…No peace, no development – Akume
From NOAH EBIJE, Kaduna
Former Head of State, General Abubakar Abdulsalami, yesterday hit the nail on the head at the Arewa House Conference in Kaduna, telling his fellow Northerners the plain truth: “there is no unity among us as well as within the region, our socio-economic status would take 20 years to bounce back to limelight again.”
On his part, former Benue State governor, Senator George Akume, said it was a sad development for the present insecurity in the North, just as former Secretary of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said that the next two years will test the resilience and capacity of Northerners to return to reckoning.
Speaking with reporters shortly after chairing a session on “Security, politics and economy of the North,” on the second day of the conference with the theme: “The North and strategies for sustainable development,” Abdulsalami said the essence of the conference was to seek for unity among the people. He also urged the North to help government solve security challenges in the region, stressing that everybody must act as a watchdog of the country and the immediate environment.
Earlier in his address as the chairman of the session, the former Head of State lamented that a lot of socio-economic damages had been done to the North, arising from insecurity, saying that it would take more than 20 years to clean up the mess and revive the region. “Certainly, if there is unity, we wouldn’t be here at this conference, so since there is no unity, that is why the Arewa House is trying to galvanize it at this conference. It will take 20 years to revive the North.
A lot of socio-economic damages have been done. If you go round the areas that is when you will appreciate the extent of damage done to the region. We have to work together to revive it, he said. Senator Akume, who chaired another session on “Values and leadership,” said that it was sad that North is no longer safe for both its people and visitors.
He charged the people to imbibe hardwork, integrity, honesty, respect and determination to lift the region back to its lost glory. He said, “if there is no peace, development hardly takes place, no matter the determinations of the actors. The theme of this conference bears direct relevance to what is happening in the North. The topic for today is value and leadership. I do not intend to go into conceptual definition of values and leadership. In every society, there are norms and values, these are highly respected, respect for sanctity of human life, and where this is not respected, there is no way you can have peace. This is a very big challenge, particularly in the North.
“I am very sad that things are happening the way they are happening now. I was in Borno State about six months ago when my friend and brother, the Governor, Kashim Ibrahim, gave out his sister for marriage. We were about 30 persons that were supposed to go to Borno, but only eight of us decided to go. The others gave different reasons for not making it. We must imbibe the values of honour, respect, integrity, hardwork and determination because they have direct bearing on the development of the North.”
On his part, Baba-Ahmed said: “The next two years will test the resilience of the Nigerian state; and the capacity of Northerners to bounce back. Right now, the Boko Haram insurgency is eating it up like a cancer, and it will require bold initiatives by Northerners to find a solution, by influencing both the insurgency and the government. Not all Nigerians are comfortable with a united and strong North. Its current position therefore, is welcome to its detractors and rivals. They will not lift a finger to heal its wound. This will have to be done by people in this hall who feel the pain most.”