Former vice president Atiku Abubakar said on Tuesday that Nigeria, as it is currently constituted, is failing and greater autonomy needs to be granted to the states, the Premium Times has reported.
Mr Atiku made his comments while speaking at the official launch of ‘We Are All Biafrans’, a new book by journalist and scholar Chido Onumah, in Abuja.
Mr Atiku, who was Nigeria’s vice-president between 1999-2007, said Nigerians have suffered for too long under a poorly designed constitutional structure.
“Nigeria is not working, as well as it should and part of the reason is the poor way we have structured our economy and governance especially since 1960,” he said.
“The federal government is too big and too powerful relative to the federating units. That situation needs to change and calling for that change is patriotic.”
“We must refrain from assuming that anyone calling for restructuring of our federation is working for the breakup of our country. I reject that notion.”
Mr Atiku, who chaired the book launch, said the federal government cannot foster national unity despite its enormous power, contributing to the many crises Nigeria currently faces.
“An excessively powerful centre does not equate to national unity. Absolutely not. If anything, it has made our unity more fragile our government more unstable and our country more unsafe. We must renegotiate our union in other to make it strong,” he said.
“We must renegotiate our union in order to make it stronger. Greater autonomy, power and resources for states and local authorities will give the federating units greater freedom and flexibility to address local issues, priorities and peculiarities.”
Atiku went on to urge Nigerians to embrace a restructured Nigeria, saying it will also reduce the importance politicians place on elections to federal positions.
“Greater autonomy, power and resources for state and local authority will give the federations units greater freedom and flexibility to address local issues for their priorities and peculiarities,” he said.
“It will reduce the premium placed on capturing power at the centre. It will reduce insecurity. It will promote healthy rivalry amongst federations units. It will help to unleash our people’s creative energies and spur more development.”
The launch of ‘We Are All Biafrans’, which the author said tool him three years to put together, was attended by former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili and civil society leaders activists including Jubrin Ibrahim and Nnimo Bassey.
The book, which explains how the agitation for Biafra is actually a metaphor for all the tribes in Nigeria, was reviewed by Chidi Odinkalu, a professor of law and former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.