We join millions of well-meaning Nigerians in welcoming President Muhammadu Buhari from his medical vacation in the United Kingdom. It is gratifying that he is back to resume his duties.
In his absence, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as Acting President, had done his best under the circumstances he found himself. His personal diplomatic touch in dealing with the explosive socio-political situations that confronted us went a long way in keeping situations under control. However, due to no fault of his, it was obvious that a few gaps which only the President could fill remained.
Now that the President is back, we wish to recall his attention to urgent security situations facing the nation. Apart from a renewed upsurge in the activities of Boko Haram in Borno and Adamawa States, the ever-present centrifugal forces that threaten our national unity have crossed the proverbial red line, as the President appropriately noted in his broadcast yesterday.
The separatist agitations which the pro-Biafra groups, especially the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, have been fronting for sometime now has continued to gather steam. As a result, we have also seen a rash of groups from the South-West calling for an Oduduwa Republic, while other similar calls have emanated from the South-South and Middle Belt.
In response to the success of IPOB’s sit-at-home call on 30th May 2017, a coalition of Northern Youths had, in their 6th June “Kaduna Declaration”, issued a 90-day ultimatum for Igbo people resident in the North to relocate to their ethnic homeland. In spite of broad-based condemnations and efforts by leaders and youth groups from the South East and the North to seek amicable settlement, some hate songs were issued in the North against Ndigbo in their midst.
Not only this, some Niger Delta-based groups also issued quit notices for Northerners and Yoruba people to return to their homelands before the same 1st October 2017.
As the President rightly noted in his broadcast on his return, the social media platforms have become battle grounds for wars of words and evil rhetoric of groups against one another, and the unfortunate aspect is that the youths that will cohabit and lead this country in the near future are the most enthusiastic combatants.
President Buhari has an onerous duty to bring this madness to heel. It requires a deft application of the stick and carrot, but it must be done in such a way as not to overburden the security agencies unsustainably. The Federal Government should work with patriotic leaders and people of goodwill to calm the storms and bring the nation back from the brink, with particular attention paid to the root causes of these schisms.
It is of utmost priority to secure this nation.