As Nigeria braces for the 2019 general election, former head of state, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, has cautioned the political class on the need for peace, noting that there will neither be a nation nor space for politicking without peace.
He also described the spate of killings in the country as senseless and urged Nigerians to provide intelligence on those responsible for the killings.
The former head of state said this while speaking with newsmen after a delegation of Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly held a closed-door meeting with him on the current state of the North and the country in general.
The group, which also met with former Vice President Namadi Sambo in Abuja, had also met with former heads of state, Gen Yakubu Gowon on Thursday in Abuja, and Gen Ibrahim Babangida, last month at his residence in Minna, Niger State.
Speaking with newsmen after his closed-door meeting with the NLSA delegation, Abubakar, said, “I have no other advice than to keep the peace, because it is paramount to everything. If there is no peace, there is no nation. If there is no peace, there won’t be any politicking. So it is absolutely necessary for each and every one of us to put hands on deck to ensure that there is peace in the country.
“And all these senseless killings, senseless criminality that is going on won’t serve any purpose. Please let’s joins hands and make sure that we give peace a chance.”
He further told political parties that once they make peace, they can always solve the problems facing the country.
On his advice to the present administration on how to tackle the killings in the country, the former head of state said, “Well, I wonder at people when they start asking these questions. You and I and every Nigerian have a role to play to bring peace to this country. Government is not only in the villa.”
Abdulsalami Abubakar encouraged the people to provide credible intelligence to security agencies.
“These criminals, are they Nigerians or are they foreigners? If they are foreigners, have we reported that they are coming into the country? Are we giving intelligence? And if they are Nigerians, are they not our brothers and sisters? Don’t we know them? Have we exposed them? So each and every one of us has a role to play.”
Leader of the NLSA delegation and former presidential political adviser, Tanko Yakassi, said the association was non-partisan but political. He added that the motivation for the association was to meet former leaders on the need to champion a common front for the good of the country in general and the North in particular.
However, former minister of women affairs, Hajiya Inna Mariam Ciroma, who was part of the delegation, revealed that northern leaders had advised that all Northern groups, including Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elders Forum, should coalesce into one formidable group.
She said, “Our group is non-partisan. In this group, we are all free to support any candidate that we choose to support. It is not about bringing a candidate that is acceptable to all of us. It is not possible.
It is not about 2019. It is about the unity and progress of the north.
PDP Writes UN
Meanwhile, the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has formally written the United Nations (UN) over the spate of killings, human rights abuses and its fears ahead of the 2019 general election.
The letter entitled, ‘Threats to Democracy, Rule of Law, Basic Freedoms and Gross Human Rights Violations by the Federal Government of Nigeria,’ was obtained by LEADERSHIP Sunday.
The petitioned signed by the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, was addressed to the UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres.
The petition was sent via the UN Office in Abuja and copied to the European Union, US Ambassador, Stuart Symington; British High Commissioner, Paul Thomas Arkwright; and Ambassador of France, Denys Gayer.
Others who were copied the letter were the ambassadors of Germany, Dr Bernhard Schlagheck; China, Dr Zhou Pingjiang and Russia, Mr Nikolay N. Udovichenko.
PDP, in its petition, said despite persistent killings and wanton destruction of several communities, not even one person has been arrested or prosecuted by the federal government for these crimes against humanity.
The party described the killings in Benue, Enugu, Kogi, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Zamfara states as state-sponsored.
Referring to the recent outburst of former minister of defence and elder statesman, Gen Theophilus Y. Danjuma, who openly accused the armed forces of colluding with the killer-herdsmen and providing them cover to kill helpless and unarmed citizens, the petition said,
“On a daily basis, the nation is inundated with news of gruesome killings and unabating violence across the country, with Nigerians being hacked down or abducted by marauders and insurgents under the inept President Buhari’s government which has failed to take decisive steps to stem the ugly tide.
“There have been several allegations of the military and police authorities refusing to act on early warning information to prevent attacks on several communities in Benue and Taraba states. In some cases, the Police and the Army authorities withdrew their personnel just before attacks took place. The attacks on unarmed communities are unabated in several states and there has not been even a single clash or confrontation between the killers and the security forces.”
The party also raised the alarm on plots to subvert the electoral process in 2019.
The petition read, “the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been indicted for registering and issuing Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) to millions of underage persons, particularly in Kano and Katsina states. INEC has refused to take decisive steps to restore the sanctity of its register, particularly in these states, but has rather made a puerile explanation of plans to investigate the allegation. The nation was petrified by the Commission’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, who announced that the INEC registered minors because its agents were threatened by members of the communities in those states.
“The plan by INEC to ask the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help them monitor campaign funds is clearly an illegal and Machiavellian way of suppressing opposition’s financial contributions and spending. It is a plot to detain, frame up, intimidate and illegally block bank accounts of opposition members under the pretext that they have been mandated by INEC to monitor campaign funds.”
The petition added that plans were in top gear by INEC, in connivance with the federal government, to secretly and illegally create additional 30,000 new polling units, 70% of which will be allocated to the north while 30% will be allocated to the south.
“This move, it said, “was initiated by INEC before the last election and jettisoned due to overwhelming public outcry. INEC is now trying to discreetly re-introduce the extra polling units as a safety net for a desperate President Buhari.”
The party also called on the international community to intervene in the persecution of opposition leaders.
“The so-called War Against Corruption has transmuted into a coven of sleaze and graft of unprecedented dimension. Corruption is so condoned in official quarters that the chairman of EFCC remains in office even after the Directorate of State Service (DSS) found him unfit for the office and the Nigerian Senate, acting on that report, rejected his nomination,” the party added .
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