From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Worried by the dire insecurity situation in the country, particularly in the north, Jam’iyyar Mayan Arewa, an umbrella body for women in the north, staged a protest on Wednesday, saying they have nowhere left to run for safety.
The women lamented that the Boko Haram insurgency has rendered many women in the north widows over the years.
The northern women noted that even at home in the north they are not spared from insecurity, pointing out that their northern brothers and sisters who chose to live in other regions of the country are not also safe as they have been attacked and killed in recent times.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday during the protest, the president of Jam’iyyar Matan Arewa, Hajiya Rabi Musa Saulawa, said that ‘enough is enough’ of the insecurity, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to organise a national conference or referendum to address the crisis of mass murders and banditry ravaging the country, particularly the north.
The protesting women bore placards with various inscriptions such as, “#Stop Banditry in Arewa”, “#Stop killing Northerners”, “#Safe Arewa”, “#Referendum is the answer”, and “#Jaw Jaw not War War”, among others.
‘At home in the north, we are not spared; in some particular regions and geopolitical zones where we feel we would be welcomed, we are targeted and not spared,’ Saulawa stated.
‘This has to stop. We believe we are in a democracy with laid down procedures and processes to address national concerns or agitation of some sort.
‘Regrettably, for the past 12 years, the north has been under a relentless onslaught by Boko Haram insurgents and of recent incessant banditry, herder-farmer clashes of unknown origin with its attendant impact on the socio-economic development of the region and the country at large.
‘Our beloved country is today sadly at the precipice. The northern part of Nigeria has become the epicentre of the perennial crisis of epic proportions from all fronts. The north is endowed with untapped human and natural resources that can propel Nigeria as a superpower.
‘Every day we witness scores of innocent helpless people being kidnapped for ransom, the unfortunate ones who cannot come up with ransom are killed or maimed. Villages are sacked leaving behind a trail of destruction and an uncertain future. The recent carnage in Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Niger, Zamfara States are cases in point. Northerners are now profiled, attacked, intimidated, killed and often receive hostile reception in the South East and South West regions.
‘Today the JMA, the voice of the northern women is calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, the leadership of the National Assembly to immediately consider the following options; reconvene a national conference as a follow-up to the one held in 2014.
‘The issue of the Nigerian state has been a subject of discourse for some time now, we feel the concerns can be channelled through the elected representatives of the National Assembly to be thoroughly debated as required under a democratic dispensation or better still hold a referendum.
‘While commencing the government for its untiring efforts to tackle the hydra-headed security challenges in the country today, we are convinced that the concerns being raised by certain sections of the country can be addressed in a civilised and peaceful manner than resorting to violence, killings etc. to forestall a total breakdown of law and order, which could lead to a precarious situation we all don’t pray for.
‘You will agree with me that the north is the most educationally and economically backward geographical zone and has the highest poverty rate in the country today. The current security situation in the north and the accompanying agitations in the are major impediments and a distraction to our development aspirations as a people to bridge the gap as it were and efforts towards national integration.’