The Chairman of the National Peace Committee, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, says the group has presented the grievances and observations of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate in Saturday’s election, Atiku Abubakar, to the President.
Gen. Abubakar told journalists after the committee met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday that the meeting was basically to convey the fears of the PDP to the President, affirming that Mr. Atiku did not give conditions as being speculated.
“Mr. President has listened to us and also taken note of what we have told him.
On behalf of this country and all of us regardless, we need peace. This country is very important to all of us.
We are not talking of self-interest; we are talking of the interest of Nigeria,” said Gen Abubakar.
He described the PDP presidential candidate’s decision to approach the courts as the right thing to do. “I am glad that the PDP has said they are going to court,” asking Nigerians to maintain peace.
The meeting comes a day after the Committee met with the PDP Presidential candidate, in the company of other leaders of the party including the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, among others.
The National Peace Committee has been in the forefront of the campaign for peaceful elections in the country.
In the run up to the Presidential and National Assembly polls, the Committee got the presidential candidates to sign a Peace Accord, pledging to maintain the atmosphere peace and urge their supporters to abstain from violence.
Nigeria’s Former Military Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd) has suggested that politicians should be included in programmes that will enhance their discipline and forthrightness at the National Defence College.
General Abubakar believes that the standard and discipline associated with the National Defence College will impact in the formation of a good political structure in Nigeria.
He was the guest speaker at the event to mark the silver jubilee anniversary of the establishment of the National Defence College in Abuja.
“The National Defence University if established, would focus solely on strategic methods that feature at the highest echelon of government.
“If our politicians, our NGOs and stakeholders in this country attend short courses in this institute, they would have a better understanding of security and nation building, that is, if the college is going to be funded to be running short courses for all the stakeholders in this country,” the former Head of State said.
Also gathered at the event were serving military officers, past participants and commandants at the National Defence College.
The consensus at the end of the meeting was that after 25 years, government needs to pay more attention to the college so that it can further benefit from the strategic nature of the institution.
The Council also appointed six national commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to bring the number of commissioners for the electoral body to 12.
Briefing reporters on the appointments on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said that the six appointees were drawn from the six-geopolitical zones of the country.
They include Mohammed Haruna (north-central), Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Tijani Muazu (rtd) from northeast, Abubakar Nauche (northwest), Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu (southeast), May Agbamuche Mbu (south-south) and Dr. Adekunle Ladipo Ademola (southwest).
The Council further approved five new commissioners for the National Population Commission (NPC).
They are Dr. Eyitayo Oyetunji from Oyo State, Mr Patricia Inyanya from Benue State, Mr Benedict Ikpong from Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Haliru Bala from Kebbi State and Gloria Izonfo from Bayelsa State.
The National Council of State is the highest constitutional advisory body and it constitutes Nigeria’s sitting President, Vice President, all former Presidents and Heads of State, former Chief Justices of the Federation, the 36 state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly.
The meeting, which held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Only three past Heads of State were present – Chief Ernest Shonekan, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
Also present were five former Chief Justices of the Federation, state governors and some deputy governors.
Former Heads of State; General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim Babangida, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo were absent.
Also absent are the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara.
Renowned Economist and former Nigerian presidential candidate, Professor Pat Utomi, believes that the problems facing Nigeria are those of character, leadership and pride of politicians.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today, he said that the solution to Nigeria’s problems was in rallying the country’s most influential persons to come together and seek solution.
“In most civil wars in the world, not as many people die as die in Nigeria everyday. The blood of innocents are now washing the streets of Nigeria, this is unacceptable, it cannot continue to go on”, he said.
Calling on all statesmen to come together and forget about their political differences to save Nigeria, Prof Utomi noted; “The country is dying; we can pretend all we want but Nigeria is dying.”
There had been dissenting views as regards the strategy with which to deal with the Boko Haram insurgents and Professor Utomi admitted that throughout the world there had been challenges relating to terror and starting out by accepting to trade hostages with terrorists always end up like blackmail as the terrorists would keep coming back, but he also added that the case of Nigeria was bigger.
He explained that the issue was not just about whether or not to negotiate, as it was more complex. According to him, Israelis exchanged prisoners with the Palestinians in times of crisis and the case of Nigeria should not be handled with rigidity as there were needs for ‘below the line’ approaches.
He made reference to the Nigerian Civil War when then military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, called together different leaders from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds to find a solution and the strategy brought the much desired solution.
Speaking about the rallying which was likened to a war cabinet, Utomi said that the makeup of the group should not be seen as another political issue as the concern of Nigerians should be to look for persons of high intellect and political stature who could influence change.
Going down memory lane, tracing the genesis of Nigeria’s problems, Utomi said that there was a fundamental error in 1998 with Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar rushing into the democratic processes which brought the political leadership back in a hasty manner as the political structure in Nigeria was not ready.
He said that the politicians at the time had also not come to terms with the real values of democracy and since then Nigeria has been a mess.
In moving forward, Utomi advised that there was need to seek change without fear and pride.
He referred to former American leader, Abraham Lincoln, as a true example of how leadership should be, as he emphasized the need for Nigerian politicians to shed self-pride and embrace shared values to enable the country move forward.
Bring Back Our Girls
The response of the Presidential delegation to a group of ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ protesters in Abuja, advising them to direct their protests to the terrorists had been drawing negative reactions from many Nigerians and Utomi said that he cried for Nigeria when he heard what was supposedly the response of President Jonathan to the protesters.
He said that the protest was such a great opportunity and he expected the President to wear the colours of the protesters, walk with them and show them that he felt their pains as a leader and parent.
He said that the Nigerian President “was presented on a platter of gold, the opportunity to be the Commander-in-Chief and he blew it.”
Drawing from the example of American President, Barack Obama, who had just paid an unscheduled visit to American troops in Afghanistan, Utomi said that this was the norm for a United States President and for a number of foreign leaders and he expected the Nigerian President to be able to do same.
He said that power was not worth it when ones humanity cannot be expressed as regards the lives of ordinary people. He did not expect the visit of President Jonathan to Chibok to be a matter to publicise, as it was supposed to be a normal thing for the President to show up in places of crisis and encourage the people and the troops.
He also expressed his disgust that until the outcry of the international community, “in more recent times we have seen again and again, dozens of Nigerians killed in this insurgency and there was no acknowledgement from the Government that something was wrong.
“If you have your humanity intact, the death of one Nigerian should diminish those who claim to lead us”, Utomi said.
He said that until the international community holds the African leaders accountable, the African people would not be able to experience true development.
Recommending an International Economic Crimes Court that would hunt leaders who have been found to have underdeveloped their countries due to corruption, he said, “by the time we put a few of our leaders in trial at The Hague, then Africa would start getting better.”
Utomi stated that policing is fundamentally a community based exercise and he believes that this would help to tackle the problem of insurgency in Nigeria.
He said that the corrupt nature of the politicians was the reason why many were opposing the idea.
He noted that it would be easier for someone who belongs to a community to identify troublemakers in that community, rather than the idea of bringing someone from a far distance who knows nothing about the community.
“Politicians are destroying Nigeria and they should be held accountable.”
As electioneering for 2015 gets more into focus with permutations by political parties and preparations by the electoral body, Utomi noted that the future of Nigeria would depend on the people as “the challenge before Nigeria is the Nigerian character.”