Elder Statesmen in Nigeria has said except measures were taken to curtail the trend, widespread insecurity could scuttle the 2023 General Election.

The Elder Statesmen, including the President of Christian Association of Nigeria,  Samson Ayokunle; and the  Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, raised the concerns during a security dialogue retreat jointly organised by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa in Abuja.

They raised the alarm that there might be no Election in 2023, if the current spate of insecurity in the country was not checked.

Those at the retreat included the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Okey Emuchay; National Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress, Ebipamowei Wodu; representative of Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Yusuf Usman; Aare Ona-Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, represented by Ogbeni Lanre Banjo; and the Convener of Niger-Delta Self-Determination Movement, Ankio Briggs, who participated virtually, amongst others.

Ayokunle said, “Care must be taken to ensure that the 2023 election does not become a sham. If insecurity is not taken care of by the Government, there will be no 2023 General Elections.

“Going by the present state of affairs in the Country, are we sure the bandits and terrorists will not overrun the country before 2023? “These criminals are moving from one level of sophistication and recklessness to another. Nigerians want a better society, and if we do not deal with this insecurity, I don’t think there will be any election in 2023.

“Why has the Government not deemed it fit to expose those financing terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria? For whose benefit are you hiding their identity? Nigerians want to know those who have put us in this mess as well as those who are aiding and abetting them.

“2023 is not realistic when we leave our children at home. Let us, call on the Federal Government so that within a very short time, they should reach a compromise with ASUU so that they can go back to the classrooms.”

The Sultan of Sokoto, who was represented by the co-Chair of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace, Sheikh Kunle Sanni, expressed frustration over the Federal Government’s seeming unwillingness to prosecute arrested bandits and terrorists including their sponsors.

The Islamic leader insisted that the President, Muhammadu Buhari should sack the present crop of service chiefs, alleging that many corrupt elements in the system have turned the nation’s insecurity into a cash cow.

He said, “A lot of people have been arrested over banditry and terrorism, but how many of them have been jailed or executed? These people have killed thousands of people.

“Some people should pay for all these atrocities. The NSA and the service chiefs should all resign by now, because they have failed. Let us get new people with fresh ideas to confront the situation.

“The President, Muhammadu Buhari, knows how to recruit people to work for him, but he doesn’t know how to sack them. Unless, we all speak up and tell one another the truth, there may be no Nigeria even in 2023. We don’t pray so.

“The Government has told us they know those who are behind the insecurity. If this culture of impunity is taken care of, and a lot of people are either imprisoned or executed, other criminals will think twice, but it is like these people have turned insecurity into big business.

“In Nigeria, the bane of our problem is corruption. Anywhere people think there is money, a lot corrupt elements move to that side. The issue of Insecurity in Nigeria is the new ‘crude oil’ because that is where the money is.”

Emuchay said politicians should be blamed for the spate of killings in the Southeast region.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo scribe said, “As soon as the issue of the Igbo presidency took a life of its own, the spate of insecurity heightened in the South-East. Today, Anambra is under siege. People are being killed, public assets are being destroyed to the point where the State Governor has shutdown all the Local Government Headquarters. It is that bad.

“We (Igbos) are part of Nigeria and no amount of intimidation or insecurity or blackmail will make us less Nigerians. We are the most federated of all the units in Nigeria and we have contributed to the utmost development of every part of the country. We have paid our dues in Nigeria.”

 Usman who represented NEF, said Nigeria’s slide into Anarchy commenced with the scrapping of History as a subject from the school curriculum.

He said that the elders have lost control of the youth across the country.

Earlier, the facilitator of the retreat, Bishop Ndukwo Onuoha, said as Nigeria treads the path to yet another election in 2023, it was imperative that all stakeholders join hands to tackle the Nation’s problems.

PUNCH/Ibrahim Bamidele

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