Elder statesman and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku has warned that Nigeria is on the brink and that time had come to face reality.

The ace diplomat who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at the launch of a book on Justice Dadi Onyeama, backed the position of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, said the country has reached a tipping point.

Anyaoku noted that the country’s major challenge has been its inability to manage its diversity, noting that the only way to avoid total collapse was to restructure it into a workable federal system.

“My message is two-faceted: Nigeria is on the brink, and our foremost national challenge is the management of the country’s diversity. Every diverse federal country throughout the world achieves political stability and socio-economic development through successfully managing its national diversity,” he said.

“There are two common keys to this. The first is having an inclusive central government which gives the peoples of the component parts of the federation a sense of belonging that in turn underpins the sense of unity and patriotism in all the citizens.

“The second key is having adequate delegation of powers to the federating units to enable them handle their internal security and significant aspects of their socio-economic development.”

“To give two examples each of successful and unsuccessful diverse federations. Canada and India are successful diverse federations. The former has peacefully resolved the challenge of its multi-cultural diversity which in 1968 threatened to tear the country apart by the emergence of Quebec as a separate French-speaking country; and the latter, India, continues to be the world’s largest stable democracy which is successfully lifting its huge population from poverty.

“The two examples of unsuccessful diverse federations which came to grief are Yugoslavia and Sudan. The former following the death of its strong leader, Josep Tito, disintegrated into seven independent states; and the latter, after years of instability and civil war broke into two sovereign states that are continuing in turmoil.

“As we all know, our country Nigeria is indisputably a diverse country: multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-cultural. I must stress here that I belong to the school of thought who strongly believe that our country Nigeria albeit created in 1914 by accident of history, should be sustained and nourished as one national entity.

“I believe that with an insightful and sensitive management of its affairs, the Nigerian federation with its size and resources will offer peace and stability to all its component parts, as well as opportunities for self-fulfilling development to all its citizens.”

H noted that the country was in danger of collapse, and no objective observer could deny the existing reality.

“However today, Nigeria is on the brink. For no objective observer, including those in the Government, can deny that the current state of affairs in our country is extremely worrisome. We see an unprecedented diminution of national unity, we see an unprecedented level of insecurity of life and property with kidnappings and killings of human beings occurring virtually every day in many parts of the country including the seemingly unchecked violence by Fulani herdsmen which has spawned fractious controversies over the proposed RUGA policy by the Federal Government.

“For the sake of peace and integrity of the country, the RUGA policy must be handled with circumspection and strictly in accordance with our extant constitution’s provisions on land tenure.

“And we also see that all these unwholesome developments are accompanied by a worsening level of poverty that is leading to Nigeria fast becoming the poverty capital of the world.

“I call on our president, the members of the National Assembly, the governors, and indeed on all our political elites not to continue to live in denial of the seriousness of these glaring facts which, if not effectively addressed, are bound to push the country over the brink of a national disaster.

“Fortunately, to provide an insightful governance which would facilitate effective tackling of these challenges, Nigeria does not need to reinvent the wheel. If only the people in Government and all concerned would learn from our history thereby avoid validating the saying by the German philosopher, Friedrich Hegel, that ‘the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history’.

“Because it is undeniable that Nigeria’s history has demonstrated that the country attained greater sense of national unity and faster progress in socio-economic development during its period as a true federation of more viable federating units with greater devolution of powers to them. The period was in the immediate years after the country’s independence under its 1960/63 constitutions.

“As I have stated on many occasions, I believe that the current travails of Nigeria will be more effectively tackled if the country’s diversity is managed with a structure of governance that draws not only from the lessons of successful diverse federations, but more importantly, from Nigeria’s own past happier experience during its immediate post-independence years.”

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