroy the (nation’s) fragile unity.


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“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,” he said.

“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.

The 2019 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential flagbearer said nations are built through conscious or even unconscious agreement by peoples who believe that being together is, on balance, more beneficial than being apart.

Atiku’s comments are coming amidst various agitations in various parts of the country by groups who feel current Nigeria’s structure was not working; hence different federating units of the country should peacefully go separate ways without rancour.

Some leaders of the country, including former President Goodluck Jonathan, former Military Head of State Ibrahim Babangida, and President Muhammadu Buhari, have arrogantly declared that Nigeria’s unity was not negotiable.

Jonathan had informed delegates in the 2014 national conference that one of the items that must not be debated is Nigeria’s unity. During his opening speech at the conference, he bluntly stated that the country’s unity was not in for negotiation.

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President Buhari reiterated Jonathan’s position shortly after he returned from his longest medication vacation in 2017 that the country’s unity would not be open to any negotiation.

“Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble. When things get bad, they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood,” he said while vowing to brutally deal with those fuelling ethnic violence and calling for succession in the country.

On the other hand, during a recent interview with Channels Television, Babangida said he believes Nigeria’s unity should be strengthened rather than negotiated.

“I don’t think it is right for Nigerians to start talking about the unity of this country. I believe it is a settled issue,” he said.

“We all agreed that we are going to be a united country. So, nobody should be talking about an enclave that he calls his own. What we should be doing is how we strengthen our unity.”

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