By Bukola Saraki
1. I have watched with concern the recent development in Oyo and Ondo States in which quit notices were given to Fulani herders and there were subsequent burning of the property of the Fulani herdsmen in some parts of Oyo State. These happenings have increased tension and unduly raised the temperature in the country.
2. The ugly development in these two states are symptomatic of the continued threat to the unity of our country that we have witnessed on a higher scale in recent times and in different parts of the country, including the South-East
and South-South zones.
3. At this point, I strongly appeal to all of us to work for peace and take initiatives that can douse tension. Both the elite and ordinary people have a responsibility to begin to take measures that will reassure the people across board that a united Nigeria will benefit everybody better than a disintegrated country.
4. The deafening silence by key stakeholders, leaders and others who we think should speak out is worrisome. This silence is a dangerous tell-tale sign that things are wrong. This is not good for our country. We must all speak out and talk about the solution to this twin-problem of insecurity and threat to national unity.
5. We all do not have another country to call our own other than this one country, Nigeria. We need to live in peace with each other and it is my prayer that Almighty God will continue to preserve the unity of the country. I have the conviction that there are many more things that unite us than the few points that cause disagreement among us. Let me use my case as an example of why this country should continue to grow as one united and progressive entity. I am of Fulani origin and have a Yoruba mother. My father was a Muslim and mother is Christian. Thus, I am affected on all sides by any inter-ethnic tension in this country. I am sure there are many Nigerians that are in similar situation.
6. Also, a united Nigeria is better for the entire world than a disintegrated country. The relevance of Nigeria in the international community is due to her size, population and collective resources. Any attempt at disintegration removes the cloak of importance around Nigeria in the global community. We must all strive to douse the tension and keep our country together. This is definitely not the country we inherited from our forebears and it is not what we intend to pass on to the generation after us.
7. I appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to provide leadership. Mr. President, take measures that will reassure all and sundry that you are working on the problems and that nobody should lose interest in a united, peaceful and progressive Nigeria.
8. It is important for President Muhammadu Buhari to rally all interests and everybody at the leadership levels to a round table in order to discuss and find appropriate solutions. Let me reiterate my earlier suggestion that President Buhari should call all relevant politicians and stakeholders together – former heads of states, retired and serving security chiefs, present and former leaders of various arms of government, traditional rulers with relevant experience, experienced youth with the technological know-how to solve security problems and even international civil servants of Nigerian origin who can help. Everybody must be made to contribute ideas on how to save our country from insecurity, disunity and invasion by criminals. Mr. President, please, call everybody together and provide the much needed leadership to solve the problem. This is a period that require all hands to be on deck. This is not the time to talk of APC or PDP. It is a time for all to work for Nigeria. This is a problem for all and should be solved by all.
9. I want to also make a passionate plea to my brothers, Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, both of whom are experienced legislators, to provide far-reaching legislative intervention that will help the executive arm in the search for peace. The situation is getting worse by the day. Insecurity has become the order of the day and it is fueling disunity and criminal activities.
10. Let me also call on all politicians who are looking towards 2023 to take over power to start pondering on what type of Nigeria will they have to administer post-2023 if the current situation continues. It is better for all of us to join hands together NOW to quell the raging fire of disunity, insecurity and work to mend fences. I know some politicians will not be able to contribute ideas if they are not called upon to do so by those who currently have governmental responsibility to do so. However, please don’t keep quiet when called upon. We must all intervene as patriots and forget our personal interests. For the sake of our forebears who handed over this country to us, we must work hard to make things better so that when we meet them, we will have a good account to give that we improved on what was handed over to us.
11. In the meantime, let all stakeholders speak up on the danger confronting and diminishing our great country. The attitude of keeping quiet and ‘Sidon look’ while waiting for the next election to start making promises will not help any one. What type of election or country are we going to have in 2023 if the current situation persists? A stitch in time saves nine.
Saraki, is the immediate Past President of the 8th Senate and Wazirin Ilorin.
By Bukola Saraki