Two former presidents - Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) - Sunday canvassed for dialogue between government and "all armed belligerents" to check the spate of insecurity in the country, suggesting that the security challenges in the country should be addressed from the grassroots level.
The duo, who decried the wanton destruction of lives and property in the country arising from the activities of terrorists and other criminals, said no nation could develop with rising insecurity.
They advocated, in a joint statement, concerted efforts by all tiers of government to promote genuine constructive engagement as a panacea for resolving the current security challenges.
They said unless constructive dialogue is embarked on, the gains of the country's founding fathers would be in vain.
According to Obasanjo and Babangida, "Internecine crises are raging across the land unabated with damaging consequences on the social, political and economic life of the nation. And in the process, untold hardships are being visited on all citizens in one form or another on a daily basis.
"The loss of innocent lives being experienced by the day across the nation is simply unbearable. Currently, the nation is gripped by a regime of fear and uncertainty that virtually all citizens have difficulties going about their normal day-to-day lives without great anxiety and trepidation. This cannot be allowed to continue!"
They noted the nation's state of insecurity has caused "pervasive cynicism" among Nigerians who have lost faith in the nation's unity.
"The people of this country must not allow whatever sense of frustration, fear and despair we are experiencing now to supersede our hopes for a collective destiny which lies in our continued existence as a nation.
"For us, and we believe for millions of other Nigerians, the continued unity of this nation is not only priceless but non-negotiable," they said.
Obasanjo and Babangida said they were aware of the efforts various tiers of government were making to confront the escalating security challenges across the country and urged government to intensify efforts to restore hope in the people.
"Whatever robust security measures are put in place to contain the situation, as is normal in such circumstances; they must be complemented with an equally intensive process of community involvement.
"We therefore urge all governments in the country, starting with all the 774 local councils, to comprehensively engage their communities at the various levels including: elders, youth organisations, trade unions and associations, women bodies, the clergy and other community stakeholders.
"We also call on the federal and state governments not only to encourage these grassroots engagements for peace and beneficial coexistence but should work out the framework to sustain the engagement.
"In all these efforts, it is important to emphasise that our diversity is a course for celebration not a cause for lamentation," Obasanjo and Babangida added.
"As the Holy month of Ramadan commences, Nigerians, wherever they are and whatever religion they profess, are accorded a great opportunity to turn the tide against insecurity, violence and hatred.
"Religious leaders, in particular, have an even greater challenge to use the immense virtues of this holy period to inculcate among the millions of citizens the spirit of mutual respect, humility and forgiveness.
"Ample opportunities are therefore at hand to bring all armed belligerents to the table for meaningful dialogue with the authorities for our future and that of our children and grandchildren," they said.
The two former presidents reiterated that no meaningful development could occur in an atmosphere of violence and hatred.
According to them, "History has shown that any society that is built on the structures of violence and intolerance cannot prosper.
"We need to appreciate that God in His infinite mercy has blessed our country with abundant resources and talents, but we need peace and harmony to harness them not just for our own well-being but also that of our children and grandchildren. We owe the future generations of Nigerians this much."
They pledged to do whatever is necessary to promote the quest for peace and harmony, stating that they were ready to join hands with all patriots to sustain and further enhance the unity and progress of this country.