By Monsor Olowoopejo & Gabriel Olawale
LAGOS—Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, dismissed insinuations that restructuring of the country would benefit the South to the disadvantage of the North, urging Northern opponents of the proposal not to kill themselves over the South’s vanishing oil.
Abubakar spoke at a book launch in Lagos where former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (retd), affirmed that Nigerians must come together, irrespective of political or ethnicities, to frontally confront the issues that challenge the unity of the country.
They spoke at the launch of a book, “In the belly of vultures,” written by veteran journalist and erstwhile Managing Director of Daily Times of Nigeria, Tola Adeniyi.
The book launch was witnessed by some of the country’s leading personalities, among whom were some former governors, including Aremo Segun Osoba (Ogun), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), Otunba Niyi Adebayo (Ekiti), among several other dignitaries which also included Vanguard publisher, Mr Sam Amuka, and former Concord Newspapers Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Doyin Abiola.
Affirming that restructuring was not a sectional agenda, Atiku, who was represented by Prof. Maxwell Gidado, said: “Restructuring is not a sectional thing or sectional demand. And it will not benefit only some sections of the country and hurt others. It will benefit the whole country.
“Those who fear that it is designed to hurt them to the benefit of others or to benefit only them at the expense of others are grossly mistaken.
“A country, including its economy, is like an organism. Thus, what affects one part affects the other parts and the country as a whole. The existing structure impedes our progress as a nation irrespective of what specific sections think.
“Similarly, restructuring, if properly done, will benefit the whole nation, whatever the short term inconveniences a section or sections may feel.”
On oil resources
Noting current geopolitical squabble over oil resources, Atiku said: “Our current structure, which is based on oil rents, is vulnerable because oil has probably reached its peak as the chief energy source for the world economy.
‘’You probably know that the world’s major automobile manufacturers and oil consumers have announced dates between 2025 and 2040 to end the manufacture and sale of fossil fuel-only vehicles.
“This is important for all of us and especially for those in the oil-producing region, where some people sometimes talk about restructuring as though it is designed to punish the North. The good news for the North is that a restructured Nigeria is in the North’s long-term economic interest.
“We should not be fighting for a bigger share of what is a disappearing resource. It amounts to a fight for a bigger share of the past, and not the future. So both the oil-bearing sections and non-oil bearing sections of this country need to pay more attention to agriculture, fisheries, renewable energy, biotechnology, information technology, Nano-technology, artificial intelligence and so on.”
Babangida calls for unity
General Babangida in his remarks, urged Nigerians to unite to proffer solutions to the country’s challenges.
Babangida added that a united Nigeria would afford everyone the opportunity to discuss challenges and possible solutions to the country’s problems.
The former Head of State, who was represented by ex-Minister of Communications, Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retd), said: “All Nigerians must not lose the ability to discuss national issues calmly and respectfully regardless of party affiliations and other differences.
“We must come together as a unified entity to solve our collective problems. Therefore, we must not allow hate speeches and fake news destroy the fabrics of our national cohesion.”
Restructuring, key component to address challenges —Amuka
Mr. Amuka on his part, said restructuring was a key component of the solutions needed to address the challenges facing Nigeria.
He said: “Though I have been part of numerous meetings where it was suggested that without restructuring, Nigeria could not go on, pragmatically, how best can we effect it?
“And some of the solutions proffered by Tola Adeniyi in his book are for us to embark on a National Government. Fine as it was suggested but how do we achieve it, considering the circumstances facing the country?”
Dr. Abiola, widow of the deceased business mogul, Bashorun Moshood Abiola, on her part, said she had paid the price by walking her talk.
“Some of us paid the price for walking the talk. And for now, I am happy in the comfort of my grand-children. We are the vultures, and the sole advice I have for all is to pay adequate attention to your children and grand-children. That is where hope lies.’’
While explaining reasons for publishing the book, Adeniyi said journalistic materials, articles, and stories were historical materials written in a hurry which could be lost.
“But once we have it in a book form, everyone, including unborn generations, can always make reference to it. In over 50 years of writing, I already wrote over 20,000 articles.”