|Wednesday, October 6, 2021|
he President in his Independence Day broadcast said among other statements, that he was using the opportunity "to ask all Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue, whatever your grievances." The subject of this write-up shares this commonality with his broadcast, of requesting that we, Nigerians, should embrace peace and seek to embark on dialogue to resolve the grievances in the nation.
This paper will try to be pragmatic by suggesting how the embracement of peace and engagement in dialogue for the resolution of grievances could be effected. The request to embrace peace is an admission that there is currently no peace in the country. Key issues that destroy our peace, from our assessment, will be listed and discussed. Suggestions on how they could be resolved through peaceful dialogue will be made.
Killings. Kidnapping and banditry are destructive acts prevalent in the nation. Some examples and their implications are discussed briefly in the next paragraphs.
Observations, Comments and Suggestions
The four examples given in the foregoing paragraphs have been taken from four different states. A common thread running through them is that they represent responsibilities of this presidency in which the country has been failed. The President himself stated that he has the responsibility to account for everything that happens under his "watch."
Another intriguing aspect is that guns are all over the country with heavily armed persons committing crimes and apparently getting away with them. Someone has given the following explanations in their write-up which I have adapted here as a plausible explanation of the reasons for this ongoing failure of the government to protect the country's people and our school children. The explanation goes as follows:
"Apart from Boko Haram and the North West "Bandits," armed herdsmen embedded in farmlands and forests all over the North Central and Southern parts of Nigeria constitute the biggest threats to our collective safety.
Herdsmen, in times past, were harmless nomads who went about tending to their livestock. But since Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, and its sibling, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, MAKH, came into the picture about three decades ago or so, herdsmen have increasingly become violent towards their hosts.
Joined by Fulani elements from other countries who were exposed to armed conflicts, they took up arms against their benevolent hosts. The rogue elements among them resorted to kidnapping for ransom, raping and terrorising local communities.
They started claiming "ownership" of the lands of indigenous peoples and forming themselves into terror groups to kill, burn down villages, abduct people, rendering them refugees and taking over their villages.
From Southern Kaduna, they pushed into Plateau, Taraba and Benue states. Within the past six years, they have stormed forests all over the South where they have set up terror camps.
It is apparent that the Federal Government, which is supposed to maintain law and order and protect the lives and property of Nigerians, has done little or nothing to call them to order. Besieged local communities are not allowed by law enforcement agencies to protect themselves. They are harassed by policemen and soldiers for doing so.
Some states have decided to enact laws banning open grazing to keep these agents of terror away from their forests and farms. These include states in the Middle Belt and the seventeen states of Southern Nigeria.
Miyetti Allah has repeatedly vowed not to abide by the laws of their host states. They spuriously and scandalously claim that Nigeria belongs to their ethnic group. Their militants pursue this claim with the force of arms without any response from our security agencies.
The Federal Government refuses to even acknowledge the threat that their activities pose to the country. When they kill and destroy, the Police, Army, Security Agencies and the Presidency call it farmers-herders "clashes" to divert attention from their murderous aggression while criminalising the hapless victims." Reference: Adapted from NIGERIAWORLD HEADLINE | Posted: Saturday, October 2, 2021 : "Halting acts of lawlessness by herdsmen" , VANGUARD
Our first suggestion in this writeup is that the President's statement to all Nigerians to embrace peace should be demonstrated in actions as he organises the chasing and arresting of the Fulani herdsmen in the forests in whatever guise they choose to manifest themselves whether as herdsmen, kidnappers, or bandits. Your Excellency Sir, Mr. President, any talk of peace in the nation without the arrest and stopping of the wicked, nefarious and bloody activities of these people is just paying lip service and cannot be taken seriously.
No parents will feel confident to send their children to school as long as the kidnappers are not seen to be removed from the scene. Equally, the vigilantes, who seek to defend themselves in various states, will not be confident to lay down their arms as long as they know that the herdsmen, who attack in the night when everyone in the community is sleeping, are still around and well-armed. Please, Mr. President, help move the nation to the path of peace by practising what you preached in the Independence Day broadcast.
The second suggestion is that "Killers, Kidnappers and Bandits are the problems and not Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu."
The consensus of the views, stated by some well-meaning Nigerians, is that the problems of the nation are killers, kidnappers and bandits and not Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu. According to the National Publicity Secretary of the notable Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, the government should concentrate on putting a stop to banditry and terrorism. His quoted words: "Afenifere feels government should concentrate on putting a stop to banditry and terrorism rather than dissipating energy on hunting for those who are advocating for true federalism or self- determination.
"The phenomenon of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu in terms of desiring their own nations came about as a result of the failure of the Nigerian state to cater adequately for Nigerians.
" lf insecurity and social dislocation in the country are brought to an end, the agitation for separate nations will fizzle out".
As he discussed the 61st anniversary speech of President Buhari, the group spokesperson said government should face reality and tackle the challenges facing the country. Reference: "Leave Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu alone, face bandits, terrorists, Afenifere tells Buhari" By Dayo Johnson, Akure, NIGERIAWORLD HEADLINE | Posted: Sunday, October 3, 2021
In a similar vein, elder statesman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, stated that "Buhari missed a golden opportunity in his anniversary speech to douse rising tensions and agitations in the country by offering political solutions to the incarceration of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, better known as Sunday Igboho.
He urged the president to take decisive action against herdsmen that were creating challenges for farming and farmers across the country.
"Okorie, who said it was preposterous to continue pointing accusing fingers at Kanu and Igboho as those attempting to cause disaffection in the country, stressed that people were responding to them based on the mood of the nation, even as he volunteered to be part of any dialogue that could be provided by the Federal Government about them".
He said: "On the president's stand on Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho, my position is that dialogue is the answer. Going through the court, following legal methods, and constitutional definition of offences to resolve what is clearly a political issue will not solve the matter. The South East Caucus of the National Assembly has made itself available to engage the government to find the solution to the political problem. I urge the government to take advantage of that offer. I also offer myself for that engagement. I urge the adoption of dialogue, and if we don't accept that approach, we may not be able to resolve this problem." Reference: "Curious gaps in Buhari's Independence Day speech"
NIGERIAWORLD: HEADLINE | Posted: Sunday, October 3, 2021
It is clear to many observers that both Mr. Sunday Igboho and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu have substantial followings in their respective tribes. The followers of Nnamdi Kanu have implemented a sit-at-home programme as they choose in honour or sympathy with Mazi Kanu. What is more, whatever means they use to implement it, they get most Igbos in their states to comply with their instructions. They repeated the same on Independence Day, see the reference: " S/East totally complies with IPOB's Independence Day Sit-at-home order" By Vincent Ujumadu, Steve Oko, Emmanuel Ijeaka
NIGERIAWORLD HEADLINE | Posted: Saturday, October 2, 2021, VANGUARD
Suggestions for Dialogue
Many Nigerians, especially southerners, reject the 1999 constitution as an imposition. [Reference: "Nigeria must restructure or go separate ways, Yoruba groups tell North" By Seye Olumide and Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan. NIGERIAWORLD HEADLINE | Posted: Friday, July 16, 2021]
The President states the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. The natural question follows; on what terms? A situation in which the President has discarded the checks and balances, of compliance with the federal character requirements, in the constitution in making appointments, and treats others, not of his tribe and religion, as strangers and not shareholders in the nation, is completely unacceptable. As long as he does not treat every Nigerian as an equal stakeholder, so long will he continue to fan the embers of fire of disunity that is destroying our country. No Nigerian wishes to be treated as a second-class citizen at best, and at worst a slave who can be dumped in prison perpetually without any rights. The Ohaneze ndi Igbo, Igbo national group, pleaded with President Buhari during his visit to Imo state, to release many Igbo youths who are languishing in Nigerian prisons without trial. Are these not being treated as slaves? Meanwhile, the Fulani herdsmen, go about killing, kidnapping, and committing banditry freely. They negotiate and are paid ransoms, over and again, as they kidnap and starve or kill our school children as exemplified earlier in this write-up. How many of them are in prisons? It is certainly in order that people who commit crimes, whether Igbo or Fulani should be tried, if found guilty, should be imprisoned to serve their terms. But Mr. President Sir, we should have one law for all Nigerians, and not one law for the Fulanis and another for the Igbos and others. Reference: " Empty streets in Southeast welcome Buhari to Imo" By Vincent Ujumadu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Omeiza Ajayi, Peter Okutu, Chinonso Alozie, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinedu Adonu, Ikechukwu Odu, Steve Oko & Emmanuel Iheaka. NIGERIAWORLD HEADLINE | Posted: Friday, September 10, 2021
This paper suggests the following statesmanlike actions that the country needs now for peace are as follows: