AGAINST the backdrop of on-going carnage in some parts of the country, Chairman, Coalition of Ethnic Nationalities of Nigeria (CEEN), Dr. Frederick Fasehun, has cautioned that the Boko Haram sect runs the risk of laying a bad precedent, which, if replicated by other ethno-religious interests in the country, could turn Nigeria into a failed state.
At a meeting of the Coalition held yesterday in Lagos, several speakers, including Director-General, Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa; Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Garba Mohammed and former Director, Directorate for Military Intelligence (DMI), Gen. Ibrahim Sabo and President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Ahmed Yerima, stressed the need to entrench peace in the country as precursor to sustainable democracy.
Fasehun, who is also the founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and chief convener of the “Nigerian Ethnic Nationalities’ Summit On Security And Consolidation of Democracy”, appealed to Boko Haram members to sheathe the sword, stressing that the group, by now, must have made its point.
His words: “Our children do not deserve such a heritage. Boko Haram must bring healing to its wounds and appeasement to its anger. Every war ends around the table. And Boko Haram must shelve this war-war and settle for jaw-jaw.”
But distancing the interest of the North as a whole from the activities of Boko Haram, Yerima said rather than promoting any northern agenda, the sect was doing a disservice to such interest.
He stated: “While other parts of the country are holding economic summit to ensure dividend of democracy for the people, throwing bombs everywhere certainly cannot be in the interest of any beneficial objectives.”
Fasehun, who started off the summit by observing a minute silence for the victims of the Dana Air plane crash, said the ethnic nationalities would not “stand aloof, fold our arms and watch our beloved country burn inch by inch and day by day or watch our brothers and sisters get blown to pieces.”
In a paper titled, “Militancy Insurgency And Nigeria’s Future: Untying The Knotty Knots,” Sabo noted that nations developed or disintegrated due to the interplay of certain factors like location, history, endowments in terms of natural resources and core values arising from their cultures and traditions.
He stressed that the extent to which the people of a nation were able to manage the interplay of these factors would determine its peaceful development.
His words: “One of the ways to manage the sometimes conflicting issues which confront nations is by holding sessions such as this to generate ideas and proffer solutions to issues of national development.
“I salute the organisers of this summit for their patriotic zeal, which has led to the assemblage of august Nigerians at this summit. This is one of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and which patriotic citizens must continue to take advantage of. It is my hope that today, as this summit progresses, we come up with ideas which benefit our nation and anticipate unnecessary crisis in the future.”
Akinterinwa noted that the calls for national dialogue, national conference, or sovereign national conference were expressions of protest against the system.
He added: “There is nothing to suggest that those asking for such conferences really want secession. They only do so as a result of frustration.
“In the same vein, if corruption in Nigeria has become chronic, it is simply because, over the years, the common saying that ‘if you cannot beat them, join them’ has been unnecessarily allowed to find roots in the minds of civil and public servants, as well as among the generality of
the people of Nigeria.
“It is this perception that has partly prevented many assessors of the past 365 days of President Goodluck Jonathan from objective and scientific appraisal of political governance in Nigeria.”