With ethnic conflicts breaking out in different parts of the country in recent times, former Nigerian military head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, warned on Tuesday that Nigeria was in grave danger of disintegrating.
He, therefore, pleaded with Nigerians to be instruments of peace wherever they are and in whatever they do, noting that it was time they spoke in unison in the face of common challenges.
Abdulsalami equally called on traditional institutions, religious leaders, as well as development associations, including non-governmental organizations, to join hands in building bridges of understanding amongst the country’s diverse ethnic nationalities.
The former head of state spoke to journalists at his hilltop residence in Minna, the Niger State capital, expressing the urgent need for every Nigerian to join hands in bringing about solutions rather than compounding the multi-faceted problems the country was currently faced with.
Abdulsalami, who is also the chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), said he was concerned over attacks in parts of the country and called on state governors to urgently take full responsibility in managing the divergent voices and frustrations capable of fueling disunity, anarchy, and full disintegration.
Clashes between Yoruba and Hausa traders broke out weekend at Shasha Market in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on the heels of conflicts between Fulani herders and Yoruba indigenes in Ogun State, which have drawn reactions across the country.
Alluding to these and other recent conflicts, Abdulsalami said: “As if the continued insurgency, the kidnapping, and armed robbery are not cupful, the recent happenings in some parts of the country, especially of ethnic attacks, is unfortunate and is adding to the problems we already have as a people.”
The former president who called for a multi-faceted approach that would bring about peace said: “In the last two weeks or so, tension is growing and embers of disunity, anarchy and disintegration are spreading fast and, if care is not taken, this might lead us to a point of no return for our country, Nigeria.
“We at the National Peace Committee wish to add our voice to the voices of millions of Nigerians calling for calm in these difficult times.
“The times we are in now demand that we all join hands together to resolve our challenges so as to keep our country united. We do not have the luxury of trading blames now.”
He added: “Thousands of our people are homeless and are refugees across the length and breadth of their own country.
“We know the difficulties that our farmers have faced in the past few years and harvests will be a serious challenge this year.”
Abdulsalami pointed out that everything seemed to be fast falling apart in the country and challenged Nigerians at home and in the diaspora to “let us all rally together in these hard times, make the required sacrifices and remain vigilant, standing by one another”.
He appealed to governors of various states where tempers are fast rising to plead with their people to sheathe their swords and “tone down their rhetoric and take full responsibility in managing divergent voices and frustrations”.
According to him, “It is true that we are all in a state of fear and collective anxiety.
“However, the last thing we need right now is for the enemy to sense a lack of unity on our part or a break in our ranks and we shouldn’t allow that.”
Abdulsalami challenged the service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police to rise up to the urgent demands of their responsibilities at the moment.
“You need to rally your troops quickly and design the best strategy for ending this tragic war that has continued to consume and destroy the foundations of Nigeria.
“We hope that based on their field experiences in this 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 calamity.”
He said it was important for traditional institutions, religious leaders, as well as development associations, including non-governmental organisations, to work towards mobilising Nigerians on the need to live in peace with one another.
While appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari for exploring all possible measures to ensure that tensions are lowered, Abdulsalami encouraged traditional rulers, religious leaders, and development associations to be instruments of peace in whatever they do.