From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Nigeria’s Minister for Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that banditry, the Boko Haram insurgency and general insecurity in the country are responsible for some Nigerian groups agitating for secession.
In his opening remarks at a town hall on national security organised by his Ministry, held in Kaduna, Mohammed called on Nigerians to be united against insecurity rather than consider the break up of the country.
The theme of the meeting was tagged “Setting Benchmarks for Enhanced Security and National Unity in Nigeria.”
The Information Minister said the town hall meeting was part of measures and avenues to rally Nigerians to find lasting solutions to insecurity in the West African nation.
‘Ominously, the general state of insecurity, as reflected in incidences of farmers/herders clashes, Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, ethno-religious clashes and intolerance, cultism, drug addiction and kidnapping for ransom are now triggering rising calls for secession as well as politicisation of ethnic and religious differences,’ Alh Mohammed stated.
‘Bluntly put, the insecurity and its manifestations pose a dangerous threat to the unity of the country and its continued existence as one indivisible nation.
‘How did we get here and what can we do to change the narrative? We believe that finding a way out of the situation in which we have found ourselves requires teamwork, reflecting all diversities and leveraging on all our collective creativity to pursue with diligence the project of rescuing Nigeria.
‘Perhaps the correct starting point towards addressing these myriad of problems is the building of an “elite consensus” on the security, unity, indissolubility and peaceful existence of Nigeria. Such elite consensus had worked in the past. Can we make it work now and proffer solutions in order to stave off the threats to our unity as a nation?
‘This is why we have decided to bring all critical stakeholders together, under a town hall meeting setting, to deliberate on the issues and possibly reach a consensus on the way forward. We expect this town hall meeting to develop concrete, implementable resolutions, because a lot of talks and postulations had taken place with little or no requisite outcome.
‘For the record, the Ministry of Information and Culture launched the Town Hall Meeting series in Lagos on April 25th 2016 to provide a platform for the federal government to regularly give account of its stewardship to the people, get a feedback and input from them and, overall, to enhance citizens’ participation in governance. This town hall meeting here today is the 18th edition.
‘This town hall meeting – with the theme “Setting Benchmarks for Enhanced Security and National Unity in Nigeria” – is yet another in a series of efforts of government, in its expansive consultation with stakeholders, to address the twin issues of insecurity and its concomitant effect on our national unity and cohesion.
‘We have no doubt that with the seriousness of the issues involved, the expected contributions of a wide range of stakeholders and the quality of our panellists, this town hall meeting will go a long way in proffering solutions to what has now become an existential crisis.’