…PDP urges Buhari to resign if…
…APC keeps mum
…We’ve a listening President —Adesina
Some elder statesmen, under the aegis of Nigerian Working Group on Peace-Building and Governance, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a solemn national dialogue to address the country’s security challenges.
Their call is coming on the heels of the salvo fired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who, last weekend, said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was drifting Nigeria towards failure as a state.
The Presidency responded by calling Obasanjo Divider-In-Chief of the nation.
Membership of the group include former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, retd, and Chief Executive Officer, Murtala Muhammed Foundation, Aisha Mohammed-Oyebode.
Others are Ambassador Fatima Balla, Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Nguyan Shaku Feese, Usman Bugaje and Chris Kwaja.
We’ve a listening President —Adesina
Reacting, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina said: “We have a listening President, close to the grassroots, a friend of the poor.
“He knows what people are passing through, and is always mindful of how to meet their yearnings and aspirations. The call by those illustrious Nigerians are in sync with what the President believes.”
The All Progressives Congress, APC, could not also be reached for its reaction last night, as calls made to mobile phone of the spokesman, Yekini Nabena, rang out. A text message sent to his phone was also not replied.
‘Nigerians are suffering’
But the elders in a joint statement, titled “The Time for Dialogue is Now,” noted that Nigerians are not only facing severe security problems but also suffering the impact of coronavirus pandemic on their standards of living.
The statesmen contended that Nigeria was rapidly approaching a tipping point, stressing the need for President Buhari and the 36 state governors to initiate a dialogue process to address the rising insecurity in the country.
The statement read: “Nigeria, like the rest of the world, is battling the coronavirus pandemic. However, citizens in Nigeria are facing double the suffering because they also have to contend with rising insecurity and violence across the country.
“The Nigerian government must immediately address the rising insecurity, if it is to succeed in the fight against the pandemic. A recent USIP-commissioned survey in Nigeria found new linkages between COVID19, instability, and conflict.
“In particular, the survey found that victims of recent violence are less likely to trust the government’s coronavirus response measures compared to those who have not experienced violence.
“Following a series of consultations with a diverse group of stakeholders and policy-makers between May and July, the Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance — a group of Nigerian civic and thought leaders — offers its key observations and recommendations on how the Nigerian government could strengthen its efforts to manage the coronavirus pandemic by addressing the rising insecurity across the country.
“In our federal system, Nigeria’s state and local governments are the closest to the people. However, increasing insecurity across the country raises questions about the ability of the country’s security architecture to manage the multiple security challenges at the state and local levels.
“Kidnapping for ransom is an acute concern across Nigeria. The North-East is witnessing a resurgence in Boko Haram activity, and thousands of people are internally displaced by banditry across rural communities in the North-West.
“Criminality in rural areas further complicates the situation by undermining food security, as many farmers have been unable to go to their farms for months for fear of losing their lives.
“The government has been incapable of assuring Nigerians that it cares about our predicament. Numerous conspiracy theories about the causes of the violence continue circulate, without any reassuring counter narratives coming from the government.
“Although citizens also have a role to play in responding to the rising insecurity, many have lost faith in public officials and security agencies. Several communities have resorted to taking up arms to protect their lives and property from marauding criminals, while security agencies look on overwhelmed.
“Meanwhile, these same security agencies appear more focused on disarming the communities, while the criminals are left with their weapons. Our country is rapidly approaching a tipping point. Enough is Enough. The time for action is NOW!
“Initiate a Dialogue Process Immediately: A process of dialogue to address the multiple acts of violence from inter-communal and ethno-religious conflicts must be initiated immediately at the state and national levels.
“There must be a serious attempt to address insecurity and growing mistrust between citizens. The trust deficit between citizens and the governments must be narrowed if our country is to survive this season of violence.
“The dialogue process must be collective, inclusive, genuine, and results-oriented in order to start rebuilding the trust necessary to restore peace. The National Council of State can initiate the dialogue process at the national level.
“The Nigeria Governor’s Forum — the umbrella body of the 36 state governors — must be the anchor that takes the dialogue process to the grassroots. The National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, – a Federal Government initiative launched in 2018 in collaboration with the state governments to develop the livestock sector, and stem violent conflicts between farmers and herders, is an entry point in finding a pathway to peace.
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“End Impunity: Criminality and violent confrontations between farming and herding communities have claimed thousands of lives and deepened ethnic, religious, and regional polarization, and yet few perpetrators have been prosecuted.
“Constitutionally, state governors are the chief security officers in their states and, therefore, should take the lead in ensuring that perpetrators of violent crimes in their states are held accocthe effectiveness of our security agencies: A dialogue process cannot bear fruit if those who are found guilty of committing or instigating violence are not prosecuted, and if the security situation in the country does not begin to improve.
“There is a growing public consensus that the current leadership of our security agencies have failed woefully, and that our Commander-in-Chief has so far refused to act. This cannot continue.
“Mr. President, you must show more concern and do what is necessary to improve the effectiveness of our security agencies, even if it means replacing the current leadership of our security agencies.
“Stop paying lip service to police reform: The recent government announcement about the take-off of the new community policing initiative is commendable, however, many similar previous government initiatives in the past have produced few tangible results.
“The government should use these new discussions about community policing to demonstrate a sincere commitment towards building an inclusive policing framework that will begin to restore citizens’ trust in the police.
“This framework should consider the perspectives of the different ethnic and religious groups that exist in each community. To reflect the particular circumstances of each community, states and local governments should be at the forefront of designing and implementing community policing initiatives, if they are to succeed.
“It is not enough to recruit police officers from the community; such officers need to be trained and re-orientated towards building community partnerships and promoting durable peace in the conduct of their duties.
“Mr. President, governors, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, security concerns are still of the greatest importance to many Nigerians. A government strategy to address the coronavirus pandemic without sustainable strategies to also confront rising insecurity and violence, poses a significant threat to the democratic development of our country, and could potentially undermine the government’s efforts to address the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria now, and in the future.”
They’ve spoken the minds of Nigerians — PDP
Reacting last night, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, commended former Archbishop of the Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, ex-Chief of Army Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai and erstwhile chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, for calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to the suffering in the land.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Archbishop Onaiyekan and others spoke the minds of Nigerians, “many of whom are living in terrible, squalid conditions today.”
The party added that never in the history of Nigeria has the nation witnessed the kind of hardship currently being felt in the country.
“We have not witnessed the kind of sufferings we are having today and I mean from Independence in 1960 until this government took over power in 2015.
“We would like to thank these senior citizens for adding their voices to the call by the PDP for our President to sit up. In the past five years, Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, have shown that they have nothing to offer.
“At a time governments of other countries are seeking ways to cushion the effect of COVID-19, the Buhari-led government is busy increasing the cost of petrol and electricity tariff. It is a shame,’’ the statement read.
Similarly, Deputy Publicity Secretary of PDP, Diran Odeyemi, asked Nigerians, particularly highly placed ones, to speak up in unison against the leadership of President Buhari.
“Having failed to justify his election and in the event that he has no fresh policies to implement, President Buhari should thrown in the towel. He has failed Nigeria and Nigerians.
“I call on the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Civil Society Organizations and well-meaning Nigerians to speak up now because what we are witnessing in Nigeria today is difficult to describe. The pain, sufferings and lack are unbearable,” he said.