Saka Bolaji, Minna
Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), has lamented that Nigeria is currently on edge.
Abubakar said that Nigeria is at the moment going through a period of trial amidst growing tensions and resentment all over the country, adding that there is anger in the land as the voices of reason are drowning rapidly.
The former head of state advised that the situation requires that both retired and present political leaders and other patriotic Nigerians live up to the expectations of a nation that puts so much value on elders and leaders.
He stated this in his opening remarks at the commencement of a two- day round-table to address issues of national concerns held by the Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development Studies which took place at Maizube Farm House, off Minna Bida Road in Niger State.
At the occasion which had in attendance the crème of the Nigerian society were Lt. Generals Alani Akirinade, former General Officer Commanding 1st Mechanised Division, Kaduna; Lt. Gen. Mathew Agwai, former Chief of Defence Staff, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Others were Alfred Diete Spiff, the Emir of Minna, Alhaji (Dr.)Umaru Farouq Bahago and his counterpart from Kazaure in Katsina State, Alhaji (Dr.)/Najib Hussain Adamu, and Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Chairman, Northern Elders Forum among others,
He added that the centre has taken cognisance of the varied indices in drawing up the list of individuals, groups and platforms, stressing that everyone invited is eminently qualified and represents interests, and perspectives of the nature of the issues and the solutions needed to resolve them.
“We are all here as Nigerians who share responsibility for the state of our nation. Therefore, if any forum can help in the accurate identification of the problems and solutions for a united Nigeria, let us be counted as one of such fora.
“It is in this light that the invitation to this forum was extended to a wide range of organisations and platforms as stakeholders,” the ex-head of state added.
He, however, described as unfortunate that some of the invitees were unable to attend while others sent in their contributions, saying that nation building is a continuous process that provides opportunities for continuous dialogue.
Also, Prof. Gambari in his remarks, said separation is not the solution to Nigeria’s problems, adding that those who think that is the solution to the ongoing problems bedevilling the country should go and see what has happened in former Yugoslavia.
He stressed that India and Pakistan were once one country until 1947 when they were divided into two, arguing that up till today they are still fighting one another.
“Separation is not a solution to people that circumstances, hope and aspirations have brought together as citizens of the same country while dialogue should not be seen as a soft option, but rather as a tough option,” he stated.
The former United Nations official pointed out that in intra- state conflicts, like in Nigeria presently, there can be no real solution to the ongoing conflicts bedevilling the country while at the same time it may appear as unattractive and even impossible.
He further argued that “when we have a problem, we send the military there, but the reality is that by my own experience, there can be no military solution to political problems, therefore, there is no alternative to dialogue.
“You don’t negotiate with friends, rather you negotiate with those you sometimes find as enemies and in trying to bring a situation or conflicts under control, you have to look for common grounds, but if it doesn’t exist, you must have to create it because it is by creating the common grounds that people can stand on their feet possibly on their grounds because it is within the common grounds.
“And a successful mediator is the one that builds common grounds so that there is a common framework to act on, while peace building goes hand in hand with conflicts resolution. And there is this tendency that after you have ended the conflicts, peace building has to continue hand in hand with resolving conflicts.”
Prof. Gambari stated further that peace building is a lot with intricacies and more difficult, while it is to meant to build institutions that are broken and to address the root causes of the conflicts with the view to build the foundation for sustainable peace in the society.
Also speaking, Governor Abubakar Sani -Bello commended the centre for being in the fore front of initiating programmes and dialogue, informing decision making, raising awareness through public discourse, creating robust- based knowledge as well as building capacities of relevant stakeholder with the view to preventing conflicts and enhancing inclusive discussions that are critical to the resolution of crisis and fostering sustainable development in Nigeria.
The governor, who was unavoidably absent at the occasion, was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane.
Also present at the round-table were a former NCCIMA boss, Alhaji Umaru Ndanusa, General IBM Haruna (rtd.), Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, former CBN deputy governor, Amb. Zubairu Dada, Mrs. Josephine Annenih, Justice Fati Abubakar, Amb. Lawrence Agubuzu, Maj. Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd), Dr. Lawrence Azuzu from Enugu State, representatives of the National Security Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu, the Sardauna of Minna and Prof. Awaal Yadudu from Ado Bayero University, Kano among others.