A former Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, has advocated a non-military solution to battle the insecurity bedeviling the country.
Yusuf, who said he played a key role along with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Muslim cleric, Sheik Abubakar Gumi, in negotiating freedom for the 27 abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in Kaduna State, spoke yesterday on 'The Morning Show,' a programme on ARISE NEWS CHANNEL, the broadcast arm of THISDAY newspapers.
Speaking on what he described as Obasanjo-Gumi peace initiative to arrest the degenerating insecurity in the country, Yusuf said it would be wrong and ill-advised for the federal government to pursue a military option as a means of ending the conflict in the country.
He said though the military could be used to maintain peace and curtail the activities of criminals, ending the threats by banditry, Boko Haram and groups like IPOB and OPC would not require military solution.
He said only genuine and properly negotiated reconciliation, rehabilitation and reparations could end the conflict and bring lasting peace to the country.
He said: "This is the honest reality. We need to accept that there is no military solution to all the issues of insecurity across the country. We need short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions to the problem.
"On short-term, and this exactly what we have started, open a trusted channel of communication and that is what Sheik Gumi has done. Secondly, there is a need to build confidence; there is so much distrust in the country.
"The third stage is the cessation of hostilities and number four - we need to have ceasefire by all. We need to have a ceasefire. Their grievances are mostly local with vigilantes, not with the federal government and we need to open channels of communications and secure ceasefire and that's what we are doing right now.
"The next stage or medium-term, we need to have three R's and one D. The first R is reconciliation and forgiveness all across the country. Fulanis have lived in peace with all people across the country and now they are fighting everybody everywhere they live. We need to have reconciliation and without it, nothing will work and that reconciliation is local and will not come from Abuja."
According to him, the second R is reparations, stating that many people have lost their lives and property and need to be compensated.
He stated that the third R represents the need for rehabilitation, adding that various farmers have lost their farmlands and sources of livelihoods.
He said the farmers needed to be rehabilitated and made to go back to their farms' businesses and markets for genuine peace to prevail.
Yusuf said repentant bandits needed to be rehabilitated as most of them were high on drugs and required special care and attention to restore them to normal lives.
Speaking on why Gumi recently visited Obasanjo in his residence at Ota in Ogun State, Yusuf said Gumi held the former president in high esteem and believed that with his credibility and wealth of experience both in resolving conflicts locally and globally, he would be able to help bring peace to the troubled parts of the country.
"Gumi went to brief him on what we are doing, solicit his support and to bring him on board," he said.
Yusuf identified the final aspect of the solution as disarmament, which would take the form of bilateral disarmament.
According to him, by bilateral disarmament, both the local vigilantes and the bandits would be disarmed simultaneously so that lasting peace could return to communities and to the nation.
Yusuf said the process of peace and reconciliation should be spearheaded by religious leaders- Christians and Muslims.
He stated that from the experiences and confessions obtained during meetings with the bandits and killer herdsmen, they were ready to accept reconciliation brokered by clerics.
Yusuf said he believed that religious leaders would be more effective in negotiating the resolution of the security crisis in the South-east, South-south and South-west.
Yusuf also spoke on the state of affairs in Kaduna State.
He accused the Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, of not showing good leadership in dealing with insecurity.
He alleged that Kaduna State has become an epicentre of insecurity in the country because of the governor's utterances.
"I said that Nasiru el-Rufai is deaf, dumb and blind with the sufferings of his people when it comes to insecurity. These children were in the custody of the bandits in the bush for 56 days and he said he wasn't going to talk to anyone. Five were lost and this was the first fatality in all the seven cases of school abduction so far.
"The governor is not showing good leadership when it comes to the issue of dealing with insecurity and securing the people's lives. I have said this before, and I stand by it. He was elected to protect the lives of the people not to endanger their lives but his continued unguarded utterances are endangering the people's lives," he said.