A former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), has cautioned against the frequent defections by politicians, saying it is causing violence, crisis, that overheat the polity.
Abdulsalami, at the launch of the Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative by the 36 states governors yesterday in Abuja, warned against the frequent defections by politicians from one political party to another.
He spoke against the backdrop of political realignment by politicians ahead of the 2023 general election that has seen some of them, especially governors and lawmakers, change parties.
No fewer than three governors have dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) since last November when Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, left the opposition party.
Others that have defected are Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, and Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle.
Also, at the launch of the initiative, the British High Commission in Nigeria, warned that the crisis facing Nigeria, if not quickly resolved, could destabilise the democratic process and the 2023 general election.
It also called for urgent reforms in the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force, explaining that the use of the army and the police cannot resolve the security challenges facing Nigeria.
It said the way forward is reconciliation, mediation, arbitration, and access to justice.
Abdulsalami, represented by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, warned politicians against the frequent change of parties as it could destabilise the country.
These acts of defections cause violence and overheat the polity because of a simple act of one politician. These decisions spur violence and crisis.
He also called for more cooperation among the security agencies in tackling crimes and criminalities.
He queried the deradicalisation of repentant insurgents, saying that the federal government should make open the content of deradicalisation that is given to them.
In his speech, the Development Director, Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. Chris Pycroft, warned that Nigeria faces significant security challenges that could endanger the 2023 general election.
There is an active insurgency in the North-east; farmer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the South-east; and banditry in the North-west. The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to 2023 elections.
Conflict destroys lives, destroys livelihoods, destroys hope and ambition for the future. Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.
The envoy called for reforms in the police and the army, saying:
The police and army are in urgent need of reform but the solution to Nigeria’s instability does not lie in simply strengthening the police and army but rather in building an effective social contract, building federal, state, local and community-level infrastructure to manage conflict; and in giving young people jobs and opportunities so that they have a stake in a prosperous and peaceful Nigeria.
The proliferation of small arms and weapons, and the weaponisation of social media are drivers of conflict and instability. But with the right commitment, dedications and support-there are solutions.
Pycroft stated that the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) recognises the important role the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) plays in setting the peace and security agenda, building state-level, and community-level structures and institutions to reduce violence and to respond to conflict and insecurity across Nigeria.
He said the FCDO was keen on continuing its collaboration with and support for Nigeria in its efforts to deal with the mounting insecurity.
Pycroft stated that the UK is pleased to support the governors’ initiative and is committed to continue working with them in advancing their peace and security agenda.
According to him, peace and stability will be achieved when the causes of conflict in society are managed through strong, fair, and responsive governance mechanisms – whether at community, state, or federal level.
The use of the police and army will always be only part of the solution. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on reconciliation, mediation, arbitration, and access to justice – all vital components of a vibrant, resilient, and effective social contract.
Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said Nigeria is still at the crossroads, adding that one of the key areas where there is an urgent need for consensual action is security governance.
He said the escalation of violence and coordinated criminal activities had undermined the government’s authority and waned public trust in recent times.
According to him, the worsening insecurity in the country is not only eroding citizens’ safety and people’s means of livelihoods, but threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians.