The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi has rejected calls for secession and restructuring, saying that the destiny of Nigeria can be best actualised in the context of one indivisible and united nation.
Amaechi stated this while delivering the 34th Convocation Lecture of the University of Calabar, titled “The National Question and the Challenges of Nationhood in Calabar.
According to him, the concerns about Nigeria’s future are legitimate, but the difficulties are transient and can be resolved through active engagement of all stakeholders.
The Minister said it is unfair to blame President Muhammadu Buhari for the rising poverty rate which according to him, preceded the current administration.
“In recent days, we have begun to hear loud voices of disunity from various sections of the country. In response to current economic difficulties and the problem of insecurity, some have insisted on the now familiar argument for restructuring of the federation.
“Others have advocated increased regional autonomy. Some extremists are calling for secession of parts of the country from the federation. None of these divisive options would serve the urgent needs of this nation or the long term aspiration of all our people for a better life in a happier nation.
“Let me say without any fear that the concerns being raised by Nigerians about the future of our country are legitimate. They are indications of great patriotism and love. We all treasure this country and are anxious that it transforms into a better place for all of us. This overwhelming wish for a better Nigeria far outweighs the doomsday predictions of a few pessimists.”
He added that ethnicity and class, poverty and inequality are a major part of the problem, describing poverty as one of the greatest threats to the country’s national unity and survival.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me state that the desperate poverty that we have today has its roots in dispensations that came before the Buhari administration. Specifically, our epidemic of mass poverty dates back to the return of civil rule in our country. It is unfair to heap the responsibility for the prevalence of poverty and inequality on this or any one administration in the history of the country.
“I have a personal conviction that of all the challenges facing our nation’s actualization, none is more urgent than the scourge of increasing poverty and the threat of massive inequality. We must attack and conquer inequality and extreme poverty or the poor will overrun Nigeria.
“Let us take the threat of mass poverty seriously and elevate inequality to the status of a perennial national emergency in the years ahead. Nearly all the troubles that confront us as a nation can be traced to either direct poverty or the fear that the ogre of poverty could rise one day to devour the fortunes of the rich and prosperous.
“I believe that the destiny of Nigeria can only be best actualized in the context of one indivisible and united nation. What is required is for us to continue to work towards a nation in which the doors of opportunity are open to all our citizens irrespective of ethnicity, creed, class or circumstance.”
Amaechi had also said that economic and infrastructure development would reduce crime and give better functionality to the security agencies in Nigeria.