Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Turaki Adamawa, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is unaguably the man of the moment. Since his victory at the Port Harcourt convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he was crowned the Presidential flag bearer of the party, a good number of Nigerians are beginning to see Atiku Abubakar as the face of a new Nigeria, a Nigeria where the different ethnic and religious groups in the country will live together in peace and harmony.
This was attested to during Atiku’s recent rapprochement visit to his one-time boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, when he was accompanied by a rainbow coalition, made up of different ethnic nationalities and representatives of different religious divides in the country.
The appointment of an ebullient and entrepreneurial young man, Mr. Peter Obi, as his running mate, which is to bridge the gap between the young and the old, is a further confirmation that Atiku Abubakar may be aiming at a Nigeria of the future.
For long, Nigerians have been living a false life of unity, pretending that all was well, while they have all along been viewing each other with suspicion, fear and hatred, instituted by the erstwhile British colonial overlords who laid a faulty foundation of the country.
Even before Nigeria attained nationhood in October 1960, representatives of various interest groups in the country had held series of constitutional meetings aimed at fashioning out an acceptable framework for cohabitation of different elements that made up the area. In the end, what came out was a delicate balance embodied in the 1960 Independence Constitution. A little tinkering led to the 1963 Constitution, when Nigeria became a Republic.
All these efforts did not prevent the military from upturning the system and intervening in the country’s body politics, which led to the subsequent civil war that took heavy toll in men and materials.
The military involvement in the politics of the country had further worsened the delicate political situation, which led to the total departure from the original concept of Nigeria as a federation, made up of various component units with semi-autonomous status.
Today, every minute decision that concerns every part of the country is taken at the centre and then passed down to the component units to swallow line hook and sinker. In this vein, every kobo collected or accrued from the various resources obtainable from even the remotest part of the country is taken to the centre before it would be brought out and shared to the component units. This is an aberration of the supposed federal nature of Nigeria.
As imperfect as the 1963 Republic Constitution was, at least, each of the then four regions had the power to regulate its operations aimed at bettering the lives of the people living under their jurisdictions. Each of them had its own constitution, operated within the ambit of a federal system. This had helped to instill the spirit of competitiveness among these component units, and which led to the dramatic growth of the country.
For long, Nigerians have therefore been agitating against the present political arrangement, which they see as most suffocating. They want Nigeria to be restructured to give room for individual self expression and to give true meaning to the original concept of the country as a federal system.
The outcome of the 2014 National Conference instituted by President Goodluck Jonathan would have been a better arrangement, but the present administration has refused to touch it with a six-foot spoon. The administration also does not even have restructuring in its agenda. It wants Nigeria to remain as it is, which is benefiting to only a few people, and not to the generality of the citizenry.
We believe that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar does not view Nigeria the same way some conservative elements view the country. He is educated. He is liberal. He is cosmopolitan. He is a business man. He is a politician.
Atiku Abubakar has told us that he was committed to the task of restructuring Nigeria, if elected President of the country, since, according to him, he believes that restructuring would benefit every sections of the country. He equally believes that restructuring would grow Nigeria and make every Nigerian comfortable.
With his vast connections and experiences, both in politics and in business, we believe that Atiku Abubakar knows what to do. He knows how to handle the delicate balance of the country. We also believe that Atiku Abubakar has both the knowledge and the capacity to turn Nigeria around.
Our only prayer and hope is that Atiku Abubakar will not be like Buhari, who came to us with the gospel of “change”, but after we have given him our votes, he decided to focus his own “change” backwards!