Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Saturday, held a closed-door meeting with leaders and members of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association from the South West and those from Kogi and Kwara states.
The meeting held at the private residence of the former president in Abeokuta had in attendance, the son of the immediate past Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewale, Dayo, who was a victim of kidnapping recently in Oyo State and Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Secretary of Afenifere.
Obasanjo while welcoming his guests before the meeting, said the dialogue became a child of necessity in view of the security challenge battling the nation, especially the alleged violent activities of some unscrupulous herdsmen.
The former president noted that some elements had infiltrated the herdsmen, development which has called for concern among every Nigerians while expressing worries over the daily rising of threatening security issues across the South-West states, in particular, and Nigeria as a whole.
He urged them to see the gathering as family meeting whereby each and everyone in attendance speak out their minds on the insecurity issue, so as to chart a common front in addressing it.
Obasanjo also noted that the problem of insecurity in Nigeria has become a source of worry to other African countries considering her status in the comity of African states.
He told them that winning the war against insecurity in the country is a collective responsibility of all and urged all to stop blame game on any individual or groups, saying Nigeria is presently in darkness and needed a “shinning light” to overcome it.
He said, “none of us here will say he doesn’t know what has been happening, what have been reported and what is being reported about insecurity in our country generally. I believe that whatever we are able to achieve or to discuss or to disabuse in this zone will be taken as a model in other zones.
“I want to learn from you and I hope you will learn from me and at the end of the day, we will be all wiser and we will be able to determine what should be way forward for us to get rid of bad things in our community.
“Let me tell you some of the reasons for our meeting. What has been happening in Nigeria, particularly in this area, the Southwest, we have got a lot of bad things happening here, let us not deceive ourselves. We have got a lot of heat, not enough light. And without adequate light, we may not be able to deal with the problem the way we want to and find a solution to it. We have got enough heat but we now need light to guide us so that we are all out there.
“Secondly, we are all in darkness, all of us. We need to be in the light. And those who may want to choose to be in darkness and want to deceive themselves, we can leave them in darkness but majority of us have to be in the light and let the light shine upon us so that we can see our faces, we can see ourselves as we are, where we are naked, let us see ourselves as naked, where we are half-covered, let us see ourselves as half-covered, where we are fully clothed, let us see ourselves as fully clothed.
We are also going about among ourselves with history, some of the histories that we are going about among ourselves are the histories we need not perpetrate. We are going about with myths, we are not going about with reality. We are going about with lack of clarity so what we want to do is to push aside myth and talk about reality, we want yo talk about clarity. We want to see things clearly the way they are.
“There is criminality, there is insecurity and it has not been like that before. If this is what we have, what we what to do at this meeting is to find solutions to stop it.”
He advocated for peace among Nigerians irrespective of tribes and religion, insisting that Nigeria’s unity remains sacrosanct.
“We want to have peace, we want to have security, we want to have harmony, we want to have wholesomeness, we want to have progress, how can we have these? We want to move Nigeria forward, irrespective of tribe, religion, ethnicity, trade, profession, where I come from, where you come from.
“How can we together move Nigeria forward? And there is nobody else who will do all these for us, it is you, we, all of us here and all our brothers and sisters wherever they may be in Nigeria.
“It is not one man’s job or one person’s job or one group’s job, it a job for all of us, all Nigerians and unless and until we see it that way, we should stop passing blame, everybody is wrong and everybody is right. Let us take what is right in one group and join it what is right in other group and throw away what is wrong in all the groups then we will move forward.
“Our brothers and sisters in West Africa are worried about our situation. They are wondering if Nigeria cannot manage her security? If Nigeria’s security is endangered? How can they look up to Nigeria who they normally see as big brother, that can be called upon to come and help them if they are in any type conundrum? So they are worried.
“We are here to assure them, to assuage their worry, to be able to say yes, we are Nigerians, we can deal and we will deal with our security problem and any other problem that we need to deal with,” he added
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation. Sale Bayari, commended the effort of Obasanjo on the critical issue, noting that security issue must be tackle headlong.
In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, those in attendance agreed that Nigeria is in a deep mess as far as the security issue is concerned.
The document described the stigmatisation and victimisation of Fulani group as a grave concern, saying the Fulani people have the good and bad ones.
It was also jointly agreed that there must be a community effort to address the problems which must be established among the Yoruba and Fulani leaders at the community levels.