Recently, the Northern Leaders gathered in Houston, Texas, United States of America for the 2012 international convention of the Zumunta, a Northern peoples’ group, where they discussed the problems that Nigeria faces as a result of insecurity. At the end of the three day convention tagged: “Challenges in Northern Nigeria: A Quest for Stability and Development”, the Executive President of the association, Dr. Ezekiel Macham spoke with our Correspondent, ABIODUN OLUWAROTIMI in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
On the killings of the innocents in the northern parts of the country by Boko Haram
The killing of innocents in the northern parts of the country is unacceptable, abhorring, inhuman and uncivilized. No matter what their reasons are, taking the life of fellow human beings does not resolve any conflict.
On the recent US designation of three leaders of Boko Haram as foreign terrorists
The naming of the sect leaders as foreign terrorists does not resolve the issue. It only puts Nigerians in a difficult situation when travelling abroad to conduct foreign activities. Those named should be seriously interrogated and if there is any credible evidence of terrorist activities against them, they should be brought to justice despite their positions in the society.
On the intensive calls on US President Barrack Obama to list the entire Boko Haram Sect as a foreign terrorist organization
President Barrack Obama should work closely with the Nigerian government in rooting out those who he feels are terrorists. Nigeria has always cooperated with the United States but I think naming the organization as a foreign terrorists group does not solve the problem. Identifying the culprits will help in eradicating the organizations.
On the federal government’s efforts in the area of providing security in the country
The Nigerian government is trying but is not trying enough. With the current security situation, we are yet to see one person that has been arrested, tried and persecuted. The terrorists seem to strike at will anywhere anytime they choose. Either someone is protecting them or the security agents are turning to the other side when such operations are undertaken.
Zumunta’s efforts to offer assistance to the federal government to resolve terrorist killings in the country
Zumunta continues to condemn such senseless acts. Our recently concluded convention focused primarily on the security challenges in the North. We had an intensive dialogue with experts and government and private officials participated in this conference. Previously we had conducted an extensive research on the root causes of security challenges in the North and a copy of our findings was sent to President Goodluck Jonathan, state governors and other agencies. We even invited and had a dialogue and conference with the Sultan of Sokoto, President of Christian Association of Nigeria, state governors, and experts on conflict resolution in an attempt to finding lasting solution to this conflicts.
On the recent outburst of the US Ambasador to Nigeria that terrorists killings in Nigeria are the results of betrayal from the federal government.
It is a combination of a lot things like injustice, poverty and unemployment. Politicians are taking advantage of the situation to score political points against their opponents, hundreds of unemployed youth roaming the streets with nothing to do are easily recruited to join the Sect. Whatever the reasons the act is unacceptable in any civil society.
On the calls for dialogues between the federal government and Boko Haram
Dialogue is okay if those creating the insurgence are identified and their concerns are known, but dialogue should not replace bringing those causing the havoc to justice. Government should explore all avenues and means to find a lasting solution to this menace. Dialogue alone is not enough.
On the achievements of the Zumunta both in the United States and Nigeria
Zumunta has over the years provided scholarship to the needy in Nigeria, conducted conferences and dialogue with government and private agencies on pressing issues affecting the region, organized events for teachers in the region on better teaching practices that help them better in impacting knowledge to students.
The motives behind the formation of the Zumunta
Zumunta was formed in 1991, to foster unity among people from the Northern region of Nigeria living in the United States. We also want to work together in finding ways of improving the region by offering scholarship, education, health and other benefits to our region.
Advice to the federal government
I want urge the Federal government to double up on the issues facing the country because there is the perception from the general population that the dream of making it in Nigeria is no longer attainable.
Nigerians no longer feel secured. Basic necessities of life are no longer attainable, corruption is in its highest level. While many are labouring everyday to survive, others with the strike of a pen become filthy rich.
Government, religious and traditional leaders should embark on a campaign to promote peace and this should go to the grass roots.
Let’s go back to the yester years when fellow Christians could sit together and dialogue without any fear. It is surprising that when you go to the motor pack to travel, you enter the same vehicle without knowing who is in the vehicle. There must be a radical change.