Insecurity, separatist agitations undermining Nigeria’s unity, corporate existence, says Ex-COAS Ihejirika – Vanguard
…Elites stoking hatred among Nigerians for selfish gains – Methodist Archbishop
…Why Nigeria is not working – NIREC, Sheikh Maraya
…What politicians must do to fix Nigeria – Emir of Bichi, Ahmed Lawan
…Abolish ‘State of Origin’, ‘Religion’ concepts, Bishop Onuoha tells govt
…Nigeria’s peace, unity not negotiable, says SGF
Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (Rtd), has warned that the spate of insecurity and the clamour for self-determination in parts of Nigeria could destabilise the country, if urgent actions were not taken to address the challenges.
The ex-COAS blamed the situation on mutual distrust, intolerance, poor socialisation and deterioration of the value system, insisting that the crises facing the nation posed an existential threat to its unity and corporate existence.
Speaking at the Interfaith Roundtable on Building a Culture of Peace and Unity in Nigeria, which was organized by the Methodist Church in Abuja weekend, Ihejirika observed that peace and stability could only be achieved when the causes of conflict in society are well-managed.
He said, “The security situation and spate of security challenges in the country should give any reasonable and patriotic Nigerian a sense of worry and concern. More worrisome is the occasional clamour for self determination by a few individuals within some ethnic groups in the country. There is no doubt that the current situation is not the best. It poses a serious threat to our unity and corporate existence as a nation.
“As elders, community and religious leaders, we can contribute to the efforts of government by helping to shape the opinion and reasoning of the people, especially our youths towards peace and unity in the country. We must, through our words and actions, preach peace, love compassion and unity.
“Our differences should not be a source of division and distrust, but a source of unity, strength and tolerance to engender national building. I wish to call on all patriotic and peace loving Nigerians to raise their voices and show concern in the various communities to support any initiative that could foster peace and stability in our nation.”
Speaking also, the Methodist Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace, the Most Rev. (Dr) Joseph Oche Job, however, accused the elites of exploiting the religious and ethnic fault lines in the country for selfish gains
He stated, “To us, there are three problems besetting Nigeria. They are ignorance, poverty and hatred. If we are able to overcome these challenges, terrorism will no longer be a problem for us. However, the elites in the country are not ignorant, but they seem to be fueling the problems for their own advantage. They want more money and power. Let us pray for everyone to understand the need to love this nation more than money.”
In the same vein, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Inter-religious Council, Fr. Prof. Cornelius Omonokhua, explained that the reason why Nigeria seemed not to be working for all citizens had nothing to do with either religion or ethnicity but greed.
He, therefore, called for greater societal emphasis on modesty and proper religious and secular education, stressing that greedy politicians would stop at nothing to brainwash the ignorant and exploit them to foment trouble.
Also, the Northern Coordinator, Global Peace Foundation (Nigeria), Sheikh Haliru Maraya, identified injustice among the people as a key driver of conflict and instability in the country.
To address these challenges, the Co-Chair, Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, Bishop Dr. Sunday Onuoha, said: “I strongly recommend that the country and its leaders must commit to expunging the ‘State of Origin’ and ‘Religion’ concept when our information/biodata is required for filling forms, applying for jobs or on our international passports.
“It negates the concept and orientation of ‘Nationhood’ and the unity we profess and pledge allegiance to. Where one is born, where their parents were born, or where their ancestors come from, should not determine or limit the equitable opportunities available to them; but rather where they reside or have been raised.
“We must de-emphasize our faith leanings and rather, emphasize our common humanity and not bring religious sentiments to governance. Nigerians must face the issues of national development and rise above religious sentiments if we are to be listed among the developed nations.
“Also, politicians must remember that they have a role to play in punishing those who offend the laws of the land. There should be no sacred cows and there should be no selective justice in dealing with offenders.”
In addition, the Emir of Bichi, HRH Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, noted that Christians and Muslims in the country have developed mutually beneficial businesses as well as economic and political relationships without crisis, disagreement or violence in company boardrooms, legislative chambers and political meetings.
“We ought to export the same comradeship and mutual interaction to the larger society so that we can help our people build trust, tolerance, harmony and friendship across religious fault lines,” he stated.
On his part, the Senate President Ahmed Lawan said that achieving complete peace in a diverse country like Nigeria was not an easy task, but with the right commitment, dedication and support, lasting solutions to its problems could be found.
“Achieving complete peace is not a day’s job, but a continuous effort. But what is important is our readiness to carry it out with a sense of belief. This principle is best preached in our religious and family institutions. That’s why the role of religious institutions in peace-building cannot be over-emphasised. So, we have to work together to make this happen,” Lawan, who was represented by Senator Philip Aduda, stated.
The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, said Nigeria’s unity cannot be negotiated, adding that the Federal Government has done so much to ensure the country does not split.
Mustapha, who was also represented by the Permanent Secretary (General Service) in OSGF, Maurice Mbaeri, argued that leadership alone was not the cause of insecurity in Nigeria, noting bandits and kidnapper were the products of the larger society.
He said, “The unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Nigeria is a very great and peace-loving country.
We have actually witnessed some challenges in the area of security, economy, and recently, Nigeria has experienced the most challenge disturbing in the area of health which is the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all these, Nigeria remains one indivisible nation ready to forge ahead.
“Nigeria’s unity and peace cannot be negotiated. The manner with which we have been tackling the challenges that have come our way as a nation is a clear demonstration of the oneness and togetherness of our people. What is required to make Nigeria great are partnerships, tolerance, engagement and dialogue in situations like this.
“The Federal Government has actually been doing so much to ensure the unity and oneness of this country. This is demonstrated in the series of engagements and policies the administration has introduced. We have to avoid mutual suspicion, misinformation, ethnic bias, and blackmail. We have to support our leaders at all times to ensure that they succeed and the unity of this country is not negotiated.
“Our religious and traditional leaders should carry-out aggressive advocacy in our rural communities towards ensuring that value reorientation is brought to our youth, because these bandits, kidnappers did not fall from the moon. They are the children of society.”
Vanguard News Nigeria