Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday took a hard stance on the spate of insecurity across the country, saying that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government appeared confused while the nation has become badly divided and left to drift perilously.
Obasanjo made the observation in a goodwill message he sent to the first Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Leaders and Elders of Nigeria which held in Abuja.
The observation came just as the leaders drawn from across the six geo-political zones, for the first time jointly endorsed in principle the imperatives of restructuring, fiscal federalism and power devolution.
The summit, which had as its theme: State of the Nation – The Rising Spate of Killings Must Stop, was convened to review the alarming rise and spread of killings and general insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria.
The non-partisan summit had in attendance representatives of the various socio-cultural organisations namely, the Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Northern Elders Council (NEC), Northern Elders Forum (NEF), and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum.
Obasanjo, whose solidarity message to the summit was delivered by former Osun State governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, lamented that the Buhari administration had done a lot of harm to Nigeria and the common heritage of its people by his actions and inactions over the last three years.
According to him, the current administration had introduced some undesirable elements into the polity which, if not stopped, could be the death knell of democracy in Nigeria.
“Nigeria, in recent times, has not been so divided along religious and regional lines as at today with inexcusable killings and devastating poverty and with government’s wringing hands and apparently incompetent to stem the tide, except giving one unrighteous and unacceptable justification after the other.
“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.
“In spite of these unfortunate situations created by the government, my contact and consultation, which brought me face-to-face with people’s plights and frustration, also gave me 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, region, language and social standing that the situation should be retrieved and the nation should be saved,” he said.
The former President, who has been an ardent critic of the Buhari administration, urged those at the summit to look beyond politics, religion, economics and status in their deliberations as the struggle of the moment was necessary to save the heart and soul of Nigeria and preserve it for future generations.
“A lot of misgivings, misunderstanding, misperception, misrepresentation, erroneous beliefs and outdated ideas and concepts can be cleared and a lot can be achieved,” said Obasanjo.
The summit, which lasted six hours, observed that the general state of insecurity and incessant killings in Nigeria have escalated in recent times with several communities at the mercy of marauding killers.
Leaders of the various socio-cultural organisations unanimously affirmed that the trend of insecurity had reached totally unacceptable proportions that gravely endanger the peace, unity and development of the country.
They argued that whereas the security of lives and property remained the cardinal responsibility of government, the present administration, which had identified security as one of the three pillars of its change agenda, had failed the country.
Similarly, Chief Edwin Clark lamented that the world is collapsing on everybody, warning that there will be revolution.
He said: “We are now at a crossroads in this country. Everything is not just going well. We are living in a corrupt and an extreme poor society. Things are not just going well.
“Our children and history will not forgive us if we fail to act like leaders and elders of this country. There will be revolution soon if things continue the way it is going.
“I don’t care who becomes the president in 2019 provided he has the capacity and competence to perform. As elders and leaders, we must think of the future of our children. Look at the kind of governors we have now. The military governors were even better than the present ones.”
For the convener, Ango Abdullahi, what necessitated the summit is that things have actually fallen apart, which requires the intervention of the elders.
Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who recently dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC), charged the President to show firmer and decisive leadership in dealing with the alarming scale of killings and other violent crimes.
In a communiqué issued at the end of their deliberations, the summit said that the entire security architecture, law and order assets appear incapable of arresting the drift towards a state of anarchy.
The summit observed with regret that Nigeria has witnessed “unprecedented incompetence and enthronement of mediocrity” in dealing with the horrendous spate of killings and general insecurity across the country.
“That in the eyes of many affected communities, there appears to be palpable government complicity in the killings going on around the country. These killings claimed more than 3,500 lives in 2017, a figure that could be much higher in 2018.
“That the number of internally displaced persons (IDP) has risen to about 4 million from 1.5 million in 2015,” the communiqué read.
The summit also noted with dismay the mismanagement of an economy, characterized by significant loss of output, massive youth unemployment, a rising level of poverty, instability, and irregular migration of skilled and unskilled labour.
Eminent Nigerians at the summit also observed with alarm the flagrant abuse of, and disrespect for the rule of law, as well as the systematic violation of the electoral processes.
They warned that these infractions were steadily eroding public confidence in Nigeria’s democracy.
In view of these lapses, the summit resolved to insist on the emergence of a visionary and dynamic leadership, which will effectively deal with the security and economic challenges, and ensure good governance in the country.
They also demanded an urgent review of the security architecture of Nigeria; ensure the evacuation of marauding killers from the communities they have occupied and return same to their rightful owners who now live in IDP camps in different parts of the country.
Dignitaries at the summit included the Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark; President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; one of the leaders of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Convener of NEF; a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Idongesit Nkanga and Alhaji Tanko Yakassai of NEC.
Also at the summit were a former President of the Senate, Chief Adolphus Wabara; a former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Umar Ghali N’Abba.
Others included a former presidential candidate in the June 12, 1993 election, Alhaji Bashir Tofa; a former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former Minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu; Chairman, Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC), Alhaji Buba Galadima and former Governor of Ondo State, Chief Olusegun Mimiko among others.