Some eminent Nigerians yesterday warned that the 2023 general elections could be jeopardised if the Federal Government and its security agencies failed to arrest the current wave of terrorism, banditry, mass kidnapping for ransom and other violent crimes before the election season.
The warning came at a marathon meeting convened by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo during which they discussed the state of the nation in the face of worsening insecurity across the country.
The high level meeting, which held behind closed doors, saw the senior citizens, which included the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar and Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Chief Edwin Clark amongst others, reviewing the series of security challenges bedevilling different parts of the federation and the apparent helplessness of the government in proffering lasting solutions to halt the ugly trend. In a keynote address, Obasanjo, who convened the meeting, charged all Nigerians to recognise that they share a common destiny as citizens of one country and should do everything possible to preserve the unity of the nation.
One thing we have in common is that we have Nigeria. My Nigerianess is bigger and very important. We are making a mistake of considering where I was born or where some other people were born. Whatever God has given to Nigeria, it is for all of us. If God gives you something, you must enjoy it with others. Humanity and the gift of God must be understood,” he said.
Security, Obasanjo said, is a local matter which must be addressed locally. He therefore proposed that the National Assembly should put in place legislation empowering the states to establish their police before the next general election.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation in many parts of Nigeria but cautioned against apportioning blame to any person or group of persons as that could lead to politicisation of the situation.
The royal father also appealed to Nigerians not to paint the crisis of insecurity in the colours of any religion as that could inflame passions and lead to more crises. “Let’s stop politicising insecurity. Parties should stop accusing one another. We must not politicise insecurity.
There is hunger in the land. A hungry man is an angry man. Once you can’t feed you can do anything.”
On his part, Chief Edwin Clark emphasised the need for continuous dialogue among the people of the country as well as between the government and the people in order to address the challenges facing the country.
Clark, who blamed Nigeria’s current woes on the elite, said the ruling class have failed to learn from history. A former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah said that various attempts at discussing the problems of Nigeria in recent times ended up “scratching around the problem because of the insincerity of the political elite”.
Chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Chief Audu Ogbeh attributed the rising wave of violent crimes in the North to unemployment and idleness resulting from the closure of most of the industries that used to provide employment for young people in the region.
Secretary General Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, Ambassador Ken Uche condemned the unending killings, kidnapping and other violent crimes in different parts of the country.
He lamented that while Nigeria exists today as a country it cannot be regarded as a nation giving the forces trying to pull it apart from different directions.
Among the eminent Nigerians who attended the summit were a former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai; Niger Delta activist, Ankio Briggs; President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Jonathan Asake; controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi; the Are Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Ganiyu Adams, who was represented by Ogbeni Lanre Banjo and Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Publicity Secretary of Northern Elders Forum among others.