Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), yesterday raised the alarm over a perceived massive arms buildup in Nigeria, revealing that there are about six million illegal arms and ammunition in circulation across different regions of the country. Abubakar, who made the disclosure in Abuja at a dialogue session organised by the National Peace Commitee, (NPC) lamented that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) has heightened insecurity across the country.
He disclosed that the prolonged insecurity plaguing Nigeria has, so far, resulted in over 80,000 deaths while no fewer than three million citizens have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country. Abubakar, who chairs the NPC, expressed concern that the proliferation of all calibre of small arms and light weapons (SALW) could fuel more violence that may destabilise the country.
He lamented that given the widespread insecurity that has lasted nearly a decade, security forces were not just over stretched, but under-funded and demoralised. “The security agencies can perform better with more sophisticated weapons, equipment and more funding. “We believe Nigeria must find a way out of these problems. Our hope is that perhaps among us, by listening to your different perspectives, we can begin to build up confidence among our people so that we can hold together.
“So, our hope is that we shall not only share our collective lamentations about the current situation, but propose some concrete suggestions that can point the way forward, suggestions that can inspire more confidence among our people and ensure that our country remains one,” he said. Stakeholders who attended the meeting included the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi, his counterpart from Plateau State and Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Simon Lalong, traditional rulers, religious leaders, as well as representatives of the military, police and other security agencies. Meanwhile, Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was at the meeting, urged the media to be mindful of what they publish as news reports, stressing that some reports could fuel crisis.
He said: “We have to be careful with the kind of news we disseminate because in areas where there is no peace, nobody will invest and that is why it is always good for us to talk good about the country and not just to be spreading rumours that are not there.
“Question of security is everybody’s business. Even today, we cannot do any business without security and that is why the private sector promised to put in N100 billion to support the police in terms of security. “If there is no money, no matter how much you push them, they will not be able to move.
Take the issue of Kagara where they kidnapped the bus, there were only eight policemen in a big local government like Kagara. So, these are the issues. “There is no way we have jobs without peace. We need peace for jobs to be created and I think it is our collective responsibility for us to make sure that yes the environment is right.”