Former president Olusegun Obasanjo and former military president Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida have expressed concern over the growing state of insecurity in the country and called for scaling up of efforts to confront the security challenges.
Obasanjo and Babangida, in a joint statement yesterday, said it was also worrisome for them that the growing insecurity has led to cynicism among Nigerians.
They said the time has come for all tiers of government, especially the local government, to put in place measures that will put a stop to the insecurity in the country.
The statement entitled "A call for peace, tolerance and dialogue" reads in parts: "Unfolding events over the last few years were threatening to unravel nearly a century old labour of Nigeria's founding fathers and subsequent generations in building a strong, united, peaceful nation to accommodate and cater for the needs and aspirations of diverse communities.
"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." The statement added that the nation is gripped by a regime of fear and uncertainty that has made it difficult for virtually all citizens to go about their normal day-to-day lives without great anxiety and trepidation that cannot be allowed to continue.
"A deeply worrying trend that is emerging from this terrible situation is that a pervasive cynicism is beginning to set in, so much so that millions of true Nigerian patriots are starting to question the platform upon which the unity of this country rests. This is simply untenable. 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," it declared.
The former leaders said whatever robust security measures are put in place to contain the situation must be complemented with an equally intensive process of community involvement. and urged 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 union and associations, women bodies, the clergy and other community stakeholders. They also called on the federal and state governments not only to encourage the grassroots engagements for peace and beneficial coexistence but to also work out the framework to sustain the engagement. "In all these efforts, it is important to emphasise that our diversity is a cause for celebration not a cause for lamentations.
"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 table for meaningful dialogue with the authorities for our future and that of our children and grandchildren," the joint statement said.
It reiterated that no meaningful development can ever occur in an atmosphere of violence and hatred as history has shown that any society that is built on the structures of violence and intolerance cannot prosper and urged all Nigerians to appreciate that, God in His infinite mercy, has blessed the country with abundant resources and talents, but we stressed that need peace and harmony to harness them not just for our own wellbeing but also that of our children and grandchildren.
"On our part, we are ready to do whatever is possible to promote the quest for peace and harmony. And we are ready to join hands with all patriots to sustain and further enhance the unity and progress of this country," the two former leaders said.
Gunmen kill 2 Air Force men, 2 businessmen in Kano
Meanwhile, two Air Force officers and two businessmen were yesterday killed by gunmen in separate attacks carried out in Kano metropolis.
The two officers were shot dead around Sa'adatu Rimi College, along Zaria Road, at about 11.30am, while the two businessmen were killed in Walawai area in Hotoro Quarters.
Gunshots in Damaturu
In a related development, two soldiers and a policeman, were wounded during the confrontation in Damaturu, Yobe State while the State Pilgrims Welfare Board Complex was seriously damaged.
Suicide bomber, 3 gunmen killed during failed attack on Janbulo mosque
An explosion and sporadic gunshots were heard yesterday night at the Janbulo area, along Bayero University Kano Road of Kano, following a failed attempt by a suicide bomber who ran into a mosque in the area.
An eyewitness said the suicide bomber reportedly ran past in a vehicle in an attempt to kill the Muslim faithful praying in the mosque.
A member of the vigilante group providing security in the area suspected the movement of the suicide bomber and therefore alerted the police who countered the plan.
According to the source, the incident which occurred around 8.30 pm drew the attention of several people who ran helter-skelter to avoid the cross-fire between the gunmen and the police who were on hand to counter the attack.
The commissioner of police ,Kano State command, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, confirmed the incident, saying that three of the gunmen were killed during the attack.
"The suicide bomber was burnt beyond recognition and three of the gunmen were killed instantly," a source in the command told our correspondent."
The state police commissioner, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, said some of the gunmen attempted to attack a mosque in the area but were confronted by policemen who engaged them in a gun battle resulting in the death of four of the gunmen.
Mr. Idris told reporters Sunday night that security personnel had taken control and cordoned off the whole area after the attack.
A vehicle, rounds of ammunition and an AK-47 gun were found with the gunmen during the attack, the state command of the police confirmed.