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ETHNO-RELIGIOUS CRISIS: SENATE TO ADDRESS INDIGENE/SETTLER DICHOTOMY

By NBF NEWS
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As part of measures aimed at ending the recurring ethno-religious crisis occasioned by disputes over residency rights, a bill seeking to correct the anomaly is currently before the Senate.

The piece of legislation, which is a bill sponsored by Senator Abubakar Sodangi (PDP, Nasarawa West), is aimed at bringing to an end, the indigene/settler dichotomy often blamed for recurring violence across the nation.

Our correspondent gathered in Abuja on Thursday that the bill had been slated for second reading as soon as the Senate resumes plenary next week.

Hundreds of Nigerian lives had been lost to ethno-religious conflicts since the return of civilian rule in 1999.

The bill is titled 'A Bill for an Act to Provide for Residency Rights for Every Citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has lived or resided consecutively and paid taxes to the relevant local government of the area where such person has lived or resided for a period of not less than five consecutive years and for any child of such person who is less than 18 years of age and who has lived with such citizen for the same period of time, and for other related matters.'

But a member of the civil society, Mallam Auwal Musa, said while such legislation was welcomed, a lot more needs to be done to improve public perception of the concept of nationhood.

He said it was unjust for any state in Nigeria to discriminate against a fellow Nigerian who had lived and worked all his life and contributed meaningfully to a given society over time to be discriminated against.

Musa, who is also the executive director of the Abuja-based Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, explained that Nigerians also required reorientation to see one another as stakeholders in the Nigerian state.

He said, 'We need a leadership at all levels that can elicit confidence in Nigerians as a people.

When leaders truly lead with justice and fairness, every Nigerian will feel free and safe in any part of the country they find themselves.'