Nigeria: Imoke Proffers Solutions To Insecurity
SAN FRANCISCO, July 02, (THEWILL) - Worried by the growing menace of insurgency which has literally crippled some parts of the North East of the country, Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, Tuesday proffered ways out of the maelstrom.
Delivering a speech at a conference organised by the Northern States Christians Elders' Forum (NOSCEF) held at the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, Imoke lamented that Nigeria was in a crucible.
He said it was regrettable that the country in the year of its centenary has seen a peak of terrorism not witnessed since the birth of Nigeria.
The Governor, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Religious Affairs, Pastor Eyo Okpoene, said Nigeria was at a critical crossroads and the path we choose to tread as a nation will determine the integrity of the cohesion of many of these communities affected by this mindless sectarian violence.
He maintained, however, that “in our discussions and deliberations, certain suggestions should resonate louder than others as we seek a resolution to this menace of sectarian violence.'
While urging stakeholders to depoliticise the issue of insecurity as the country seeks to move forward, Governor Imoke said “we could ill-afford to allow political affiliations obscure the clarity we need to objectively focus on the solutions to the situation.”
According to him, “For us to achieve a sustainable solution to this problem, the political class must be above the fray. It is impossible to adjudicate or mediate when bias exists. Political considerations must always be of secondary importance to the peace, stability and security of our communities. Furthermore, the alacrity with which these acts are perpetrated could endanger the whole region if the spread and frequency is left unchecked.
“The paramount responsibility of government is to ensure the safety and security of all its citizens irrespective of ethnicity, religion or class. Government at all levels but particularly at state and local council level must not relent in its execution of this prime responsibility and must do so irrespective of religious belief.”
Governor Imoke stressed the need to draw a line between state and religion, arguing that “We cannot deny the influence of our religious beliefs on the execution of our professional duties and personal responsibilities. Nevertheless, we must delineate these religious beliefs from the responsibilities of government. We need to limit our religious practice to having an influence rather than an impact on the state. There is a rather disturbing prevalence of the eagerness of governments to engage in state-sponsored religious activities. This further tilts the balance of objectivity in relation to resolving religious discord.”
The governor similarly identified apparent failure by all tiers of government and individuals in the past to contribute to community development, a development, he noted, has fashioned a real and tangible cost at present with a rather disagreeable and bleak outlook for the future. While calling for an immediate intervention, Imoke enjoined: “We must not relent in our determination to address the underlying issues which fuel and feed this violence. The inescapable reality of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and general insecurity have all added to the maelstrom which we are witnessing today. Education participation rates are notoriously low in many of these communities, thus manifesting in scant employment prospects to compound the even scarcer employment opportunities. This breeds poverty which in turn heightens the sense of insecurity and communal tensions.
“This vicious cycle is the culmination of years of neglect and a dereliction of duty not just on the part of the relevant authorities but also and most importantly on the part of the other stakeholders who are equally responsible for maintaining the cohesion of the communities they serve. Unfortunately, we must be frank to highlight the fact that the North-east of Nigeria has had more than its fair share of this burden. Development indices underlining performance on access to healthcare, clean water and sanitation as well as educational participation all point to a region which has suffered significant socio-economic development neglect. It is a failure of our social cohesion and the custodians of our communal harmony that we are experiencing the upheaval continuously witnessed in the region at present.”
Governor Imoke who lauded the organisers for convening the conference at a time such as this, said: “NOSCEF has provided a strong and unified voice for Christians, right across Northern Nigeria and now constitutes a pivotal fulcrum for inter-faith relations in this part of our country. We all identify with the values of this forum as it sustains its pursuit of justice, equity and fairness for all regardless of ethnicity, political affiliations or religious creed.”