Insecurity: Why APC govt must implement El’ Rufal’s Committee report on federalism – Lukman, PGF DG

Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh Lukman,  has advised the ruling All Progressives Congress to make haste and. implement the recommendations of the Governor Nasir El’Rufai Committee of the Party on federalism,  insisting that it is the only panacea for the lingering insecurity challenges in the country 

Lukman  said the current challenges afford the APC opportunity for implementation adding that current levels of anger in the country against the party and federal government would have been moderated.ADVERTISEMENT

The PGF boss in a statement released Monday in Abuja,  warned that hate is making Nigerians lose their humanity so much that notion of survival both for individuals and groups is more about the ability to defend and rationalise racial inclinations even when lives of other citizens are in danger.

The PGF boss said education is making most Nigerians to become leading campaigners and promoters of disagreements and wondered why Nigerians should hate one another on accounts of  ethnic and religious differences.

“As Nigerians, the problem of hate is making us lose our humanity so much that notion of survival both for individuals and groups is more about our ability to defend and rationalise our inclinations even when lives of other citizens are in danger. Our instinct to rationalise unacceptable realities has worsened and is certainly extinguishing our humanity to the extent that there is hardly any difference between leaders and followers as well as educated and illiterate citizens. If anything, our education is making most of us to become leading campaigners and promoters of our disagreements and why we should hate each other on accounts of our ethnic and religious differences. But as Mearsheimer asked, ‘First, are our preferences rational, and do those goals promote our survival or make some other kind of sense? Second, are we acting strategically to achieve our goal

“It is so difficult to have any meaningful or objective national conversation on issues that touches on our ethnic and religious inclinations. It is almost as if no interrelationship exists across our different ethnic and religious groups. Yet, almost every day, there are very good reports of inter-ethnic and inter-religious marriages in the country. There are interesting accounts of many of our national leaders being married to spouses from different religions. There are also cases of celebrated children of serving leaders married to either leaders or children of leaders from other ethnic groups. The most recent is that of Rt. Honourable Dimeji Bankole, former Speaker of the House of Representatives who married Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, daughter of His Excellency, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Governor of Kebbi State and Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum.

“The point is, across our ethnic and religious divides, we share both the good and the bad. Part of the problem is that we want to have what we believe is good alone and we don’t want to cooperate with each other to solve the common problems. And whatever is bad is interpreted to be associated with other groups, which then lead us to believe that possible measures against groups outside us is what is required. There is therefore always the tendency to locate what is bad outside us and imagine that we can monopolise what we believe is good even as it is clear that whatever is bad can only find its way into our society with the support of local collaborators. There are alleged roles of traditional, religious and community leaders, including security personnel in the criminal acts of banditry and kidnapping in every part of the country. This is not in anyway being raised to defend or rationalise these criminal activities but to emphasise the need for unity in the country in order to resolve the problem.

“One of the chapters in his recent book, Talking to Strangers, the Canadian journalist and author, Malcolm Gladwell, asked the question “What Happens When the Stranger is a Terrorist?” This seems to be at the heart of our current national debate in Nigeria, which was activated by the order of Ondo State government of January 18, 2021 that elicited the response of Mallam Garba Shehu of January 19, 2021. All these have produced chains of events in the country, including actions by one Sunday Igboho in Oyo State issuing ‘quit notice’ to Fulani groups to vacate parts of Oyo State. Although Oyo State government has condemned the pronouncement of Igboho, already there are reported attacks of Fulani settlements in Oyo State. Threat of arrest of Igboho allegedly announced by Mallam Garba Shehu is yet again generating more campaigns promoting ethnic hatred in the country. 

It is almost predictable that our hatred for each other will make us to dismiss the cautionary appeal of Malcolm Gladwell. More worrisome is that some of our leaders and public officials are completely possessed by what is clearly the anger in the land. Worst still, is that there is hardly any social or political enquiry taking place or if there is, everything is about rationalising and reproducing the current public anger and hatred for each other. It is very painful that as Nigerians, we are highly blinded and deafened by our anger against each other. Notwithstanding our anger, we want one of our tribesmen and women to rule the country in a democracy whereby such a person must win votes from every part of the country, including from groups we hate and also encourage them to reciprocate 

Therein lies the difficulty, how do we move our politics out of this polarised equilibrium? Both citizens and political leaders get trapped in the deceitful consciousness that the solution lie in our bias preferences, which encourages us to further polirise our society and our citizens. As our society and nation is more polarised, the problem of criminality gets bigger and overwhelming. Unfortunately, rather than pushing leaders of political institutions and actors to strengthen their relationship in the country in order to initiate uniform responses in tackling common challenges across the country, we seem to be more disposed to getting them more polarised. Regrettably, for our leaders to continue to enjoy our support, they must identify with our divisive choices. Otherwise, the electoral prospects of our leaders will remain in jeopardy. This is a reality, which has imposed the leadership of hatemongers. 

LLukman noted however that “there has to be a way out of this mess. Our political leaders and our party need to assert their authority in mobilising alternative responses, which should inspire Nigerians to rise above the current high wave of ethnic and religious hatred in the country that is weakening our capacity to arrest and prevent criminal activities. No doubt every Nigerian must be worried about what is going on. Much more troubling is the fact that pronouncements of Mallam Garba Shehu on these issues tend to unfortunately accentuate our polarisation. While recognising that it is necessary for government to make some public responses to most of these developments, should it come from the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President?  Being a matter that may require clarifications bordering on both issues of interpretations of the law and policy of government, one would have thought it is better handled at ministerial level. Besides, given the nature of such issues, a strategic approach should have been to allow for instance the Minister of Information to continue to manage the responsibility of communicating positions of the Federal Government, since the issue is not just about position of the President. It also involves the need to engage state governments.

“The way things are, it is difficult not to conclude that mandated agencies of government are unable to discharging their statutory responsibility as required because once the President spokesperson makes public statements, capacity to initiate any response may be obstructed. 

“At this point, as APC members and as Nigerians, it is important to appeal for moderation in the way this issue is being managed. With the level of polarisation in the country, crazy responses from people such as Sunday Igboho and their likes in every part of the country are further worsening the situation. That can never be the goal of the government. 

“The other issue is also the need to strengthen our politics to be able to manage this kind of difficult realities. So long as we are going to remain as a country with all our diversities, there will always be this kind of difficult challenges requiring skillful and careful handling. This may require that our political parties are able to intervene when problems of our polarisation get activated to the level of manifesting as a threat to our peaceful co-existence as a nation. As a party, APC has a good experience when it comes to managing problems created by ethnic polirisation in the country. 

“This is because in 2017 when the madness of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB and the so-called Arewa Youth got heightened so much that there was the senseless ultimatum to Igbos to vacate the North and national debate on restructuring was producing all manner of proposals including maps of break-away parts of Nigeria, the APC National Working Committee under the leadership of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun initiated internal consultations leading to the appointment of the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai led APC Committee on True Federalism. Although yet to be implemented, the report of the Mallam Nasir Committee on True Federalism provides a standard template of how a party in government should handle difficult challenges of polarisation.

“Certainly, if the party was able to move recommendations contained in the report of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai Committee to the level of implementation, the current levels ofmisplaced anger against the APC and the Federal Government in the country would have been moderated. May be the challenge we have today present a golden opportunity for APC to be able to initiate processes of implementing the recommendations contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism. What may be required in the circumstances is for the APC Caretaker Committee led by His Excellency Mai Mala Buni to initiate internal processes of consultations both within the party and across the executive and legislative arms of government.

“Given that there already exist APC tripartite consultative committee, chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo with both the party Chairman, HE Mai Mala Buni, Senate President, HE Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiala and PGF Chairman, HE Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha and Chief of Staff to President, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari serving as members, the initiative to commence processes of implementation can be started.

“We need to appeal to our leaders and our party to rise to the occasion of this challenge facing our dear nation.”

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