Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has again attacked the Federal Government, stating that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is incompetent and incapable of addressing the killings and poverty in the country.
He argued that the administration was confused and had reached the end of its tether while the nation was being left perilously to drift.
Instead of proffering solutions, the former leader said the government had been wringing its hands and “giving one unrighteous and unacceptable justification after the other.”
Obasanjo said this in a letter read on his behalf at a one-day national summit on insecurity and killings in Nigeria convened by the Northern Elders Forum, Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum on Wednesday in Abuja.
The ex-President, who was represented by a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, noted that Buhari was, by his action and inaction, doing a lot of harm to the nation’s commonwealth and heritage.
In the letter which was addressed to the NEF Chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, the retired general recalled the discussion he had with the elder statesman about the danger to the nation’s democracy when he hosted him (Ango) in Abeokuta some weeks ago.
Obasanjo said, “When you kindly paid me a visit a couple of weeks ago, we deliberated on the danger to our democracy, our common identity, our commonality of purpose, our dream and our unity in diversity.
“We lamented the harm that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, by his action and inaction, has done and is doing to our commonwealth and our common heritage.”
The Owu chief added that the nation had never been so divided along religious and regional lines as being witnessed today.
“The obvious indication is that the government is seemingly confused and has got to the end of its tether and the nation is being left divisively and perilously to drift.
“Earlier last week, I noted in a speech some undesirable elements being allowed and being introduced to our democracy by this administration. If these are not stopped, they could be the death knell of our democracy,” he stressed.
The elder statesman, however, expressed hope that in spite of the unfortunate situation created by the government, his consultations with people had given him hope.
“People are not ready to give up in despair and leave their fate and their present and future in the hands of inept leadership for their lives to be ruined. I see common concern across the nation irrespective of tribe, religion, language and social standing that the situation should be retrieved and the nation should be saved,” he stated.
The former President admonished the elders to continue with the dialogue which he said was necessary to clear misgivings, misunderstanding, misperception, misrepresentation, erroneous beliefs and outdated ideas and concepts.
‘Only Visionary Leaders Can Save Nigeria’
Other speakers at the summit including Abdullahi, Ohanaeze President, Chief John Nwodo, PANDEF leader, Chief Edwin Clark and the Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, called for measures to address the security and economic situation in the country.
Clark noted that Nigerians were living in poverty, corruption and inequity, adding that state governors who hitherto had no class had created one for themselves.
He said, “Even military governors were more liberal than the governors you have today as they only think about themselves and not the people. If we keep silent, a revolution is coming, if we fail to take quality decisions, our children will not forgive us. I don’t care who becomes the President as long as he is competent.”
A politician, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, called for the retooling of the nation’s security infrastructure which he said must be completely rebuilt on a new philosophy, structure and commitment to security as the prime function of the state.
Baba-Ahmed, who is the Chief of Staff to the Senate President, said there were compelling grounds for restructuring of the federal system in a manner that would benefit all sections and interests in the nation.
“In this respect, the recent initiative of the Senate to initiate a review of the constitution towards creating state police should be supported as a matter of the highest national priority.
“The amendments on devolution of powers should also be revisited by the National and state Houses of Assembly. Nigerians demand that their leaders must operate with requisite sensitivity to the challenges of our existence, and must put aside parochial and divisive sentiments in dealing with national issues,” the former All Progressives Congress chieftain argued.
A former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, called for urgent action against the killings, warning that the situation might get out of hand, noting that some victims believed they were attacked on the grounds of their ethnicity, religion and class.
A former Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, blamed reckless speeches by politicians for the killings, insisting that they laid the foundations for the killings in Plateau State by creating enmity between the Hausa/Fulani and the indigenes.
He disagreed with the opinion that state police could address the bloodshed, noting that only Lagos State could afford to fund a police force.
“Is it a state that cannot pay teachers that would pay policemen? Do you know the cost of a gun? Only Lagos is ready to fund state police,” Abba asserted.
The summit in its communique said its aim was to forge a national consensus on the key pillars required for building national security, unity and survival in a just and democratic society.
It lamented that the country had witnessed “unprecedented incompetence and enthronement of mediocrity in dealing with the horrendous spate of killings and general insecurity across the country.”
The communique, which was signed by Clark, Abdullahi, Adebanjo and Nwodo read, “In the eyes of many affected communities, there appears to be palpable government complicity in the killings. These killings claimed 3,500 lives in 2017, a figure that could be much higher in 2018.”
On the economy, the summit noted with dismay the mismanagement of the economy which it said was characterised by significant loss of output, massive youth unemployment, rising level of poverty, instability and irregular migration of skilled and unskilled labour.
It observed with concern that the nation had been adjudged to be more corrupt than it was in 2015 by Transparency International, adding that it was alarmed by the flagrant disregard for the rule of law.
The summit resolved to insist on “the emergence of a visionary and dynamic leadership which will deal with our security and economic challenges and ensure good governance in the country.”
It demanded the revamping of the security architecture, removal of killers from the communities they had occupied and return of same to their rightful owners who now live in camps.
The elder statesmen said they would strive to reach a consensus on the positions of the various Nigerian communities and arrive at an agreed template on the issue of federalism and restructuring.
IG Must End Killing Of Policemen Now – Reps
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, to end the killing of policemen by unknown gunmen before the attacks deteriorated to a fresh security challenge for the country.
Lawmakers gave the directive in Abuja as the House debated a motion on the killing of four policemen in Edo State by yet-to-be-identified attackers.
They asked the IG to “act fast by empanelling a crack team of detectives to arrest the culprits.”
The four policemen were reportedly murdered on July 14 at Sabongida-Ora, in Owan-West Local Government Area of the state.
The Deputy Whip of the House, Mr Pally Iriase, who drew the attention of lawmakers to the incident under matters of urgent public importance, said the killers went a step further to set the bodies of the victims ablaze.
“The deceased policemen were later packed into their operational Hilux pick-up and set ablaze.
“The residents of Sabongida-Ora, Uzebba and environs in Owan-West Local Government Area now live in fear,” Iriase informed the House.
The policemen were said to be on patrol duty in the area when the assailants shot them at an intersection.
He recalled that the Edo attack came about two weeks after seven policemen were gunned down in Abuja by unknown persons on July 2.
Making his contribution to the debate, the Minority Whip, Mr Yakubu Barde, observed that the attacks might soon take a new security dimension if the police authorities did not move fast to end the killings of policemen.
He said, “Only on Tuesday, two other policemen were killed along the Birnin-Gwari Road; so, we are talking about seven plus four and another two policemen. That is 13 policemen gone in about two weeks. This pattern is reminiscent of how Boko Haram insurgency started and nobody appeared to pay attention to it.
“When they started, their first strategy was to attack policemen and police stations just to weaken the ability of the law enforcement agents to respond swiftly to any security threats. If nothing is done to end these killings, very soon, we may have another group to contend with.”
Some lawmakers, including Mr. Nicholas Ossai, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma and Mr Adamu Kamale, seized the opportunity to demand adequate funding of police operations and welfare.
For example, Ossai told the House that a hungry policeman could do little to stop a crime from being committed.
“I have always advocated the payment of reasonable salaries to policemen. The least-paid policeman should not earn less than N50,000 every month. But, as I speak, there are many of them who earn far below N50,000.
“These are the people we rely on for all the security duties every 24 hours,” he added.
FG Engages Monarchs To Tackle Killings In M’Belt
Meanwhile, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed that the Federal Government has engaged traditional rulers in the Middle Belt to address the killings in the region and chart a new and collective course of understanding.
He stated that the traditional institutions played a crucial role in the peace process in the Niger Delta and the South-East geopolitical zones in the wake of secessionist agitation by some Igbo youths.
Addressing the 10th National Development Summit of Traditional Rulers with the theme, “Make Nigeria great again,” in Abuja on Wednesday, the VP appealed to the traditional rulers to deepen partnership with the government to achieve peace and security in the country.
He said the partnership between traditional authorities and the government was crucial at a time the country was witnessing increased killings and violent attacks.
He said, “A great deal of emphasis is often placed on the role of law enforcement agencies in maintaining peace and security. They are critical elements in determining criminalities and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.
“But if we over-focus on law enforcement and overlook the place of the non-coercive conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms, then we are doing ourselves and the people of Nigeria a great disservice.”
According to him, traditional leaders have the capacity to champion the continuous dialogue and engagement because of the respect they command from stakeholders and parties across the country.
“This is important because we cannot ignore the fundamentals of our society which are the traditional institutions, if we hope to govern well and peacefully,” he added.
Earlier in his address, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom in Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Sideso, expressed concern that traditional rulers had not done their best in giving civic education to their subjects.
As the general elections draw closer, Sideso, who is also the chairman of the Summit Governing Council, urged traditional institutions to enlighten their subjects on the need to vote in all elections.
FG Doing Nothing To Secure Lives, Says Secondus
But the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, on Wednesday decried the incessant loss of lives and property in the country.
He said Nigerians had been living in fear due to persistent killings across the country while the Federal Government was doing nothing to salvage the situation.
Secondus spoke in Sokoto when he led some party leaders to condole with Governor Aminu Tambuwal over the recent killing of 39 people in the state.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari should focus on addressing the security challenges bedevilling the country rather than embarking on foreign trips.
“For how long will the government put in place the necessary security architecture to tackle these problems? The Federal Government is doing nothing and the governors have no control over security in their states,” he said.
He stated that Nigerians were going through pains and tired of wanton killings across the country.
“Nigerians are now living in pains and fear of the unknown because the killings are too many, from Zamfara to Sokoto, Borno, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa states. What we see every day is bloodshed across the nation,” Secondus said.
He condoled with the government and people of Sokoto over the killing of 40 people by bandits in the state last week.
“We are in Sokoto in solidarity with the people that lost their loved ones and I urge you to take heart in this period of sorrow,” Secondus added.
Responding, Tambuwal thanked the PDP’s leadership for the visit and prayed God to reward them.