Former President Olusegun Obasanjo
By Chuks Okocha and Dele Ogbodo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Monday said the way out of the present insecurity and violent conflicts enveloping the country was for government to engage all stakeholders in dialogue.
Obasanjo’s statement however came on the heels of a clarification by the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Muazu Aliyu, that the insurgence of the sect, was as a result of the fact that the Northern part of the country had lost the presidential power to the South.
Obasanjo spoke in Abuja, in a keynote address presented on his behalf by the former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, at the opening of a two-day National Conference on Culture, Peace and National Security.
He said: “A way forward is dialogue, enlightenment and sensitization programmes such as we are having today. We need to sensitise the youths, community leaders, village, religious leaders, local government chairmen, traditional rulers, politicians to appreciate that building the Nigeria of our dream is a collective responsibility, and therefore we must take active interest in ensuring peace and security.”
Underscoring his reason for chairing the occasion, the former President said: “I am therefore at this conference because I feel strongly that the issue of national security should be accorded top priority attention as no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of chaos and persistence violence.”
He said his unquestionable desire and interest in the oneness of this country is to ensure that peace and security is attained at whatever cost and efforts.
However, Obasanjo identified ignorance as the major factor responsible for conflicts in the country besides, poverty, unemployment, religious intolerance, ethnic rivalry, growing acculturation and resource agitations. According to him, it was for this reason that the United Nations, Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNES-CO), was established shortly after the 2nd World war.
“It was established based on the understanding that wars or conflicts, in whatever form, arise from ignorance, suspicion and mistrust and therefore the need for defence of peace be constructed in the minds of men and women,” he said.
In his remark, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, said the conference was designed by the Ministry to serve as a platform for the robust deliberation of the cultural dimension of peace and security.
Duke said: “In this regard, an aggressive and sustained sensitisation and public enlightenment campaign is of utmost necessity. All segments of society should be educated to appreciate the nexus between the culture of peace and national development.”
He assured that NICO will be engaged to carry out enlightenment campaigns in all parts of the country, adding that no country can satisfy the yearning and aspirations of the people in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity.
The Minister appealed to family heads, community leaders, religious leaders and youth groups to join hands with government in addressing the security challenges facing the nation.
Meanwhile, Aliyu who spoke at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national secretariat when he paid a courtesy visit to the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, said the North and the country in general would certainly overcome the present security challenge in the country, because the Boko Haram insurgency was not up to the 30 months civil war fought to keep Nigeria united.
According to him “I don’t think so that because power has been lost was reason and those of us who believe in God will know that at any given time, anything can happen. In a federation, every child in Nigeria should be given opportunity and chance to aspire to the office of leadership. Therefore I don’t buy this idea of dividing group and said that they do things of this and that”.
He explained further, “Because when you say a whole group, nobody has sat down with me to say because we have lost power, we should do this and that. If somebody dare in his ignorance is doing because of that, that is unfortunate and I don’t think we should succumb to this idea of generalised statement.”
In his reaction, the National Chairman of the PDP, Tukur said there were too many idle hands roaming the streets and that the best way to tackle the present security challenge is to ensure that employment is created.
“We must address security, food security and provide health for all. There are more idle hands out there in the cities and the best way to address these problems is to ensure that we send them to the farmlands. This is what the PDP will do”, the national chairman of PDP stated.
He urged the party governors to be loyal and committed to the PDP manifesto, saying: “it is a contract, we must all honour”, while appealing to the PDP governors to make the party to be independent, “as the era where the party will go cap in hand begging for funds is over.”
To this, the Niger state governor retorted, “If you go cap in hand begging for funds, when I go wrong, how you can correct me”.
Source : Thisday