There is urgent need to address the present political structure which has increasingly become a recipe for uncertainty and instability

In a season when hateful rhetoric is being peddled across the country, it is unfortunate that otherwise respected Nigerians that ordinarily should help in suing for peace are adding fuel to the fire with unguarded and provocative utterances. This is why we must commend the efforts of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who has been holding high level consultations with critical stakeholders with a view to douse the growing tension in the country.

According to Osinbajo, while there were genuine grievances that needed to be addressed, it would be wrong of any group or individuals to approach such grievances by threatening the integrity of Nigeria. “Violence and war are not going to do anyone any good,” said Prof. Osinbajo. “They are easy to start but near impossible to end. We are witnesses to the unspeakable devastation that war continues to inflict across the world. No one who has seen the horrors of war—even merely on television—would wish it on their worst enemy. Our emotions must not be allowed to run wild in such a way as to endanger the lives of so many.” It could not have been better put.

Against the background that there are usually challenges in the process of integrating members of any society into a cohesive social whole, what confronts the nation are not peculiar nor are they unexpected, especially since recourse to separatist tendencies is most often fuelled by bad governance which is underscored today by high rate of youth unemployment. But the authorities must find a way to deal with the situation before it degenerates.

Meanwhile, it is unacceptable that two weeks after the “go home” order to the Igbos living in the north, in response to the agitations for an independent state of Biafra, not one of the “northern youths” has been apprehended by the security agencies. Such application of double standards in responding to a problem that is capable of disrupting not only public order but indeed the security and peaceful co-existence of the country, is to say the least, very unhelpful. It is also important to caution against the tendency in some quarters to make incendiary remarks against one ethnic group or religion or to call for the dismemberment of the federation at the slightest outbreak of crisis or security challenge. Such remarks and calls are not useful, especially at a time we need to face the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment.

While many continue to locate the recent flourish of hateful and divisive utterances primarily as a response to the embarrassing display of partisanship and the parochial track at the apex of power in Nigeria today, facts on the ground also reflect that this is an old problem. For instance, it was in the wake of such strident agitations that former President Goodluck Jonathan in August 2014 held a special Council of State meeting amid reports that some citizens were being deported to their states of origin from a section of the country.

What that suggested very clearly is that the present political structure of the federation has increasingly become a recipe for uncertainty, insecurity and instability. That explains why we support all those who continue to advocate that restructuring the polity—not only for optimum performance but also to address the issue of citizenship—has become inevitable. But the restructuring that we advocate is one that will make Nigeria work for the vast majority of our people, whether they are in the East, North, South or West of the country.

While we exhort Nigerians not to give in to hate and needless recriminations that have been on the increase recently, we also call on the federal government to show more seriousness in confronting this dangerous national security threat. It is trite to say that it is the duty of government at all levels to create the enabling environment that would give the citizenry a true sense of belonging, and indeed, faith in the assertion that this country belongs to all of its peoples irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

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It is the duty of government at all levels to create the enabling environment that would give the citizenry a true sense of belonging, and indeed, faith in the assertion that this country belongs to all of its peoples irrespective of ethnicity or religion