…charges Buhari to create platform for national dialogue
Former President of the Senate, Anyim Pius Anyim, yesterday tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to de-emphasise the deployment of troops and request for international military assistance in the fight against insurgency, banditry, terrorism and agitations for self-determination in the country.
Anyim, who also served as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, said rather than relying solely on the use of military force to resolve these challenges, the Federal Government should create a platform for Nigerians to ventilate their grievances and collectively proffer enduring solutions.
In an open letter dated May 3, 2021 and addressed to the President, Anyim described the worsening state of insecurity across Nigeria as unfortunate, but said the situation could have been avoided if the Buhari administration had given listening ears to the complaints and peaceful protests from different parts of Nigeria before these agitations turned violent.
“I wish to note that every violent agitation originates from a non-violent agitation that was not attended to.
Today, Nigeria is bedeviled with violent and non-violent agitations. It is also a fact that the current violent agitations originated from non-violent agitations e.g., Boko Haram started as a non-violent procession; the herders/ farmers clashes which has degenerated into a deadly conflict with many states now bloody theaters of war; ethnic conflicts in Kaduna, Ebonyi, Cross River, Benue, Plateau states etc. which are escalating to an unmanageable scale; Armed Banditry in virtually all states of the federation, particularly Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto which has overwhelmed the law enforcement agencies, kidnaping which has become occupational in most parts of the country.
“To worsen matters, Boko Haram has acquired a new impetus that they now overrun the military and have even expanded their base to Niger State. IPOB has become a regional challenge.
“On the non-violent side, agitations for restructuring are scaling up in momentum, ethnic consciousness and allegiance even among the elite are far eroding national concerns.
All these and many more, coupled with gross downturn in the national economic, social and political space, has become an apparent threat to our nationhood.
“I am to add that it must be known that military actions or even foreign help alone cannot bring permanent solutions to ethnic conflicts or nationality agitations. Mr. President, you need to create a platform to hear Nigerians out,” the letter read.
Anyim recalled that prior to Nigeria’s independence, there were agitations among the minority ethnic groups in the Northern, Eastern and Western regions of the country which resulted in the setting up of the Willink’s Commission to examine the concerns of the various groups and find ways of addressing them. He said that the best way to de-escalate the current tension in Nigeria would be the creation of a platform for exchange of ideas by the various stakeholders in the country.
“There is no gainsaying that reservations about the continued existence of Nigeria are building up to a dangerous time bomb. I make bold to say that no solution except one birthed by an independently conducted engagement with fact-based recommendations arrived at with the participation of the citizens will provide an enduring solution.
“It has become apparent that the foundation of the various agitations in Nigeria today is that the comfort provided at independence by the Willink’s Commissions Report is no longer working.
I make bold to recommend that Mr. President should make history by empaneling another commission of inquiry to inquire into the violent and non-violent agitations in Nigeria and make recommendations on the immediate, short and long-term solutions as a way of first de-escalating the rising tension in the land and a process for the renewal of our march to nationhood.
“It is important to note that in a democracy, no action is deemed successful or completed until the buyin of the people is secured through a democratic process. This buy-in is an imperative that is yet to be pursued in the fight against violent agitations in Nigeria.
I must say that as long as the people are not part of the process of finding solutions to the conflicts, a permanent solution will be a mirage,” Anyim said.