By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA—THE Federal government has been charged to convoke a Peace and Reconciliation Conference that cuts across all ethnic divides in the country to douse the mounting tension generated by hate speeches and secessionist movements.
The call was made by a coalition of Northern Youths from the 19 Northern states at a peace meeting of major youth formations in the 19 Northern states, NGOs and Oil and Solid Mineral Producing Areas Landlords’ Association of Nigeria, OMPALAN Northern Youths held in Kaduna, weekend.
The coalition noted with concern the spate of hate speeches and secessionists’ rhetorics with the unsavory impacts on the national unity and called on the three arms of government to present a common front to help protect the sovereignty of Nigeria.
The group maintained that the political class must reason with them on the need to save the country from impending doom by acting fast to salvage the already worsening situation.
‘‘The political leadership of Nigeria should as a matter of urgency organize a peace and reconciliation conference cutting across Nigeria’s ethno-religious divide aimed at dousing mounting tension generated by hate speeches and secessionists rhetorics,’’ they said.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the conference, delegates resolved as follows: that Nigerians should work collaboratively to move the country forward; that hate speeches should henceforth cease while tolerance and patriotism should be encouraged; that the call for President Buhari’s resignation was made in bad faith especially since Mr. President has formally handed over power to his Vice to continue the machinery of government.
The communiqué reads in parts: that the Igbos are free to live in the north and continue their legitimate business; that we condemn in unequivocal language the attempt by disgruntled Nigerians to break the Country; that we support the ongoing war against corruption; that we join Nigerians of goodwill to pray for the quick recovery of our President so that he can continue the war against graft and strengthen our security forces to fight against insurgency to a logical conclusion; that we support the communique issued by the National Delegates Conference of OMPALAN held in Portharcourt; that the National Conference on Peace and Security sponsored by OMPALAN early September, 2017 is a credible program that brings Nigerians from the 6 geopolitical zones to support the rule of law; that the leaders of the South East should embrace the peace meeting held in Zaria between our respected leader Prof Ango Abdullahi of the Northern Elders Forum and Bishop Udo Azogu of OMPALAN and that all northern youths should support the OMPALAN initiative and vision for one united and sovereign Nigeria in which every citizen shall have the inalienable right to live and do business in any part of the Country without fear of molestation.
The meeting which also comprised leaders of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF; the Arewa Youth Development, AYD; Unity and Peace Awareness Initiative and UPAI was an interactive meeting meant to appraise the security situation of the country and was sponsored by OMPALAN in the 19 northern states.
The communiqué was signed by Daniel Auta and Vaten Amadu for Unity and Peace Awareness Initiative; Hassan Ismail and Imran Abubakar for Arewa Youth Development; Umar Makeri and Abdullahi Usman for Arewa Youth Consultative Forum and
Dr. Markus Nacheson, Gaddafi Illiyasu Tagwaye and Itstifanus Sunday for OMPALAN Northern Youth Executive.
Ealier in his keynote address at the conference, the Chairman, BoT of OMPALAN, Bishop Udo Azogu warned Federal government against repeating mistakes of Jonathan’s administration in the implementation of the amnesty package, in which trillions of naira were spent without achieving lasting peace.
He said the minister State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu is heading in the same flawed direction and called embark on wider consultation, including the militant groups to achieve lasting peace.
‘‘Government must act circumspectively and must not throw caution to the wind if it is really focused on removing the fragile peace process in the volatile region from limbo. Rather, Government should consult widely with major stakeholders in the embattled region including militant organizations to douse tension and achieve holistic peace.
‘‘Nigerians in sensitive positions in Government who lack the experience to move oil and gas producing areas forward should resign to avoid truncating the hard-earned peace process in the turbulent region.
‘‘Recall that OMPALAN faulted the way the last administration handled the Federal Government amnesty package that cost trillions of Naira of tax payers money.
Our organization believes that every citizen of this great country has a duty to support the effort of Government in addressing security challenges in Nigeria.
‘‘No government in the world can effectively address internal security challenges without the active collaboration of its citizens. It is in this vein that OMPALAN is organizing a national conference on peace and security in Portharcourt early September.’’
According to him, the peace and security conference shall involve stakeholders from a wide spectrum of human, intellectual and spiritual endeavors including the security – all working interactively to enthrone the rule of law in all parts of the Country.