An Abuja-ased Islamic cleric and founder of Islamic Research Centre, Sheikh Mohammad Nuru Khalid, has called for the stoppage of moving cattles around to graze openly, saying that normadic system is no longer fashionable.
Sheikh Khalid also warned against sacrificing meritocracy for religious and ethnic sentiments in choosing leaders ahead of the 2023 general elections.
This is as the founder of 1001 voices, Chief Ide Owodiong Idemeko, has also said that with good governance and meritocracy in the system, nobody will care where the next President of the country will come from.
Both the Islamic cleric and Chief Idemeko were among the participants at a zoom townhall meeting organised by the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) also known as Pyrates Confraternity, Abuja 1 Chapter, to commemorate the 2021 International Day of Peace with the theme “Fostering Peace in a Climate of Mutual Distrust, the Role of Leadership.”
The townhall meeting which was moderated by Mr. Viktor Oscar Ikiriko, a Peace Ambassador and public commentator, also had in attendance Mrs Kemi Okenyodo, a legal practitioner and Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Centre.
In his presentation, Sheik Khalid opined that peace is possible in Nigeria but “we first need to create psychological peace in the people. It is only when one has peace of mind that he or she can give peace to others.”
He further said that some politicians and international persons seemed to be benefitting from the alleged inability of the government to stem the tide of insecurity.
According to him, “Boko Haram insurgency was used as an excuse to vote out the Good luck Jonathan administration but the current administration has failed badly in addressing issues around insecurity in the country.”
Speaking on electoral violence, Sheikh Khalid advocated for stringent laws against political thuggery, while stressing that making laws by itself will solve no problems unless the laws are fully and impartially enforced.
On choosing leaders in the forthcoming general elections, he warned that merit should not be sacrificed on the altar of religious and ethnic sentiments, adding that sentiment in the choice of leaders was another monster that the nation has to deal with.
He advised that emotions should be kept aside, while constitutional provisions be followed because “it is what binds us together as a secular state without any religious or ethnic preference.”
Sheik Khalid warned against the current fire brigade approach allegedly adopted in reacting to religious crises even as he advised that, “we adopt the more proactive approach of holding regular interactions with citizens and having Imams and Christian clergymen together preaching peace and religious tolerance.
“Doing this regularly will improve religious harmony and also reduce distrust among Christian and Muslim faithful, this he says will work better than them preaching to their faithful individually in churches and mosques.”
He also spoke on the need to empower religious associations like the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs to suspend or sanction erring religious leaders who preach hate and violence.
In addition, he advised that to curb the farmer/herders clashes which have contributed to national insecurity, cattle breeders be gradually migrated to modern methods of cattle breeding starting with grazing reserves and stopping the movement of cattle around to graze openly.
“The normadic system we are using now is no longer fashionable. Security agents should also be empowered to curtail banditry and dispel the belief all Fulani people are bandits,” he said.
In his own submissions, Chief Idemeko posited that to foster peace, ordinary citizens need to be brought into the policy making process and also have increased access to quality education, good healthcare, affordable housing and enhanced food security.
“It is only when citizens are physically empowered before they can contribute meaningfully to social discourse,” he said.
He further said, “when you have good governance and meritocracy in the system, nobody cares where the next President is going to come from.”
In profering solution, Chief Idemeko advised that the country should take a critical look at the roles and responsibilities of traditional rulers who he said are also stakeholders in project Nigeria and fashion out a fundamental role for them in internal security.
He also advocated for state and local government policing and the strengthening of our institutions to drive our democratic process.
Chief Idemeko pointed out that security is everybody’s business and leadears should engage the youths and give them jobs to do so that they will not be open to banditry and other vices.
Mrs. Kemi Okenyodo attributed insecurity in Nigeria to bad governance, adding, “Bad governance causes strife and conflicts and these in turn cause insecurity. Ensuring equal opportunities and implementing judicial reforms will help douse tension in the polity.”
She advised leaders to take the welfare and security of the vulnerable members of the population seriously, “otherwise perpetrators of evil will fill this gap and win their minds as nature abhors a vacuum.
“A system that neglects its citizens stands the risk of the citizen’s revolting against it.”
She also reiterated that Nigeria has adopted the UN Resolution 1325 and is in the process of adopting a National Action Plan. But she advised that the country cannot do this without adequate representation of the women and children who are the primary beneficiaries.