By Ebele Orakpo
Worried by the spate of incessant crises in some parts of the country, especially the northern region, former Military Governor of old Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (retd) has called on religious, traditional and political leaders to focus more attention and energy on resolving the crises and restoring lasting peace in the nation.
In a telephone chat with Vanguard weekend, Umar described as senseless, divisive and worrisome the attitude of some religious leaders who ask their congregations to cast their votes for only members of their religious groups.
“Nigeria is a secular state and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is neither based on the Koran nor the Bible though it recognises Islam, Christianity and other religions. So it is senseless because it is not possible for anyone to emerge without the other side supporting him or her. Nigeria is divided along religious lines and we call ourselves one nation with one destiny? How can we elect people on sectional lines?” he queried, a
dding: “I will not hesitate to condemn those that are trying to divide the nation on religious lines.”
“There is insecurity in every part of Nigeria but it is quite worrisome in Maiduguri, Jos and Bauchi. Why should Northern leaders not pay attention to issues of security in Jos, Maiduguri and Bauchi? We should focus more attention and energy on trying to resolve the crises in these places instead of spending precious time and energy fighting over who should become president in 2011,” he said.
“I’m afraid of the threat of the Igbo who have been the target of these criminals who hide under the guise of religious crises to loot their property. The Igbo are already threatening to close shops or to even leave Maiduguri. That is worrisome also. I know that the Igbo are very hardworking people and I find the attack on them totally unacceptable.
They are spread all over the country and I cannot even remember when last I heard of northerners or any other tribe threatened in Igboland. I hope our northern elders would pay more attention to these hot spots and do all they can to ensure that the fire is put out.”
He advised the Federal Government, religious and regional leaders to pay urgent attention to the issue of security in every part of the country including kidnapping in the South-East .Describing the indigene/settler phenomenon as totally unacceptable, Umar said: “No Nigerian should be referred to as a settler in his own country.”
He, therefore, called for a constitutional provision whereby every Nigerian would be free to live in any part of the country and contest any position he desires if he has the relevant qualifications. “An Igbo should be able to aspire for an elective post in the north, an Hausa man should be free to do the same in the East etc.,” he stated.
Speaking on the position of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as the PDP presidential flag-bearer, Umar said: “The Nigerian Constitution is clear as to the qualifications of any person who wants to contest elective posts in Nigeria. Does Jonathan meet the requirements? Does he have the qualifications?”