Former Vice President and All Progressives Congress, (APC) presidential hopeful, Atiku Abubakar, has said that he was ready to sacrifice his ambition for the restructuring of the polity.
Atiku made the declaration at the weekend in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at a youth forum organised by a coalition of civil society groups under the auspices of Play Forum.
Restating his reservation towards the existing arrangement which he dismissed as unitary arrangement foisted on the nation by the military, he submitted that Nigerians need to discuss how to reform the structure of government to guarantee oneness among the federating states.
“I want to agree essentially that there is every need for us to sit down and talk about our future. This is because the arrangements in the last 50 years or so have not served us very well.”
“I am not a product of the current structure of Nigeria. I am a product of regional government. I saw the government at work and I have also seen the current arrangement at work.
“That was why I came out, some people even said to the detriment of my political career, to advocate for restructuring or rearrangement or whatever you call it of the present structure of the country. I still stand by it. But we cannot determine the nitty-gritty of this restructuring until we are able to dialogue and agree on how we want to continue to live together as a country.
“It is good that all the representatives of the ethnic groups agreed that we should continue to live together, I believe it is imperative.”
But I also don’t believe in the current arrangement which I have always referred to as unitary federalism which was a creation of a prolonged military rule.
He fingered the military regime of the late General Murtala Muhammed which he accused of insisting on a strong centre while setting up Constituent Assembly in 1978 and called for urgent reform of the arrangement by all stakeholders in the polity to inspire economic development.
“It all started after the civil war when General Murtala Muhammed set up the Constituent Assembly of 1978 and specifically instructed the Assembly to recommend a very strong federal government which no component can challenge or try to secede.
“He was understandably coming from the perception of Biafra civil war. He felt that the war was caused by the region which felt that it was too independent to poll out of the country.