President Muhammadu Buhari will today meet with governors of the 19 northern states in Abuja over the worsening security situation in the region.
The region has been enveloped by violence arising from Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen killing of farmers, armed banditry and kidnapping.
Only yesterday, many were killed and houses torched in Dutse Uku, Rikkos and Cele Bridge areas of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, in a renewed orgy of violence that the police said had been brought under control.
Reacting to the situation yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) blamed the president and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the growing despondency in the country, saying their policies were responsible.
The former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, also expressed his disappointment with the state of the nation yesterday, warning that the country was dancing on the brink of chaos.
But Vice President Yemi Osinbajo thought differently, saying the future of the nation is bright and contended that the prevailing situation is a temporary challenge that would be overcome.
The Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, disclosed the proposed meeting of the governors and Buhari yesterday during a special church service to mark the inauguration of his second tenure.
He said his colleagues in the north were deeply worried by the insecurity and under-development in the region and had decided to meet with the president before the commencement of his second tenure in order to articulate ways of addressing the challenges.
Lalong said: “During our meeting under Northern Governors’ Forum, they said let us go and meet with Mr. President.
“As the new Chairman of the forum, I said I have not resumed. But they said we must go and meet with him before his inauguration on May 29 so that we will tell him the problems of the north and how we can address the challenges of insecurity, under-development and other matters affecting the people. That is why we have agreed to meet with him tomorrow in Abuja.”
Lalong urged the people to pray for the success of the meeting to enable the northern region move forward.
PDP blames APC, Buhari for Escalated Despondency
Meanwhile, the PDP in a statement yesterday decried what it described as the escalated despondency, depression and misery in the country since the 2019 presidential election.
The main opposition party described as a national tragedy, the rising spate of suicides, slavery mission abroad, child abandonment and other social degeneration occasioned by the worsening economic hardship, poverty, hunger and rising insecurity under the APC administration.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, lamented that such social ills, which it said was a direct response to bad governance, occur when citizens are overwhelmed by gloom, with no hope in sight.
The party stressed that most Nigerians have become downhearted in the face of an administration that wrecked the country’s once robust economy and divided the people.
It stated: “Banditry, insurgency, marauding, bloodletting and kidnapping with unmentionable ransoms, have almost become daily occurrences. Our citizens are now battling with the worst kind of siege mentality.
“Constitutional violations, human rights abuses, arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings, assault on perceived dissenting voices and attempt at annexation of our institutions of democracy, particularly the judiciary, signpost a nation in dire strait.”
The PDP, however, called on Nigerians not to despair but stand firm in their collective determination to retrieve, what it called its presidential mandate, at the tribunal.
Again Violence Erupts in Jos, Many Killed, Houses Torched
In the meantime, security agencies said yesterday that they had brought under control the violence that erupted in Dutse Uku, Rikkos, Cele Bridge areas of Jos.
Confirming the incident, Police Public Relation Officer in Plateau State, Mr. Mathias Tyopev, assured the people that security men have been drafted to arrest the situation.
He said: “We have received reports of tension around Dutse Uku, Rikkos, Cele Bridge and we have mobilised our personnel to the area.
“As we speak, the Area Commander, Jos Metropolis is there on the ground.”
A resident of the area, who identified himself as Mr. Paul Musa, said there had been tension in the area since last week when a boy from Angwan Miango was found dead at the boundary between the community and neighboring Rikkos, a community of Hausa extractions in the metropolis.
The tension emanating from the killing was, however, doused by the security agents.
Again, on Sunday morning, another boy from the same Angwan Miango was allegedly killed when he went to wash at Cele River, a stream that runs between the Angwan Miango and Rikkos community.
Angered by the spate of killing, the natives from Angwan Miango took the fight to their Hausa neighbours in Rikkos. This degenerated into full-blown mayhem with gunshots rending the air and houses set ablaze.
Some churches, on getting wind of the crisis, hurriedly wind up their services in order to dismiss worshippers.
Meanwhile, the security agents are currently making efforts to control the affected communities and avoid further escalation of the crisis.
Nigeria Dancing on the Brink of Chaos, Says Onaiyekan
In a related development, the John Cardinal Onaiyekan yesterday warned that Nigeria is indulging in the risky game of dancing on the brink of chaos, saying that the signs are obvious for all who care to see.
He challenged the president to change his leadership habit as he starts a new term, if Nigeria is to recover from its present socio-political and economic crises.
But, on his part, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo urged Christians to take the lead of giving hope to Nigerians, expressing confidence that the country’s future is bright.
He said the federal government was committed to resolving all the challenges confronting the nation.
On his part, former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), urged Nigerian politicians to promote governance in the interest of the people and pray for Buhari to succeed.
They stated these at the 2019 Presidential Inauguration Inter-Denominational Church Service with the theme: ‘Setting the Nation on Higher Levels of Peace and Development in the Fear of God’ in Abuja yesterday.
Onaiyekan said the ranks between the poor and the rich are swelling by the day, while the poor watch in frustration at the affluence of the very few cruising in a different world.
He noted that such wide socio-economic disparity has led to anger, tension, violence and outright criminality in the land, adding that all is not well.
In his sermon, titled “Let Us Choose Life Not Death,” the Cardinal said: “This is no time for celebration of victory or for lamentation over defeat. Rather, it is time to pull efforts together, with the grace of God, to tackle the serious challenges before us.
“At this moment, we would do well to acknowledge our failure to do things in the right way. Here the words of the psalmist should challenge each of us: ‘If you Oh Lord should mark our guilt, who would survive?’ The blame game of pointing accusing fingers at others will not carry us far.
“For a positive change to take place, we must all be ready for a sincere change of heart, from the lowest to the highest, but especially at the highest levels. Empty boasts and bare-face denial of the realities around us cannot build a nation.
“We are in the house of God, and before God we must tell the truth. The Lord Jesus has told us that The Truth will make us free. The truth is that our nation is not in a state for us to rejoice.
“The ranks of the poor are swelling by the day, hopeless and helpless, as they watch in frustration the affluence of the very few cruising in a different world. Such wide socio-economic disparity has led to anger, tension, violence and outright criminality in the land. All is not well.
“But all is not lost either. As we embrace a new term of government, it should be for us a new opportunity to change ways and review habits of governance, for a better Nigeria.
“We can and we should do this. God has endowed us with adequate resources to achieve this, resources that we unfortunately turn into crises and problems. Ethnicity and religion are two cases in point.”
The cleric described ethnic diversity as God’s will and gift that the nation ought to appreciate and celebrate, advising Nigerians to beware of those who seek to manipulate this in a game of divide and rule, for selfish interests.
He added, “In our emerging global world, we should be building on our long experience of living together across ethnic lines, if we are not to allow ourselves to be left behind in our fast developing modern world.”
Onaiyekan advised that it is important for the leaders to note that many have already lost hope.
Government officials, including, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha; Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita; Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; as well representatives of the military and police chiefs; diplomats; senior government officials and delegations of various churches and Christian denominations across Abuja and the country attended the event.