PETER OKORE, Umuahia
Nigerian elites and leaders have recently been warned to desist from acts capable to endangering the security of the country. Worried by the growing political intolerance and emotional outbursts coming from different parts of the country, A senior clergy, Bishop Sunday Onuoha has called for a change of attitudes by political leaders to ensure peace and unity of the country.
Disturbed by the prevailing circumstances in the country, a Methodist Bishop Onuoha warned against invitation of another civil war in the country, Nigeria. He has consequently called for a new political order as solution to the nation’s numerous problems.
Speaking on the sidelines of security challenges, 51 years after the Nigerian-Biafra war, he said comments and actions of individuals in the country were troubling and called on Nigerians, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic divide, to be careful in drawing lines of arguments.
Bishop Onuoha, who is also President of an Umuahia-based Radio station – Vision Africa International, and a 2013 Peace Award Winner, Onuoha has said:”I am worried about utterances of individuals in this country, including the high and mighty. Such unguarded utterances have potentials of tearing the country apart, if the targets react in like-manner. War-ravaged countries of the world have never told good stories regarding its effects on their economy, women and children.”
The Co-Chair Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, however, blamed the looming war on what he described as, “a result of failed and unfulfilled promises made by the political class to the common-man on the streets and villages during their campaigns for votes”.
”One can easily hear the cries of individuals as he/she move along the streets of major cities and rural communities in Nigeria. In fact, I envisage a looming war between the poor and the rich in Nigeria. But, God forbid such!”
The Methodist Bishop recounted the experiences, regrets and pains that accompanied the last Nigeria/Biafra war and stressed that such despicable experiences have made him to dislike war in all its entirety. To him, such will only destabilize the country and relegate to the background, all that past and present leaders of a country fought so hard to achieve.
He called on those fuelling violence from different parts of Nigeria, including terrorists and members of Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association, and others to sheath their swords and tow the path of peace and negotiations; since, as he put it:
”Absence of peace means anarchy, which is inimical to the development of any nation, just as any act of violence, including banditry, high-level corruption, kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgents, will further throw Nigeria in chaos”.
He highlighted a number of happenings which have led Nigeria into the present quagmire to include the high level of confusion in the Nigerian system, inability of leaders to take responsibility, high unemployment rate, oppression of the poor by the few rich people , corruption, abandonment of thugs to their fate by politicians who employ them to win elections, little or no value placed on the incessant killings in the country and so on.
Onuoha charged the Federal Government to fish-out the criminal elements obstructing good governance; destroying farmlands, raping women, kidnapping people in different parts of the country, pointing out that those herdsmen committing all forms of atrocities in various farmlands, where people earn their daily livings, do not actually represent the traditional cattle farmers known by Nigerians many years ago.
”Government must, as a matter of urgency, identify and punish these unscrupulous elements terrorising the citizenry, who go about their legitimate businesses in different parts of the country. Once injustice and insecurity remain unchecked, people will subscribe to self- protection in defending their lands and property”.
The cleric is also pained by the recent quit orders/ notice(s) given to groups/individuals in some parts of Nigeria. To him, such notice(s), if not properly handled, is/are capable of causing war between groups. He, therefore, urged governments, at all levels, to mediate in such situations to forestall any breach of the peace in the various geo-political zones and Nigeria at large
“Nigeria needs to re-strategize on her political situations as well as re-engineer the will- power and the political constituencies that can serve the purpose. Limited access to justice remains a great threat to sustainable peace, the world over”.
With the Nigerian debt profile standing at about N32.2trillion, as at last quarter of 2020 (according to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS) he appealed to the Federal Government to think of the future generation and end all borrowings.
“Stop mortgaging the future of the younger generation through incessant borrowing to fund the 2021 National Budget. It is important for the Federal Government to define its plans for this New Year and do away with old habits. Borrowing appears sweet, but always hard to pay back
“One thing about borrowing, is that while doing it, it appears enjoyable, but where the problem sets in is, when you don’t have any hope of paying back; or when you haven’t invested wisely with the borrowed money; hence problem may ensue at this point.
“Borrowing may not be a bad idea if you invest and make judicious use of it. But , in the Nigerian context, where there is recession, a lot may not be achieved in terms of pay- back, because those monies go into servicing of old debts without any proper investment or plans to invest”.
“The Federal Government should invest in the youths, who have potentials to unlock grey areas to the benefit of the entire country. Investing in them will take care of restiveness and all manners of agitations being witnessed in the country in recent times. Another area for massive investment is in the agricultural sector, particularly, now that the mad-rush for Nigeria’s oil has reduced. If proper attention is given to this sector (agriculture), it has all it takes to assist Nigeria offset it’s multiplicity of debts”.
It will be recalled that leaders and elites across Nigeria, including Bishop Matthew Kukah, Professor Pat Utomi, Onyeka Onwenu, Pa Ayedele Adebanjo, during a virtual conference on the topic “Never again: 51 years after the Nigerian-Biafra civil war”, called for re-engineering of the nation’s constitution to strengthen the unity of Nigeria and cure the wounds of civil war.
Also other leaders of various fields of human endeavours , including Chief Mbazurike Amaechi, Dr Hakeen Baba-Ahmed, Mr Peter Obi and Prof. Ladi Hamalai in their respective comments agreed that Nigeria can be fixed again, but that there has to be a review of many factors, like ending corruption, insecurity, injustice and , unemployment, among others. They urged the elites to come together to iron- out -how Nigeria can solve her problems.