Some senior citizens under the aegis of Forum of Nigerian Elders (FNE) have warned the country against another civil war.
Their concerns stemmed from the growing insecurity in the country, noting that unless urgent and drastic measures were adopted to overcome the situation, Nigeria could be sitting on a time bomb.
Nigeria went through a civil war between 1967 and 70, when the South-east attempted to have the Biafra Republic.
The secession bid however failed with the head of state, Yakubu Gowon, announcing an end to the strife on a note of ‘no victor, no vanquished.’
Warning against a repeat experience however in a statement made available to Blueprint in Abuja ,Wednesday, the senior citizens admonished the federal government to immediately convene a national dialogue; with a view to discussing the fault lines that led the country to its present predicaments.
The forum is made up of elders from the nation’s six geo-political zones.
The statement was signed by Dr Balarabe Usman Wudil (North West), Engr Zana Goni (North East), Prof Ambrose Terngu (North Central), Prof. Finebone Tamuno (South South), Dr Ayo Bankole (South West) and Prof. Chika Madumere (South East).
The statement said: “We are a group of elders from the six geopolitical zones of the country that have worked at different high levels of our chosen careers. We are worried at the current state of security situation in the country. It is regrettable that the development, which had come like a child’s play some few years ago, has assumed the current dimension.
“As a country, we are currently sitting on a time bomb and we wish to sound the alarm that, if nothing urgent is done to arrest this ugly situation, we will be consumed. We are alarmed by the dangerous wave of violence blowing round the country. This must not be allowed to fester on; given that it does no one any good.
“We are concerned about blatant disregard to the federal character principles in appointments into key positions in the country. We task President Muhammadu Buhari to reflect over this and put things in their right places as the drafters of our constitution did not make any mistake in making the provision.
“Appointments into key positions should be evenly spread, devoid of religious, ethnic and regional considerations. This will help promote national unity, which our founding fathers worked tirelessly for.
“Appointments, particularly into key positions in the security sector, must be on merit, besides regional consideration, to give every section of the country a sense of belonging. The insecurity building up, as a result of cry for injustice and the quest for self-rule, can be greatly tackled through this. We are by this calling on Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari to review his governing strategies with a view to getting needed and expected results.”
“The federal government, under the leadership of our dear president, friend and brother, President Muhammadu Buhari, must address the issues of injustice in appointments into key sectors especially people of the South East of the country and address the issues of security in all parts of the country.
“As a group of elders, we see the urgent need to add our voice to the already loud voices of Nigerians across all divides on the need for the federal government to take urgent steps in leading the way for a national dialogue and reconciliation starting with addressing the issues of injustices and neglect in government appointments especially the security sector.
“This must be followed up with a national dialogue and genuine reconciliation across the six geopolitical zones of the country, else we will have ourselves to blame. We make bold to say that there is no time in the history of Nigeria that our country is so divided along religious and ethnic lines like now. This, we must as a country try to arrest now. The onus rests on President Buhari and we advise that he should place his name on the sands of time by bequeathing the legacy of enthroning a good Nigeria suitable for all to live in to us now.
“In the past, we had civil war caused mostly by some avoidable issues. These issues are still thriving in our national life with the government and its handlers giving deaf ears to them. We must do everything to avoid repeat of the past mistakes.
“Most of us here worked actively for this administration and are actually still card-carrying members of the ruling party. But it’s time to speak up without sentiments and recourse to party, religious, ethnic and tribal considerations.
“If we don’t speak out and act now, when war breaks out, it will consume all of us without asking for our political parties. The president should delegate his appointees to move to their various zones of the country to work with the elders of the regions and youths to deescalate the looming conflict,” they warned.
The elders also said Nigeria “is sitting on time bomb and something needs to be done very fast. We appeal to our dear President, Muhammadu Buhari, to begin to ignore rhetoric and empty assurances being given to him by his security chiefs and move to actions that will save our country from the brink of total collapse.”
Alaafin on state police
In a related development, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi has canvassed the introduction of state police in Nigeria to ensure adequate security in the country.
Oba Adeyemi made the call Wednesday while speaking during a meeting of traditional rulers and security agencies with Governor Seyi Makinde at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
The Alaafin said: “If we do not embrace state police, all the state governments will remain puppets under the federal government.”
He also said state governors should not be blamed for the insecurity within their states because they are not the ones controlling security agencies in their states.
Oba Adeyemi said all the security agencies were under the control of the central government as security is on the exclusive list of the Nigeria Constitution.
“It is appalling that we still see some of the people we have arrested and handed over to the Police on the street gallivanting around. Our governor is doing the right thing but we don’t really have superior power over the constitution guiding us. So, when it comes to the issue of insecurity, there is nothing the state government can do if the federal government fails to do the needful,” he said.
“If our governor orders Police to carry out an assignment and another order comes from the FG, definitely nothing will be done. So, don’t let us deceive ourselves. Even our governor cannot command the Army and he has no power over it.
“Now, 70 per cent of our farmers in Ibarapa have left their farmlands. They no longer farm again. If we do not succeed in having State Police, the states will continue to be puppets under the federal government. Your Excellency, you can actually put up a wonderful edifice but the operation of the constitution will not allow you to achieve the goal,” the monarch said.
Addressing the meeting, Governor Makinde said his administration would continue to work with traditional rulers in all the nooks and crannies of the state to tackle insecurity, adding that his government would equally continue to protect the lives and properties of citizens.
The governor said as part of measures to improve the security situation in the state, his administration has set up a Security Task Force comprising cabinet members and heads of security agencies, including Operation Burst and Amotekun. Makinde further said the government has equally introduced the voluntary policing approach in which non-state actors would work together with other security agencies to tackle insecurity in the state.
The governor then tasked traditional rulers to join hands with the state government to improve the security of the state.
“I have said before that security cannot work without intelligence gathering and we cannot gather intelligence without getting closer to the people,” he said.
“In all of the troubled areas across our state, the royal fathers often get information before we do, and that is why it is important that we must collaborate with you. The reason we are in this meeting today is because security is one of the four pillars of our administration, and one of our key policies as contained in the roadmap for accelerated development in Oyo State (2019-2023),” the governor said.