President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, said that no part of Nigeria would be ignored under his watch.
The President gave the assurance when he received a delegation of Ugep Kingdom in Cross River state led by His Royal Highness, Obol Ofem Ubana, Obol Lopon of Ugep, a retired Army officer.
Responding to a request made by the royal father for the Federal Government to intervene and resolve inter-ethnic conflicts, affecting several communities, namely, Nko, Nyima, Oyadama, Edibe, Usumtong, Adadama and Ekureku, the President said: ‘‘I assure you that under my watch, no part of Nigeria will be ignored.
I am very pleased that you (the traditional ruler) have shared some professional background as a former military officer.
My experience of being in the military afforded me the opportunity to work with all Nigerians and this is a lifetime experience.” In his remarks, the traditional ruler thanked the President for appointing Yakuur sons into exalted positions in government and pledged the support of his community to the president’s ‘’quest to rescue Nigeria.’’ On restiveness in the region, the Obol Lopon said: ‘‘we are increasingly losing our youths to inter-tribal wars which if nothing is done will leave our communities without youths in the near future.” Instructively, the group’s leader said that “as Obol Lopon of Ugep, I am ready to partner with relevant government agencies saddled with the responsibility and management of communal conflict resolutions.’’ It’s instructive because the Obolo Lopon stated his readiness to work with the government to end violent clashes in his domain.
Agreed, bringing about and maintenance of peace is the cardinal responsibility of government.
But without the cooperation of the people, government can achieve little or nothing in that respect.
This fact, of course, was highlighted by the President when he said that no part of the country will be neglected under his watch, mainly because the oldest and simplest justification for government is the protection of citizens from violence.
It needs not be said that a country of unrelenting insecurity, without a government to provide the safety of law and order, protect citizens from each other and from foreign foes, is a failed country.
The horrors of little or no government to provide that function are on global display in the world’s many fragile states and essentially ungoverned regions.
And indeed, when the chaos of war and disorder mounts too high, citizens will choose even despotic and fanatic governments, and that spells the fear nursed by the Obol Lopon.
Of course, the idea of government as protector requires taxes to fund, train and equip an army and a police force; to build courts and jails; and to elect or appoint the officials to pass and implement the laws citizens must not break.
Regarding the violent clashes in the domain of Obol Lopon, however, the government, as protector of lives and property, requires the ability to tackle them and meet with the people to impress on them the need to embrace peace.
However, the vow made by the President that he’ll not leave any part of the country neglected, needs to be deeply appreciated.
That the President and his government and military are taking care of violent clashes in many parts of the country is good.
But why must there be violent clashes among citizens of the same country, in the first place? Clearly, something is wrong! Notably, our conflict resolution and confidence building measures are what and how they should be.
Certainly, somewhere, somehow, people are violent because they are aggrieved and frustrated.
And they resort to violence because they feel marginalised and deprived of some things they rightly or wrongly consider theirs.
Expectedly, government is the medium through which citizens create public goods that benefit everyone, but when those goods are denied people mainly because some corrupt people corner resources meant for their provision, there will be disgruntlement and, eventually frustration and violent reactions.
No doubt, for too long and for so little, the people of the Niger-Delta have been neglected and made to turn against each other by the sheer manipulation of some corrupt individuals.
This situation must not continue! Another reason for having government is for it to serve as provider of social welfare.
Government can cushion the inability of citizens to provide for themselves, particularly in the vulnerable conditions of youth, old age, sickness, disability and unemployment due to economic forces beyond their control.
Though a government is meant to provide infrastructure to enable citizens to flourish socially and economically, it provides a social security that enables citizens to create their own economic security.
The future of government builds on these foundations of protecting and providing.
Government will continue to protect citizens from violence and from the worst vicissitudes of life.
Government will continue to provide public goods, at a level necessary to ensure a globally competitive economy and a well-functioning society.
But wherever possible, government should invest in citizen capabilities to enable them to provide for themselves in rapidly and continually changing circumstances.
This what the Obol Lopon wants for his people.
This is what Nigerians, generally, want for themselves