By Wole Mosadomi
Minna—Leaders of Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pan-Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and the Middle Belt Forum, yesterday, made good their threat to boycott the meeting initiated by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, in Minna to find solutions to myriads of problems facing the country.
Leaders of the ethnic nationality groups had threatened on Sunday not to attend the meeting to broker peace between them and Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of Fulani cattle herders, following the spate of killings of farmers across the country by persons suspected to be herders.
However, other prominent individuals and groups, including the leadership of the Miyetti Allah, were present, along with their various youth bodies.
Prominent Nigerians in attendance included King Alfred Diete Spiff, Ambassador Agbubuzu, Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umar Farouq Bahago, the Emir of Kazaure, Dr Najib Hussain Adamu, Lt Gen Alani Akirinade, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi and Professor Ango Abdullahi.
Others were Air Vice Marshal IBM Haruna, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, and Ambassador Zubairu Dada.
Addressing the gathering, former Head of State and convener of the meeting, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, said the meeting was convened mainly to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis facing the country, especially insecurity.
He said: “Nigeria is going through a period of trial amidst growing tension and resentment. All over the country, there is anger in the land and the voices of reason are drowning very rapidly.
“It is clear that the situation requires that we all live up to the expectations of a nation that puts so much value on elders and leaders.”
He called on those at the meeting to see the gathering as a platform to find a solution to the various problems facing the country, pointing out that it was only leaders and elders of the country that could profer solutions to the problems and not outsiders.
“If any forum can help in the accurate identification of the problems and solutions for a united and peaceful Nigeria, let us be counted as one of such,” he added.
General Abdulsalami, however, defended the absence of the three main bodies, saying “unfortunately, some of the invitees are unable to attend, while some others have sent in contributions and since peace building is a continuous process, other fora will provide opportunities for continuous dialogue.”
He disabused the minds of people on the purpose of the conference, adding that it was not a mini national conference nor a forum to review the constitution but rather, to look into the problems confronting the country at present and profer solutions to them.
“There are matters that will doubtless appear in our discussions but they should not be allowed to distract us from the key goals of the round table,” he declared.
Chairman of the round table and former Nigeria’s representative at the United Nations, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, warned those beating the drums of war in the country that there was no alternative government to democracy and asked that such people should have a rethink on their pronouncements.
According to him,”the military is not solution to any conflict or government as dialogue should always remain the only option.”Vanguard