Former Presidential candidate in the 2007 polls, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has decried the high level of poverty in the country just as he regretted that political intolerance and impunity by political leaders in the country did not end with military rule.
Atiku who spoke as a guest speaker at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday, bemoaned the over-bearing attitude of Nigerian and other African leaders whom he said often see the opposition as enemies of the state.
In the same lecture, Atiku also corrected the widespread notion that Nigeria is a nation of crooks; he asserted that most Nigerians were hardworking people in productive ventures wherever they are found in the world.
In his paper entitled, ‘Deepening Democracy in Nigeria: Implications for Africa,’ Atiku Abubakar said as a result of such lip-service to democratic principles, “disregard for rules and regulations and the utter impunity with which they are committed,” has led to what he called “the militarisation of democracy.”
According to the former Vice-President, many retired military top brass who came into power as politicians entered the democratic arena without being able to shed their military mind-sets, thereby fuelling the culture of intolerance and entrenching impunity, which character- ises political reality in Nigeria.
Atiku, however, admitted that the democratic challenges did not stop the entrechment of fundamental rights in the country including the freedom of speech, of association and the restoration of the liberty to criticise the government with the return of democratic rule.
Painting a bleak picture of poverty in Nigeria, he said: “70 per cent of Nigerians are living below the poverty line and maternal mortality at 840 deaths per 100,000 births.”
According to him, Nigeria ranks the 9th worst in the world in 2008 and 10th worst in 2010 in terms of maternal mortality.