Stop Trading Blame, Focus on Ending Ethnic Violence, Abdulsalami Urges Nigerians

18
Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar

Crisis sponsors will be identified, punished, says Buhari
Four northern govs visit Abiodun, back modern ranching
 Go after criminal herdsmen, Afenifere, ACF, Ohanaeze, PANDEF tell NSA, others

By Deji Elumoye in Abuja, Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, John Shiklam in Kaduna, Dipo Laleye in Minna and Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta

A former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), has called on Nigerians to stop trading blame and focus on ending the current ethnic clashes, which he described as unfortunate.

Abdulsalami at a press conference yesterday in Minna, capital of Niger State, expressed concern that the clashes are adding to the challenges of insurgency, banditry and armed robbery in the country.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated his commitment to working for the continued unity of Nigeria and vowed that crisis sponsors will soon be identified and punished in accordance with the law.

And in continuation of their efforts to de-escalate the tension arising from the recent ethnic conflict in the South-west, four northern governors yesterday joined their Ondo State counterpart, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, to visit their Ogun State colleague, Prince Dapo Abiodun, during which they called on the federal government to transform herders into modern cattle merchants by investing in ranching.

Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere; the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF); the apex Igbo socio-political group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have urged the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno, and other security chiefs to go after criminal herdsmen terrorising the country rather than tour the country in search of an elusive peace.

Abdulsalami, who is the Chairman of the National Peace Committee, called for calm in these difficult times.

He said: “As if the continued insurgency in the country, the kidnap and armed robbery is not cup full, the recent happenings in some parts of the country of ethnic attacks are unfortunate and are adding to the problems.

“These times demand that we all join hands together to resolve our challenges so as to keep our country united. We do not have the luxury of trading blame.”

He appealed to Nigerians who have borne so much pain and suffering to remain resilient and patient, while also pleading with governors to sheathe their swords, tone down their rhetoric and take full responsibility for managing the divergent voices and frustrations in their states.

Abdulsalami also pleaded with traditional institutions, religious leaders as well as NGOs to mobilise Nigerians towards living in peace with one another.

“It is true that we are all in a state of fear and collective anxiety, however, the last thing we need is for the enemy to sense a lack of unity on our part or a break in our ranks,” he added.

He commended security agents for their sacrifices and appealed to the new service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police (IG) to rise to the urgent demands of the moment by rallying their troops and designing the best strategy for ending the insecurity in the country.

“We hope that based on their field experiences in this war, they can draw up a well-coordinated programme to ensure that all our resources are deployed to achieve the much-needed victory in this avoidable war.
“Let us continue to pray for our country because we believe that God will continue to give us the strength to overcome these difficulties,” he stated.

Sponsors of Crisis will be Identified, Punished, Says Buhari

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed his determination to continue to work for the continued unity of Nigeria with an assurance that crisis sponsors will soon be identified and punished.

He said the stability of the country is important to him and that the federal government will continue to work towards it despite the actions of a few people.

Buhari, while hosting a delegation of Borno/Yobe Elders Forum at the State House, said: “We need this country. We will continue to work for its stability. I feel that whatever happens, we will continue to make it and will keep on praying to God so that for those who feel that they don’t need Nigeria, we will succeed over their intentions and actions.”

He attributed the upheavals in some parts of the country to a few people with resources and influence, adding that they will be identified and dealt with.

“I am confident that we will eventually convince the small number of people with resource and influence that are a nuisance to this great country. God willing, we will identify them, and deal with them. I am extremely concerned about your constituency like the rest of the country,” he stated.

Buhari noted the request for the upgrade and development of infrastructure in the states and assured his visitors that while he would do his best in acceding to their requests, he would, however, prioritise development in education.

“We are aware of the infrastructure deficit. Our priorities will be education because all our citizens know that children within a certain age must receive it otherwise if they miss it, the future is destroyed,” he said.

He expressed appreciation to the leaders for coming to terms with the positive improvement that has occurred in the states since the inception of the administration.

In his remarks, Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum said the leaders were in Abuja to thank the president for the improvement in their states and to intimate him with some of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.

Four Northern Govs Visit Abiodun, Back Modern Ranching

Four Northern governors- Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Sani Bello (Niger), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) yesterday joined their Ondo State counterpart, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, to visit the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, as part of efforts to douse tension arising from the ethnic conflicts in the South-west.
The governors called on the federal government to invest in modern ranching.

They also agreed that open grazing is not sustainable.

In a presentation at a stakeholders’ parley on farmers/ herders’ conflict, hosted by Abiodun, in Abeokuta, Ganduje, said the Fulani herdsmen’s problem “is an old story.”

The parley was prompted by the massive attacks on residents of Yewa area of Ogun State by suspected Fulani herdsmen, in which no fewer than 10 persons were killed in separate attacks.

He said: “Those who are advocating that Fulani should leave the southern part don’t know history. The Fulani herdsmen are everywhere.

“They migrate right from Futa Jalon in Mali, through the Niger Republic, because of climate change.

“The farmers too are angry because of the destruction brought to their economic trees.

“Initially, they were carrying weapons to protect themselves against cattle rustlers before things degenerated to confrontations with farmers.

“So, putting sentiment aside, the solution to the problem is for the federal government to convert traditional herdsmanship to modern animal husbandry.”

Bello, in his submission said: “What we are grappling with today is criminality and banditry and the time has come for the federal government to invest in the herdsmen.

“They (the federal government) have invested a lot in farmers and the time has come for investment in the herdsmen.”

But Akeredolu challenged Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of the herdsmen, to expose the criminals in their ranks.
“In Ondo State, we won’t tolerate kidnappers and killers disguising as herdsmen in our forests,” he said.

He stressed the need for the federal government to eliminate open grazing by empowering the herders to embrace modern animal husbandry.

Ganduje and Bello said Buhari had been upset by cases of bloodshed and destructions linked to Fulani herdsmen.

Olu of Ilaro, who is also the paramount ruler in Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, expressed anger over what he described as incitement from the Miyetti Allah.

“I have a letter from the Miyetti Allah threatening to deal with my people,” he added.

But the National President of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Muhammed Kirowa, said the association had always been peaceful and that those infiltrating it were criminals.

Abiodun said: “We must use the opportunity of this parley to tell ourselves the truth, not necessarily by apportioning blame, but definitely, we must come up with more practical and viable recommendations that will further cement the peaceful coexistence that we have always had in Ogun State.

“Those fomenting the crisis are said to be non-residents in our state. Unfortunately, the crisis has been exacerbated by some undesirable elements within and outside the state that whipped up ethnic sentiments.

“They sneak in at night, wreak havoc and retreat after their evil acts.

“In whatever form, colour or ethnic group, a criminal is a criminal. We condemn all forms of crimes and criminality, regardless of the ethnicity of the perpetrators.”

Go after Criminal Herdsmen, Afenifere, ACF, Ohanaeze, PANDEF Tell NSA, Others

In a related development, Afenifere; ACF; Ohanaeze Ndigbo and PANDEF have urged the NSA and other security chiefs to go after criminal herdsmen terrorising the country.

Reacting to the Monday’s meeting between the North-west governors, security chiefs and other stakeholders in Kaduna, the ACF’s spokesman, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, told THISDAY that he agreed with those who blamed foreign herdsmen for some of the security challenges.

He stated that the security agencies should go after the foreign herdsmen.

“I agree with the people who hold such views. When the attacks happened in Benue a few years ago, the government blamed foreigners but did nothing to curtail their deadly expeditions,” Yawe said.

Afenifere faulted the zonal meeting, describing it as diversionary.

Its spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY that the government knew what ought to be done to address the security challenges facing the nation but preferred doing other things like the zonal meetings being held with state governments and traditional institutions.

He said: “They know where the problem is and what is to be done but we will cease to be Nigeria if they don’t engage in this perambulator.”

PANDEF wondered why despite the security problems facing Nigeria, holding another round of zonal meetings is the priority of the security chiefs.

The National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Hon Ken Robinson, told THISDAY that what is needed at this time is drastic and dispassionate actions, by security agencies, against the criminal herders and bandits endangering Nigeria’s corporate existence.

According to him, the zonal meeting has become the new stratagem by the government to divert citizens’ attention from pressing state matters.

He added that anytime citizens begin to speak out and take actions against abnormalities in the country, the federal government comes up with one meeting, consultation, or the other.

The group said last October, after the government suppressed the #EndSARS protests, a presidential delegation went to each geo-political zone and met with the governors, traditional rulers and other key stakeholders.
“PANDEF is yet to see responses by the federal government, in terms of tangible actions, to some of the fundamental issues raised at those meetings,” he said.

The group added that solutions to the security challenges facing the nation had been well articulated in the past through meetings and conferences.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo, however, welcomed the zonal meeting between the NSA and other stakeholders, saying the meeting will afford them another opportunity to “hear that the causes of insecurity vary from one geopolitical zone to the other, but the most threatening security challenge across the country is the menace of the Fulani herdsmen.”

National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Chiedozie Ogbonnia, told THISDAY that the discoveries from the town hall meetings will be mind-boggling.

He said the NSA and other stakeholders would also hear that “the rural dwellers in the South-east are scared of going to the farm because of the AK-47 wielding Fulani herdsmen. They will also hear that people are resorting to self-help because all complaints, petitions, protests, lamentations and cries to the relevant authorities have fallen on deaf ears.”

According to him, by the time the meetings are held across the six geopolitical zones, the initiators will realise why the nation is drifting towards a state of anarchy.