As leaders and groups in Southern region continue the clamour for restructuring, Nigeria’s former vice-president, Mr Atiku Abubakar, at the weekend lamented the growing discontent and agitations in the country, saying there had never been a time that the country had been as divided as it is today.
Speaking while delivering a goodwill message at the Old Students’ Association of the Federal Government College, Okigwe in Imo State, he said though there was no full scale war in the country at the moment, he expressed regret over the level of inter-ethnic discontent, hatred, and hate speech, noting that it was worrisome.
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 notbother 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, Nigeria of today appears more divided than it has ever been before.”
The former vice-president, who traced the origin of Federal Government Colleges popularly known as ‘Unity Schools’ to the end of the civil war, said the idea of setting up the schools was to foster national unity and cohesion.
He said that Nigeria’s best brains were trained at the unity schools not only to be academically sound, but to see themselves as Nigerians rather than as Igbo or Hausa or Yoruba or any other ethnic group.
He however lamented that such laudable virtues were fast being eroded with the present state of affairs in the country.
“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,” he said.
Atiku told the students and alumni of the Federal Government College, Okigwe, that Nigeria needed them now more than ever.
He said: “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.
“That is also the responsibility that you must carry on your shoulders as you depart to your various locations across the globe. Whether locally or from the diaspora, you must each and every one of you see yourselves as entrusted with a critical role in mending the cracks that hate and divisions have marked in the social and political life of our great country, Nigeria.
“This is the time to lace your boots. This is the time to roll up your sleeves. This is the time to give back. Nigeria once gave you her best and it is time for Federal Government College, Okigwe, to give her best back to Nigeria.”