By Luminous Jannamike
Eminent Nigerians and leaders of apex sociocultural organisations, on Monday, cautioned leaders at all levels against undue politicisation of matters bordering on the security of lives and property, saying that this will do not the nation any good, but aggravate the already fragile situation in the country.
The elder statesmen jointly-led by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, gave the warning while speaking at a one-day ‘Retreat on Inclusive Security’ organized by the Global Peace Foundation in collaboration with Vision Africa in Abuja.
They appealed to the elites to refrain from comments that could widen the “gulf of trust deficit amongst the many divides” that make up the country, saying that Nigeria’s survival as a nation should be considered sacred.
The Sultan who lamented over the recent spate of insecurity in the country, Oluwalana said that lives should be considered sacred and that the leaders should rather be circumspect rather than carry on as though all is well.
“As leaders, we must always look at one thing; let us serve humanity first. So, we must stop politicising insecurity.
“It’s unfortunate that this is what we are seeing across the land. Parties are accusing one another of not doing enough to tackle insecurity. I think that is the major problem we have been facing in the country,” the Sultan said.
Speaking also, former President Obasanjo said military action alone would not effectively end insecurity, adding that government must embrace the carrot and stick approach in addressing Nigeria’s security issues.
He said, “People talk of political will, but I talk of political action. Political will is not enough. It must be matched by political action.
“The problem of insurgency will not go away, if all we are using is the ‘stick’ (military action). We may suppress it, and keep it down a bit, but we have to use ‘carrot and stick’ together to effectively tackle the problems.”
In his remarks, the Bishop of Evangelism and Discipleship, Methodist Church Nigeria, Rt. Rev. Sunday Onuoha, regretted that the security problems in the country were worsened by the perceived existence of a wide gulf of trust deficit amongst the many divides in the country.
According to him, “Very few are trusted around dialogue tables; so-called influencers have betrayed the young, that now they thumb their noses at the heritage we once held so dear, and they stand against traditional institutions that give us the unique identities we pride ourselves by.
“We must take deliberate steps to close the gap between the aggrieved and the leaders by identifying trusted, objective and reliable moderators who must coordinate the discordant tunes into a harmonious melody that will bring about peace and reconciliation.”
On his part, the CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, charged the elites to sustain pressure on the politicians to ensure that the the successes recorded in the country’s effort to fight insecurity were not botched.
Ayokunle, who was represented by the Deputy President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Archbishop John Praise, said: “There has to be justice and fairness, if peace is going to reign in the country.
“We need to keep putting pressure on government to let the security operatives live up to their responsibilities. They are making efforts, but they can do more.”
In his submission, the Aare Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams posited that peace will continue to elude Nigeria, if the “fraud” in the 1999 Constitution is not expunged forthwith.
He said, “This oligo-military constitution of 1999 that we are operating in Nigeria is not a product that emanated from Nigerians.
“We must rise to condemn it. We must unite to say that this Constitution should be trashed and Nigerians should be put together to write a new constitution.”
In the same vein, the national leader of Pan Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, blamed the elite consensus on issues of that affect the citizens, adding that food scarcity is causing insecurity.
“The Nigeria we are in today does not provide anything for the common man. If oil is produced in your land and exploited, you should at least be rehabilitated with that resources.
“The problem in the country is hunger, because the people don’t have any means of livelihood anymore,” he added.
In addition, the Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said Nigeria was drifting away from the normal, saying that the economy does not allow for growth and development.
Ogbeh, who stated that a hungry man was an angry man, rhe problems of Nigeria are mounting up every day, and leaders should not deceive Nigerians that things were getting better.
“Can we end the current violence? The question here is not just the socio-political issues we are dealing with. Something is fundamentally wrong with the economy.
“We are a nation of importers of everything. Today, it is impossible to build a factory. The youths can’t cope, because the economy just doesn’t allow growth,” he said.
Likewise, the Northern Elders Forum stated thag insecurity will continue to fester in the country if incompetent persons occupy leadership positions in the country.
NEF’s Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said that poor leadership would continue to hinder the country’s development, noting that if citizens did not consider merit and competence in choosing their leaders, the country would make no progress.
He stated, “We don’t have a problem with each other. We have a problem with the leadership we have in the country.
We are not talking to that leadership, and exactly to the degree that we continue to fight and blame each other. This is the key problem facing the nation.”
Meanwhile Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, said the bandits took to crime to revenge the killing of their families by the military through airstrikes.
According to him, the bandits were victims seeking justice, so, he warned that it was important for government to meet with them urgently before they become uncontrollable.
He said, “We all know that bandits initially don’t kill people. They only kidnap people to get money, but something has metamorphosed and turned them into a Frankenstein monster that kill people just for the pleasure of it.
“What happens to their children and wives when the military is bombarding their Rugas? They are now on a revenge mission. If we had embraced them as citizens and give them hope, you will see a difference. This is what we learnt when we ventured to meet with them.
But the President of the Middle-Belt Forum, Bitrus Pogu said the people of the region were suffering unprovoked attacks by bandits.
“Most of these attacks on innocent communities are unprovoked. So far, over 186 communities in Kaduna have been sacked and the people displaced. Whenever we call a spade by its name trouble follows. These mindless killings are atrocities committed on an unimaginable scale in our society,” he said.
Also, the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Okey Emuchay, said: “Without security, every other sector is in danger, and there is very little a country can achieve. The insecurity in Nigeria is having a huge socio-economic impact on the country.”
Above all, 95-year-old elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, who was present at the meeting, stated that dialogue with implementation of decisions reach was of no value.
He advised, “We can sit here all day and talk to each other, but if we leave without following up our decisions with actions, we have wasted our time. Unfortunately, that is what is happening in the country today.”