Former Head of State and Chairman National Peace Committee, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd) has raised the alarm over proliferation of weapons in Nigeria.
The former military leader also said an estimated six million arms currently circulate illegally across the country.
He lamented that the proliferation of weapons has heightened insecurity in the country and led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Abubakar painted the grim picture at the committee’s dialogue session with key stakeholders at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja Wednesday.
He listed the security challenges facing the nation to include Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, increasing poverty, the calls for balkanisation of the country from different quarters, the threat of hunger arising from insecurity that farmers faced and continue to face, the increasing sense of collective despair and despondency among the populace.
“The proliferation of all caliber of weapons not only in our sub-region in general and in Nigeria in particular is worrying. It is estimated that there are over 6 million of such weapons in circulation in the country. This certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million internally displaced persons,” he said.
The ex-military leader also gave an assessment of the security situation, saying the security forces were not just overstretched but under strength and funded.
“We believe Nigeria must find a way out of these problems. Our hope is that perhaps among us, by listening to your different perspectives, we can begin to build up confidence among our people so that we can hold together.
“So our hope is that we shall not only share our collective lamentations about the current situation, but propose some concrete suggestions that can point the way forward, suggestions that can inspire more confidence among our people and ensure that our country remains one,” he said.
While welcoming the stakeholders which included Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III; John Cardinal Onaiyekan; the Ekiti state Governor and Chairman Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi; Plateau state Governor and Chairman Northern States’ Governors Forum, Simon Lalong, Publisher Blueprint Newspapers, Mohammed Idris Malagi, Chairman Daily Trust Newspapers, Kabiru Yusuf, religious leaders, military, police and other security agencies, Abubakar said President Muhammadu Buhari was aware of the meeting and that he supported it.
The meeting, he said, was expected to identify causes of the conflicts and how to mitigate them.
Also speaking, a member of the committee, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, lamented the role of the press which he said portrays the country in a bad light.
He urged the media to be wary of what they disseminate to members of the public in order not to discourage investors from coming into the country.
Addressing the gathering, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar enjoined Nigerians to close ranks and work for humanity as well as show respect to their individual religions, bearing in mind that all are the creations of God.
The Sultan also wanted Nigerians to discountenance the call for secession which he said was emanating from the elite.
The monarch said no human being chose where to come from and urged Nigerians to add value to one another
“As individuals, we need to add value into ourselves and we should know that we did not create ourselves, God created us and when God was creating us he did not ask us where do you want me to bring you into the world. We just found ourselves in some various places.
“So what we need to do is to see who we are and work for humanity because we are individuals, yes, but we have to close rank and work for humanity and while we are working for humanity. You have to respect your own religion, if you respect your own religion, you see what is right and wrong for you.
“The only point I want to add is that I grew up in a family where an Igbo man was the closest person to my father and he was entering any part of the palace and he died in the palace at one hundred and twelve years. His grave is right behind my palace there. That was what we knew before,” he stated.
The monarch further said: “Before, there was nothing like whether this person is a Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa or whatever. We saw ourselves as human beings and if we continue to live like that, there will be no problem. We, as leaders, have to know that we are going to account for this leadership that God gave us on the final day.
“So please look at the various problems we have, let’s look at being our brothers’ keeper. We should not allow the elites to break us because they are the ones shouting break up.”