Atiku's indictment of Northern indolence


By Yusuf Ilyasu Musa

“I don’t know what those who are afraid of restructuring are afraid of. Those afraid must be lazy”

These were the words of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, serial Presidential candidate and these days, the lone voice from the North for Restructuring. I was stuck in traffic on Monday morning when I caught a glimpse of such sensationalist headline on the front page of The Sun newspaper in the hands of a vendor, and first thought that came to my mind was, matters must have reached a sense of crescendo.

I mean, we can’t deny the fact that the calls for Restructuring is the number one issue on Nigeria’s tabloids; like polity, and normally a statement on the issue by the Waziri of Adamawa, being one of the chief proponents of the idea in the first place should not normally evoke much sentiments, and in the case of Junaid Mohammed, emotions.

However, why this latest statement stands out is that it is the first time Atiku is firing a salvo, albeit subtly in the direction of the only part of Nigeria so far not in tandem with the clamour for Restructuring, the North. But you see, that is why we all love Atiku.

For someone whose reputed generosity has attained legendary status, he still finds charitable ways of giving people things to talk about.  In my case, I am not complaining at all because writing about Restructuring is more intellectually engaging than writing about Pythons dancing(one for another day).

Now, regardless of the thoughts you may harbour against Atiku, I think courtesy demands that before a man of such stature makes an assertion of this weight, two fundamental conditions are expected to be fulfilled;

Firstly, it is expected at least in line with established principles that he who asserts must prove. Therefore, for Atiku, a politician with massive media reach both locally and internationally, the least duty he owes to the “people” he so thinly veiled his dig at is to back his assertion with reasonable proof maybe via statistics to show that indeed, there is laziness galore. That way, more than to be seen as being critical, it becomes a wake-up call.

The North has rich arable land for cultivation and has many farmers

An added advantage for such diligence is that it takes the politics away from such an important message. The problem with Nigeria is that everything gets washed away in politics. In Nigeria, we judge the messenger and throw away the message.

Secondly, after Atiku obtains verifiable statistics and indeed, laziness is diagnosed, what measures did he put in place to address the issue? And also, laziness is a broad term. In what spheres of life endeavours are they found wanting? To come out open, Atiku is a man with immense reach, he can call the attention of the Governor of any state where laziness rates are found alarming.

Atiku supposedly is a committed party member, he owes the duty to call the attention of the Party Chairman or the President through  a letter like the Governor of Kaduna State or even through a Minister at the Federal Executive Council, and report any development that is detrimental to Party ideals or in Nigerian terms, the chances of the party in the next election. Let me give Atiku a

Let me give Atiku a clue when the University of Ibadan was established, Sardauna did not resort to shaming his people. All hands were put on deck and in 1962, Ahmadu Bello University was established. That is visionary and sustainable leadership, not leadership for the next election.

As a Proprietor of a University in the North, It comes as a great disservice to the many hardworking students of the institution to now be seen as being from the lazy part of Nigeria. Atiku expects love and respect from the North.

Image result for the groundnut pyramids of northern nigeria
The ancient groundnut pyramids of Northern Nigeria

He wants the status of a leader because to him, he has suddenly found that inspiration to call a spade, a spade. And that to me is his greatest undoing, he is mistaking with leave, and as of right. Leaders have durable Public Institutions as legacies. Atiku has his companies to show for his foray in leadership positions.

It is important to discern Atiku’s new found grievance against the North. He has a message of Restructuring and understandably, there is a sense of frustration at the pace of the North in accepting the concept and its desirability or otherwise. It is too early for name calling.

Unlike the other times Atiku presented himself for election, the North is not entirely rejecting his idea. So the frustration is misplaced. It is too dangerous to dismiss the North as a bureaucratic bunch.

Restructuring, even though touted by Atiku and his cohorts as what Victor Hugo meant by “… an idea whose time has come” cannot be the only solution for Nigeria nor the North. They like to paint it as a matter of life and death but the beauty of Federalism is that every federating unit can decide the system best for them.

Also, it begs the important question, What is Restructuring? If truly Restructuring is an idea worth pursuing, why not write books and sponsor studies on its viability? Must we always resort to Newspaper front pages to pass messages across. Because to me, so far that is only where the argument exist.

Also, Atiku feels the need to preempt the efforts of the Northern Governors Forum and its committee on Restructuring led by Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal. Why not make or sponsor recommendations to the Committee. If anything, it even makes the work of the committee easier that highly placed northerners are advanced on the issue. Sincerity should be a watchword for our Politicians.

To borrow from the campaign slogan of Sam Nda Isiah, Atiku is a man with big ideas. That’s without a doubt. He is reputed to be the most prepared man for the Presidency. But to what ends? There is need for careful engagement. We leave in dangerous times especially in this era of Fake News. Using derogatory terms against a particular group of people can be termed Hate Speech.

Atiku needs to learn and adopt the ability of Right Thinking for, according to the motto of University of Ibadan, Recte Sapere Fons meaning right thinking is the fountain of Knowledge.

Musa can be reached on: 09094900222 and


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