From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
Responding to the spike in violent crimes and insecurity across Nigeria, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has urged political, ethnic and religious leaders to take deliberate steps to de-escalate tensions and promote peace, unity and tolerance among the citizens.
In a letter of appeal signed by the Director General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, the agency said the present situation called for leaders across political, religious, traditional, professional and the social landscape to do all within their powers to arrest the situation to avoid further deterioration.
The letter reads in part:
‘At these very challenging times, all the nation and its citizens need are deeper reflection and sobriety in what we do and say, as truly, the forces of disunity and national disintegration are at work.
‘Community, political, religious and economic leaders of the country should urgently build consensus on the need to rescue Nigeria from the grips of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, secessionism and violent cultism to avoid a slide into anarchy.’
He alleged that some social media and orthodox media platforms have been used to fuel the violence. He went further to urge leaders to desist from all forms of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric, stressing that ‘if we allow Nigeria to burn, it will consume all of us.’
The DG said the Agency is concerned about the spate of violent attacks and killings of both security agents and innocent citizens, as well as the destruction of public and private infrastructure across the country by violent groups. He called on all the various leaders to partner with government to bring peace and stability.
Abari added that the activities of insurgents, bandits, hoodlums and ethnic militia in parts of the country ultimately hurt everyone in every part of the country. He stressed the need for urgent and concerted peace building measures that look beyond parochial benefits and prioritize national interest.
Then DG went on to call on Nigerian Speaking youths, to stay off violence and embrace peace. He said: ‘The youths, especially, must realise that they are the biggest stakeholders and beneficiaries of a peaceful Nigeria. They should therefore, make concerted effort to build a stable nation where they will realise all of their life ambitions and potentials. Crises will disrupt our lives, abort our dreams and leave us with the future task of building the country anew.’