Secession threats, inter-ethnic discontent and hate speech have plunged present day Nigeria into a division that has probably never been experienced before, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has said.
Abubakar who made the observation at the 40th anniversary of the Federal Government College Okigwe, Imo State on Saturday, noted that all tribes of the country needed one another to achieve desired goals.
“This celebration is coming at a critical time in our country’s history,” he said. “All of you must be aware of the recent agitations from different parts of the country, with some groups threatening violence and, in some cases, secession.
These agitations are the result of a number of factors which I will not bother going into at this time, although since you are all enlightened men and women, I have no doubt that you are well and fully aware of what they are.
“As a result of these various forces, the Nigeria of today appears more divided than it has ever been before. Our country is not at war in the sense of guns and bombs, but the level of inter-ethnic discontent, hatred, and hate speech is at an all-time high.”
Recently, Nigeria has been embroiled in secession calls particularly from the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in the South-eastern part of the country.
The secessionist movement which calls for an independent state of Biafra, a republic that existed for about three years during the Nigerian civil war, was in September designated a terrorist group by the Nigerian government.
To quell the tension which has arisen from IPOB agitation and that of other groups, many Nigerians have called for restructuring of the political system.
The former vice president, who was represented at the occasion by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, emphasised the need for unity among different ethnic groups rather than a restructure of the country.
“You know from personal experience that the Hausa man’s problem is not the Igbo man, that the Igbo man’s problem is not the Yoruba man, that the Yoruba man’s problem is not the Hausa man, etc.
“You know the beauty of unity, of living together as brother and sister, in the same dormitory, in the same classroom, of belonging to the same house and working towards the same goal, whether it be winning a medal during inter-house sports competitions or a prize during a quiz competition. You know that, at those critical times when everyone’s eye is on the goal, the Hausa and Igbo and Yoruba need one another, must depend on one another to achieve.”
Tracing the establishment of the school and other federal government colleges to a conscious move by the then military administration to promote unity after the civil war, Mr. Abubakar who is also the grand patron of the school, charged the students to take up the responsibility of restoring the lost glory of the country.
“My dear students and alumni of the Federal Government College, Okigwe, Nigeria needs you at this hour. The glory of what was begun here 40 years ago must not be allowed to die. It must be propagated throughout all our country. That is a responsibility that you must all meditate on as you celebrate with one another over the next few days of this grand occasion.”