Conflicts may mar Nigeria’s democracy ahead of 2023 polls, UK warns
• Abubakar, Fayemi proffer solutions
The United Kingdom (UK), yesterday, reviewed the worsening insecurity in Nigeria and submitted that democracy might be destabilised in the run up to the 2023 general elections.
UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) gave the warning in Abuja at the launch of the peace and inclusive security initiative by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
Development Director of FCDO, Chris Beecroft, who delivered a goodwill message at the launch, noted: “Nigeria faces significant peace and security challenges. There is an active insurgency in the Northeast; farmer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the Southeast; and banditry in the Northwest. The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run up to the 2023 elections.”
Stressing, “Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development,” Beecroft said: “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 in giving young people jobs and opportunities so they have a stake in a prosperous and peaceful Nigeria.”
Former Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee, Abdulsalami Abubakar, cautioned that defections from one political party to another could seriously destabilise the country.
Represented by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese and Vice Chairman, National Peace Committee, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, said Nigeria is faced with “instrumentalisation of violence”. According to him, things have become so bad that Nigerians are hostile to diagnosis.
He said the Peace Committee is ready to collaborate with anybody or group on security.
In his opening remark, NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, lamented: “Nigeria is still at the crossroads.”
He added: “One of the key areas where there is urgent need for consensual action today is security and governance, given the escalation in the spate of violence and coordinated criminal activities that have undermined government authority and waned public trust in recent times.
“The level of insecurity across parts of the country is not only eroding citizens’ safety and peoples’ means of livelihood, it is also threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians.”