The Foundation for Peace Professionals (FPP), the civil society group which first raised the alarm over an anti-Igbo song circulating in Northern Nigeria, has appealed to well-meaning citizens to prevail on the authorities to save the situation before it is too late.
In an unsigned statement issued on Wednesday, the group noted that it had raised the alarm out of concern for peace and stability, and towards taming the situation early.
“This was why we called on government, security agencies and traditional rulers at all levels, to promptly device methods of checking the hate song from degenerating into a public attack, if not genocide,” it said.
“What we did is known in conflict management as an early response, which is to prevent the outbreak of conflict to save lives and resources,” it noted. “The public alarm was aimed at preventing a situation with an obvious capacity for violence from deteriorating into armed conflict.”
It commended the condemnation of the song by such prominent Nigerians as former President Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, but cautioned that arresting and prosecuting the sponsors of the offensive song should not be the immediate course of action.
“This is so because condemning and arresting the sponsors will not prevent the song from spreading, neither would it check its destructive capabilities,” FPP said.
Instead, it recommended the adoption of proactive steps to check the continuous spread of the song and embark on widespread sensitization in local communities to dissuade people from taking its message seriously, while putting quick response security team in place in the volatile states in place to promptly respond to any outbreak of violence.
It noted the recall of Mr. Abubakar that the hate song is reminiscent of the beginning of the Rwanda genocide and that Simon Bikindi, was responsible for that song, was eventually found guilty and sentenced, but that the sentence didn’t bring back the lost lives in Rwanda.
“This is why our major focus, at this moment should be more on preventing any ugly situation, while we deal with the sponsors later,” the group advised, cautioning those who have capitalized on FPP’s public alarm to advance their ethnic and political campaign to desist from exploiting its well-intended call for action into a tool for advancing their divisive engagement.
Expressing appreciation for the condemnation by Reno Omokri, a former social media aide to former President Jonathan, it observed that his condemnation has taken a new dimension, as it focused more on wrongly accusing some political opponents of supporting the sponsors of the hate song. It described that dimension as uncalled for, and urged him to be more concerned with averting the current danger than pointing accusing fingers.
“We also observe that Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra [had] also capitalized on our genuine call for peace to advance his divisive campaign, but we urge him and others like him to desist from divisive campaign,” FPP said, adding that division will never be the solution to any situation.
We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on those in authority to take immediate action to save the situation before it is too late, and media organizations to use their platforms to disseminate positive messages of peace that will improve efforts at peace building.