Some Nigerian leaders of thought have urged urgent action to address the country’s present challenges and stave off impending doom, saying it is no longer a time to just complain and do nothing.
The leaders who came under the Nigerian Inter-Faith Initiative for Peace (IIP), under its Tripartite Consultation (TC), called for reconciliation, peace and national cohesion for a prosperous nation under God.
The group made the call during the TC joint consultation meeting on the “State of the Nation” yesterday in Abuja.
The convener of the meeting, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, said that as heavy clouds of impending tempest hang over the nation, people should not just sit back and complain.
“Nigerians cannot just sit back, complaining or merely waiting for the worst to happen. Many are thinking aloud, speaking out clearly, discussing and dialoguing to seek a way out of our impasses quickly.
“This tripartite consultation is one of such many voluntary fora for positive conversations on the state of the nation.
“We must find our way back as a country from the brink of chaos and look forward to reconciliation, peace and national cohesion, for a prosperous nation under God,’’ he said.
According to the former archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, the state of the nation calls for major concern as the challenges facing the country were many, serious and well known to all.
Cardinal Onaiyekan noted that Nigerians were talking, often complaining and, at times, even threatening to quit a dysfunctional state in which they had lost all trust and faith.
He said that in the midst of the voices, the government should come out with a clear position and explanation why certain things that ought not to happen were happening in a modern and civilised state.
The clergyman also said that the National Assembly, which is the institutional forum for fruitful dialogue and conversation, should try to live up to expectation.
Onaiyekan, however, prayed that the Almighty and Merciful God save and prosper the nation.
Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto who also led the Nigerian Inter-Faith Initiative for Peace, urged the National Peace Committee (NPC) to go beyond restoring peace in state elections.
“NPC has done so much in building peace and solving crisis in state elections. It will go further in building national peace and reconciliation,’’ the Sultan said.
Former Head of State, retired Gen. Abubakar Abdulsalami, who led the NPC, said that the tripartite consultation meeting was timely.
Abdulsalami said a series of meeting had been held over time the regarding restoration of peace and unity in the country.
He urged the group not to remain silent over the issues bedeviling the nation, but to lend their voices for Nigeria and for Nigerians.
“Hopefully, we will find a way out of the mess we have put ourselves in this country,’’ he said.
Also, Dr Usman Bugaje, a member of the Working Group on Peace Building and Governance, said that Nigeria had witnessed more of a moral crisis and decay than any other crisis.
“Nigerians are looking up to its moral leaders to help.
“It is actually time for those with moral credence to come forward and help,’’ he said.
NEF Seeks Referendum On Biafra
Meanwhile, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to organise a referendum on the clamour for the actualisation of Biafran Republic.
A referendum is a vote in which the citizens of a country give their opinion or decide an important political question. Territorial referendum could lead to the breakaway of a region from a country.
LEADERSHIP reports that amidst the threat of disintegration, at no time has the country being so heated than in the last three months as every day the front pages of Nigeria’s newspapers are filled with reports of mass killings, kidnappings for ransom, political assassinations, vandalism, attacks on police stations and INEC offices as well as the destruction of other public facilities.
Also, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had on different fora agitated for a referendum on self-determination for the south-east.
The spokesman of the NEF, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who disclosed this while speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP in Abuja yesterday, said the referendum will help douse tension in the country and will avert a repeat of the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970, which claimed millions of lives.
He stated that there is nothing wrong with asking Nigeria if they want to stay in the country or not.
“No country keeps people by force,” he said.
He maintained that determining Biafra’s fate would usher in lasting peace in Nigeria.
Baba Hameed wondered why the federal government had been mute on the issue, saying at the moment nobody knows if the majority of the Igbos want to stay or go.
He said the silence is causing a big problem because everyone will think every Igbo man that has not said anything supports secession and it might not be true.
According to him, “We believe in Nigeria. We believe Nigeria and the whole region in the country should collaborate to end these arguments.
“We believe that there is a need to restore hope that this country will survive. The call for a referendum is absolutely okay. There is nothing wrong with asking Nigerians if they want to stay or not.
“If we have a referendum for a state or region, it will help to stop the arguments and douse the tension in the country.
“Right now, you don’t know if the majority of the Igbos want to stay or go and this is causing a big problem because everyone will think every Igbo man that has not said anything supports secession and we know this is not true. But how else will you know.”
Northern Senators Push For Quick Resolution Of Crisis
Northern Senators yesterday expressed concern about the rising insecurity in the country, saying the situation cannot be allowed to continue.
Speaking shortly after their caucus meeting at the National Assembly, the chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, Aliyu Wamakko, said they are concerned at the worsening security situation, urging relevant agencies to ensure the issue is tackled.
“We met as Northern Senators to show our deepest concern over the security challenges in the country.
“We are concerned as Nigerians and as Northerners, and things cannot continue this way. We want every Nigerian to sleep with his eyes closed,” Wamakko said while briefing Journalists.
“We have to find a solution. We are worried that all the geo-political zones of the country have one security challenge or the other. We must find a solution,” Wamakko said.
According to him, Nigeria has been using the security outfits very well in tackling the challenges, but that other avenues must be explored to address the issue.
“We have started the discussion on the security challenges and we will continue when we return from the recess,” Wamakko added.
Obasanjo Tells Agitators For Nigeria’s Disintegration To Rethink
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday urged those beating the drums of war and agitating for disintegration of Nigeria to rethink their stance, saying it was high time all aggrieved secessionists jettisoned their idea, work for Nigeria’s unity and oneness for the good of all the citizens.
Obasanjo stated this in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while speaking at the luncheon and investiture of the former president as a Fellow of Nigerian Institution of Surveyors, organised by the Body of Fellow of the NIS, Ogun State chapter.
He said the best way Nigeria can be best be appreciated is to remain as one indivisible country, rather than for each of the component ethnic tribes to go its separate way.
The event held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, also saw the investiture of Kehinde Isijola as the new chairman of the Body of the Fellows.
Speaking further, Obasanjo said though the present situation in the country is not palatable, calling for the disintegration of the country is not the solution.
“It is better we stay together. If there is any Nigerian who does not feel apprehensive about the situation of the country, the person is a human being without being human.
“Any Nigerian who is human will be apprehensive, if not frustrated with the present situation in the country. We are apprehensive about the security situation, apprehensive about the economic situation, apprehensive about our political situation and the drums we are hearing is the disintegration of the country.
“I am a strong believer of one Nigeria, but not one Nigeria at any cost, but one Nigeria where every Nigerian can feel proud that he or she has a stake in this country.
“No Nigerian is born a slave in this country. No Nigerian is born to be oppressed in this country and those of us that have shared part of our blood and sweat for this country, we did that because we wanted a country where every Nigerian can claim as his or her own.”
The former president encouraged more conversation among the contending parties.
“I believe that if we talk among ourselves the way we should, and if we change the narrative, I believe this is a great country. That we are not making Nigeria what God wants it to be is not the fault of God, but the fault of ourselves, particularly our leaders.
“One thing that gives us strength is our diversity. If all that we have is the Republic of Oduduwa for those who say so, their position is understandable. If that is all we have, members of that country will be diminished compared to being a citizen of Nigeria. Citizens of Oduduwa Republic or any other republic from Nigeria will be diminished compared to citizens of Nigeria.
“In this age and time that we are talking about the reintegration of Africa for economic development, disintegration of any country will be almost idiotic.
“Even if we have Igboland as an independent country, Yorubaland an independent country and Fulani/Hausaland an independent country, as a friend of mine in the military used to say then, what will become of the over 300 minorities – the Jukuns, the Gbasamas? Where will they belong?
“The only reason they can raise up their heads is because they belong to Nigeria. Are we thinking of them or are we are just being selfish? It doesn’t matter what we do, we will still be neighbours.”
“We had seen it before, India was broken into India and Pakistan; they are still at war till today. Yugoslavia was broken into how many countries, they haven’t sorted it till today. Sudan was broken into Sudan and South Sudan, I don’t believe South Sudan is better for it and that is the truth.”
The former military head of state and civilian president argued that it would be more profitable for Nigerians to promote what holds them together than to break up and be perpetually at war.