Some prominent Nigerians have called on the President Muhammadu Buhari led-government to, as a matter of urgency, convene a national reconciliatory conference as a way of addressing the challenges confronting the nation.
Among those who made this call yesterday are former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Sultan of Sokoto and president-general of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III and the president of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Samson Ayokunle.
In a report released after their Security Dialogue Retreat in Abuja, which was convened by Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa headed by Bishop Sunday Onuaha, the Nigerian leaders said a national reconciliation conference should be held to address numerous national challenges, including insecurity.
“As a matter of urgency, the government should convene a national reconciliatory conference to address the underlying issues of our challenges and hateful statements/agenda that successive governments have ignored to address. This convening should be organised in order to quell the mistrust-fuelled agitations and crisis before the entity called Nigeria collapses,” they said.
“We emphatically call for the cessation of incitement, misrepresentation and distortion of the image of the other and of the neighbour. Instead, we must draw upon our religious traditions, and our understanding of what is best for our people,” the leaders said, adding that government must act sincerely as an unbiased arbiter to address insecurity head-on.
According to them, the high prevalence of violent crises, kidnapping, and fatal attacks in Nigeria are driven largely by social Injustice and a failed economy.
“The Church, the Mosque, and traditional worshippers must, as a matter of morality, step up to the responsibility of contributing to the collective re-engineering and moral rearmament urgently needed to salvage our nation, in fulfilling their roles as religious leaders and pulpit managers.
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“The 1999 Constitution does not embody the principles of justice, fairness and equality, on which every democracy is founded. Thus, it does not fully protect the rights and interests of Nigeria’s diverse constituencies, “ they said.
The leaders called on the government “to begin a process of constitutional review, amend and rework the constitution, drawing on our previous constitutions, amongst other things, to synchronise/harmonise the laudable principles they embody. This will ensure, not one-off solutions, but lasting change.
“Government at all levels must revisit and show sincere effort at understanding the core issues of dissidence and self-determination in Nigeria, rather than incarceration, bullets and counter-attacks as government response to agitations and unrest,” the leaders said, adding that “even in our divergence, there exists an area of convergence.
“We, therefore, commit to keeping the conversation room open for further dialogue so as to address and resolve the common challenge that is deepening this divide.”
Resign Now, PDP Reps Tell President
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has told President Buhari to resign over his inability to curb the incessant killings and other security threats in the country.
The leader of the caucus, Kingsley Chinda, in a statement, said Nigeria under the rulership of Buhari has been seized by hostage-taking bandits and terrorists – who extract huge ransom from poor and impoverished citizens and turn homesteads, hamlets, villages, towns and cities into killing fields.
Chinda also noted that the bloodletting unleashed by the hostage-takers, which has gone unabated, with General Buhari showing complete incapacity to arrest the situation, or bring the killer squads who roam the vast swathes of our country to book, is spreading across every acreage of citizens’ habitation and turning the once quiet and peaceful homesteads, hamlets, villages, towns and cities into funeral parlours and cemeteries.
The lawmaker said, “Everywhere we turn today, our dead are either being prepared for burial by families whose hearts are torn up by grief, or they are being mourned by families who can’t tell where the corpses of their loved ones are, or where the killer-squads will turn up next.
“Here is the stark truth of the Nigerian condition under Buhari’s ruinous rule: citizens are in a prolonged, severe and intense state of mourning that has kept them stuck in acute anguish, pain and trauma.”
Chinda recalled that the president, in his recent remark at the sidelines of the COP-26 Conference in Scotland, United Kingdom, had boasted, “We will defeat them, one highway, one rail link and one job, at a time.”
He, however, noted that it is over three weeks since the Conference ended, yet the president has not mobilised any special forces to resist the bandits, terrorists and kidnappers.
Speaking further, the caucus said bandits, terrorists and kidnappers had continued to unleash their reign of terror on helpless citizens, taking not “one highway, one rail link – and one job – at a time” but whole communities and regions in fell swoops whenever they choose to strike.
“The communities of Sabon Birni of Sokoto State, Kagara of Niger State, Karim Lamido of Taraba State, Katoge and Yanturaku of Katsina State, and of the north east, north west, south south and south east are witnesses to the reigns of terror.”
The caucus expressed sadness that the president who famously boasted of leading from the front is now missing in action.
“General Buhari is concerned only about his personal and family safety, and the safety of his lackeys. Typical of rulers in history who suffered from messianic complex, he thinks his personal survival is tantamount to the survival of the nation.
“It is this delusion that makes the governance of our country dire and costly under his rulership. There’s something more ruinous about his delusion: he promotes himself beyond his talent of statecraft.
“Like Caligula, the delusional Roman emperor in history, who ordered that ships be lined up in a double anchor to form a bridge so he could ride his horses across the gulf of Baiae to prove the prophecy of Thrasyllus the astrologer wrong – that he had no chance of emerging as an emperor “than riding over the gulf of Baiae with horses”, General Buhari is deploying scarce state resources against peaceful protesters who are calling attention to the killings in the North to prove that he is an emperor.”
On the issue of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the PDP caucus expressed concern that in the past one-month Nigerians have waited on General Buhari to give assent to the Electoral Reform Bill passed to him by the National Assembly.
“As was postulated in several quarters, he has declined assent to the same, using the cost of direct primaries as a decoy. The untold reason for declining is to avoid the electronic transmission of results which will improve the credibility of the electoral system.
“This refusal, though contemplated, has left Nigerians confounded by a president who continues to show utter disdain for the Constitution and the reform of the institutions of state. Under him, our institutions of state have regressed, to the point that the gains of previous institutional reforms embarked by our great party while in power, have been either lost to his inaction or to his deliberate ploy to leave our country worse than he met it. On this point alone, we are not convinced that he is interested in the reform of the electoral process,” the caucus said.
The PDP Reps chided the ruling party as one that cannot conduct its national convention, saying it lacks the capacity to implement some of the innovative and people-empowering provisions of the electoral bill, like the direct party primaries and electronic transmission of results from the polling units.
It asserted that it will ensure that its members exercise their power under Section 58(5) of the Constitution to veto the president whenever the National Assembly deems it fit to table the issue for discussion.
The main opposition lawmakers in the Green Chamber further told Buhari that “our nation and its people don’t have the luxury of time to wait on General Buhari to transform from the intrepid General who is currently missing in action to the lion that leads from the front, when bandits, terrorists and kidnappers who have seized our nation by the scruff of the neck are inflicting malevolence on the nation and imposing informal rule on citizens to command obedience to their dictates.
“Time is running out. General Buhari should save our country by waking up from his long slumber or resign now,” they said.
Stop Politicising Insecurity – House Leader, Doguwa
In a swift reaction to Chinda’s position, the majority leader of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, has asked the opposition to stop politicising the issue of insecurity which clearly requires collective efforts to effectively tackle.
Doguwa said it was unpatriotic to politicise the inside of insecurity in the country.
He also said that the protracted insecurity and insurgence were legacies of the 16years of the PDP misrule between 1999 and 2015.
“We are doing a lot as a government to guarantee the security of lives and property of our people. It’s also a fact that what we experience today in the name of insecurity and insurgency were the unfortunate negative legacies of the 16years misrule of the PDP in Nigeria.,” Doguwa said.
The House leader, however, enjoined Chinda to desist from politicising issues of security, noting that it is the collective responsibility of both the legislative and executive arms of government to tackle the menace.
“Chinda should stop politicising the issue of Insecurity in Nigeria, It’s our collective responsibility as an arm of government to partner with Mr President to work against insecurity. What the PDP Caucus is doing is typically a case of playing to the gallery and seeking cheap public attention. The ruling APC under President Buhari is doing a lot in the fight against insecurity,” he added.
According to the House leader, every right-thinking Nigerian knows that insecurity today is a global phenomenon in which Nigeria can not be judged in isolation.
Doguwa, however, assured that President Buhari would continue to put in his best in the war against insurgency.
“We can all attest to his commitment looking, at the whooping over N900 million budgeted for the Defence sector alone in the 2022 appropriation bill recently passed by the National Assembly. Ministry of police affairs and the Force Headquarters got over N500 billion meant to fight insecurity.
“ It is therefore baseless and of no reasonable substance for the so-called PDP Caucus to ask for the resignation of Mr President. We as a legislative arm of government would rather continue to collaborate and synergise with the Executive m arm of government to secure the country and our people,” the House leader added.