As Nigeria marks 53 years since the end of its thirty-month civil war, Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, has urged the government to treat agitating groups with a ‘carrot and stick method to address the root causes of instability.
He stressed that such is the best strategy to handle the current uprisings in different parts of the country championed by various groups of agitators.
Obi made the call in his remarks on the occasion of Nigeria’s 53rd Anniversary of the end of the Nigerian Civil War also celebrated as Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
Every year, Nigeria celebrates Armed Forces Remembrance Day on January 15 to honour the nation’s servicemen and fallen heroes.
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It is also an occasion to commemorate the end of the Nigeria-Biafra Civil war which ended on January 15, 1970, marking the restoration of the nation’s unity.
In the statement titled “Nation Building and Ordered Society are Imperative,” the Labour Party presidential candidate stressed the need for everyone, especially political leaders from all sections of the country to show commitment to the goal of working to have a united and progressive Nigeria.
Obi said that 53 years after the end of the civil war, every citizen from all parts of the country should be talking about having a united, secure and prosperous country.
“Today marks fifty-three years since the civil war formally ended. Let us accept that the war has truly ended. To try to continue to ‘fight the civil war’ today, after fifty-three years, would be a great disservice to Nigeria and Nigerians, particularly our heroes who diligently laboured to secure and unite us. Let our rallying anthem remain: ‘Though tribes and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand,” Obi advised.
On his part, he said: “I, Peter Obi, a proud Nigerian of Igbo extraction, am most truthfully and wholly committed to that stand of One United, Secure and Progressive Nigeria!”
“Anyone who still harbours any agenda different from the realization of a wholesome and unifying people-oriented development vision is doing a terrible disservice to this generation and generations of Nigerians yet unborn. I cannot think of any valid reason, except for the deficit of sound socio-economic and political policies and programmes that will unite and propel Nigeria forward,” Obi stated.
He said that the skirmishes experienced in parts of the country orchestrated by groups of youth agitators could be blamed on injustice, poverty, and lack of opportunities, leading to unemployment, and apparent exclusion of people, especially youths.
He stressed that if there is equity and inclusiveness in access to economic empowerment such challenges would not be in place.
He advocated that the best strategy to handle the situation is to offer the ‘carrot’ through national empowerment inclusion programmes to those willing to end violent behaviour and use the ‘stick’ on others unwilling to accept the ‘carrot’ to have a nation standing on the foundation of peace, justice and order.
“There are youths all over Nigeria who are frustrated because of injustice, poverty, lack of opportunities, unemployment, and apparent exclusion. Such youths could seize upon and use anything issue or tool to express their frustration and anger. I believe that some of those who are agitating are doing so partly due to our failures in creating an inclusive and progressive Nigeria.
“A working Nigeria with equity, justice and fairness will also definitely and effectively checkmate such extreme groups like Boko Haram and ISWAP.
“I believe that the best strategy for dealing with these situations manifesting in the guise of unclear nationalism, bigoted patriotism and religious bigotry is a carrot-and-stick approach. Nation-building and an Ordered Society are now imperative. We must wean those that can be weaned through the creation of a society where equity and justice will prevail, a society where the basic freedoms and necessities of life, such as health, jobs, skills, and empowerment are provided.
“There must be a national programme for those who will accept the carrot approach. For those unwilling to yield to the carrot approach, the stick option will be fully justified and applied. We must put an order in our society and where necessary, justice will be tempered with mercy.”
The former Anambra State governor further said he believes that most of the agitating groups would stop when they see a “patriotic leadership imbued with fairness, equity, justice, and a determination for a very inclusive and progressive society.”
“Every rational human being can change when he sees a good reason to do so. Such incentives require the right approach, effort, and time,” Obi stated.
He described as “unfair” the act of using the misconduct or position of one person or few persons in an ethnic group to stigmatize the entire group, saying such is “a wrong approach and should not be so!”
Obi pledged that beginning today (January 15, 2023), he would be committed to making sure that the civil war and the circumstances that led to it do not re-occur by contributing to building “an all-inclusive and progressive society where no individual or group will be estranged, marginalized, or excluded.”
He added that a new Nigeria that every citizen will be proud and patriotically committed to is possible and is a task that must be achieved.
Obi decried the situation in which 133 million Nigerians live in multi-dimensional poverty, 20 million children are out of school, and nearly 40 per cent unemployment, collapsed healthcare and other negative indices of underdevelopment, saying those are things that should concern every Nigerian.
He urged all to come together and tackle the challenges irrespective of tribe and religion.
“That is the Nigeria for which I wish to be the Team Leader, where everybody will be included, no matter where he or she comes from or what his or her beliefs are,” the LP presidential standard bearer added.