Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
It was lamentations galore at the Extraordinary Summit of Leaders and Elders of Nigeria in Abuja yesterday. Several elder statesmen decried what they called wanton killings and the deplorable situation in the country.
Speaker after speaker from the major and minor ethnic nationalities in Nigeria agreed that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government lacks the capacity and competence to re-direct the country.
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In his keynote address, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said Buhari’s action and inaction have done harm to the commonwealth and common heritage of the country.
Represented by the former governor of Osun state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who read the letter he sent to the chief convener of the summit, Prof Ango Abdullahi, Obasanjo said elders must join forces to save the country.
Obasanjo said: “When you kindly paid me a visit a couple of weeks ago, we deliberated on the danger to our democracy, our common identity, our commonality of purpose, our dream and our unity in diversity.
“We lamented the harm that the present administration of president Buhari, by his action and inaction, have done and is doing to our commonwealth and our common heritage.
“Nigeria, in recent times, has not been so divided along religious and regional lines as at today, with inexcusable killings, devastating poverty, with government reeling out and apparently incompetent to stem the tide except giving one unrighteous and unacceptable justification after the other.
“The obvious indication is that government is seemingly confused and has got to the end of its tether and the nation is being left divisively and perilously to drift.
“Earlier last week, I noted in a speech some undesirable elements being allowed and being introduced to our democracy by this administration. If these are not stopped, they could be the death knell to our democracy. In spite of these unfortunate situations created by the government, my contact and consultation, which brought me face-to-face with peoples right and frustration, also gave me hope.
People are not ready to live in despair and leave their fate and their present and future in the hands inept leadership for their lives to be ruined…
“This is why l strongly believe that this meeting, which is beyond politics, beyond religion, beyond economics, beyond status, is for saving the heart and soul of our nation through nonpartisan and all-embracing participation to dialogue for our present and our future.
“Because we do not dialogue enough, most of us live in ignorance of one another, burdened and influenced by received prejudices, biases and twisted history.
“The time has come when we should constantly dialogue among ourselves at different levels to inform, educate and enlighten ourselves and dispel bad influences. A lot of misgivings, misunderstanding, misperception, misrepresentation, erroneous beliefs and outdated ideas and concepts can be cleared and a lot can be achieved.
“This ‘Dialogues Amongst Ourselves, which are starting today, must not be a once-and-for-all affair. We must dialogue often for our collective progress. And l have no doubt that this first one will be a huge success.
“We are in dialogue because we are concerned for our country. l will hold myself ready to lead the holding and hosting of the next one at our end after due consultation with you and with others,” he said.
Similarly, Chief Edwin Clark, lamented that the world is collapsing on everybody, and stressed that the present government is becoming dictatorial.
He said: “We are now at a crossroad in this country. Everything is not just going well. We are living in a corrupt and extreme poverty society.
“Things are not just going well. Our children and history will not forgive us if we fail to act like leaders and elders of this country. There will be revolution soon if things continues the way it is going.
“I don’t care who becomes the president in 2019 provided he has the capacity and competence to perform. As elders and leaders, we must think of the future of our children. Look at the kind of governors we have now. The military governors were even better than the present ones,” he noted.
For the convener, what necessitated the summit is that things have actually fallen apart, requiring the intervention of elders.
In his welcome and keynote address, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who recently dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC), charged Buhari to show firmer and decisive leadership in dealing with the alarming scale of killings and other violent claims.
“The nation is facing unprecedented spate of violence from familiar sources as well as many new fronts, with vast tracts of the nation completely at the mercy of marauding killers, intercommunal conflicts, violent crimes, kidnapping and violent urban gangs.
“The nation’s entire security and law and order assets appear incapable of arresting the drift towards pervasive and widespread conflicts and violent crimes which make every citizen a potential victim. Fear and uncertainty are fueling narratives that create convenient enemies and many communities are in danger of coming to terms with permanent state of insecurity.
“The failure of government to arrest and successfully prosecute killers is creating the impression of a weak state in which killers and criminals operate almost at will…,” Baba-Ahmed noted.