The recent alarm by former Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, on the possible disintegration of the country if the right actions are not taken, is one that should be given utmost attention by the Federal Government. Abdulsalami had warned that Nigeria could disintegrate if the violence and other security challenges currently witnessed in many parts of the country are not promptly curtailed.
He described recent happenings in some parts of the country as unfortunate, stressing that the rising incidences of insurgency, kidnaping, armed banditry and robbery have added to issues causing disunity and anarchy among the citizens. The ugly developments, he noted, have rendered thousands of Nigerians homeless and made them refugees across the length and breadth of the country, adding that turning around the situation demands collective efforts by Nigerians.
The warning by the former head of state is in line with earlier concerns raised by other eminent Nigerians as well as the Senate and the Department of State Services on the deteriorating security situation in the country. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, former Chief of Army Staff, Theophilus Danjuma and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, had separately spoken on the spiraling insecurity in the country warning that it has the tendency of causing anarchy in the land. The Senate had specifically called for a declaration of state of emergency on the matter.
Abdulsalami, like others before him, had identified insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, inter-ethnic violence and separatist agitations, as factors pushing the country to the edge. “In the last two weeks or so, tension has been growing in the country and embers of disunity, anarchy and disintegration are spreading fast and if care is not taken, this might lead us to a point of no return,” he stated.
On account of Abdulsalami’s pedigree and stance on national issues, his observation on the matter should be taken seriously. It is a wake-up call and timely warning for the authorities to do the needful and steer the country out of avoidable crisis. There is no doubt that apart from the civil war era, at no time had Nigeria’s corporate existence been challenged as it has been in recent times. In many states and geo-political zones, terrorists, bandits, killer herdsmen, ethnic jingoists and other criminal elements have been on the loose, thereby exposing the fault lines of the country. Unfortunately, the government has failed to rein in these criminal elements, especially the bandits and killer herdsmen. Also, some political leaders have been very tactless in their comments while ethnic champions have seized the situation to issue threats and quit notices to other citizens, thereby raising fears of disintegration and a looming civil war.
The uncertainties at hand demand immediate action from the President Muhammadu Buhari and his new security chiefs. It is worth reminding them that the primary responsibility of the government all over the world is the security of life and property. Today, the country is grappling with unprecedented level of insecurity. There is, therefore, urgent need for the narrative to change for the better. Nigerians need a peaceful and secured environment to go about their normal daily activities. Let the government identify the factors behind the rising ethnic tension in the land and rein in those fomenting trouble. Having a national dialogue to address marginalisation, political exclusion, nepotism and other problems affecting the country should be considered. There is need to give every Nigerian, irrespective of his religion and ethnicity, a sense of belonging.
We also enjoin the Federal Government to take a look at the recommendations of the 2014 constitutional conference and others and implement them. Nigeria cannot afford to go through another civil war. The idea of Nigeria disintegrating is frightening and portends dire consequences for all. Therefore, we call on the political and religious leaders to weigh their utterances and avoid comments capable of inflaming passions and throwing the nation into avoidable crisis.
We urge the service chiefs and other heads of security agents to come up with a template to frontally address the menace of insurgency, banditry, criminal herdsmen and other drivers of insecurity in the country. In the same vein, the government should move speedily to douse the rising tension in the country by attending to the issues raised by Abdulsalami Abubakar and other Nigerian leaders.