Insecurity: Utomi, Teriba, others chart path to peaceful nation
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Nigerians have been charged to close ranks and scale down the insecurity ravaging the country to pave the way for its peace and economic prosperity.
This is even as experts have expressed worries about the way the media have been projecting some of the problems confronting the country, warning that if Nigerians don’t respect their differences and come together, they would have themselves to blame in the end.
Speaking during a webinar on ‘The Imperative of Peace for a Successful Economy’ organised by the American Business Council Nigeria, the experts established that there was a link between peace and economic prosperity, warning that the current wave of insecurity was slowing down the country’s progress.
In his welcome remarks at the webinar, President of the American Business Council, Dipo Faulkner, said: “There is an intricate link between peace and economic prosperity. The rampant occurrence of insecurity within Nigeria casts a big shadow of doubt on investors’ confidence in the country. We see this in the decline in the level of quarterly foreign direct investments from 251 million in quarter four of 2020 to about 154 million in quarter one of 2021. And more recently, when you look at the figures for quarter two of 2021, it has gone further down to 77.9 million. The economic impact survey carried out by the American Business Council on U. S. Companies also highlighted that insecurity is a major concern for U.S. investors in Nigeria.
“The webinar has been organised with the objective of throwing light on the importance of private sector participation in maintaining the peace, helping bridge the gap between the government and the public for the good of all and to find solutions to the insecurity in Nigeria.”
Founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi, who moderated the webinar, stated that Nigerians could become guilty by omission and get into a bigger trouble, noting that the current state of affairs in the country was a serious challenge.
“If we do not tap into what is known about the challenges we have and the need for peace and goodwill, we may be in much deeper trouble than we seem to be today,” he noted.
Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, who spoke on the topic, ‘Rather than Violence, All Hands on Deck’, noted that a country as big as Nigeria, with huge human and material resources could not afford not to have peace as a sine qua non for the attainment of its national development objectives.
He blamed the current state of affairs in the country on the abandonment of the foundation laid by its founding fathers. Abari said: “Over the years, we have actually jettisoned all that our forefathers did towards bringing about a country that was functioning. Our forefathers worked to establish standards of governance. Although they might have definitely differed in their methods and tactics, they obviously succeeded in building a society that was functional. Along the line in the course of nation building, we missed the bars and the reasons we missed the bars had already been adduced by many scholars in many fora and many studies. The truth is we are paying for abandoning what was bequeathed to us by the founding fathers of the nation. And consequently, our development objectives have been derailed; we lost focus in our governmental processes and procedures.
“So, all hands should be on deck. We must be seen to be guided by the rule of law, as no society can actually make progress without adherence to the basic tenets of the rule of law. We must be consensus builders.”
He added: “Government has the constitutional responsibility of ensuring the security and welfare of Nigerians and promoting a peaceful atmosphere. Government should promote inclusiveness in governance, ensure equitable distribution of resources to give every segment a sense of belonging, address the problem of hate speeches and fake news through appropriate legislation and sanctions but most importantly, government must not allow any gap in its information dissemination to the citizens.
“Government should quickly look into the proliferation of small arms and light weapons through effective border control and sanctions to violators. Government should address inter-generational relations by empowering the youth to participate in governance, economy and enterprise; political parties have a key role to play in this and then support the establishment of structures for peace, justice and integration.”
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Economic Associates, Dr. Ayo Teriba, in his remarks, argued that the economic stagnation of the country was behind its current security challenges.
His words: “I looked at the topic which seemed to imply that peace is a prerequisite for economic progress and I take the alternative view that economic progress is a prerequisite for peace; it’s not the other way round.
“By the way, Nigeria enjoys peace; Nigeria is not at war. We are in peacetime but we are facing the threat that we may lose the peace. We enjoy peace but our economic stagnation is the reason the fright of anarchy stares us in the face. And I get worried when I listen to opinion leaders.
“Nigeria and Africa are the last not to understand that it is not about the ends you want to achieve; it’s about the means with which you want to achieve the end. We come up with endless list of things we must do, but we never ask ourselves where we will find the resources to do them. Whatever you want to do, money answers all things and our mentality in Nigeria is to assume that the money will be available. We make budgets that we don’t implement because there is no money. So, different groups in Nigeria are losing faith in the republic for economic reasons. It’s like having failed to bake a large enough national cake, we are boxed into a corner in which different groups are fighting for a share of a shrinking national cake.
“The consensus that we need is how do we find the resources to keep socio-political harmony. It is about money. If you look at China, they made a U-turn being a hardcore communist country to embrace foreign investment in search of money. They are not telling you what they want to use the money for but they are outrunning everybody to get any type of money from the global scene. Is it FDI, export revenue, diaspora remittances, China is either first or second. The same applies to India. India’s economic policy since 1991 has been Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG). These three words are about how to get money from abroad. They understood that money answers all things.”
Teriba added: “So, when you are talking insurgency and insecurity, do you know that why the great wall of China was built was to prevent miscreants that just cross and invade China? Unless you have the money to do a similar wall, you will continue saying that bandits are from neighbouring West African countries. There is no economy that will progress that will not be under the threat of marauders be it a state or an individual. If you are truly wealthy, you must be able to set some money aside to secure your wealth. So, let’s focus on how Nigeria will get the money to solve its endless list of problems. The day we get that right, Nigeria will make progress.”
On his part, Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi said he was not pleased by the way the media projects the problems of the country particularly when patronised by politicians. He urged the regulatory authorities to mete out the appropriate sanctions to defaulting media organisations.
“Let us look critically at the role of the media in this country. If you listen to radio stations whether in Kano, Kaduna or Maiduguri, all you hear is politicians trying to create trouble. What is the NBC doing? Why are they not exercising the regulatory powers they have been given along with the instruments to work with? Do we allow media to continue instigating Nigerians? Who will bring this to a stop? So, I have a problem with that,” Kankarofi said.