Chief Celestine Chukwu is the secretary general of Igbo Community Assembly in the FCT. In this interview with ROSEMARY MORIBIRIN and SOLOMON AROWOLO, he speaks on ways out of current security situation ahead of 2023 general election.
2023 is around the corner. What do you expect from political parties?
One thing that is very key is to ensure that there is public sensitisation for peace in Nigeria. The institutions that are responsible for security and election should also ensure that security personnel are properly prepared for service delivery; they should secure the people and not destroy them. Also, the electoral body should ensure that there is free and fair election. Once the election is free and fair, there would be no electoral violence. There shouldn’t be room for conspiracy because some of these are factors of electoral violence.
Recently, the South-east region has been battling with unrest until their governors came up with Ebube Agu. Do you think this would address the situation?
The name any security agency is called is not what matters. What matters is finding the cause or reasons behind various attacks and persons involved. It is not about forming or changing security outfits because it is just like rebranding. We must get to the root of the matter; that is how to tackle security issues. Yesterday, it was in the north. It is happening in the South-west and South east with elections at the corner.
What do you think is the cause of insecurity in the south?
The country has been highly militarised, that is why you don’t use the military in every crisis. In peace enforcement, you see the military but in peace management you don’t use the military. In reconciliation, you don’t use the military. The reason you use the military in peace enforcement is because there are two warring parties and you want to ensure that they come to dialogue. They disagree in every intervention to come to dialogue, then the military would go in-between to ensure that both parties are separated for dialogue to enable the political leaders to sit down and discuss.
Are you of the opinion that the government should dialogue with bandits and kidnappers?
Who are they; do they have sponsors? How do they get those arms and ammunitions? Government should research these things. You will realise that some of the elites are part of this problem. I’m sure the police have been arresting some of these people and some fingers have been pointed. It is not about illiteracy in the north; it is about conspiracy of the elite in the north. Politicians use different methods to achieve their goals. Let the government be sincere with the masses. You will see youths going with arms and ammunition, but do nothing about it, you will see some of the elites who feel they are no longer in the system supporting some of those things happening. They used some of the money they have gotten to ensure that they sponsor some youths to carry out criminalities. That is why the government needs to be sincere. If you pick somebody, you interrogate and find out who is behind him. When you are moving on the road, there’s always somebody in the background. That’s why it is important for us to understand the background of everything. If the government’s hand is in this insecurity, then the aim would be to thwart the 2023 election so that it doesn’t hold, because it is a strategy. You can’t be holding elections where there’s insecurity. That’s why I said if the government is sincere, it should look at the causes and make sure it is handled properly. Now, the issue is who are those elites behind insecurity? There are some elites that are behind all these boys. When the elites fight against themselves, you hardly notice it from them directly, you notice it from the masses. That is what we call elitist conspiracy. In my foundation, Celchi Global Peace Foundation, we understand that for peace and reconciliation to take place, there must be truth. Government must tell us the truth, our leaders must come out to be leaders of people.
Do you think the calls by South-east to produce the next president is justified?
Sharing political dividends must make sure that no part is left out. If anybody is left out, there would be no peace and at Celchi, we believe that there must be fair sharing. If all zones in the north and the South-west have taken theirs, South-south has taken its, I is now left for South-east. If the level of insecurity in the east is to ensure that the presidency doesn’t come to the region, it cannot solve the problem because the society would have more problem. I believe they should be allowed to take their turn because it is very important for the peace and unity of this country.