From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Integrity Friends for Truth and Peace Initiative (TIFPI) has berated southern governors for their recent call for national dialogue, instead of addressing the many crises that have threatened the life of the region and the country in general.
Although the group commended the governors for holding their first ever engagement in Asaba, Delta State, to seek their own ways of tackling the insecurity menace, it said their (southern governors’) communiqué at the end of the meeting was fraught with irregularities viewed as a misconception of the real issues.
TIFPI Executive Director Livingstone Wechie, in a statement he issued in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday, expressed surprise that the governors called for a national dialogue, which the federal government has not taken seriously.
‘It is worrisome that at a time when the rooftop of the union is on fire and the foundation is bleeding, the streets are burning with escalating tension and violence, our governors are talking about national dialogue which historically has never been taken seriously by the government as per implementation. Are these governors aware that Nigeria is bleeding profusely and almost gone?, Wechie declared.
‘It is the view of TIFPI that the understanding of our Southern governors on the subject of restructuring and the current situation begins and ends with “State Police and Revenue Allocation”‘.
The group called out the southern governors for failing to ask themselves what gave birth to separatist and secessionist groups, as well as how to resolve the issues to prevent an implosion.
Integrity Friends asked: ‘Can you ban open grazing through a mere communique and how do you enforce that in a beggerly manner without addressing the unending ethnic agitation for land ownership which rights are sequestered in the disputed 1999 constitution and unrighteous Land Use Act?
‘TIFPI has been studying the outcomes of the latest twin meetings of the President and security chiefs with their “new security measures” for South-South and South East, as well as that of Southern Governors in Asaba.
‘They appear to all be either blinded by politics, pretence or outright lack the intelligence to deal with the plague that is fast eating up this disputed territory called Nigeria.’
He said governors must be in tune with their people, sacrifice their comfort zones and stop selling out or playing the politics of selfish quick gain in regard to their demand for a review of revenue allocation at the expense of more fundamental questions that affect their people.
Wechie cautioned that with the failure of government to address Nigeria’s nagging challenges, 2023 general elections might be a nightmare.
The TIFPI said government must realise that the present situation in the country is a crisis for the self-determination of a people who feel enslaved by a fractured system.
‘We must distiguish between the security crisis and genuine demand for self-determination which have both clustered and ground-swollen the need for the needful,’ Wechie said.
The group cautiond southern governors to stop being insensitive, but take a populist stand and be on the same page with their zone, if they are to achieve any desired sustainable result.
‘It is important to put directly to the government that Nigeria is grappling with imminent disintegration, breakup and or secession on a scale that has transcended the quest for mere restructuring. It is incumbent on us as a people to take far-reaching steps to either address realistically the root causes or we negligently and contributorilly make Nigeria itself the biggest victim,’ the statement read.
According to the group’s Executive Director, government should adopt diplomatic channels with critical and genuine stakeholders to address the plethora of problems confronting the country.
He maintained: ‘No form of force, coercion, barrel of the guns or state intimidation will stop the almost overwhelming situation, as many people appear to be on a death mode, where they are willing to die as such diplomatic channels must be fully opened up with critical and genuine stakeholders.’
The group advised that federal government must hold back on any “shoot-on-sight” order or war-time posturing because it might end up endangering everyone further irrecoverably.
‘The questions of banditry, terrorism, herders insurgency concerrns as well as South-South, South East, South West, Middle Belt, North East and North West agitations for self rule, etc, are fundamentals and cannot be resolved through a military approach because of the high level resistance it stands to be greeted with from the obvious,’ Wechie said.