President of the Senate David Mark has urged northern leaders to check the rising violent activities of Boko Haram as its activities may break up the country. He said the code of silence is ominous and that northern leaders who keep mute in the face of the continuous insurgencies should speed up action on the matter.
The development came just as President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday called on the National Assembly to urgently review the country’s laws on terrorism in order to attack frontally the security challenges posed by the Boko Haram sect.
Jonathan and Mark spoke while declaring open the 2011 Senate Retreat taking place in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Speaking at the retreat with the theme, “The National Assembly and National Security: Securing the Future for Development”, Mark debunked insinuations that poverty is the root cause of the crisis. “It is all about religious fundamentalism and ideology, he said”.
“Poverty is not the cause, otherwise if every poor person decides to carry arms, then, Nigeria will cease to exist. So if people talk about poverty and hunger as the cause of the Boko Haram menace, I say no.
“If the elders in the North cannot speak out and stop this menace, let them tell us. Let them come out and say so boldly, because the belief out there is that some elders know about these people and decide to keep quiet. If care is not taken, the way things are going, if the Boko Haram menace is not halted, it can lead to break-up of Nigeria. Because there is an extent to which the people can take it.
“Bombing of churches every Sunday, killing innocent Christian worshippers has stretched the patience of the people to the limit. There is limit to human endurance.”
Nonetheless, Mark cautioned Christians on the danger of retaliation, saying that doing so means that they have succeeded in achieving their target. “Leave vengeance to God,” he appealed.
“If you are poor, does poverty encourage you to go and be killing your fellow human beings and bombing their places of worship?
“I think it is time we educate the suicide bombers in the North that it is a wrong belief that killing innocent people would automatically take them to heaven,” Mark stated.
Mark called on government to seek international collaboration with its neighbours as well as western countries on ways to tackle and uproot the Boko Haram sect.
Jonathan noted with sadness that unguarded remarks and statements by do-or-die politicians had led to destruction of several lives and properties in the northern parts of the country.
Jonathan warned such politicians to stop fanning the embers of ethnic and religious politics, adding that national security should not be sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics.
He called for joint collaboration of the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government on the need to review and strengthen existing laws on terrorism to reduce the activities of the sect.
Welcoming the participants at the Senate retreat, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State described the retreat as divinely arranged and apt, coming at a time Nigeria is experiencing security challenges.
Akpabio said that a strong union of the executive, legislature and judiciary was capable of solving the Boko Haram problem.
According to the governor, “the bombs and the killings would not deter the government of President Goodluck Jonathan from delivering on its mandate of transforming the country”.
Also on the occasion, speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said it was regrettable that “Our country today is facing security challenges of monumental proportions never witnessed in our history other than the civil war. The spate of outbreak of violence has become so widespread and frequent that the security apparatus of both the national and state governments appear overwhelmed as the reactionary curfews have proved to be near stop-gap measures.
“The damage to the Nigerian economy – especially to the dwindling fortunes of the north where most of these terrorism occur – is incalculable. This is even more worrisome against the backdrop of the vaulting poverty in the region, its industrial and infrastructural deficit. At a period when the region should be playing catch-up, its future is further being circumscribed by a ruthless orgy of violence that has continued despite all efforts. Ironically, the majority of the perpetrators of this unwarranted violence are northern elements and their immigrant collaborators.”
The speaker challenged the lawmakers to rise up to their responsibilities in the face of the daunting security situation and come up with ways to address the violence that has continued to spread despite concerted efforts to contain it.
He said: “As representatives of the people, the National Assembly cannot afford to watch while the nation plunges further into the abyss. This retreat is therefore a critical forum to examine all the avenues available for parliamentarians to end this wanton, gratuitous violence.
“We need to re- examine our laws again, to see if there are loopholes we can plug, and, if there are more creative ways, we can liaise with the other arms of government to bring synergy into the efforts to stop the unending state of violence. Again, as noted earlier, as legislators, our perspective on tackling the looming insecurity will essentially be in the areas of legislation and oversight. There appears to be a general consensus that, among many other causes, poverty and unemployment are some of the principal reasons for youth vulnerability to violence.
“In this regard, it means, we must examine whether budget crafting over the years has been efficient and also whether budget implementation has been effective. If we notice and admit failings in this regard, then, we must take a proactive and decisive action.”