BY JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH, IGHO
OYOYO, ORJIME MOSES, Abuja; ABU NMODU, Minna; ACHOR
ABIMAJE, Jos; FEMI OYEWESO,
Amid growing tension arising from communal clashes in parts of the country, a former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) has called for urgent actions to save the country from imminent anarchy and disintegration.
Abdulsalami who is the chairman the National Peace Committee (NPC) warned that the embers of disunity, anarchy and disintegration were being fanned unabated and are spreading rapidly.
Decrying what he referred to as the growing and additional tension to existing security challenges in the country, he told journalists at his hilltop mansion in Minna, the Niger State capital that “if care is not taken, this might lead us to point of no return.”
“As if the continued insurgency in the country, the kidnapping and armed robbery are not cup full, the recent happenings in some parts of the country of ethnic attacks are unfortunate and is adding to the problems,” the former Nigerian leader said
Consequently, he noted that the National Peace Committee decided to add its voice to million voices calling for calm, adding that it is a trying and difficult time that requires collective action for the nation’s unity.
Commending the effort of President Muhammadu Buhari in exploring all measures aimed at lowering tensions, he said, “We do not have the luxury of trading blames.”
He also appealed to the state governors to “sheathe their swords and tone down their rhetoric and take full responsibility for managing the divergent voices and frustrations within their states.”
“It is true we are all in a state of fear and collective anxiety. However, the last thing we need is for the enemy to sense a lack of unity on our part or a break in our ranks” the former head of state said.
Also commending the security personnel for their sacrifices, he said, “We appeal to the new service chiefs and Inspector-general of Police to rise to the urgent demands of the moment by rallying their troops and designing the best strategy for ending the tragic war that has continued to consume and destroy the foundation of our dear country.
“We hope that based on their field experience in this war, they can draw up a well-coordinated programme to ensure that all our resources are deployed to achieve the much needed victory in this avoidable war”.
He also appealed to Nigerians inflicted with pain to remain resilient and patient, even as he lamented that many people were rendered homeless and made refugees in their own country.
“We know the difficulties that our farmers have faced in the last few years and that the harvests will be a serious challenge this year,” he noted.
Abdulsalami also appealed to traditional rulers, development associations and non-governmental organisations to work towards mobilising Nigerians to live in peace by “making required sacrifices and remain vigilant in standing by one another.”
PMB Vows To Punish Perpetrators Of Ethnic Tension
Meanwhile, President Buhari yesterday attributed the upheavals in some parts of the country to the schemes of a few people with resources and influence, assuring that they will be identified and dealt with in due course.
Buhari who spoke when he received a delegation of Borno/Yobe Elders Forum on a courtesy visit said, “I am confident that we will eventually convince the small number of people with resources and influence that are a nuisance to this great country. God willing, we will identify them, and deal with them. I am extremely concerned about your constituency like the rest of the country”.
The president also said that the stability of the country was of paramount interest to him and that the federal government will continue to work towards it despite the actions of a few bad people.
“We need this country. We will continue to work for its stability. I feel that whatever happens, we will continue to make it, and will keep on praying to God so that for those who feel that they don’t need Nigeria, we will succeed over their intentions and actions,” he added.
President Buhari noted the request for the upgrade and development of infrastructure in the states and assured that while he would do his best in acceding to the requests, he would, however, prioritise development in education.
In his remarks, governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, said the leaders were in Abuja to thank the president for the tremendous improvement in their states and to intimate him with some of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.
Also speaking, Architect Bunu Sheriff and Gambo Gubio thanked the president as well as the armed forces for their commitment and sacrifices in bringing a new lease of life to the Northeast.
Also on the delegation were Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State as well as Senators, traditional rulers and elders from the two states.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Zulum said it was to thank the president and put forward requests for more troops and infrastructure for the Northeast region.
Also speaking, former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, disclosed that Buhari expressed appreciation for the progress achieved during his time as governor and assured that all efforts to restore normalcy to the Northeast would be sustained.
We Will Calm Frayed Nerves, Say Northern Governors
Meanwhile, northern governors yesterday said their meeting with a delegation of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) led by Prof Ango Abdullahi was part of their engagements to calm frayed nerves and find a lasting solution to illegal ‘quit notices’ given to Nigerians in some parts of the country.
Chairman of Northern States’ Governors Forum and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, said the governors had a very fruitful discussion with the Northern Elders Forum last night.
Lalong, who spoke at the Plateau State Governor’s Lodge after the meeting with NEF, said, “When we have issues like this we look at the way forward that is what we have discussed.”
He added that after their earlier meeting in Kaduna, the forum sent a delegation of northern governors to Oyo State to assess the situation and then report back to the Northern Governors Forum.
“They are the representatives of Northern Governors. They are going to report to the house, the Northern Governors forum. And as I earlier mentioned is now the time to calm the nerves because as it is tension is everywhere. So we are calming nerves. We are working to make progress where there are grievances we put our heads together in finding ways of solving some of these grievances,” he said.
Also speaking shortly after the meeting, NEF leader, Prof Ango Abdullahi, said they came to lodge the complaints of northerners to the governors.
“We came to seek their support on some of the initiatives we have taken. We came to seek assurances from them in terms of maintaining the interests of Northerners,” he noted.
Prof Abdullahi said they got assurances from the governors as they were briefed on the number of measures being taken.
He said the elders urged the governors to continue to be vigilant for the interest of the Northerners and collaborate with their counterparts in other parts of Nigeria to make sure that they deescalate the tension.
Reps Warn Against Inflammatory Statements
Also reacting to the state of the nation, the House of Representatives yesterday cautioned leaders at all levels, especially state governors, to refrain from making inflammatory and divisive statements capable of causing unrest in the country.
The House resolved to interface with the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) with a view to finding a lasting solution to the issues of insecurity in the country rather than making excuses.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon Musa Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau) on the need to caution public officials against making inflammatory and divisive statements.
Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, asked Nigerians with large followers of people who listen to them and respect their voices, to be more circumspect about the information they share, the language they use, and the conversations they enable.
Gbajabiamila said, “The words we use about each other can have outsize consequences on our nation’s peace and stability because words have the power to build and also to destroy.”
It’s Time To Create Agency for Herdsmen – Malami
For his part, the Attorney-general of the Federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has called on the federal government to create an agency that would check the activities of herdsmen in the country.
Malami made the call at the peace unity and security lecture series with the theme: ‘Sustainable Peace: The Growing Divide of a Nation’ organised by Leaders and Life News House in Abuja.
He said that one of the issues that dominated the media space in recent times was the issue of farmers-herders conflict, noting that the farmer-herder crisis was real.
He added that the menace requires real-time and practically-oriented solutions.
According to him, the better approach towards resolving the crisis over the short, medium and long terms is to directly involve the stakeholders in the coming up with solutions at the conception, implementation and monitoring faces.
In this case, he said community-oriented approach is likely to yield greater dividend in diffusing and eventually eliminating the menace that has retarded economic development and created wide-spread insecurity.
“It is not out of place for me to say that simply addressing farmer-herder crisis from purely theoretical perspective often devoid of reality and without synchronization with the needs and aspirations of the involved stakeholders is not only counter-productive, but inimical to the emergence and sustenance of a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
“It is against this backdrop that I proffer the following recommendations for the consideration of the symposium: Provision of water holes in remote grazing locations, subsidized veterinary care and mobile ambulatory services for surgeries and other medical interventions for livestock. Provision of infrastructure, social amenities, educational facilities and cattle markets at central locations to accelerate nomadic settlements; educating communities on the need for peaceful co-existence; after all these communities have lived harmoniously side by side and even intermarried for generations”, he noted.