The Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar led National Peace Committee yesterday x-rayed developments in the polity and listed six steps to “save the country from danger”.
In a statement titled: “A call for restraint”, signed by Gen. Abubakar and Catholic Bishop Hassan Kukah, the committee urged Nigerians not to stoke the fires of hate and divisiveness.
The steps are:
- on-going efforts to reach out to leaders from various parts of the country should be broadened into honest dialogue with all segments of the population to ensure that ordinary citizens get the opportunity to convey their views to government at the highest levels and get carried along in the formulation and implementation of government policies;
- government should urgently work with the private and voluntary sectors to put in place measures to address the crisis of skills and jobs as key vectors of radicalisation;
- the federal government should review, update and enforce all laws relating to citizenship in Nigeria to ensure the equality of all under the law;
- the government should consult on the possibility of examining the reports of the Political Reforms Conference of 2005 and other National Conferences as basis for further and continuing dialogue on co-existence among communities in Nigeria;
- politicians should deny support to groups that express disdain for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians;
- support for the position of government on the need to ensure effective enforcement of laws that prohibit hate and divisive speeches that constitute a threat to our constitutional and collective right to live in a democracy founded on free expression.
- The committee advised politicians not to support groups that harbour disdain for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.
It also asked the government to consider the report of the 2005 political reforms and those of other national conferences as basis for further dialogue on co-existence among Nigerians.
The committee however recommended six steps to save the nation from danger.
The committee praised Acting President Yemi Osinbanjo for engaging with leaders of influence across the South-East and North to check tension in the country.
The statement said: “We’ve recently come to the end of the holy month of Ramadan, for millions of Nigerians, a time of spirituality, introspection and the request for God’s forgiveness.
“Therefore, there could be no better time than now as a nation for us all to be thoughtful, deliberate and make ourselves worthy of divine mercy, especially in the atmosphere of a steep rise in divisive and hateful rhetoric in our country.
“It is indeed, the appropriate time to underscore the imperative of peaceful co-existence of all communities and all Nigerians.
“We cannot afford at this or any other time to stoke the fires of hate and divisiveness in our body politic especially when ordinary Nigerians are engaged in difficult struggles to secure their livelihood, amidst rising insecurity and increasing fear.”
The nation, the committee noted, has lost many Nigerians to violence and mass killings, adding that there should be no further plunge into ethnic conflict.
It said: “We have lost too many of our citizens to random and diverse acts of violence, have many more maimed for life or living in displacement.
“Tens of thousands of children have been orphaned by conflict and millions of our fellow citizens now face threats of starvation in the face of rising food insecurity.
“In many parts of the country, mass killings go unpunished and unresolved, inter-communal clashes have become chronic, economic deprivations and growing social exclusion and feelings of alienation, particularly among the youths are being exploited by segments of the elite with potentially dangerous and painful consequences for us all.
“These developments are sources of serious concern for the Nigeria Peace Committee. We know, of course that we are not alone in our worries and would like to commend the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, SAN, GCON, for engaging with leaders of influence across the South-East and North in a bid to check the rise of mutual hostility and tension that have been stoked by elements from parts of the country.
“Nonetheless, the National Peace Committee appeals to further voices of leadership, reason and moderation from all communities in the country to reinforce the message of the Acting President.”
But the committee attributed the renewed divisive politics to poor governance.
It added: “In this regard, the National Peace Committee acknowledges that the drums of rising division also reflect the perceptions by our citizens that there is poor governance in Nigeria today.
“Politicians who have failed in delivering on the mandate of the electorate for better livelihoods and neighbourhoods have, instead, found common cause with advocates of division and hate.
“In many parts of the country, young people who have been left without means of livelihood or hope in their future have become converts to radicalisation preached by demagogues in various guises including ethnicity and religion.
“At this time in Nigeria, more than ever before, we need government at all levels, which work for the people, with commitment to respect for the rule of law and to the security and well wellbeing of persons and communities in the country.
“We also need credible institutions, an economy that guarantees a fair deal and outcome for hardworking people, better physical infrastructures and an enabling environment in which citizens can thrive.
“ The National Peace Committee therefore calls on state governments to commit to developing their own people more and relying less on Abuja to fund their consumption through monthly allocations.”
The committee urged Prof. Osinbajo to remain steadfast in his effort to reassure all communities and citizens of equal stake in the country.