OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MOHAMMADU BUHARI. RE: THE STATE OF INSECURITY IN THE NATION:
Mr. President may recall that on the 5th of October, I had audience with you in your office. In the meeting was your then Chief of Staff Mallam Abba Kyari. In the brief meeting we touched on a number of issues including the insecurity in the country with respect to which you directed that I should do a short brief on my suggestions and forward to your Chief of Staff.
Mr. President may wish to know that I did as you directed and submitted my suggestions to your then Chief of Staff on the 20th of October, 2018 but that was the end of the matter.
I decided to do this open letter so that it will get to you because I know that the private one did not get to you and more so, I would not have bothered to do more except that avoidable circumstances have continued to fester to the magnitude of threatening the fabric of the nation. This letter is to reconvey my earlier suggestions which I believe did not get to you.
The perilous threat to our national sovereignty at the time you took over the reigns of power in 2015 where the Boko Haram insurgence, the armed agitation in the Niger delta region, and the IPOB agitation in the South East. Mr. President, on your assumption of office the most striking promise you made to the nation was to tackle insecurity with the assurance to reclaim the territories occupied by Boko Haram. I must say that you have approached the insecurity with share determination but unfortunately, the challenge had become hydra headed and no doubt gone beyond your control.
1. Before I proceed with a recap of the present situation and my suggestion, may I first catch up with the basis of the position I will converse in this letter.
I wish to note that every violent agitation originates from a non-violent agitation that was not attended to. Today, Nigeria is bedeviled with violent and non-violent agitations. It is also obvious that the violent agitations originated from non-violent agitations e.g., Boko Haram started as a non-violent procession. The management of herder/farmers conflicts has fast degenerated into a conflict status with many states becoming a bloody theater of such conflicts, ethnic conflicts in Kaduna, Ebonyi/CRS, Benue, Osun, Plateau states etc. are escalating to an unmanageable scale, Armed Banditry in virtually all states of the federation particularly Zamfara has overwhelmed the Law enforcement agencies, kidnaping has become occupational in most parts of the country. To worsen matters, Boko Haram, has acquired new impetus that they can overrun the military and even expanded their base to Niger State. IPOB has become a regional challenge. On the non-violent side, agitations for restructuring are scaling up its momentum, ethnic consciousness even among the elite is far eroding national concerns. All these and many more coupled with gross down turn in the national economic, social and political space has become an apparent threat to our nationhood.
THE WAY FORWARD
THE SEARCH FOR SOLUTION MUST INVOLVE THE CITIZENS
As the built up to securing the Nigerian Independence gathered momentum, the Colonial Administration were confronted with reservation by minority tribes in the three regions of Northern, Eastern and Western Nigeria of fears of domination by the majority tribes. In other to find a lasting solution, the colonial administration appointed a commission to “ENQUIRE INTO THE FEARS OF MINORITIES AND MEANS OF ALLYING THEM”
2. The Willink’s Commission of 1957 named after its chairman Mr. Harry Willink produced a far-reaching report after extensive hearings of the complaints and suggestions from the people. It is no gainsaying that no document in the history of Nigeria that has had equal far-reaching impact on our political structure than the Willink’s report. It guided the debates in subsequent constitutional conferences before the independence, gave structure to the emergent Constitutions and indeed gave health to the socio-political structure of the nation at independence.
The greatest achievement of Willinks Commission is that its report provided the colonial administration and the nation an in-depth research into the nature, dimensions and magnitude of the fears of the minority tribes, accordingly its recommended solutions became an official position and was easily accepted to be constitutionalised as a long-term measure.
There is no gainsaying that reservations about the continued existence of Nigeria is building up to a dangerous time bomb. I make bold to say that no solution except one backed by an independently conducted fact-based recommendations arrived at with the participation of the citizens will provide an endearing solution.
The most outstanding recommendation of the Willink’s Commission as a long-time solution is the inclusion of a Fundamental Human Rights Chapter in the constitution. It was recommended that the inclusion of the Fundamental Chapter in the constitution will protect all citizens, including the minority stock from any governmental and or majority block abuses. I must say at this point that it was the recommendations of the Willinks commission that actually gave all the component groups in Nigeria the comfort to go into the union at independence.
I am to observe that, it has become apparent that the foundation of the various agitations in Nigeria today is that the comfort provided at independence by the Willink’s Commissions
3. Report is no longer working. I make bold to suggest that Mr. President need to make history to empanel another commission of inquiry to inquire into the violent and non-violent agitations in Nigeria and make recommendations on the immediate-, short- and long-term solutions.
I am to add, that it must be known that military actions or even foreign help cannot bring permanent solutions to ethnic conflicts or nationality agitations.
It is important to note that in a democracy, no action is deemed successful or completed until the buy-in-of the people are secured through a democratic process. This buy-in- is an imperative that is yet to be pursued in the fight against violent agitations in Nigeria. I must say that as long as the people are not part of the process of finding solutions to the conflicts, a permanent solution will be a mirage.
THE BENEFITS OF SUCH A COMMISSION
The benefits of such a commission will include:
- It is a natural Governmental process of addressing challenges of public importance and it works to show that Government is not in any way in support of the challenge hence, the independent fact-finding approach. The report of such commission will put in proper perspective, governmental action, and harvest the previous actions thereto.
- It offers the citizenry the opportunity and platform to share their concerns and to be heard. This helps to build confidence and expectations that action is being taken on the solutions they proposed.
- It streamlines the remote and immediate causes of the challenge which if left to the imaginations of the people may endanger social cohesion.
- Such commission aims not only to unravel the remote and immediate causes but also determines the various dimensions and defines them accordingly. E.g. democratic agitations will be separate from violent crimes to the understanding of all. It will also capture the reasons for the agitations and the Justice thereto.
- Such Commission will propose immediate-, short- and long-term solutions and develop a roadmap towards addressing them. Such roadmap is usually a national reference document that will be handed down and recognized as a national strategic roadmap.
- Such document will be the foundation for a new Nigeria.
Above is submitted for your kind consideration Sir.
Anyim Pius Anyim, GCON.