FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently devise measures to forestall likely division of the nation, as Nigeria is “on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay.”
In the letter released by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said the president should consider the urgent action and avoid a similar situation that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, identifying issues of insecurity across the nation.
According to him, Nigerians are beginning to lose confidence in the federal government’s ability for protection, aside perceptions that the criminalities are being orchestrated by the Fulani ethnic group.
“….the issue I am addressing here is very serious; it is the issue of life and death for all of us and for our dear country, Nigeria. This issue can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance, swept under the carpet or treated with cuddling glove. The issue is hitting at the foundation of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our Nigerian community.
“I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay.
He stated further that, “For over ten years, for four of which you have been the captain of the ship, Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land and in spite of government’s claim of victory over Boko Haram, the potency and the activities of Boko Haram, where they are active, remain undiminished, putting lie to government’s claim.
“The recent explanation of the Chief of Army Staff for non-victory due to lack of commitment and lack of motivation on the part of troops bordering on sabotage speaks for itself.”
Prior to this period, notable Nigerians have decried the poor security situation in the country, including the president’s alleged preference for the preservation of Fulani ethnic group, such as when it got the license to operate a radio station.
Obasanjo went on to blame the government for poor handling of the herdsmen/farmers crises before it escalated to become a big threat which, he noted, has transited into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and killings nationwide.
“The unfortunate situation is that the criminality is being perceived as a ‘Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite in the different parts of the country for a number of reasons but even more, unfortunately, many Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are friends of Nigeria attach vicarious responsibility to you as a Fulani elite and the current captain of the Nigeria ship. Perception may be as potent as reality at times.”
Obasanjo further identified four calamities that may befall the country except the president moves into action, especially by calling for national discussions with traditional rulers, former state administrators, envoys among others present.
He listed the calamities to include: (i) abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type;
(ii) spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.
(iii) similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom;
(iv) violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country.
Other recommendations provided in the letter called for “cohesion and concentration of effort and maximum force – political, economic, social, psychological and military – to deal successfully with the menace of criminality and terrorism separately and together.”
“We cannot dither anymore. It is time to confront this threat headlong and in a manner that is holistic, inclusive and purposeful. For the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians, I pray that God may grant you, as our president, the wisdom, the understanding, the political will and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or favour.”