By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — NORTHERN leaders, yesterday, spoke in unison, condemning the activities of members of Boko Haram sect, just as they lamented that the security situation in the north was fast deteriorating.
Former United Nations Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, raised alarm that the activities of members of the Boko Haram sect was a threat to the nation, just as he said dialoguing with them by the Federal Government was the way forward.
According to him, there would be consequences for Nigeria, Nigerians and its foreign relations if the sect was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States of America.
Suggesting another solution to the problem, Gambari pleaded with the Federal Government to approach capable and credible Nigerians that would help mediate and lead a dialogue with the group, adding that the establishment of what he called a ‘core group of Nigerians’ who have led peace-making, peace-keeping efforts in Africa and other parts of the world can lead the dialogue.
Speaking as the guest speaker at the First Annual Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture on “Leadership and Good Governance in Nigeria,” Gambari noted that the problem in the north was not Boko Haram, but good governance.
According to the former Minister of External Affairs in his lecture entitled “Leadership and Good Governance in Nigeria: Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Ghost of 1914 and the Audacity of Hope for Nation-Building,” he, however, wondered why the country must deteriorate to the level it finds itself. He called on the leaders to pay “attention to social justice,” if the present problem must be solved, adding that “too many Nigerians have fallen below the poverty line while a few are swimming in stupendous wealth.
“Private jets are increasing on the tarmacs of our airports at almost the same rate as that of the increase in misery and criminal poverty.
“While the current estimate of the GDP in terms of purchasing power parity for Nigeria is about $414 billion, the unemployment rate is 21 per cent, while 70 per cent of the population live below poverty line.
Good governance, not Boko Haram, is north’s problem
‘’We must embark on a comprehensive effort to stop the killings. Dialogue is one of the many ways we can address the issue of Boko Haram. Boko Haram is not the problem of the North, but good governance. Government should invest in education and address the rate of poverty in the land.
“Anyone who wants to break up this country will find out that he will not get support from any part of the country. Some people said let’s break up; breaking up has never solved any problem. We must build a Nigeria that everybody will be proud of.”
Gov Aliyu laments insecurity
Also speaking at the event which took place at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre and organised by the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, Chairman, Northern Nigeria Governors Forum, and governor of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, however lamented the deteriorating security situation in the region.”
According to him, it has become imperative for people of the north to stand up against terrorism, adding: “North must stand against terrorism because investors are already scared of investing in our region.”
Aliyu who is also the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the late Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, urged the citizens to tell the government what to do.
According to the governor, “during the time of Sardauna there was nothing like this. No investor wants to invest in the North. Sardauna did not discriminate in terms of religion and ethnicity. I am sure some of us will recall that security of lives and property was almost taken for granted in that era, as people went about their lives without any let or hindrances. In all communities in the North, murder, kidnapping and extreme criminality were abomination and avoided.
“The (insecurity) situation has reached a situation whereby members of the State Executive Council in Yobe now run away to nearby Jigawa State for safety. What is happening now is very scaring.
“This is indeed a moment of sober reflection for all of us; a moment that we should ponder to find out where we got it wrong almost a century after Sardauna left us.”
Also in his contribution, a former Permanent Secretary, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said President Goodluck Jonathan and the government could not solve the problem of Boko Haram, but the governors of the north must come together and find a lasting solution. He frowned at a situation where the President has refused to visit Borno and Yobe States to commiserate with the people following the killings.