Former Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee (NOC), General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has called on the 36 state governors to resolve their differences, speak with one voice and confront the security challenges bedeviling the country.
He also appealed to Nigerians to give peace a chance in the face of rising tension in different parts of the country.
Addressing journalists at his Hilltop residence in Minna on Tuesday, the Niger State capital, the former head of state noted that if care was not taken, the growing tension in the country might lead Nigeria to a point of no return.
Daily Trust reports that at the height of the eviction order for herders in some states in the South West and South East, and the attendant banditry and kidnapping in North West and North Central, some governors engaged in verbal war and calling themselves out.
For instance, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had condemned the statement credited to his counterpart from Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, that herdsmen had no option but to carry AK-47 for self-defence.
But the Bauchi governor said his reference to AK47 was simply to put in perspective, the predicament and desperation of those law-abiding Fulani herdsmen who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, had become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and assassination
He also condemned South West and South East governors, and also Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in North Central, over the manner in which they were handling farmer/herder clashes.
Elsewhere, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State had said his colleagues in North West were working at cross purposes, and therefore unable to address the security challenges in the region. Responding, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State said it appeared El-Rufai doesn’t understand issues around insecurity. Observers believed that going by the enormous influence they wield, the federal government will not succeed in taming security challenges if governors kept shifting blames among themselves.
While expressing his displeasure over the security challenges, Abdulsalami said some people were fanning the embers of disunity, anarchy, and disintegration.
He said recent happenings in some parts of the country occasioned by ethnic attacks were unfortunate because they were adding to the problems of insurgency, kidnapping and robbery.
“We appeal to the citizens of our dear country who have borne so much pains and suffering to remain resilient and patient. Thousands of our people are homeless and refugees across the length and breadth of their own country. We know what farmers have faced in the last few years and the harvests will be a serious challenge this year. Therefore, let us all rally together in these hard times, make the required sacrifices and remain vigilant, standing by one another,” he said.
While appealing to the state governors who are the chief security officers of their states to sheath their swords, Abdulsalami said they should tone down their rhetoric and take full responsibility for managing the divergent voices and frustrations within their states.
He said, “It is true that we are all in a state of fear and collective anxiety. However, the last thing we need is for the enemy to sense a lack of unity on our part or a break in our ranks.
“We appeal to the new service chiefs and IGP to rise to the urgent demands of the moment by rallying their troops and designing the best strategy for ending the tragic war that has continued to consumed and destroy the foundations of our dear country.
“We hope that based on their field experiences in the war, they can draw up a well-coordinated programme to ensure that all our resources are deployed to achieve the much-needed victory in this avoidable war.”