Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said Nigeria is trapped in the web of poverty, insecurity and bad governance.
Atiku spoke during a lecture on Thursday organised by Arewa media and Development Forum in Kaduna.
He, however, added that a united Nigeria was possible if all Nigerians were treated fairly and equally.
He said all Nigerians were faced with common enemy, adding that “it is only through unity that we can surmount and overcome our challenges.”
Speaking on the theme, ‘Unity in Diversity,’ as delivered by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, the former Vice President said all Nigerians should be treated equally.
He said, “I don’t see any Nigerian as Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. When I see you, I see you as a Nigerian and I expect the best from you. That is why I didn’t select where I should marry from. I married women from the diverse background because I don’t look at their backgrounds. I only see them as wonderful Nigeria women. My children have brothers and sisters from different background and that is why I am confident that a strongly united Nigeria is possible because I made it happen in my family.
“All Nigerians are equal and supposed to be treated equally; unity is not about homogeneity, but by accepting the diversity in differences between us. This kind of unity cannot be achieved by accident; there must be strategic efforts to promote unity.
“Language is another primary source of disunity; that is why I recommend a national law to mandate every Nigerian to speak one more language from another region of the country, so that we can connect and appreciate things we share in common.
“Atiku added, “Our common enemies do not recognise who is from the South or North, Muslim or a Christian. If we stand divided we will be trapped by the enemy. We can only escape if we work together.
“Unity is your strength; as long as you stay united no harm can come our way. Just like the pigeons we are all trapped in the net of poverty, insecurity, backwardness and bad governance and the only thing that can save us from this trap is unity.”
Meanwhile, the Akwa Ibom State’s helmsman expressed concern that the bane of Nigeria’s unity has to do with nepotism.
Emmanuel noted that there was more diversity than unity among Nigerians presently compared to time past when every Nigerian could win election irrespective of ethno-religious and regional backgrounds.
The governor who was the guest speaker at the lecture argued that the people needed the nation as a melting pot, where the identities remain but the flavours blend, “where, as the first stanza of our former national anthem so emotionally enjoined, ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.’
“What we see nowadays is a country where ethnic champions drive the narrative, and the cacophony of discordant voices makes it difficult for us to hear ourselves.”
He added, “We must ensure that there is equity and justice and that no part of the country is made to feel less of itself as this will definitely not augur well for our union.”