Insecurity: Appeals for decisive action trickle in as Nigeria remains at crossroads

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Olusegun Obasanjo and Buhari
Olusegun Obasanjo and Buhari

Insecurity in Nigeria today calls for all well-meaning and all right-thinking Nigerians to speak out and seek enduring and sustainable solutions to the current challenges that are threatening the peace, progress and unity of the country.

 

By Goddy Ikeh

WHEN the latest open letter from former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Muhammadu Buhari on the deteriorating security situation in the country was released on Monday, July 15, many Nigerians knew that he was speaking the minds of millions of traumatized, but silent Nigerians.

In that letter, Obasanjo warned that the issue of insecurity in the country “can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance, swept under the carpet or treated with cuddling glove”.

According to him, the issue is hitting at “the foundation of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our Nigerian community”.

“I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay,” he warned.

He noted that it is poor management or mismanagement of diversity which, on the other hand, is one of our greatest and most important assets.

“As a result, the very onerous cloud is gathering.  And the rain of destruction, violence, disaster and disunity can only be the outcome. Nothing should be taken for granted, the clock is ticking with the cacophony of dissatisfaction and disaffection everywhere in and outside the country.

“No one can stop hate speech, violent agitation and smouldering violent agitation if he fans the embers of hatred, disaffection and violence.  It will continue to snowball until it is out of control.  A stitch in time saves nine, goes the old wise saying,” he said.

Obasanjo recalled what Prof. Anya, a distinguished Nigerian merit Laureate, recently said that “We can no longer say with certainty that we have a nation.”

According to him, Niger-Delta leaders, South-Eastern leaders, Middle-Belt leaders and Northern Elders Forum have not remained quiet, while different ordinary Nigerians at home and abroad are calling for different measures to address or ameliorate the situation. All the calls and cries can only continue to be ignored at the expense of Nigerian unity, if not its continued existence.

He said that he was deeply worried about “abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram  type; Spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.  Similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom; Violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to the dismemberment  of the country.”

Obasanjo, therefore called for collective thinking and dialoguing as the best way of finding an appropriate and adequate solution to the problem.

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka

Speaking earlier on Sunday, July 14, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, said that the Federal Government had failed and that the government was not capable of solving Nigeria’s problems.

Soyinka lamented the violence caused by herdsmen, the indiscriminate grazing of cattle and the destruction of farmlands and called for a National Conference to be convened.

According to Soyinka, the Muhammadu Buhari-led government can only make an impact by thinking beyond partisan politics.

Playing host to some students on his 85th birthday celebration, Soyinka said: “The problems of this nation are beyond the solution that can be offered by this government, that’s the first admission; they have to stop thinking in partisan government.

“There has always been a major problem with successive governments. It’s easier on the state level to say that a particular state is definitely doing better than another state. But the central government has failed, that’s my view in the main.

“There is a minimal level which any government which has been elected to power must achieve to be considered a true representative of the people.”

He called for a national summit to address some of the socio-economic and political challenges facing the country, saying that the current challenges are beyond the capacity of the government in power.

He also called for a national conference where all these challenges could be addressed for the good of all, making reference to security threats posed by cattle herders.

The Nobel Laureate added, “Look at what’s happening today with the cattle all over the place, that’s a security issue which should never have reached this level.

“That singular act has resulted in hundreds of people being killed, farms were taken over; it has wiped away a lot of the positive achievements of the government,” he said.

Emeka Anyaoku
Emeka Anyaoku

The former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Emeka Anyaoku, added his voice to the clamour to rescue Nigeria from the drift to anarchy when on Tuesday, July 16, he called on President Buhari to eschew sectional practices and focus on eliminating Nigeria’s ethnic and religious fault lines.

Speaking at a book launch in Abuja, Anyaoku said that over the past week, Buhari has faced condemnation from prominent voices like Wole Soyinka and Olusegun Obasanjo — with both warning of impending disaster should the president fail to recalibrate his responses to lingering insecurity and economic woes.

“Every diverse federal country throughout the world achieves political stability and socio-economic development through successfully managing its national diversity,” Anyaoku said.

“There are two common keys to this. The first is having an inclusive central government which gives the peoples of the component parts of the federation a sense of belonging that in turn underpins the sense of unity and patriotism in all the citizens.

“The second is having adequate delegation of powers to the federating units to enable them to handle their internal security and significant aspects of their socio-economic development,” he said.

But as kidnapping, armed robbery, herdsmen violence and other crimes continue to claim lives and devastate the economy, Anyaoku said he was compelled to join calls for Buhari to change course before it is too late.

“No objective observer, including those in the government, can deny that the current state of affairs in our country is extremely worrisome. We see an unprecedented diminution of national unity; we see an unprecedented level of insecurity of life and property with kidnappings and killings of human beings occurring virtually every day in many parts of the country including the seemingly unchecked violence by Fulani herdsmen, which has spawned fractious controversies over the proposed Ruga policy by the federal government,” he said.

Anyaoku asked Buhari to thoroughly analyse the legal and national security consequences of his administration’s Ruga policy before implementing it.

“For the sake of peace and integrity of the country, the Ruga policy must be handled with circumspection and strictly in accordance with our extant constitution’s provisions on the land tenure,” he said.

Anyaoku warned that the time is running out on an effective solution, and called on critical institutions to save the country from a disastrous end.

“I call on our president, the members of the National Assembly, the governors, and indeed, on all our political elites not to continue to live in denial of the seriousness of these glaring facts, if not effectively addressed, are bound to push the country over the brink of a national disaster.

“Fortunately, to provide insightful governance which would facilitate effective tackling of these challenges, Nigeria does not need to reinvent the wheel. If only the people in government and all concerned would learn from our history, thereby avoid validating the saying by the German philosopher, Friedrich Hegel that “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.

“Because it is undeniable that Nigeria’s history has demonstrated that the economy attained greater sense of national unity and faster progress in socio-economic development during its period as a true federal of more viable federating units with greater devolution of powers to them. The period was in the immediate years after the country’s independence under its 1960/63 constitutions.

“As I have stated on many occasions, I believe that the current travails of Nigeria will be more effectively tackled if the country’s diversity is managed with a structure of governance that draws not only from the present lessons of successful diverse federations, but more importantly, from Nigeria’s own past happier experience during its immediate post-independence years,” Anyaoku said.

Fortunately, the nation’s lawmakers have lately considered it wise to lend their voice to the issue of insecurity in the country. The Senate president only last week muted the idea of convening another security summit. But the lawmakers should remember that the recommendations of the National Conference is there gathering dust, the APC Committee Report on Restructuring Nigeria headed by Gov. Nasir Ahmad El Rufai of Kaduna State and the recent recommendations of the Security Summit of the 8th National Assembly have also taken their rightful positions on the shelf.

Unfortunately, the body language and the branding of the critics of the daily killings and worrisome insecurity in the country as unpatriotic Nigerian by the Presidency clearly point to the dearth of political will by the authorities to tackle the security challenges of the country.

 

BE

– July 20, 2019 @ 14:10 GMT |

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