Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) are leading other local and international Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) towards peaceful resolution of ongoing ethno-religious and regional agitations in Nigeria.
The group and their partners launched the â€˜No to Warâ€™ campaign at a recent one-day programme tagged â€˜Multi-Stakeholders: No War Coalition Consultative Meeting Aimed at De-escalating the Ongoing Tension in the Countryâ€™, which took place in Abuja.
One of the conveners and the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa aka Rafsanjani, traced the recent renewed agitations by some youths in the country to bad governance and looting of the public treasury by Nigeria’s political class.
Ibrahim Rafsanjani said that government at all levels have failed in taking cognisance of early warnings so as to mitigate the tension that have now surfaced, regretting that there is no equity and justice in the country.
He noted that having failed the country, the political class is now using the youths for their selfish interests by prodding them to instigate violence and marginalise themselves through ethnicity and religious violence.
According to him, â€œthe elite are playing up divisive tendencies because they want a reduction in the population of youths through war so that the present political class can remain in power to continue diverting public funds.
Lamenting that young Nigerians only have looters as role models to look up to, he said â€œthe political class are now procuring arms for youths to kill themselves as the 2019 general elections inch closer.
â€œWe all know that the main reason why our young people are involved in this is simply because of the collapse of governance in the country and our young people have been abandoned, they have no decent livelihood, they have been denied access to education and jobs,â€ he said.
The CISLAC boss advised youths not to allow the â€œtiny political classâ€ use their energy to destroy the country, adding that such politicians would never use their children and they have a ready aircraft to take them out of the country should war break out.
He continued: â€œOur young people are involved because of lack of livelihood. They donâ€™t have access to job, education and health. This exposed them to being used by politicians who constitute themselves as agents of merchants of violence. There is a calculated attempt by the political class to undermine the development of our youths, their engagement to democratic governance and meaningful livelihood.
â€œSince they want to use our youths, we want to redirect their energy to productive engagement. What we have is the oppressed and oppressors which cut across north and south, Christians or Muslims. Therefore, no more will we allow this selfish political class to use our youths for war,â€ he added.
Also speaking, the Chair, Africa Security Sector Network, Prof. Abubakar Ndiaye commended the civil societies in Nigeria for being proactive in calling for adoption of peaceful measures in tackling the emerging threats.
â€œWe are a pan-African think-tank and civil rights that aimed at reaching one goal â€“ an African person that is at peace within himself and with his neighbours; African communities that are at peace within themselves and with each other; African countries that are at peace within themselves and with each other, and an African continent that has peace and development,â€ Ndiaye said.
He also stressed that â€œthere is nothing that happens in Nigeria that doesnâ€™t affect the continent.â€
In the same vein, the Co-convener and Coordinator of PRAWA, Dr. Uju Agomoh, called for collective efforts to prevent outbreak of war. Agomoh noted that while the citizens were free to air their views â€œbut this must be done in an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence.
She re-echoed the fact that Nigerian challenges have potential ripple effect on the rest of Africa, warning that â€œwar does not pay.â€
She said: â€œWe are one as one as Africans. And the chair made it known how important Nigeria is to Africa. This is an indication that no one should be indifferent from what is happening in Nigeria. So again we should work to prevent war from happening.
â€œMy simple message is that war doesnâ€™t pay. It causes bleeding, it causes pain and while we can air our views and grievances but never will we allow it lead to war. Why will we not go the path of peace? Letâ€™s mainstream this message in our programming.â€
On her part, the Team Leader, PRAWA, Ogechi Ogu, said the government must not wait for violence to start before addressing the indicators.
Ogu noted that the stakeholdersâ€™ meeting was aimed at redirecting the thought of the people and raising awareness amongst the people in the de-escalation process.