The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) expresses grave concern on the deteriorating security situation in the country resulting in the loss of innocent lives and which has led lately to the declaration of a 24-hour curfew in two states – Kaduna and Yobe with the attendant impact on the socio-economic lives of the citizens of those states and other neighbouring states.
The attacks on Christian worshippers in Kaduna and Zaria last Sunday claimed by the terrorist group, Boko Haram and the consequent reprisal attacks on innocent Muslims represents a dangerous descent into anomie reminiscent of the horrific inter-ethnic and religious war that marked the violent break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
Nigeria cannot afford to take this road to self-destruction, for when the rich make war it is the poor that suffer. We, therefore, appeal to Nigerians to exercise great restraint in the face of the constant provocation and violence perpetrated on other innocent Nigerians by terrorists under the hood of religionists whose aim is, obviously, to precipitate an ethnic cum religious war in the country. We must note that an eye for an eye would only make us all blind.
We further call on the federal government of Nigeria which has all the coercive powers of state to wake up to its primary responsibility i.e. the security and welfare of the people as enunciated in section 14 of the 1999 constitution. We and indeed all Nigerians are tired of the President’s usual swan song of expressing “heartfelt condolences”, condemning “the dastardly act” and promising to “bring perpetrators to book” whenever attacks like these happen.
What Nigerians require of their government now is action in the face of these constant attacks on the foundation and wellbeing of our country. The government should take a cue from countries that have achieved some success in tackling terrorism particularly, the north African country of Algeria, which was able to, largely, defeat the terror posed by Islamist militias in that country despite the seeming moral acceptability of their cause and the pervasiveness of their organisation.
The government must stop viewing this problem as a regional one and indeed stop lamenting about inheriting the problem. Governments are put in place to solve problems not to join the populace in lamenting about them. We wish to serve notice to the government that we would not hesitate to call out our members starting from our Kaduna zone if government continues by its inaction to imperil the lives and limbs of Nigerians particularly those residing in the northern part of the country.
We also call on traditional, political, community, and religious leaders not to stoke the embers of conflict by incendiary statements, but to be voices of reason and moderation and assist the security agencies in apprehending members of Boko Haram and stamping out this cankerworm before it becomes a malignant cancer that may spell doom for our nation.
National Publicity Secretary, PENGASSAN