By George Odok
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, has stressed that the destiny of Nigeria can 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 Nigeria” held on Friday in Calabar.
The Minister said that what was required was for all Nigerians to continue to work towards a nation in which the doors of opportunity are open to all citizens irrespective of ethnicity, creed, class or circumstance.
Amaechi noted that tackling insecurity and criminality must also be on the front burner to avoid an escalation leading to un-governability.
He also cautioned the political elite on actions that contribute to insecurity in the nation.
“I agree with those patriotic voices who have cautioned that we need to do everything to arrest the general drift towards un-governability and state failure.
“Nigeria should not queue up behind nations that have allowed these nascent forces to threaten their very existence or overwhelm them. We should instead face up to the challenges with maximum will.
“It is in this context that we need to appreciate the valiant efforts being made by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to ensure our national survival through the restoration of security, rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure and the alleviation of desperate poverty,” he said.
According to him, the recent rise in the clamour for restructuring and regional self determination by Nigerians were legitimate, but added that the country’s current difficulties were transient and can be resolved through active engagement of all stakeholders.
“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,” he added.
Amaechi noted that the country was treasured by all Nigerians who are anxious that it transforms into a better place for all.
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 actualisation, 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 scourge of poverty could rise one day to devour the fortunes of the rich and prosperous,” he said.