Former Head of State, Retired General Abdusalami Abubakar says negotiating with terrorists and bandits is not the best way to tackle the menace.
Speaking on Tuesday after a meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in Minna, the former president stated that the best way to solve Nigeria’s banditry and kidnapping issues is to first make sure that the crimes are not committed.
While admitting that sometimes negotiations might be used to save the lives of kidnap victims, General Abdulsalami said the nation needs tight security that can checkmate the miscreants before they strike.
Making a reference to the Kagara abduction, Abdulsalami noted that “even if anyone knows where the students are, it will be foolhardy to storm the place in a bid to fight and bring them back”, arguing that in the process some innocent lives will be lost.
He, however, urged the authorities to ensure that security is beefed up to forestall further occurrences.
According to him, the nation’s security architecture is overstretched and the Police Force is underpopulated, hence the need for support from the citizens and an increase in manpower.
General Abdulsalami appealed that all hands must be on deck to ensure that insecurity in the country is tackled appropriately. He was of the opinion that the nation must go back to the time when brotherly love existed.
“Let us go back to when we were our brothers’ keeper,” Abdulsalami pleaded.
The elder statesman said it is sad that citizens are now being seen as strangers and are looked at with suspicion when they leave their states of origin and visit other parts of the country.
Former military president General Ibrahim Babangida and former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar on Tuesday threw their weight around the formation of the North-central People’s Forum.
General Babangida commended the founding members of the forum for the initiative saying his day was fulfilled, while General Abubakar believed the formation of the forum was long overdue.
The two military leaders made their position known on the forum when its leadership led by the Chairman Board of Trustees, General Jeremiah Useni paid separate visits to them at their hill-top residence in Minna.
General Abdulsalami who was the first to receive the forum charged them to pursue after the development of the north-central region which according to him has witnessed a lot of setbacks due to insecurity and poor road infrastructure.
“Let me congratulate you on the thought of the forum, and forming the forum. Like one of the things you said, the purpose of the forum is to seek for peace and development of the central region of Nigeria. Indeed, this forum has been overdue, and I am glad the founding fathers and mothers have got themselves together to form this forum. The caliber of people and personnel that are in this forum, such forum will benefit from their experiences and it will galvanize you into action to achieve your aim.
“It will go a long way to minimize the disharmony between human beings first and between the amalgamation of all the tribes we have, not only in the north central but in Nigeria as a whole,” Gen. Abubakar said.
He assured them of his support and understanding in delivering the purpose of the forum. “Certainly, you have our support and understanding. We will continue to advise, to watch and steer where necessary how the forum goes,” he said.
On his part, General Babangida said the north central region occupies a strategic position in the polity of Nigeria, and should be accorded the due recognition by the central government.
“To me you have made my day. I was always complaining when I hear north-west, north-east, south-south, south-east and south-west. I kept on asking, where do we belong to? God has so blessed us with the quality and caliber of people that we have.
“Politically, in terms of votes, I found out that the North-Central zone has more votes than the whole of South-west put together. But, South-west makes more noise than north-central. We have what it takes to be recognized as a very important part of this country,” he said.
He also assured of his support to the forum.
Chairman Board of Trustees of the North-Central Forum and former Plateau South Senator, General Jeremiah Useni had earlier intimated the duo of General Babangida and Abubakar of the objective of the forum, saying it would primarily focus on uniting the people in north central and also push for the establishment of a North-Central Development Commission that would help address the challenges in the region.
Fielding questions from journalists at the end of the visit, General Useni said the support from Generals IBB and Abdulsalami had further boosted the morale of forum’s leadership.
He however explained that contrary to the misconception that the North-Central Forum was established for the purpose of breaking the north-central region away from the Arewa Consultative Forum, the region still recognized the leadership of ACF.
He also cleared the air surrounding the support by governors of north central, saying they are fully backing the initiative.
“We have the support of all the governors of the north central. I will be meeting with Chairmen of the Northern Governors’ Forum and North-Central Governors’ forum soon,” General Useni said.
The National Council of State, on Thursday, took a unanimous decision to support President Goodluck Jonathan in the fight against insurgency and ultimately bring it to an end by December 2014.
At the meeting in the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, members of the Council noted that the insurgency could lead to Nigeria’s disintegration if not resolved, noting that the unity of Nigeria cannot be compromised.
They condemned in strong terms, the attempt by some state governments to register non-indigenes residing in their states.
To demonstrate their resolve to stop any attempt to cause disharmony in the country, the council set up a committee to identify all discriminatory practices across Nigeria.
This is with a view to asking the National Assembly to enact a law to end all such practices wherever they exist in the country.
Present at the meeting, which was presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, were five former Nigerian leaders: General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdusalami Abubakar and Chief Ernest Shonekan among others.