Recently, the Federal Government, through the Nigeria Police, made another attempt at resolving the perennial insecurity problems in Nigeria. The National Security Summit brought together the political elite and the traditional institutions , an indication of the importance of the programme. EMMANUEL ONANI reports
The gathering was unusual. The guests were special and the conversation/ presentations were seminal in content, and rhetorical in form.
The above aptly captured the atmosphere at the Abuja International Conference Centre (ICC) last Thursday, when governors, traditional rulers of note, eminent personalities, and other critical stakeholders gathered to interrogate the emerging threat to national security and unity – herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes.
The hydra-headed nature of this security challenge, coupled with its potency within the national security equation, has caused many to shudder.
It was against this backdrop, that the convergence of governors and foremost traditional rulers like the Sultan of Sokoto, Alh. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar; the Amayanabo of Nembe Kingdom, King Edmund Daokoru, among others, was seen as timely.
Governors of Benue (Dr. Samuel Ortom), Kaduna (Mallam El- Rufai), Gombe (Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo), among others, were in attendance.
The “August Assembly” in May was, essentially, put together to proffer solutions to the killings across the country, occasioned by herdsmen/farmers’ clashes.
They had gathered in the name of the 2017 National Security Summit, which was summoned by the Nigeria Police, in conjunction with National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, as well as Leadership.
It had the theme: “Forging Partnership For Effective Strategies To Curb The Menace Of Kidnapping, Recurring Farmers -Herders Clashes And Criminality in Nigeria.”
Speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the event, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar, lamented the non-implementation of recommendations from previous summits.
It was the monarch’s considered view, that had past recommendations on this subject matter and other security-related challenges enjoyed corresponding implementation, the need for another “congregation” would not have arisen.
He said: “Why is it that we keep talking about the same issues? We are never short of recommending solutions to our problems.
If we are committed, honest and patriotic, we won’t sit here again, talking about the same issues. “It is important to know that we must be honest with ourselves.
Let’s have this as a forum that would take decisions, go back and implement them. Our problem is implementation either due to insincerity or selfishness.
“A criminal is a criminal, irrespective of who he is. We must work together with security agencies to arrest and prosecute criminals.
“National security must be placed above individual liberty. You cannot claim freedom of ex-pression and insult everybody and cause problem.”
In his own intervention, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi, stressed the need to invest in morals, and for the Nigerian state to be fair to all.
“He said: “I have a different spin to the security issues in Nigeria.
We are all concerned but we should invest in moral value, equity, in the strength of our diversity. If we focus more on these, the menace and security challenges would not be this much.
“We should ask why people are greedy; why people are not just and fair in their dealings; why are people taking sides?
We should look at all these and if we focus on all the fundamental issues, we will not have all the challenges. If we invest in our diversity, which is our strength, then we won’t have security issues like it is witnessed presently.
“The youths constitute over 70 per cent of the population and the rate of criminality is high amongst youths.
There is the need to invest in morals because most of the crimes perpetrated are done by people between the ages of 18 and 50. It is rare for you to find people above 70 committing crimes.”
Also speaking, Ortom identified “ranching” as the panacea for peace. Ortom’s state seems to be the worst hit.
Hear him: “I propose that we practice what is done in other countries; just the way we embraced democracy, which was not our original idea. I feel we should borrow ranching because it is the global best practice.
“Ranching cannot be done overnight. The herdsmen need support and they need new orientation.
That (ranching) is the only thing that would bring lasting peace. We are not sending the herdsmen out but we do not have land for grazing.”
It remains to be seen if the Police and other security agencies, will unite the elegance of speakers and the fecundity of interventions, in a deliberate attempt at taming this raging monster, which many argue, may be as virulent as the Boko Haram insurgency.