From Magnus Eze, Enugu , Romanus Ugwu, Godwin Tsa, Abuja, Sola Ojo, Kaduna, Sunday Ani and Chukwudi Nweje
President Muhammadu Buhari has been challenged to go beyond “mere rhetoric” and muster political will to end insecurity and immediately restore peace and prosperity across the country.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere and the Arewa Consultative Forum were among groups and individuals who, yesterday, advised the APC-led Federal Government on what to do to bring about peace as the New Year dawns.
Specifically, the MBF decried the plight of people of the Middle Belt who have continued to suffer severe and persistent attacks from marauding gangs of murderous herdsmen. It said it would no longer tolerate the destruction of communities and unprovoked killings of defenceless citizens.
“These killings have become the trend in many parts of the Middle Belt region of southern Kaduna, Niger, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa, among others. In Damboa Local Government Area of Southern Borno, Boko Haram elements have completely taken over the LGA in the past three years without any challenge from security personnel. It is from Damboa LGA that Boko Haram launches attacks on communities, including the recent attack that killed a military general. Allowing the terrorist organisation to mount roadblocks in any part of Nigeria amounts to telling the world that there are two sovereignties in Nigeria.
“In the New Year, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to send a clear message to the security forces to defeat Boko Haram and throw them out of Damboa LGA. The destruction of our communities and the unprovoked killings of defenceless citizens can no longer be tolerated. When innocent and vulnerable people are left unprotected from the terror of criminals, there can be no option left than self-defence,” Its National President, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, in a statement, yesterday.
The forum called on relevant security agencies not to relent in cleansing the Middle Belt communities of terrorists who take pleasure in kidnapping, destroying communities and dislocating people. It said the continuous wielding of arms by criminals in daylight to intimidate locals must be stopped in order to protect communities and not force then to embrace self-defence.
“We do not need a prophet to warn us of the dire consequences of what this massive displacement of our farming population holds for our people. In the face of these severe attacks that have not attracted commensurate responses from the security personnel, we call on security agencies to smoke out these murderous bandits from their holes and bring them to justice. As an umbrella organisation of ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt Region, we call on President Buhari to swiftly order the security agencies to stop the human carnage ripping across Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt.”
Ohanaeze’s message on how to restore sanity in the country, according to its National Publicity Secretary, Alex Chiedozie Ogbonna, is in two forms.
“First, he should ask himself a question on how he wants to be remembered when he leaves office; second, he should do to the South East what Obasanjo did to the North West when he said it was their turn to produce the president.
“He should also say it is the turn of the Igbo to produce the president of Nigeria and with it, there will be peace in Nigeria,” he said.
Mr. Ogbonna also identified poverty and injustice as Nigerians’ major problems, stressing that if President Buhari supports a president from Igboland, he would have solved the problem of injustice because such a move would amount to justice.
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, said the Buhari administration must use this year and the remaining part of 2023 before its tenure expires to right the wrongs that have occurred since it came to power.
“The administration must step up efforts in two specific areas – security and the economy. Various parts of the country are experiencing unprecedented insecurity. Kidnapping in the manner we have never had it is rampant everywhere. The welfare of Nigerians has gone down so low.
“The president must ensure the security agencies are empowered to secure Nigerians. It should no longer be a matter of ‘we are on top of the situation.’ So far, the issue of security has been mere rhetoric and that is why kidnappers and those claiming territory are having a field day. It is not acceptable and the government must do something about it. The government has to give these people an ultimatum to lay down their weapons, and if they refuse, the government should be able to deal appropriately with them.”
Former Secretary-General of ACF, Anthony NZ Sani, said unless and until the Nigerian elite come together to be a part of the solution, Nigeria’s problems would persist as no president can address it alone.
He disagreed with Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, on communities bearing arms to defend themselves against bandits’ attacks.
“Allowing communities to bear arms may not be helpful because even America which is 245 years old is grappling to roll back the law that allows citizens free access to arms that has turned out not to be a blessing but a curse that kills Americans every year.
“A developing Nigeria cannot afford such a situation. It is better to have enough and well trained and equipped security personnel who are motivated to secure the nation”, he noted.
Solution to insecurity must dominate APC Natl convention – Govs DG
Director-General of the APC Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Dr Salihu Lukman, challenged leaders of the party to prioritise finding solutions to security challenges at its February national convention.
Lukman in a statement titled: “Issues for successful APC National Convention” said: “As a party preparing for its national convention in February 2022, we must appeal to APC leaders to include debate about what needs to be done by all APC government to mobilise the support of Nigerians to bring to an immediate end the current national security challenge in the country.
“As a party, APC needs to do everything necessary to refocus national debates towards strengthening the initiatives of President Buhari-led government to produce the desired outcome of securing the country. Strengthening the capacity of APC-led Federal Government to produce the desired outcome, in the short run is about massive recruitment of police and military personnel in the country, in addition to the investment that has been made towards procurement of arms, including the A-29 Tucano jets. In the long run, it is about providing good conditions of service and sustainable funding framework for the operation of police and security services in the country.”