By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi on Sunday visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta where the due deliberated on how to tackle rising insecurity in the country.
Gumi came with a delegation of eight on the visit. They are: Prof. Usman Yusuf, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Dr. Umar Ardo, Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, Honourable Suleiman Gumi, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu and Mallam Buba Mohammed.
Obasanjo received Gumi and his delegation in the presence of Oba Babajide Bakre, Agura of Gbagura, Abeokuta; Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya, Chairman of Ogun State Christian Association of Nigeria; Sheikh Sa’addallah Alade Bamigbola, Chief Imam of Egbaland; Chief Kenny Martins, Chief Ola Babajide Jaiyeoba; Rev. Tony Ojeshina, Chief Imams of Oke-Ona, Gbagura, Owu and Mr. Vitalis Ortese.
A joint statement issued at the end of their meeting lamented the menace of banditry, kidnapping, other crimes and atrocities leading to general insecurity, saying it is a nationwide phenomenon.
The duo acknowledge that people from different parts of the country and outside the country were involved in criminality, but that some people were more predominantly involved than others.
“We must not advertently or inadvertently, in words, action or inaction encourage or support criminality. We acknowledge that the security situation has gone beyond tolerance; hence Sheik Gumi’s coming to Abeokuta to confer with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We identified the crisis as micro ethnic conflict between the Fulani and many host communities mainly in the North West. We identified the remote causes as educational and economic disparities, and the negative use of religion and ethnicity by unscrupulous politicians,” they said.
According to them, solutions must be seen and provided on short, medium and long-term bases and must be composed of stick and carrot for the offender and the vulnerable.
Obasanjo and Gumi said all well-meaning Nigerians have to be involved in finding solutions by desisting from blame game, ethnicising these crimes, religionising these crimes, respecting one another individually, community-wise, locally, ethnically, religiously and socially; showing tolerance and accommodation where necessary, among others.
The statement said since the end of the civil war, the military were the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity that the nation has and that the nation must keep them so.
They added that state governments must have adequate means of providing security for their people and that as chief executives and chief security officers of their states, they must have the means at their disposal to ensure security for all within their states.
“Federal government must be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have common policy for the nation. It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against.
“Education is one main key to solve the problem in the long run but it must start now. The 14 million children that should be in school and are out of school must be put in school with local authorities, state governments and federal government working together.
“Wean those who are ready to be weaned out of the bushes and crime, settle and rehabilitate them, give them skills, empower them and let them have employment. The hardened criminals must be hard hit with stick. Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished,” they said.
Obasanjo and Gumi agreed that the Federal Government should take the issue of security up seriously within ECOWAS to work for a regional solution, adding that every community must be encouraged and empowered to stand firm and strong against criminals.
The duo also submitted that there should be protection and reward covertly for whistle blowers against criminals living in the community.
They advocated that special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding and unlawful carrying of weapons.
Obasanjo and Gumi added that to keep Nigeria safe and secure for all Nigerians and others living in Nigeria is a task that all well-meaning Nigerians must engage in, separately and collectively.