Due to rising insecurity in the country, former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), recently organised a national security summit in Minna, Niger State, to proffer solutions to myriad national problems, including insecurity. However, the roundtable was dumped by the leaders of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) because of the inclusion of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), among those invited for the meeting.
In a statement by Chief Edwin Clark of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEFF); Chief Ayo Adebanjo of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere; Chief John Nwodo of Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and Dr. Pogu Bitrus of the Middle Belt Forum, the leaders of the SMBLF opposed sitting at the summit with MACBAN which they considered a trade association for cattle herders and whose members had been accused of various violations of human rights, including the right to life, across the country. This is one point organisers of such peace summits in future should take note of.
Although the two-day summit organised by the Abdulsalam Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development had in attendance some eminent Nigerian citizens including two former chiefs of defence staff, Generals Alani Akinrinade and Martin Agwai and some retired military officers, traditional rulers, technocrats, academics, and business moguls, including the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass in Bayelsa, Alfred Papapreye Diette-Spiff, the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umar Faroq Bahago, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, Prof. Bolaji Akinnyemi, Prof. Awalu Yadudu, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, and Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, the absence of notable socio-cultural groups’ leaders from the South was not good for it.
The summit, which was organised to find solutions to some nagging national issues, especially the rising insecurity in the country, should have been attended by all the relevant stakeholders in the Nigerian project. In this regard, the organisers of the summit would have ensured that there was no boycott by any group.
Nonetheless, we commend the patriotic vision and zeal of Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar for organising the summit. However, we observe that the outcome of the summit may not be remarkably different from the reports of earlier national conferences which the Federal Government, for inexplicable reasons, has vehemently refused to revisit, even in the face of the ensuing national security challenges.
Rather than setting up more summits on how to move the country forward, we urge the Federal Government to quickly review the recommendations of past conferences, especially the 2014 National Conference, which many Nigerians adjudged to be the most comprehensive report that could resolve the security challenges in the country.
Good enough, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, who participated in the summit, urged for a return to the 2014 confab report. Akinyemi believed that the solutions to the nation’s current insecurity could be found in the recommendations of the report. He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take a holistic look at the document. There is even no point calling for new summits when the recommendations of past ones are still gathering dust in the archives. Therefore, it is imperative for Nigeria to borrow a leaf from other nations that grappled with similar challenges and surmounted them through such initiatives. The examples of Sierra Leone and Pakistan suffice.
There is no doubt that the Abubakar peace initiative has ensured some measure of peace and stability in the country, especially during elections. We align with the vision of General Abubabakar and indeed similar efforts by other compatriots in finding solutions to our national problems.
Beyond the peace summits, we believe that adherence to good governance and the rule of law by those in power can go a long way to ensure lasting peace in the country.