AT the weekend in Owerri City, General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s one time military ruler made a statement which was widely circulated. The General was at the Government House Owerri to pay a courtesy call on the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, as part of the activities lined up […]
AT the weekend in Owerri City, General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s one time military ruler made a statement which was widely circulated. The General was at the Government House Owerri to pay a courtesy call on the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, as part of the activities lined up for the National Prayer Rally which held in Owerri on Saturday. Gowon was quoted as expressing dismay over the incessant insecurity challenges in the country, saying that his heart bleeds over the activities of Boko Haram, herdsmen, and other armed militants, whose actions he describes as man’s inhumanity to man.
He condemned the killings and lamented that his heart bleeds at the rate at which innocent lives were lost including those of the Catholic priests murdered in Benue on Tuesday. He therefore made a clarion call on all leaders and elder statesmen in the country to come together for an urgent meeting to find ways to end the killings across the country especially in Benue and Borno States. The elder statesman must have been moved to make the statement after a weeklong of bloodletting across the country.
Readers may recall that an attack on a Catholic Church in Gwer local government area of Benue State resulted in the killings of 19 persons including the two priests. Hours later, there was another attack in Guma local government area also in Benue where 13 lives were lost. Away from Benue on Thursday night, Maiduguri was also attacked by Boko Haram terrorists causing panic among the populace. The attack which came through Jiddari Polo ground area lasted for several hours with guns booming for much of the night.
Almost all the residents in that theatre of war abandoned their houses to seek refuge elsewhere for the night. The incursion by the terrorist group was so serious that it needed the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole supported by Air force Task Force, the Police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Civilian Task Force to mobilise to the area to repel the terrorists. By the time fight was over many civilians were said to have died.
The clarion call by the elder statesman was timely and was made in very soothing tones asking for prayers and a meeting of minds by concerned elders. This is a departure from the irresponsible diatribe ascribed to some so-called elder statesmen who blinded by primordial sentiments were making utterances that could set people against security forces deployed to protect them. What is needed now is to put flesh to the sound proposal of the General.
No doubt the Armed Forces have done well in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists that held the nation to ransom in the last many years. Territories have been recaptured and peace has returned to most parts of the country. The fear of bombs has largely disappeared from the psych of many in the country now. But Borno and parts of Adamawa States are still to know total peace.
And we must concede to the fact the Boko Haram campaign has gone on for nine years leaving those states in the North-East in dire straits. Even in normal times the indices of development have not been encouraging in those areas. With the Boko Haram campaigns, governments in those areas have little left for any social and economic development. Whatever they generate goes into financing security concerns, rebuilding infrastructure and taking care of large numbers of internally displaced persons, IDPs.
This scenario is now sadly being replicated in parts of the Middle-Belt states of Benue and Taraba. What some months ago was the usual communal crises between farmers and herdsmen has transmuted into wholesale slaughter of communities and arson. If we add that to the state of anarchy that is being experienced in Zamfara and parts of Kaduna State, where Birnin Gwari is besieged by armed bandits and the kidnapping gangs that are having a field day in and around the city of Abuja then we can understand why General Gowon’s heart is bleeding.
I believe that the Federal Government should take the General’s call to heart. Our desperate situation now is an indication that our security chiefs are running out of ideas on how to handle the situation. Probably a gathering of elder statesmen should provide a platform where more ideas can be generated to get us out of this rut.
General Gowon has flown a kite. We should all raise our heads to look at it.