From Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
Elders, patriots and the international community have been called upon to offer support to the country to enable it overcome its security challenges currently facing the country.
Making the call in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, yesterday, following the mass killings in Plateau State, the National Association of Public Affairs Analysts (NAPAA) in a release made available to newsmen and signed by Honourable Seun Adelore and Comrade Jare Ajayi, president and secretary general respectively, condemned the rising incidence of violence and needless killings of innocent citizens in the country.
The association stated that it is highly concerned about the incessant killings occurring on a daily basis in parts of the country “in a manner that is not only unprecedented but bordering on genocide”.
Burning of villages and settlements, killings of tens and hundreds of people, devastation of economic activities, especially farmlands and kidnappings for ransom are some of the challenges the association cited as capable of leading to the disintegration of the country if nothing is done to urgently stop them.
It said: “It would be recalled that in Benue, Nassarawa, Plateau, lives running into thousands have been lost as a result of their settlements being set ablaze and people being extra-judicially killed in recent times. The latest one that happened on a large scale was that of Plateau State over the weekend where as many as over 200 people were reportedly killed although the Police said that the figure is considerably less than that.
According to NAPAA, “what matters here is not necessarily the number of people died. The important thing requiring the attention of everyone is that there is a killing at all. No life of any Nigeria should be lost extra-judicially unless it is through a natural cause.”
Referring to the reason allegedly given by the spokesman of Miyetti Allah that the Plateau incident was a reprisal for the killings by local farmers, NAPAA insisted that the government owes it a duty to ensure that criminals are apprehended and tried while innocent people do not suffer in any way as “we are not witnessing in the instances cited.”
It maintained that the leadership of Miyetti Allah should be questioned by security agencies as it is clear that the organization knows one or two things about the unwarranted and genocidal killings.
Making reference to the recent announcement by the government to establish cattle ranches in parts of the country, NAPAA called the government to exercise caution on the way it goes about this very delicate issue.
“We all know that cattle rearing are like any other business. Nigeria is operating a capitalist system – meaning that individuals engage in businesses that suit them. If government decides to assist a segment of the citizenry in setting up its business, there is need for wide consultation. It should not be a thing to be imposed on the people in order to avoid frictions and clashes.”
Regretting that the Plateau incident happened even in spite of the planned ranches, the public affairs insisted that the government has not truly addressed the issue squarely and sincerely “hence the frequent attacks and killings”.
After itemizing various incidents in which human lives are avoidably wasted in the country, NAPAA lamented that “at no time in the history of this country has our situation been this worrisome. Armed robbery, kidnapping, herdsmen/farmers clashes, high stake corruptions, not to talk of dysfunctional infrastructures are pointers to a country that is rapidly failing – if it has not already failed. It is not surprising therefore that Nigeria is reported to be among the most dangerous countries to live in now”.
Lamenting the effect this is having on the well-being of the people, the public affairs analysts said that report now has it that Nigeria has overtaken India as a country with the highest number of people living below the poverty line in proportion to its population.
Concluding, the group called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to rise to the occasion by completely overhauling its security apparatus and descend heavily on those who are taking other people’s lands by force.