Following the recent tension occasioned by activities of suspected kidnapper-Fulani herdsmen and subsequent reactions of indigenes of Oyo and Ondo States, former President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki has strongly appealed for peace and initiatives that will douse the brewing of a violent clash.
In a statement he signed, Senator Saraki said “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.”
The former number three man in Nigeria express worry that certain stakeholders who ought to speak up and address the issues have remained silent while it escalated.
Saraki, in the statement said: “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.
“I have watched with concern the recent development in Oyo and Ondo States in which quit notices were given to Fulani herders and there was 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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
The former governor of Kwara state however called on politicians to begin fashioning ways of dealing with divisive ethnic issues as this should they win leadership positions in 2023.
“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.
“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 anyone. What type of election or country are we going to have in 2023 if the current situation persists? A stitch in time saves nine”, =former Senate President Bukola Saraki said.
Violence had erupted in the Ibrapa, Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state days after an Oodua Republic agitator, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho made the news last week when he gave an ultimatum to killer herdsmen to vacate Oyo State.
During ensuing events, houses and property of the Seriki Fulani, Alhaji Saliu Abdulkadir, were burnt.
Abdulkadir had told SaharaReporters that he, his wives and children were sent out of the settlement, adding that 11 vehicles and houses were burnt in the process.
The Seriki had thereafter fled the community with his family, as aggrieved youths put fire to the settlement.
However, Personal Assistant to Sunday Ighoho, Salami Oladapo denied the involvement of his principal nor his supporters in the arson.