The cacophony of voices everywhere, all are in agreement, saying one thing! Which is; Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians; nothing more, and nothing less. The tense situation in the country arising from: the inordinate and warped ambition of Boko Haram to create a caliphate of their own, the mindless killings by the Fulani herders, the incessant abductions of innocent Nigerians, by hoodlums, almost everywhere, the separatist ideologies of the South–East and the SouthWest to form their own countries call for worry and demand collective responsibility if the country must be salvaged and put back on track. Well-meaning and prominent Nigerians, have continued to speak out even in the face of perceived intimidation since act of terrorism which was not part of us found its way into our clime.
They have not minced words in calling on the government of the day, under President Muhammadu Buhari to tread with caution in handling the myriads of problems confronting his government instead of seeing those who are critical about his policies and programmes as political foes. The Catholic Bishops conference of Nigeria (CBCN), in an open letter addressed to the government and people of Nigeria, entitled “URGENT CALL TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO BE OPEN TO CRITICISM IN ADDRESSING THE PERVADING INSECURITY IN NIGERIA”, stressed that every Nigerian is a stake-holder in the affairs of the country.
“Nigerians have the right to express themselves in a manner that does not incite people to violence or chaos whenever they perceived that the elected Government is failing. A Nigerian does not need to be a registered political party Card-carrying member before speaking about the failing economy, the daily killings and kidnappings of students, older men and women; babies and infants, people being killed in IDP camps and even in their homes by insurgents. Every reasonable Nigerian is sick to the stomach to read or hear of a governor running from insurgents who want to kill him in the state where he is constitutionally the chief security officer.
Nigerians are tired of hearing of bandits taking youths in the university and executing some of them, while others are kept to be used to bargain for ransom. The insecurity is leading to a daily loss of lives and properties in every part of the country. These facts are indisputable. A country where students are no longer safe in schools nor farmers safe in their farms does not have a future to look to. While we reject any call for the destabilization of Nigeria or military take-over, we nonetheless say to the Federal Government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, there is no need to focus your energy, time and resources in any form of propaganda against religious leaders who disagree with your performance.
There is no need to spend so much of your time to blackmail anyone who criticizes your Government. We speak out because we do not want Nigeria to collapse. We are not speaking out for the All Progressives Congress (APC), Government to fail. We are speaking out so that Nigeria will not fail. APC is not the owner of Nigeria; Nigeria is owned by Nigerians irrespective of political affiliation”. The deployment of armed soldiers across the country is serious indication that Nigeria is in a troubled time. This is also the time to know the egg heads in government whose concern indeed should be how the tensed situation can be de-escalated. Already stories abound where innocent Nigerians are wasted by soldiers who do not know the rules of engagement, who are now turning the muzzles of their guns against those they are supposed to protect.
The incidence of a fruit seller, Abdulkadir Musa, from Zamfara State, who was gunned down by a soldier is currently being investigated, so also the killing of Noel Chigbu, in Amakohia, Owerri, Imo State by yet to be indentified soldier. The escalating security challenge in the country is not unconnected with the firm position of the southern governors, whose resolutions that include ban on open grazing across the 17 southern states have been widely welcomed by their people and different ethnic groups – PANDEFF, AFENIFERE, OHANEZE, Middle Belt Forum, including senators and House of Representatives Members from the zones. When a country is in crises, leaders indeed rise to the occasion.
We want to believe also that, the statement credited to the Minister of Information and culture; Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the Federal Government is ready to discuss the issue of restructuring is the way to go now. The current situation in the country which is dire as everyone can see cannot be addressed by militarizing the whole country and killing of innocent people, whose demand essentially is good governance which is farfetched today in our society. We call on the President Muhammadu Buhari government to prioritize his policies and address the yearnings of the people who are all stake-holders in the Nigeria Project. Politicization of genuine submissions of the people would not do the country any good at this time of heightened tension and disillusionment.