Tackle Divisive Issues Now, CAN, Senior Citizens Tell Buhari

Buhari

Senior citizens and other organisations have warned that the country may be sliding into anarchy as a result of the inability of the Federal Government to address myriad of problems threatening the corporate existence of the country.

Also, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari to rise up and stop the mindless killings by Fulani herdsmen across states in the middle-belt and avoid a possible repeat of civil war in Nigeria.

They advise that unless government takes conscious and immediate steps to reunite the country, which they agree has been divided along ethnic and religious lines, Nigeria’s future may be jeopardised.

The leaders, including Dr. Olapade Agoro, National Chairman of the National Action Council (NAC), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former governor of Kaduna State, Chief Ayo Afolabi, National General Secretary of Afenifere Renewal Group, Chief Deji Fasuan, retired permanent secretary in Old Ondo State government, Chief Jackson Omenazu, former publicity secretary of the defunct African Renaissance Party, ARP, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, were unanimous in their submissions that killings of innocent farmers by Fulani herdsmen, nepotism, lopsidedness in appointments, ethnic groups with separatist agenda, among others have continued to pull Nigerians apart, warning that unless the government rises up to the challenges, the country’s future is bleak.

President, CAN, His Eminence, Rev (Dr) Samson Olasupo, who also lent his voice to the call for the restructuring of the country in view of the litany of crisis threatening the peace of the nation, said everything should be done by the government to avoid another civil war in the country.

Speaking on the killings in some middle-belt states by Fulani herdsmen, which most Nigerians have described as act of  genocide, the cleric specifically blamed the inaction of the political class for the untoward actions.

“Those bloodletting could have been avoided if our political leaders and the heads of the security agencies are alive to their responsibilities. This is why the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been consistently calling on them to live up to the billings.

“What is happening in the Northcentral part of the country is a shame, ungodly and wicked. It is high time we stop it before we are thrown into another needless civil war,” he said.

Agoro, for instance, blamed the disunity on the weak governing style of President Buhari, saying the President has not addressed properly many issues tearing the country apart.

He said the situation was more worrisome because the President has surrounded himself with people that cannot help him to move the country forward.

According to him, the President must do away with some of his advisers who see the country from their myopic view and do not mean well for the country, adding that Buhari must cease from allowing ethnic consideration to dictate his responses to issues affecting the corporate existence of the country.

He cited the example of the Fulani herdsmen that have been killing farmers over the country, saying the government has not been able to come up with solutions to save farmers from the murderous herdsmen.

To him, the only way out is for the President to jettison his ambition for second-term in office as his inaction has embolden the herdsmen to continue to kill Nigerians, saying what Nigeria needs is credible leadership, which is missing in the last two and half years.

“There is no solution to myriads of Nigeria’s problems as long as Buhari remains in power. The only solution to the country’s problems is for the people to vote for a credible candidate in next year’s election. If we make the same mistake in 2019, then it would be more terrible for the country.

“You cannot expect him to send military to Benue because he is a member of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association. He owns some of the cattle, so it is unthinkable for anybody to expect Buhari to send troops to deal with his colleagues. When his son had accident, he visited his son in the hospital and even contemplated sending him abroad for treatment, but refused to pay condolence visit to those relatives of the massacred persons in Benue. To me, I am not surprised because we saw what he did in 1984 and was confident that he cannot do better,” he said.

Mohammed blamed the disunity in the country on nepotism, saying the Buhari administration is not only corrupt but practices nepotism.

“I have been saying it that President Buhari’s government, which came into power in 2015, is a government that believes not only in corruption but also in nepotism. You bring in your own relations, friends and in-laws into government, that is nepotism and they believe that they have a divine right to be in government. This is very dangerous and no government with this mindset; no government with this level of incompetence and high corruption has ever survived or succeeded in whatever they said that they were going to do.

“We are holding them accountable by what they said they were going to do. And, that is the only way you can hold politician accountable; if a politician makes a promise, hold him to it, as that is the only rational thing to do in order to assess his performance,” he said.

According to him, “One: they promised to tame the Boko Haram and defeat it. Everybody you talk to today will tell you that Boko Haram insurgents are alive and it has not been defeated in spite of the lies emanating from the Presidency.

“Two: They promised to fight corruption, but not only have they engendered and encouraged it, it is now at the highest level at the Presidency with the brother, sisters, friends and relatives of the government. This is why we are not making any appreciable dent in the fight against corruption.

“Thirdly: I have to agree that they met a damaged economy but there is no doubt that it has been made worse by their attitude, and they thought they can handle the economic issues especially with the character of people they appointed into the MDAs.

“We have somebody in charge of the Finance Ministry who is not a trained economist but an accountant. Another is a lawyer in charge of the Ministry of Budget and Planning and quite a number of others and these persons are not accountable to anyone. Even the President has a zero economic knowledge and this is the situation that we have found ourselves in.

“Look at the issue of security; that is, the herdsmen issue. Instead of handling the matter which is like an issue of brigands roaming around with their cattle, and killing people everywhere, we are now giving it a tribal, religious and ethnic tone and this is an area that the media itself has not done any good. Instead of looking at the issue intelligently, everybody is looking at it like they are agents of our enemies and as such, we cannot resolve the problem.”

“We understand that there are pressures on the land and that these people (Fulani herdsmen) have nowhere to graze. We have to understand and look at it intelligently but some are assuming some kind of reckless attitude. It will make sense if we know some of the social impulses that are bringing these problems but some want to handle it their way.

“You can have the Constitution and law on your side and still be unable to deliver with the kind of reckless and incendiary rhetoric they are delivering to the people.”

He also attributed the disunity to the economic hardship in the country, saying “the last I read from the NBS was that we were out of recession, but the growth rate of the economy is very slow that I do not believe that is enough to carry us out of recession to see an appreciable growth.”

Balarabe said the only way to cement the unity of the country is for government to ensure justice in all issues affecting every part of the country.

He asked the Federal Government to protect the rights of both farmers and herdsmen, noting that the rights of herdsmen have been taken over by the government and the powerful, so the conflicts would continue to occur.

“Another problem is that of extreme poverty among Fulani herdsmen.  In 1940s, the Fulanis appeared to be one of the richest ethnic nationalities, but as I speak with you, they are the poorest compare with other tribes. This thing happened because of frequent cattle diseases and nobody could help them.  These are some of the problems that the government should tackle but it is not doing that because it is profiting from it.

“In finding solution to the problem, the government must address the plight of both farmers and herdsmen otherwise no amount of restriction would work,” he said.

Afolabi blamed the disunity in the country on the promotion of ethnicity and tribalism at governance level, saying this situation is retarding the growth and development of the country.

According to him, the country will continue to be divided along ethnic and religious lines as long as appointments are based on corruption, quota system, ethnic and religious colouration.

Afolabi, however, noted that the seed of disunity was sowed with the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates, saying the amalgamation favoured one section and worked against the other.

According to him, “We have a history where the people of Nigeria are amalgamated, we are not one and the amalgamation approach did not make us one. We have a situation when we see an opportunity from the government as an opportunity to enrich and empower our own people, anybody in power sees it as an opportunity to enrich his or her ethnic people and ethnicity and tribalism will continue to strive.

“We also have a situation where those at the corridor of power or government are unable to see themselves as patriotic leaders but only see themselves as representing a particular ethnic group and in as much as that continue, we are bound to face more challenges and difficulties.

“Another thing that promotes ethnicity among Nigerians is the issue of level of corruption. We are in a country where we eulogize and promote corruption and as long as we are doing that and did not make effort to tackle corruption, growth and development is far from us.

“If a member of a particular ethnic group is accused of corruption, the tendency is that his people will see him or her as a hero and worship him/her instead of condemning such bad behaviour. We continue to hail and commend him or her and whoever that is being punished for corrupt practices is seen as punishment against a particular ethnic group or section and as much as we continue to promote this, we are not helping the country.

“Another problem is that we promote quota system as against competence and in terms of appointments, we don’t open it for competence, we are looking at the issue of my brother, instead of competence. These are the factors that divide the country and promote ethnicity and tribalism and the only way to get out of it is for us to strive to ask for competence always not to favour or disfavor anybody or group, but base our things on objective performance and ability to perform and do what is expected of them.”

He said the dream of having a better Nigeria could come only if government promotes competence irrespective of tribe or religion, saying, “competence is the only way to reunite Nigerians and we need to place less emphasis on tribe and quota system. We must also stop hero worship of corrupt leaders.”

Fasuan asked the government to adopt modern best practices in cattle rearing rather brown allowing the crude method, which bred violence and wanton destruction of lives and properties.

“We can’t jump history overnight, we have to crawl with it. We can’t evolve as nation over night, because there are too many forces tending to cause disunity. There is too much emphasis on individual’s side. We must de-emphasise that we would be what we wanted to be as a nation. It is gradual system. There are so many discordant voices.

“You have been seeing these people all around for decades. And they have two togas: the hat and the stick. You can’t find any weapon with them. But in the last few years, you now see them carrying sophisticated weapons.

“The changing climatic situation in the world is forcing the herdsmen to the southern part of the country. And this is where a good government would have come in.

“When you go to Denmark, and Central Europe, they have more cattle than the whole of Africa. And there is no disruption or killings there. We should have handled it in a civilised way by putting them into compartment and feed them. It is only in Nigeria that you see cattle moving about in town.”

Omenazu said that the division in the country could be attributed to insecurity, economic hardship and the inability of the government of the day to curtail the excesses of the Fulani herdsmen.

He opined that the inability of the President to come out openly and condemn the activities of the herdsmen, gives it out as an ethnic cleansing carried out against the other parts of the country.

“Let us get one fact very clear at this point. The division in Nigeria did not start today. It started even during the military era. It only escalates in this administration because certain things are done wrongly and without any recourse to the overall unity of the country.

“Nigerians need to know that we are all one people irrespective of ethnic, religious, cultural leanings. Also, this government has a lot to prove to Nigerians that it did not come to annihilate Nigerians but to give hope to live and do business any where they find convenient in any part of the country.”

He called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to put the instrument of peace in place so that no one ethnic group lords it over the others. “There is so much expectation from this government and they cannot continue to disappoint Nigerians who voted them to power”.

Omenazu said that Nigeria was yet to become a country of its own despite its human and material endowment, saying that the wide gap of division in the country can only be closed when the right is done at the right time.

Governors Abiola Ajimobi and Seriake Dickson of Oyo and Bayelsa States had of recent identified ethnic and religious divisions as the bane of disunity in the country, calling on the government to address issues tearing the country apart.

Ajimobi said it is unfortunate that Nigeria is more divided along ethnic and religious lines than it used to be at independence in 1960.

“It is quite unfortunate that at 57, Nigerians are more divided along ethnic and religious lines than we used to be at independence in 1960. The drum of separation is being beaten now more than ever before.

“Ethnic groups with separatist agenda are springing up on daily basis, while erstwhile brothers and compatriots are taking up arms against one another, with others shouting `To thy tent, O Israel’.

“Right now, many of our countrymen see Nigeria as one alien enterprise from which they are very distant and which has no bearing on their existence. This alienation had led to the series of unwholesome developments, which have put Nigeria on the map of violence-ridden countries.”

While noting that the ethnic nationalities have not fared better under the current dispensation, he said the solution does not lie in disintegrating the country.

“While it is true that some ethnic nationalities have not fared better under the current federal arrangement, the solution does not lie in the disintegration of the country or issuance of quit notice by one ethnic group to another.

“We are indeed better and stronger together with common aspirations in a united Nigeria.

More fundamentally, let us combat the demon of violence and crimes that is posturing as part of our clime. We must wean our country from the hands of this unwholesome tag that is a major disincentive to growth and development.”

Ajimobi also tasked Nigerians to hold the peace of the country as it is “very sacred and deepen the confines of peace. We can do this by living peaceably with our fellow men and women and put Nigeria at the centre of our interpersonal relationships.”

Dickson called on leaders across board to deliberately unite the country, saying that the nation is too divided along ethnic and religious lines.

The post Tackle Divisive Issues Now, CAN, Senior Citizens Tell Buhari appeared first on Independent Nigeria.

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Author: Our Correspondents