The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the recent town hall meeting on national security in Kaduna was to address the nation’s security challenges and the call for secession.
Mohammed said this while fielding questions at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship interview programme, NANForum, in Abuja.
The Federal Government through the Ministry of Information had on April 8 convened the town hall meeting on national security.
Mohammed said apart from the security challenges being experienced in the country, the call for secession had become more pronounced and there was the need to take drastic measures to address it.
He also said the town hall meeting was aimed at building elite consensus on the indispensability of the unity of the country, its security and peaceful coexistence.
“Nigeria is facing security challenges, we have been battling with Boko Haram for 10 years, we have been battling with herdsmen-farmers clashes for about six years.
“We have also been handling the issue of banditry, cultism and the likes but why we became concerned and felt we had to organise a town hall meeting was as a result of these security challenges.
” The call for secession became more and more pronounced, at that point in time, we felt it was necessary to have a town hall meeting and see if we can build an elite consensus on indispensability of the unity, security and the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria.
“When Nigeria has been on this kind of cross road, we have always tried to get elite consensus to agree on the unity of Nigeria, agree on its security and agree on the need for all of us to live together peacefully,” he said.
The minister noted that though the last town hall meeting was the 18th his ministry had held since he came on board, the Kaduna forum on national security was unique.
He said the meeting was well attended by people from all walks of life with panelists drawn from the academia, private sector and civil society.
The minister added that the town hall meeting, which was robust, gave government the opportunity to hear from the other side of the society.
“Another unique thing is the colour of the attendees in attendance; not just eight ministers, there were governors of Kaduna State and his deputy and governors of Zamfara and Ekiti sent representatives.
“We had representatives of Miyyeti Allah, we had representatives of PANDEF, security chiefs were there, traditional rulers, bishops and Imams.
“We also had women organisations and all major stakeholders that you will expect when discussing the issue of security and national unity,” he said.
Mohammed said it was made clear from the beginning that the town hall meeting would not be a talk shop.
He stated that all discussants were tasked to come up with implementable resolutions, adding that stakeholders did not only highlight security challenges but also proffered solutions.
The discussants at the event included Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, Prof. Saka Nuru, Ibukun Awosika, Prof. Chudi Uwazuruike and Prof. Kokunre Eghafona. (NAN)