by Baron Eloagu, Emeka Ogbodo, John Ishaku,
Nigeria’s former Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee (NOC), General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has called on the 36 state governors to resolve their differences, speak with one voice and confront the security challenges bedevilling the country.
He also appealed to Nigerians to give peace a chance in the face of rising tension in different parts of the country.
Addressing journalists at his Hilltop residence in Minna on Tuesday, the Niger State capital, the former head of state noted that if care was not taken, the growing tension in the country might lead Nigeria to a point of no return.
Journalits reports that at the height of the eviction order for herders in some states in the South West and South East, and the attendant banditry and kidnapping in North West and North Central, some governors engaged in verbal war and calling themselves out.
For instance, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had condemned the statement credited to his counterpart from Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, that herdsmen had no option but to carry AK-47 for self-defence.
But the Bauchi governor said his reference to AK47 was simply to put in perspective, the predicament and desperation of those law-abiding Fulani herdsmen who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, had become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and assassination
He also condemned South West and South East governors, and also Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in North Central, over the manner in which they were handling farmer/herder clashes.
Elsewhere, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State had said his colleagues in North West were working at cross purposes, and therefore unable to address the security challenges in the region. Responding, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State said it appeared El-Rufai doesn’t understand issues around insecurity.
Observers believed that going by the enormous influence they wield, the federal government will not succeed in taming security challenges if governors kept shifting blames among themselves.
‘Governors must work together to end insecurity’
While expressing his displeasure over the security challenges, Abdulsalami said some people were fanning the embers of disunity, anarchy, and disintegration.
He said recent happenings in some parts of the country occasioned by ethnic attacks were unfortunate because they were adding to the problems of insurgency, kidnapping and robbery.
“We appeal to the citizens of our dear country who have borne so much pains and suffering to remain resilient and patient. Thousands of our people are homeless and refugees across the length and breadth of their own country. We know what farmers have faced in the last few years and the harvests will be a serious challenge this year. Therefore, let us all rally together in these hard times, make the required sacrifices and remain vigilant, standing by one another,” he said.
While appealing to the state governors who are the chief security officers of their states to sheath their swords, Abdulsalami said they should tone down their rhetoric and take full responsibility for managing the divergent voices and frustrations within their states.
He said, “It is true that we are all in a state of fear and collective anxiety. However, the last thing we need is for the enemy to sense a lack of unity on our part or a break in our ranks.
“We appeal to the new service chiefs and IGP to rise to the urgent demands of the moment by rallying their troops and designing the best strategy for ending the tragic war that has continued to consumed and destroy the foundations of our dear country.
“We hope that based on their field experiences in the war, they can draw up a well-coordinated programme to ensure that all our resources are deployed to achieve the much-needed victory in this avoidable war.”
We’ll fish our people behind the crisis – Buhari
Hours after Abdulsalami called on those that matter to work together and solve Nigeria’s security challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari attributed the upheavals in some parts of the country to a few people with resources and influence.
President Buhari, who spoke on Tuesday while receiving a delegation of Borno/Yobe Elders Forum on a courtesy call, assured that these people would be identified and dealt with in due course.
“I am confident that we will eventually convince the small number of people with resources and influence that are a nuisance to this great country. God willing, we will identify them, and deal with them. I am extremely concerned about your constituency like the rest of the country.”
The President said the stability of the country was of paramount interest to him and the federal government would continue to work towards it despite the actions of a few people.
President Buhari said: “We need this country. We will continue to work for its stability. I feel that whatever happens, we will continue to make it, and will keep on praying to God so that for those who feel that they don’t need Nigeria, we will succeed over their intentions and actions.”
He expressed appreciation to the leaders for coming to terms with the positive improvement that has occurred in the states since the inception of the administration.
In his remarks, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State said the leaders were in Abuja to thank the president for the tremendous improvement in their states and to intimate him with some of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.
Also on the delegation were Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, former Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno, as well as senators, traditional rulers and elders from the two states, including Architect Bunu Sheriff, Gambo Gubio, the Ministers of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri and Works and Housing, Abubakar D. Aliyu.
We’ll liaise with NGF to address insecurity
The House of Representatives has advised political and public office holders against inflammatory and inciting statements that may cause further divisions and unrest in the country.
This followed a resolution passed by the House on a motion of urgent public importance moved by Rep. Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau).
The motion was on the heels of the alleged statement by Governor Mohammed of Bauchi and the attendant responses.
“If all public officials regardless of their position or status are not cautioned against inciting or provoking the general public, the already tense situation in the country will lead to open hostilities,” the legislator said.
After the presentation of the motion, the House resolved to interface with the Nigeria Governors Forum through its relevant committees in order to find a lasting solution to insecurity in the country.
Shasa crisis not a tribal war- NGF
The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Tuesday said that the crisis in Shasa, Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, has nothing to do with tribal war but regrettable conflict in two different communities.
The governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who led three other governors from the northern states on behalf of the NGF to Shasa, explained that the four northern governors were sent to Ibadan to resolve the crisis.
The governors are: Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Abubakar Bello (Niger).
The host governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, who led the guests to assess the level of destruction occasioned by the clash between the two communities in the area inhabited by the Yoruba and Hausa, sued for peace and promised that his government would find means to restore peace to the community.
Receiving the governors, the Sarkin Sasa of Ibadanland, Alhaji Haruna Maiyasin, who regretted the unfortunate incident, however, lauded Governor Makinde for his peaceful relationship with the Hausa community since the inception of his administration.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the other visiting governors, Governor Bagudu appealed to the aggrieved ethnic groups to maintain peace and unity that have been in existence between the Hausa and the Yoruba communities from time immemorial.
His words: “We are well received by our host governor. He briefed us about what happened, and today, took us to Shasa Market and on our way, there was a stopover at Bodija Market and we are pleased that we saw Nigerians of all tribes in the market conducting their activity, which is evident of return of normalcy.”
“First, there have been contentions over the leadership of the Shasa market. Even though the Sarkin Shasa and the Baale of Shasa are in agreement about leadership, but other interested groups were no so carried along.
“Then the trigger, there was somebody, either pushing or carrying a wheelbarrow with tomatoes and it fell in front of a shop. Ordinarily, that is just normal in a market, but once emotions are high, and social media are instigating, unfortunately, we had the situation we had, which included loss of lives and we regretted and we sympathise with families of all those who lost their lives and property.
“As we speak, it is certain that some people are afraid about what will happen; so it is our responsibility to ensure that we communicate properly so that those who are living in fear whether in Ibadan or in other states because others will now be in fear that there will be reprisal to know that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies are working hard to ensure that we treat things for what they are.
“Incidences are bound to happen, sometimes, they are exploited by miscreants in the society to loot, to steal and to cause mayhem and part of what has happened in Ibadan has to do with that. Just like we saw during the EndSARS riots, but we are glad reasons are prevailing and people are calming down and encouraging us.
“To those outside, particularly in the northern states, we want to extend that a regrettable spontaneous incident has happened, but it is not a tribal conflict; it is a regrettable conflict that the different communities in Oyo are working and holding each other’s hands to sort out,” Bagudu said.
Arms proliferation behind Nigeria’s security challenges – Senate
Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday called for stiffer punishment for anyone found with illegal firearms.
He said the security situation in the country would be improved if the proliferation of illegal firearms was adequately curtailed.
Lawan was contributing to a debate on a bill titled: “The Firearms Act CAP F28 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2021” sponsored by Senator Uba Sani (Kaduna Central).
“The security situation would have been far better if we are able to control the proliferation of firearms in the country.
“I believe that there is no compromise for stiffer penalties for anyone caught with an illegal arm,” the Senate president said.
He said the Senate had limited powers to address insecurity ravaging the country, but could only talk about it, debate it and insist that something is done to address the problem.
He noted that the power to implement policies and programmes aim at addressing security challenges rests on the executive. Lawan said: “For us in the National Assembly, it has been a very difficult time probably the most difficult because our people face these daily security challenges.
“The question is always what are you people doing and unfortunately the legislature is limited in what it can do. It cannot implement, but it can talk about it, discuss it, debate it and insist on it,” he said.
Earlier in his lead debate, Sani said that the bill sought to impose stiffer penalties for offences in the “Principal Act” as well as provide for the destruction of firearms imported illegally into the country or in the possession of individuals without valid licences.