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State oF Nation: Northern, southern leaders, elders lament killings

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…Buhari inept, done harm to our common heritage–Obasanjo

…Clark, Ango Abdullahi, Nwodo decry Nigeria woes

Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

It was lamentations galore at the Extra Ordinary Summit of Leaders and Elders of Nigeria, in Abuja, on Wednesday, as several elder statesmen decried what they called wanton killings and deplorable situation in the country.

Speaker after speaker from all the major and minor ethnic nationalities were in tandem that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government lacked the capacity and competence to re-direct the sinking ship of the nation.

In his keynote address, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said that President Buhari’s action and inaction had done harm to the commonwealth and common heritage of the country.

Represented by the former governor of Osun state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who read the letter he sent to the chief Convener of the summit, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Obasanjo said that elders must join forces to safe the country.

In the letter he addressed to Abdullahi, Obasanjo said: “When you kindly paid me a visit a couple of weeks ago, we deliberated on the danger to our democracy, our common identity, our commonality of purpose, our dream and our unity in diversity.

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“We lamented the harm that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, by his action and inaction, has done and is doing to our commonwealth and our common heritage.

“Nigeria, in recent times, has not been so divided along religious and regional lines as at today with inexcusable killings and devastating poverty and with government reeling out and apparently incompetent to stem the tide except giving one unrighteous and unacceptable justification after the other.

“The obvious indication is that the government is seemingly confused and has got to the end of its tether and the nation is being left divisively and perilously to drift.

“Earlier last week, I noted in a speech some undesirable elements being allowed and being introduced to our democracy by this administration.

“If these are not stopped, they could be the death spell to our democracy. In spite of these unfortunate situations created by the government, my contact and consultation, which brought me face-to-face with peoples right and frustration, also gave me hope.

“People are not ready to live in despair and leave their fate and their present and future in the hands inept leadership for their lives to be ruined.

“I see common concern across the nation irrespective of tribe, religion, language and social standing that the situation should be retrieved and the nation should be saved.

“This is why l strongly believe that this meeting which is beyond politics, beyond religion, beyond economics, beyond status, is for saving the heart and soul of our nation through nonpartisan and all-embracing participation to dialogue for our present and our future.

“Because we do not dialogue enough, most of us live in ignorance of one another, burdened and influenced by received prejudices, biases and twisted history.

“The time has come when we should constantly dialogue among ourselves at different levels to inform, educate and enlighten ourselves and dispel bad influences.

“A lot of misgivings, misunderstanding, misperception, misrepresentation, erroneous beliefs and outdated ideas and concepts can be cleared and a lot can be achieved.

“This ‘Dialogues Amongst Ourselves’, which are starting today, must not be a once-and-for-all affair. We must dialogue often for our collective progress. And l have no doubt that this first one will be a huge success.

“We are in dialogue because we are concerned for our country. l will hold myself ready to lead the holding and hosting of the next one at our end after due consultation with you and with others.

“Dialogue removes tensions, clears the air, leads to sharing views and to understanding one another’s point of View. It promotes concord, harmony, cohesion, peace, security, inclusiveness, development and progress. It enthrones justice and equity and removes impunity,” he said.

Similarly, elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, lamented that the world was collapsing on everybody, stressing that the present government was becoming dictatorial.

While warning that there will be revolution, Chief Clark said: “We are now at a crossroad in this country. Everything is not just going well. We are leaving in a corrupt and extreme poverty society. Things are not just going well.”

“Our children and history will not forgive us if we fail to act like leaders and elders of this country. There will be revolution soon if things continues the way it is going.

“I don’t care who becomes the president in 2019 provided he has the capacity and competence to perform.

“As elders and leaders we must think of the future of our children. Look at the kind of governors we have now. The Military governors were even better than the present ones,” he noted.

For the convened, what necessitated the summit was that things have actually fallen apart which requires the intervention of the elders.

In his welcome and keynote address by Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who recently dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) charged President Buhari to show firmer and decisive leadership in dealing with the alarming scale of killings and other violent claims.

According to Baba-Ahmed, “The nation is facing unprecedented spate of violence from familiar sources as well many new fronts, with vast tracts of the nation completely at the mercy of marauding killers, inter-communal conflicts, violent crimes, kidnapping and violent urban gangs.

“The nation’s entire security and law and order assets appear incapable of arresting the drift towards pervasive and widespread conflicts and violent crimes which make every citizen a potential victim.

“Fear and uncertainty are fueling narratives that create convenient enemies, and many communities are in danger of coming to terms with permanent state of insecurity;

“The failure of the government to arrest and successfully prosecute killers is creating the impression of a weak state in which killers and criminals operate almost at will;

“Entire communities have been uprooted and placed at the mercy of an unprepared state and the elements. Livelihood will be disrupted for many years to come;

“Hate, suspicion and fear are driving dangerous barriers in community relations in many parts of the country, and governments themselves have been responsible for their spread.

“Federal and state governments have failed to put forward policies, initiatives or progammes that will improve citizen and community security, improve community relations or mediate conflicts;”Security, law and order agencies have not been held accountable for the disastrous collapse of the nation’s security infrastructure;

“The nation is potentially exposed to more violence as the police fails in its basic responsibilities, the military is stretched beyond its capacities and the challenges of the forthcoming elections will divert resources and attention from basic security responsibilities;

“I would offer these suggestions that President Buhari needs to show firmer and more decisive leadership in dealing with alarming scale of killings and other violent claims.

“It is the responsibility of leadership to secure the citizen, no matter what the sources or nature of threats to his life and property are,” he noted.

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