FORMER Nigeria’s Vice President Atiku Abubakar has stated that development and nation-building could only happen when people, especially thoughtful, insightful, and visionary leaders, are willing to make the required sacrifices.
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 that people would follow when they saw their leaders making genuine efforts on nation-building.
“When people see their leaders making those efforts genuinely, and experience improvements in their lives, they are likely to follow. Over the past six years, the leadership of this country at the federal level hardly embarked on nation-building.”
The book launch is coming barely six years after Editor of the book Chido Onumah had authoured ‘We are all Biafrans’ to capture the claims of marginalisation amongst Nigerians of all tribes and different ideologies.
Speaking further, Atiku Abubakar said the new book was geared towards completing a cycle that already started on May 31, 2016, when he chaired the public presentation of ‘We are all Biafrans’ at the same venue.
“More than five years later, it is obvious that Chido’s admonition that we needed to fix Nigeria, by heeding those calls, in order to avoid sleep-walking our way towards disaster, has not been heeded. Rather, and as a result, we seem to be sprinting full speed towards disaster.”
The former vice president said that fixing or restructuring would help in achieving the nation-building project, stressing that it would help to foster a sense of nationhood out of Nigeria’s different groups, cultures, religions, and regions.
“In my view, we must restructure our country in a manner that allows various segments to develop at their own paces and not be held back by the centre or other segments.
“Developed segments will spur development in other segments, because what they do well will attract the attention of others. That may make a Nigerian union more attractive and nation-building easier. Our poor nation-building record should not be an excuse for developmental inaction or backwardness.”
Also advocating for nation-building, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Kayode Fayemi said that that there was no way anyone could escape the conclusion that Nigeria needed to be rebranded.
“Our idea of restructuring must be motivated by our generational responsibility to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.”
Fayemi noted that Nigeria was a formidable platform that must be preserved for those that would use it well
“”Our efforts at remaking Nigeria must be anchored on the principle of devolution of powers. That is the transfer of power to the federating entities.”
Speaking on the book, the book reviewer Mahmud Jega stated that it was a monumental work guaranteed to add rich insight and perspective into Nigeria’s search for a better and more efficient, fairer and more inclusive Nigeria.
“The book contains 60 different articles, all of them concise, all of them rich and insightful, and all of them written by young Nigerian men and women outlining their views of the current and future state of Nigeria, as well as ideas as to how to make it better.”
On his part, Onumah, who is the coordinator of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), said that the book was a product of eleven years of planning, adding that it was a product of discussion on what needed to be done to rescue Nigeria.
“The aim is to give an opportunity to young Nigerians, the critical change agents, to help the country understand and sharpen its focus on those issues that hold key to our collective survival as people.
“The essays that make up the book critically examine Nigeria’s social, economic, and political situation and explore the options to open to us, suggest solutions and how to actualize them.”
Also present at the book launch was former Senate President and former Secretary to the government of the federation Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the permanent representative to African Union Nkoyo Toyo, and Chief Executive Officer of The School of Politics, Policy and Governance Alero Ayida-Otobo.