Obasanjo, Sheik Gumi meet in Abeokuta link violence to ethnic crisis
By Samuel Ogunsona
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi have linked the current violence in the country to ethnic conflict
The two said in a resolution after their meeting in Abeokuta on Sunday.
The two said the meeting was part of Gumi’s continued efforts to find solutions for the general insecurity in the country and particularly for the menace of banditry, kidnapping and ransom payment
Sheikh Gumi reports made available to Irohinoodua indicated he met with Obasanjo with a delegation of comprising Prof. Usman Yusuf, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Dr. Umar Ardo, Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, Honourable Suleiman Gumi, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu and Mallam Buba Mohammed
Chief Obasanjo received Sheikh Gumi and his delegation in the presence of Oba Babajide Bakre, Agura of Gbagura, Abeokuta; Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya, Chairman of Ogun State Christian Association of Nigeria; Sheikh Sa’addallah Alade Bamigbola, Chief Imam of Egbaland; Chief Kenny Martins, Chief Ola Babajide Jaiyeoba; Rev. Tony Ojeshina, Chief Imams of Oke-Ona, Gbagura, Owu and Mr. Vitalis Ortese.
In a joint statement signed after the meeting, te leaders said they identified the crisis as micro ethnic conflict between the Fulani and many host communities mainly in the North West.
“We identified the remote causes as educational and economic disparities, and the negative use of religion and ethnicity by unscrupulous politicians. Solutions must be seen and provided on short-, medium-, and long-term bases and must be composed of stick and carrot for the offender and the vulnerable”
The meeting said
all well-meaning Nigerians have to be involved in finding solutions by desisting from blame game, desisting from ethnicising these crimes, desisting from religionising these crimes, desisting from regionalising these crimes,respecting one another individually, community-wise, locally, ethnically, religiously and socially, showing tolerance and accommodation where necessary.
They also condemed criminal acts no matter where it is committed and by whom it is committed in Nigeria and encouraging more of carrot solution as may be found necessary
Both Obasanjo and Gumi called for the sharing information at all levels, not accepting criminality as a way of life for any individual or group in our nation.
They stated in the resolution “Since the end of the civil war, the military are the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity that we have and we must keep them so. State governments must have adequate means of providing security for their people and as chief executives and chief security officers of their states, they must have the means at their disposal to ensure security for all within their states”
They also called on the Federal government to be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have common policy for the nation. It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against.”
They noted that education is one main key to solve the problem in the long run but it must start now adding that the 14 million children that should be in school and are out of school must be put in school with local authorities, state governments and federal government working together.
“Wean those who are ready to be weaned out of the bushes and crime, settle and rehabilitate them, give them skills, empower them and let them have employment. The hardened criminals must be hard hit with stick. Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished” the meeting states
They also urged Federal government to take the issue up seriously within ECOWAS to work for a regional solution.
“Every community must be encouraged and empowered to stand firm and strong against criminals. There should be protection and reward covertly for whistle blowers against criminals living in the community. Special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding and unlawful carrying of weapons.”