A non-governmental organisation, SecureWorld and Liberty Network, has in an open letter, signed by its Executive Director, Mark Adebayo, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to take steps “to steer the ship of this country from total anarchy.”
The organisation wrote against the backdrop of increased agitation for secession and quit notices being issued to ethnic groups in parts of the country.
The group recommended the constitution of Presidential Dialogue Action Committee and the convening of National Peace Dialogue Meeting.
Read the letter below:
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
General Muhammadu Buhari, Rtd.
Senate of The Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan,
Three Arms Zone,
House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Right Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila,
Three Arms Zone,
THAT WE MAY NOT FOLLOW THE ROUTE OF RWANDA; ACT NOW!
It is with deep apprehension, but unshaken optimism in your leadership instinct to act expeditiously on the subject matter of this letter, that our organization decided to write this national SOS to you.
SecureWorld (SELIP) is a registered Non-Governmental Organization with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria (CAC/IT/NO126905). One of our fundamental foci is working to build peace all over Nigeria inter alia. We are sure that you have noticed in recent times the increasing agitation for secession from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country accompanied by extremely dangerous rhetoric only seen in prewar situations as happened before the unfortunate Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970 where millions of lives were needlessly wasted. With the benefit of historical hindsight, the current tension in the country whereby quit notices are being issued to Nigerians from other geopolitical zones evokes emotions of scary de javu that calls for immediate actions on those of you who occupy positions of critical responsibility and authority in the country.
The three of you hold the destiny of Nigeria in your hands currently and you must stand up to steer the ship of this country from total anarchy. The way to Rwanda is not a palatable route for Nigeria to follow, but if it goes that way you would be solely and permanently responsible for the damage and destruction it would cause.
Rwanda was a country at peace before ethno-nationalist antipathy destroyed it in 1994 which, within four months of relentless ethnically profiled massacres, killed an estimated one million Rwandans mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus and many more thereafter in a campaign of beastly hate. That country is still licking its wounds from that horrific genocide. The main culprits of the Rwandan genocide were not the ethnic militias or those who armed them, those to hold accountable were the leaders of the time who refused to act timely before the genocide exploded on the country. The signs would always be there to see as they currently are in our country. Actually, Nigeria needs not look across the border to learn valuable lessons in how not to allow ethnoreligious crisis boil over to unmanageable proportions before action is taken. We have enough pool of experience to draw from looking at how our own civil war started.
Dear sirs, act now!
We believe that there are things you can do now that would douse tension immediately across the country. This is not a job for security agencies at all. In fact, the intervention of security agencies would escalate the tension and make it to prematurely boil over. This is not the time to start arresting self-determination agitators and clamping them into detention or attacking them with counter-rhetoric by government spokespersons. That would be extremely counterproductive.
This is a time for dialogue!
This is more so because, whether we like it or not, most of those agitating for secession have genuine cases bordering on decades of injustices made possible by the unsustainable structure of this country and the cries of marginalization predominantly coming from the Southern parts of the country. We believe that it was because the demand to restructure Nigeria was ignored that raised the bar of agitation and declarations of secession. These issues can still be resolved now without violence if immediate positive actions are taken by your good offices.
This is not a challenge that you can wish away as your current silence and seeming inaction portend. It is a problem that can consume the whole country if not skillfully managed at the highest levels of government that you currently occupy. The challenges of insecurity and the violence being unleashed on the country by terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and the criminal elements among cattle herders are totally different from the agitation for a separate nation by seceding from Nigeria by self-determination activists. The former are hardened criminals whose activities could be eliminated by concerted onslaughts and effective intelligence regimen of security agencies, while the latter are sociopolitical activists fighting against real or perceived injustices. Both cannot and should not be treated equally. Criminals must be eliminated by the state while activists agitating for better conditions for their people should be engaged in fruitful dialogue.
Sirs, We suggest the following course of actions to be taken immediately in the short-term;
a. The president should immediately constitute a Presidential Dialogue Action Committee consisting of serving ministers, credible statesmen and NGOs drawn from all the geopolitical zones in equal numbers to visit each geopolitical zone one-by-one to first meet with these non-state actors to discuss their fears, expectations and the guarantee for peace moving forward.
b. Thereafter, a National Peace Dialogue Meeting should be convened as a follow-up to the zonal ones where all those dramatis personae of the earlier meeting are invited to conclude the discussions and seek ways for a peaceful resolution of all subjects of agitation by agreeing on the way forward for the collective benefit of all Nigerians. A crucial meeting such as this at such level is best organized with the president and commander-in-chief presiding and the two heads of the National Assembly present. This type of meeting has immediate intrinsic value of immediately ameliorating the tension in the land as Nigerians would generally feel a sense of hope that something tangible is being done to find resolutions. The government should borrow a template from the recent resolution of the foodstuffs blockade by northern foodstuff traders that the presidency mandated the Kogi State governor, His Excellency Governor Yayah Bello, to resolve which he achieved less than 48 hours.
That was a highly commendable response by your government that saved this country from a protracted crisis with the potential of unpredictable consequences.
In the short term, the above are our recommendations which we believe would go a long way in forestalling a sudden breakdown of law and order all over the country and might result in intractable cataclysms.
Kindly accept assurances of our organization’s highest regards,