September 25, 2023

Peace is panacea for Nigeria’s development – ACF Chair


By Ibrahim Hassan

Kaduna – Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Arc Gabriel Yakubu Aduku has listed a number of factors revolving around political, socio-economic and leadership crises that literally conspired to hold Nigeria as a nation, down.

In a statement he issued to commemorate the World Peace Day Celebration, Arc. Yakubu Aduku who is also the Amana Ogohi 1, Ata’Igala in Kogi State, explained that these factors included the leadership question, insecurity, poverty, unemployment and marginalization, to mention but a few.

He stated that “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely, a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”

According to the statement, ” globally, the International Day of Peace (IDP) is observed around the world on 21 September, each year. The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire. It is a day declared by the UN to strengthen the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. The declaration of the day as a day of peace is imperative because never has our world needed peace more than now.”

“The 2023 theme: Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals, is a call to action that recognizes our individual and collective responsibility to foster peace because fostering peace contributes to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will create a culture of peace for all.”

“No less a person than United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the importance of when he declared that “Peace is needed today more than ever as war and conflict are unleashing devastation, poverty, and hunger, and driving tens of millions of people from their homes. Climate chaos is all around. And even peaceful countries are gripped by gaping inequalities and political polarization.”

“The search for peace in Nigeria:As a member of the United Nations, Nigeria is a signatory to the UN Convention on World Peace. Sadly, peace appears to be elusive in the country. A number of factors revolving around political, socio-economic and leadership crises have literally conspired to hold the nation down and the consequences are enormous, indeed. These factors include the leadership question, insecurity, poverty, unemployment and marginalization, to mention but a few”

“Nigeria is a land literally flowing with the proverbial milk and honey. Nigeria is the envy of many nations because of her enormous human and material resources. Sadly however, despite Nigeria’s humongous endowments, the country is unarguably of one of the least developed in the world. A major problem associated with Nigeria is the nature of the leaders that have ruled the country, be they civilian or military. Chinua Achebe, one of Nigeria’s iconic and celebrated literary giants acknowledged this much. Chinua Achebe (1983, P.1) in one of his delectable books aptly titled the “The Trouble with Nigeria”, declared that:”

“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely, a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”

“While other nations have been blessed with charismatic and visionary leaders, Nigeria is bedeviled with what Victor Dike (2013) calls ‘instrumental leaders’ as against ‘societal leaders’. According to Dike, the instrumental leader uses power and influence, primarily in the pursuit of private (personal, close family, cohort) goals. Community objectives are secondary to an instrumental leader.”

“The main concern of the instrumental leader is how he can use his office to achieve personal objectives. He may not be lacking in social/community commitments but in practice, more considerations are given to the self over the interests of the society which he governs.

Unlike the instrumental leader, Dike noted that a societal leader is visionary, charismatic and altruistic. He resigns voluntarily if he thought of himself to have failed but an instrumental leader continues to hold on to power so long as his personal objectives are achieved. It is surprising that no President or Head of state has ever resigned voluntarily because he has failed to serve the people right in Nigeria.”

“Nelson Mandela, former President of post-Apartheid South Africa was a shining example of a societal leader, who refused to run for a second term, even when he was prodded by the people and even as the constitution allowed it. With the exception of a few set of First Republic leaders, almost all other Nigerian past and present leaders are instrumental leaders.”

“Given that Nigeria has had the misfortune of being ruled by instrumental leaders, it is therefore not surprising that majority of them have failed the people on several fronts. One area that many Nigerian leaders have faltered is in their ability to give or adequately communicate their visions to the people and to carry the citizenry along with them. A leader that is unable to make his followers to ‘see’ his vision and key into it is as good as a visionless leader.”

” For instance, while past and present Nigerian leaders introduced a number of ‘development plans’ under such bogus names as “Structural Adjustment Programme” (SAP), “Vision 2010”, “Vision 2020”, “Seven-Point Agenda”, “Three-Point Agenda”, etc., such interventions have hardly made any discernable difference in the lives of the average Nigerian because of the lack of vision and sincerity of purpose of the promoters of such programmes.

Many Nigerian leaders have also failed to inspire the masses to good and noble deeds.”

“They have failed to inculcate morality into the people. In fact, they have failed to lay good examples, both in words and in deeds. It is unfortunate that there is no leader in the country’s body polity that the youths are looking up to for mentorship. The implication of this is that there is trust deficit in the leadership of the country. Even some of those who rose to power on the back of their acclaimed past integrity have disappointed the people.”

“Related to the foregoing is the way and manner the political class in Nigeria has deployed politics as a tool for personal, class, family and close family aggrandizement rather than using it to altruistically serve humanity. While democracy holds the promise of ensuring collective involvement in governance, the brand of politics practiced in Nigeria is seemingly exclusivist and characterized by a winner-takes-all mentality such that only a few persons have access to the spoils office and political patronage while the majority are often left in the lurch. The road to political office is often fouled by intrigues, subterfuge, violence and exclusion, which in the end, makes peaceful and credible elections mere wishful thinking.”

“The situation in Kogi State is particularly worrisome especially in the run off to the off-season gubernatorial election on November 11, 2023. The onset of campaigns for the elections has been marked by one form of state-tolerated violence or the other, thereby threatening the peace and security of the State. In recent times, there have been reported cases of intimidation of candidates of other political parties by the ruling APC government in Kogi State. This is ostensibly with a view of shutting out candidates with credible pedigrees from actualizing their aspirations. This practice must be curtailed in view of the plural nature of our democratic system.

“Insecurity remains one of the key drivers of social unrest in Nigeria. There is no region in Nigeria that has not come under the grip of one form of insecurity or the other. The North Eastern part of Nigeria has been under the throes of more than a decade of terrorism masterminded by the Boko Haram Islamist sect; while the North Central zone has been grappling with farmers-herders clashes that have resulted in enormous casualties in human and economic terms. The South-South region has been buffeted with issues of militancy while in the South East and South West; there have been rising agitations by secessionist groups.”

“The cumulative impact of insecurity on lives and property in Nigeria is enormous. For example, between January and June 2021, there were 5,800 deaths and 2,943 kidnappings, according to the Nigeria Security Tracker’s security incident report. This equates to about 32 killings and 17 kidnappings every day. These killings have contributed to rising tension, anger and frustration among the Nigerian public.”

“Poverty continues to be a major source of social upheaval and a threat to peace, particularly in developing countries. In Nigeria, poverty remains one of the most serious social and economic issue the citizens have been contending with. According to the World Bank, prior to the Covid-19 crisis, almost 4 out of 10 Nigerians were poor, with millions more at risk of sliding into poverty as a result of lack of inclusion. “

“The National Bureau of Statistics noted that 43 per cent of Nigerians, or 83 million individuals, live on less than 137, 430 Naira ($381.75) every year. Not too long ago, precisely in 2018, Nigeria was first declared as the world’s poverty capital in a report by the Brookings Institution, knocking off India from the unenviable position. The country’s negative poverty profile has remained the same even currently.”

“There is a strong correlation between poverty and social unrest. When people are poor and cannot meet their basic needs, it could lead to frustration and agitation. When these frustrations and agitations are poorly addressed they could boil over into collective action. In the midst of poverty, social unrest is birthed and nurtured. This is exactly the picture of what is happening in Nigeria today, with dire consequences on the peace of the nation.”

‘Unemployment remains one of the major factors against peace in Nigeria. According to the World Bank between 2010 and 2020, the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose five-folds, from 6.4% in 2010 to 33.3% at the end of 2020, significantly affecting youth in their quest for gainful employment opportunities. The implication of the above statistics is that many Nigerians may not able cater for their primary needs such as food, shelter, clothing etc. When this happens, the resultant consequence is that a large number of people willing to work but unable to secure gainful employment may deviate and embrace anti-social behaviour.”

“Marginalization remains a key trigger of social unrest in Nigeria. A system where some social groups continue to suffer from systematic marginalization in the hands of others has the potential to breed tension and agitation. This is not new in Nigeria because marginalization has been at the foundation of the Nigerian State the very first day the colonialists yoked the northern and southern protectorates together in 1914.”

” For example, the resurgence in the agitation about restructuring in Nigeria today is a mere reawakening of the problem that has been hibernating for the past five decades. Agitations from secessionist groups such as the outlawed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) in South-East Nigeria over the alleged political marginalization of the Igbo nation have contributed in heating up the Nigerian polity.”

“The group has directed a “sit at home” order in the Eastern States every Monday and members of the public obey such orders. Persistent demands from the Niger Delta region over resource control and the need to address issues of environmental degradation are central to understanding the rising tension in Nigeria. Recently, the emergence of Sunday Adeyemo popularly called Sunday Igboho to defend the rights of the Yoruba people and demanding for the creation of an Oduduwa Republic are all indications that the current structure of the Nigerian state is deficient and in need of urgent restructuring to assuage the feelings of every section of the country especially those who have been unjustly relegated to the backwaters of the country’s socio-economic and political development.
In summary, a combination of the foregoing factors has not only held us down as a nation but is also capable of threatening and torpedoing the fragile peace which the nation currently enjoys.”

“There is no gainsaying that peace is a sine qua non for the socio-economic and political development of any nation, Nigeria inclusive. Therefore, as the world marked the World Peace Day on September 21, it is imperative that certain measures be put in place to ensure peaceful coexistence among all and sundry.
To address the leadership deficit in Nigeria, concerted efforts must be made to create a level playing field for all eligible and qualified Nigerians to aspire to political office without let and hindrance. Democracy dividends must be made to percolate to all and sundry, irrespective of political affiliation and differences and shouldn’t be made the exclusive preserve of a select few.”

” Politics being a game of numbers, the electorate must be allowed to choose leaders of their choice without intimidation, coercion and threat of any kind and type. The electoral umpire, INEC must ensure that people’s vote do not just count but must be seen to count in the forthcoming November 11 2023 gubernatorial election in Kogi State. All those who threaten public peace, no matter how highly placed, must be sanctioned to guarantee a peaceful, free, fair and credible election and restore public confidence in our democracy
There is no doubt that poverty and unemployment are key drivers of social unrest and other forms of criminality in Nigeria.”

“There are millions of Nigerians living in poverty as well as a growing army of unemployed youths. This is definitely a time bomb waiting to explode. Therefore, the Government must go beyond rhetoric and public speeches to create more job opportunities and empowerment programmes to keep the youths gainfully engaged.”

“The protection of people and property is the government’s foremost responsibility. When citizens have the feeling that the government is not doing enough to protect their lives and property as currently being witnessed in Nigeria, they may resort to self-help and this will create chaos and disorder in the society. It is therefore imperative that government must ensure that it safeguards the lives and property of her citizens.”

“Civic engagement is an important component of all democracies. Therefore, the different groups in Nigeria involved in agitations over various forms of marginalization creating tension and restiveness in the country, must not be hounded down by the government as is the current practice. Government should look into the complaints of these restive groups and dialogue with them. Dialogue does not imply weakness but a more civic way of engaging people in liberal democracies,” the statement added.