From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Black Civil Rights activist and former Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in the United States of America, Reverend Jesse Jackson, has said Nigeria would not disintegrate despite the security challenges confronting the country over the 2015 Presidential election.
He, however, urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to hesitate to dialogue with the Boko Haram sect at the expiration of the state of emergency declared in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states.
Jackson, who spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, in a paper entitled “Oil and Peace: Compatibility for Sustainable Growth in Nigeria”, at the 2013 edition of the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro Day, dismissed doomsday predictions that the ongoing security challenges and agitations by politicians because of the 2015 presidential election will trigger secession.
He said Nigeria must remain one and a united nation, and explained that the issue of terrorism is a global phenomenon and the people involved are killing innocent people to attract attention.
“But it should be known that when one has democracy, issues can be resolved through non-violent means. You can create a new leadership and take over leadership with the right message of change. You have the right to peaceful protest and the free Press. So, you don’t need to kill somebody before you can be heard. You can be heard by simply sitting down and talking.
There is problem in democracy when people cannot talk and be heard to change things. These people tend to speak in a voice that would be heard. When people fail to be heard and participate, it becomes a valueless democracy,” he said.
On deployment of troops to troubled states, Jackson making reference to the American example stated that the deployment of drones has not been palatable.
He therefore, said the Federal Government must explore more ways to resolve conflicts, adding that the country must move from the battlefield and return to the negotiating table.
His words: “The country must spend more time on conflict resolution. You cannot put out the pains of the suppressed people in that way. You must resolved conflict with justice.
“Nigeria must be determined to achieve a united Nigeria to achieve joy. That is a Nigerian decision. States have their place and traps have their traditions. But the ultimate protection should be one Nigeria. One Nigeria must be achieved for the country to achieve power. Nigeria must not disintegrate and must remain strong with or without doomsday predictions on the acts of violence and terrorism, the issues must be resolved through negotiation and not separation. In America, we had the South threatening to secede, but the President fought to keep the union.
I think the amnesty must work and the conditions fully honoured. Amnesty must involve the economic restitution, the jobs and training. “I hope the country will soon get away from the battlefield and get to the negotiation table. In the end, it will be the bargaining table. It is not the battlefield that wins victory. You cannot battle forever. You can bargain and resolve conflict in the North. Bargaining does not mean weakness or fear, but it means maturity and good thinking.
Chief Edwin Clark in his solidarity message pointed out that the agitation by South-South leaders over the 2015 election is not to plan secession but only appealing to the northern political establishment to allow Jonathan continue his good works in 2015.
Former presidential adviser to former President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, argued that it was wrong and an act of ignorance for some politicians in the South to claim that the insurgency in the North is targeted at destabilizing the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
He insisted that the northern geo-political zone had always supported the South-South in any political aspirations. Governor Henry Seriake Dickson stated that Nigeria had grown into a more matured and integrated country.
“The challenge we have as nation is a united, prosperous, egalitarian and democratic Nigeria. We need to promote a Nigeria that is free from terrorism and one that is not torn to pieces by terrorism, ethnicity and religious bigotry.