By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
As ethnic tension rises across the country, former presidential candidate, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has warned Nigerians to desist from engaging in ethnic profiling so as not to worsen the situation and embolden Nigeria’s enemies to create more crises for the nation.
The politician and businessman, who was reacting to rising ethnic tension in the land, warned that pitching one ethnic group against the other and pushing for attacks and reprisal attacks could only promote more suspicion and mistrust and lead to avoidable destruction.
In a statement made available to Vanguard in Abuja on Sunday, Mr Olawepo-Hashim, expressed serious concern over the ongoing attacks and counter attacks arising from the age-long farmers-herders conflicts and exacerbated by other security challenges, but warned that they should never be a justification for ethnic stereotyping capable of provoking ethnic pogroms.
Olawepo-Hashim said: “All patriotic Nigerians should be worried. I am worried. We all have roles to play, community leaders and social organizations must tone down divisive rhetoric,” he said.
“Now is the time to motivate and encourage various security agencies to step up their games. Now is the time for government leaders to act as statesmen. We must unite to save the nation.
“Public officers at all levels must avoid statements and actions that show support for any party to the conflict as it has tendency to undermine national cohesion and security.
“On clashes between herders and farmers all over Nigeria, it is well agreed by all reasonable citizens and leaders that a pastoral practice that ruins the legitimate businesses of others, must immediately give way to a more acceptable and modern arrangement. ”
“We need a transition to a system that accommodates the aspirations of poor farmers and herders who have long been neglected by successive governments. This is the most urgent task of public policy at both State and Federal levels.
Perhaps it is time again to renew our earlier call for devolution of power to the States in policing and other critical areas, in order to lessen the burden of the Federal Government in policing,” Olawepo-Hashim cautioned.
He reiterated that states and local policing might help reduce tension as security questions requiring prompt attention would be taken at state levels before they fester into broader national crisis, providing incentives for diver’s centrifugal forces to jump in.
While observing that nation building will not be completed in one day, the business executive expressed optimism that there would still be life after 2023 and Nigeria will survive.
The businessman turned politician noted that from ongoing public debate, it was obvious that consensus has been built around issues such as the desirability of state police to deal with insecurity, devolution of powers to states to control resources in their inland basins to pay taxes to the centre.
It will be recalled that Olawepo-Hashim had in a recently admonished Nigerians to agree on things that are agreeable and continue to discuss things that are not clear but may become clearer in the future.
Nigeria, he said, must move forward together in peace and harmony.