In a recent statement, former Niger State Commissioner for Information, Culture, and Tourism, and a prominent member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Jonathan Vatsa, emphasized the importance of unity and rejected the use of ethnic and religious identities as tools to gain favor or sympathy, particularly in the northern region of Nigeria.
Vatsa made these remarks in Minna in response to a recent exchange between Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmed Gumi and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike. Gumi had raised a question about which region should produce the FCT minister, sparking a debate.
Vatsa criticized Gumi, suggesting that his involvement with bandits in the forest had disconnected him from the realities of the northern region. He argued that it’s time to move past divisive considerations based on ethnicity and religion.
Vatsa highlighted the significance of Abuja, the nation’s capital, as a symbol of national unity. He stated, “Any region that is laying claim to the ownership of Abuja is indirectly laying claim to the ownership of Nigeria.” He pointed out that Abuja’s development had been made possible through contributions from various parts of the country, including resources from sectors such as oil, cattle rearing, and cocoa.
Furthermore, Vatsa expressed his concern about the absence of a clear means of identifying who is truly a Nigerian. He acknowledged that Nigeria lacks a robust system for determining citizens and immigrants, making it challenging to define who should have a say in national matters. He also attributed the country’s security challenges to this lack of a clear identification system.
Vatsa asserted that in Nigeria, citizenship is often associated with one’s religious beliefs and the ability to speak indigenous languages, such as Hausa. He suggested that this simplified definition of citizenship has contributed to the prevailing security issues across the nation.
Lastly, Vatsa pointed out that if any region should advocate for the appointment of the FCT minister, it should be Niger State, as approximately 80 percent of Abuja’s land area is within its boundaries.
In conclusion, Jonathan Vatsa’s statements underscore the need for national unity and the rejection of divisive factors like ethnicity and religion when considering the leadership and ownership of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. He also highlighted the challenges stemming from the lack of a robust system for identifying Nigerian citizens.