By Joseph Erunke
THE Conference of Concerned Igbo Elders for Peace and National Unity, has condemned the growing spate of insecurity across the country, saying the ugly trend has the capability to undermine national sovereignty if not immediately halted.
Accordingly, the concerned Igbo elders have tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of national emergency, take up the gauntlet as a Commander-in-Chief and crush the enemies of the state bent on undermining his government.
They maintained that responsible governments all over the world do not treat criminal elements with kid gloves but rather, deploy maximum state assets to crush their potency.
The Igbo elders said the time had come for President Buhari to show greater capacity to deal with challenges confronting national development, top most of it is insecurity occasioned by banditry, kidnapping, insurgency, armed robbery and other existential threats, literally speaking.
In a statement yesterday jointly signed by their National President, Prof William Okocha and National Secretary, Dr Mrs Chioma Obi, the patriots reminded the President of the need to uphold the constitutional provision which makes security and welfare of citizens the most primary responsibility of government.
This was as they further recalled that during his inauguration as President, Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had predicated their campaign on the tripod of security, economy as well as fight against corruption.
They concluded that while it could be argued that some gains have been recorded in the areas of anti-graft war,and economic development, the issue of security and safety remained abysmal.
Against this backdrop, the elders have challenged the President as Commander-in-Chief, to issue a fresh directive backed with logistics funding to his service chiefs, to take the fight to the doorsteps of the non-state actors, smoke them out and return victory to the state.
In the meantime, the Igbo elders have also drawn attention to the reverberating perception of exclusion and injustice which can increase tension, with consequences on national security and cohesion.
As a starting point therefore, the concerned Nigerians have appealed to the President to assure Ndigbo and other regions that they remained an integral part of the Nigerian State.
One of the veritable platforms of delivering on this assurance, according to them, is for the President to urgently review the appointment of Service Chiefs, to reflect geo-political balancing especially with igbo from south east.
“In times of national crisis, patriotic elders, groups and other well-meaning stakeholders must be bold enough to speak truth to power, that nature and posterity may not charge them for accessory”, the statement read.
Describing the President as a man “who means well for the country, the group hastened to add that, “meaning well and implementing same were two different things, the latter being what matters more.
Notwithstanding, Nigerians, the concerned elders insisted, must continue to offer their support towards national unity and tolerance.
The statement reads in full: “The frightening state of insecurity in the country today must attract the attention of well-meaning Nigerians, and as Igbo elders, we feel the urgency in letting our dear President know that the development has the potential and potentiality to undermine his administration.
“Our fear is heightened by the feeling – rightly or wrongly – that the President may not be visiting the ugly development with the superior force that is required to turn the tide in favour of the State.
“In our humble view, criminal elements must be treated as enemies of state, not minding whose ox is gored in the process; that is the way to go for any nation determined to assert her authority and sovereignty.
“The President must collate the aggregate views of critics, without necessarily considering their identities and leanings, for building of true nationhood abhors undue attachments.
“Another point worthy of the President’s attention, in our estimation, is the reality of our exclusion from sensitive appointments, that seems to define this government, which must be quickly addressed, in national interest.
“A situation where the Igbo race is constantly left out,or sidelined, in the scheme of national affairs, does not augur well for the meaning and contemplation of the country’s unity in diversity.
“On this note, and to engender cross-ethnic trust, we appeal to President Buhari and his influential lieutenants, to review the appointment of Service Chiefs, with a view to incorporating the interest of the South East, and by extension, appeasing the federal character principle”.