Eminent Nigerians including the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Samson Ayokunle, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'ad Abubakar, have warned that widespread insecurity across the country is the greatest threat to the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
Other individuals and groups who spoke in similar vein include the Secretary-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Okey Emuchay; the National Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress, INC, Ebipamowei Wodu; representative of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Prof.Yusuf Usman; Aare Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, the convener of Niger-Delta Self-Determination Movement, Ankio Briggs; a member of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Diaspora Government, Udeh Christian Iwuagwu, amongst others.
They spoke yesterday during the Inclusive Security Dialogue Retreat jointly organized by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa in Abuja, warning that there might be no election in 2023, if the current spate of insecurity in the country is not checked.
The CAN President, in his submission, said: "Care must be taken to ensure that the 2023 election does not become a sham. Insecurity, if it is not taken care of, by the government, there will be no 2023 general elections. Going by the present state of affairs in the country, are we sure the bandits and terrorists will not overrun the country before 2023? These criminals are moving from one level of sophistication and recklessness to another. Nigerians want a better society, and if we do not deal with this insecurity, I don't think there will be any election in 2023.
"Why has the government not deemed it fit to expose those financing terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria? For whose benefit are you hiding their identity? Nigerians want to know those who have put us in this mess as well as those who are siding and abetting them.
"If we are going to have a free and fair 2023 election, we must embrace 'homegrown democracy' which recognises our complexities and is ready to make sure that we distribute things fairly so that the six geo-political zones are drafted into the leadership of this country at all times so that every region will have a sense of belonging because no one wants to play the second fiddle."
Also, the Sultan of Sokoto, represented by the Co-chairman of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, Kunle Sanni, among others, said, "A lot of people have been arrested over banditry and terrorism, but how many of them have been jailed or executed? These people have killed thousands of people. Some people should pay for all these atrocities. The NSA and the service chiefs should all resign by now, because they have failed. Let us get new people with fresh ideas to confront the situation.
"The President, Muhammadu Buhari, knows how to recruit people to work for him, but he doesn't know how to sack them. Unless, we all speak up and tell each other the truth, there may be no Nigeria even in 2023. We don't pray so.
"In Nigeria, the bane of our problem is corruption. Anywhere people think there is money, a lot corrupt elements move to that side. The issue of insecurity in Nigeria is the new 'crude oil' because that is where the money is."
Speaking, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo scribe, Okey Emuchay, said "As soon as the issue of the Igbo presidency took a life of its own, the spate of insecurity heightened in the Southeast. Today, Anambra is under siege. People are being killed; public assets are being destroyed to the point where the State Governor has shutdown all the local government headquarters. It is that bad.
"We (Igbos) are part of Nigeria and no amount of intimidation or insecurity or blackmail will make us less Nigerians. We are the most federated of all the units in Nigeria and we have contributed to the utmost development of every part of the country. We have paid our dues in Nigeria."
On his part, representative of NEF, Prof. Yusuf Usman, argued that Nigeria's slide into anarchy began with the scrapping of history as a stand alone subject from the school curriculum, noting that the elders had lost control of the youths across the country.
He argued that banditry was not a military problem, but a social issue which must be addressed through justice and social reorientation.
While Udeh Christian Iwuagwu, a member of IPOB Diaspora Government, said the solution to Nigeria's insecurity was linked to restructuring of the federation, he called for a referendum to allow the people determine how they want to be governed.
Also, the Secretary of the INC, Ebipamowei Wodu, decried the economic injustices of faced by the Niger-Delta people even as Ms. Ankio Briggs said the requirement of 'State of Origin' in government activities was divisive and should not be encouraged by all and sundry.
Earlier, the facilitator of the retreat, Bishop Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha, said as "Nigeria treads the path to yet another election in 2023, it is imperative that all stakeholders join hands to tackle these problems. We must deliberately choose to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Men of good conscience and consciousness must rise above ethnic sentiments and religious fanaticism to address these bedeviling challenges as our common enemy.
"In dealing with the security situation in Nigeria, we must stop ethicizing it. We must rise to salvage our generation and no one can do it for us. The time for silence and wringing our hands in helplessness must stop. Let us take hope home, and reassure the people that peace exists in the threshold."