The immediate past Prelate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to be decisive and firm in his administration’s handling of the insecurity threat in the country.
Mr. Akinola, who was speaking in Abuja at the special service commemorating Democracy Day, warned against any dialogue with the extremist sect, Boko Haram, arguing that doing so would give other such groups the impetus to make demands capable of posing a threat to the country’s unity and corporate existence.
“Dialogue must not be with just one group,” he said. “Today, we are talking of one group that is committed to Jihad, which ultimately means elimination of those they consider to be infidels. Their commitment to wiping out infidelity is that they can have a society in which their religion alone is practiced. You don’t dialogue with crime, you deal with it.”
Part of a proposal the religious leaders proffered included a time table for a presidential retreat for each of the country’s six geo-political zones to discuss issues affecting the people’s socio-economic and political interests to define the basis of their continued co-existence as a nation.
Tagged “Charting a New Course for a New Nigeria, politically and democratically”, the prelate, who referred the proposal as “revolutionary”, said this would guarantee an atmosphere of peace and security to help move the country forward.
“The current situation of insecurity, economic woes, breakdown in infrastructure, high-level of corruption in every stratum of society cannot be a matter of piecemeal dialogue and negotiation,” he said. “Our situation begs for urgent, realistic and comprehensive approach. That you (President Jonathan) are not from the so-called three major ethnic groups, you are eminently qualified to midwife the proposal.
Urging the President to be courageous in dealing with the situation at hand, Reverend Akinola said apart from the zonal presidential retreat, the states and local governments should be encouraged to organise village square and town hall meetings that would focusing on the kind of Nigeria they desire to see.
“The almighty God has put you in charge today for this re-engineering of Nigeria for the emergence of a new Nigeria that will endure, free from fear of insecurity, politically stable and progressive,” he said.
At the proposed geo-political meetings, he urged government to ensure that the people are “free to articulate and express their hopes, aspirations, fears, kind of economy they want, political and judicial system, educational and security system, while the outcomes would be collated, harmonised and sent to a national conference.
“This exercise must be carried out simultaneously throughout the country,” he said. “Each zone will send a delegation of an agreed number to a national conference where the various propositions are gathered, collated and harmonised by chosen men and women of impeccable character and integrity.
“Where there are contradictory opinions to the propositions from the zones every effort should be made to persuade the zones to amend their positions on whatever issues are. The national conference should find a way to reconcile all points of view.
“But where a proposition is clearly irreconcilable, like the Boko Haram and their sponsors, from a particular zone or zones, who is insisting on Islamising Nigeria, and after every effort to reconcile them to see otherwise fails, the zone or zones making the proposal will have chosen to walk apart from the rest. Such a zone must be allowed to have its own separate republic.”
Though he acknowledged that the exercise would be a difficult effort that calls for sincerity, courage and focus, the religious leader said it remains “the authentic platform that a truly democratic and united nation can emerge. Those who are feeding fat on the present chaotic situation arising from the cover ups and patching ups of the past five decades are going to do everything they can to make sure that this does not happen.”
He said that since successive administrations have failed to attain true unity, or become one nation through various methods, including several constitutional reviews and amendments, military fiat and even wars, it is time for Nigerians to go back to where they started from to draw fresh confidence and mandate from the people to freely choose to constitute a new Nigeria of their dreams.
On the current administration, Reverend Akinola said: “As a matter of utmost urgency, you will need to flush out of your government all those financial and political hawks and predators that hover around you and the presidency. Most of them are there for the stealing and carting away of the national cake baked with oil money. If the oil dries up today, you will have the thinnest Federal Government in the world. Presently, the bureaucracy is simply too large.”