In a bid to confront the security challenges facing Northern Nigeria, some leaders of the region have founded a platform under the auspices of Abuja Roundtable, an independent, nonpartisan, non-governmental organisation (NGO).s
The northern stakeholders said the Abuja Roundtable would take an active interest in the resolution of the security crisis facing Northern Nigeria, as they will initiate new and support existing private citizen initiatives to complement the efforts of the three tiers of government.
Former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Bashir Tofa, while making this assertion yesterday at the group’s maiden meeting in Abuja, said the level of insecurity across Nigeria was worrisome, and its level in Northern Nigeria had reached existential proportions, threatening to render the region hostile to civilised existence.
In attendance were former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Yayale Ahmed; former governor of Kaduna State, Ramalan Yero; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatai Ahmed; former minister of information, Labaran Maku; former minister of interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau; former FCT minister, Aliyu Modibbo, former INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega; former chief of defence staff, General Martin Agwai; Senator Abdul Ningi, Hajiya Naja’atu Tijani and former minister of state for aviation, Dr. Idi Hong, amongst others.
Tofa, who spoke for the group, said to bring insecurity in Northern Nigeria under control, more and better collaboration among the states across the region and between the states and federal authorities was required.
He equally stated that there is also a need for more and better coordination among the military and security agencies and between them and the civilian population.
The elder statesman stressed that no effort should be spared to bring an end to the wanton death and destruction that have been unleashed on the region.
“We acknowledge the efforts of the relevant authorities at both the state and federal levels to deal with the difficult, complex, and evolving security situation but it is becoming clear daily that a lot more of these efforts is required.
“The pain, agony, and unwarranted suffering of ordinary people across the region have become completely unbearable as agriculture, education, commerce and the normal rhythm of life have been severely disrupted.
“However, the ultimate remedy to the state of insecurity in Northern Nigeria is a collective resolve by all Northern communities to live in peace with each other, in equity and justice, and quality investment by the three tiers of government, as well as the private sector in human capital, agriculture, healthcare and infrastructure, particularly power, transport and telecommunication.
“These investments are necessary for job creation to catch up with our rapid population growth. So, we will do whatever is necessary and possible to cooperate with the relevant authorities to restore security to the region,” he said.
Tofa listed the objectives of the Abuja Roundtable as: to foster genuine unity among the people of Northern Nigeria; to use unity as the platform to collectively address the challenges of insecurity and underdevelopment in the region; to move from unity within Northern Nigeria to unity among Nigerians.
He however noted that the members were fully aware that attaining the objectives will not be easy as the conditions and forces of division had taken root and had been left to fester unchecked over a long period.
“Abuja Roundtable envisions a united Northern Nigeria in which peace, prosperity, and development become the norm rather than the exception, in which the people are defined by the core values of love, honesty, hard work, contentment, sacrifice, humility, and good neighborliness.
“We are also hopeful that, as collective victims who have paid the price of division, our people have arrived at the realization that unity is required to resolve other challenges afflicting the region.
“Recent consultations with eminent political, traditional, and religious leaders across the North are encouraging. They reveal a strong desire to remove all obstacles to Northern unity and a commitment to overcome its challenges.
“We will widen and deepen these consultations in the coming weeks, months, and, if necessary, years to attain our objectives.
“The most urgent task, therefore, facing the people of Northern Nigeria is to overcome fear and suspicion, jettison unhealthy division and create consensus around common goals and aspirations,” he said.