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‘Buhari must summon national dialogue now to save Nigeria’

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Chief Bode George

Former Deputy National Chairman of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, save Nigeria from going under by calling a national dialogue where the issue of the escalating insecurity confronting the country would be discussed. The former military administrator of Ondo State said the spate of insecurity confronting Nigeria today is scary and it requires an urgent and national solution.

While speaking with The Guardian, George said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) must eschew political sentiments and be ready to involve all necessary stakeholders in all sectors in a roundtable with the aim to finding a lasting solution to the new wave of herdsmen’s attack, banditry, kidnapping, Boko Haram insurgency among others.

He dismissed the recent security roundtable organised by a former military head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) in Minna, Niger State, saying, “The meeting cannot yield any result because it was not the former head of state Nigerians voted as their president in the last general election. Nothing will come out of the meeting other than the talks. The buck stops on Buhari’s table and until he called for a dialogue the country risks the calamity of going under with the way things are at present.

“The state of security challenges in Nigeria is worrisome. I am scared to my bones; every day I wake up I think about it. The hope we had when growing up is lost. Nigerians live by the hour now. It is like some cloud of uncertainty hovering over our nation. Distrust has become the norm under this government. The gulf between the ethnic groups is getting wider instead of closing. I went to the military after my university education and the culture there got us to believe in the indivisibility of this country, but now Nigerians look at themselves with the feeling that we are enemies.”

The PDP stalwart also warned that semblances of the same ethnic divisions and hatred that led to the 1967 civil war are visible now, meaning that the country did not learn what it ought to have learned from that war.

According to him, “Is this because of political power now or because someone wants to ram it down our throat that once a tribe gets to power, then the culture of that tribe must be forced on other ethnic groups instead of respecting the culture of the others? People have asked, what can we say about the security as a retired force man? First, the Nigerian Armed Forces are not like the police.

It is called the Nigerian Armed Forces, unlike Nigeria Police. That’s a major difference. The nomenclature is the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, but it is Nigeria Police. The difference is that anybody can be given an appointment in the police, whether a Nigerian or not, but not in the armed forces. The armed forces must fight as a unit and to do this they must see themselves as comrades, which give that sense of oneness to defend any incursion that will destabilize the nation.

“If you now turn the Nigerian Armed Forces against their people, as we are currently witnessing under this administration, it is the worse thing. This is a new face of insecurity attacking Nigeria. The best option, usually in the military where we have an operation called Aide to Civil Power (ACP), that is any internal insurrection or disturbances, will be handled by the police. If the police now say we cannot cope through the Inspector General of Police to the Commander-in-Chief, who will now request for the military, and so the process goes. President Buhari needs to be extremely careful how he handles this seemingly dangerous menace facing Nigeria. My own solution is that the Commander-in-Chief must as a matter of urgency call for a national dialogue. We are in a democratic dispensation and even at the worse of military government when you have this kind of crisis you go into dialogue.

“I remember I was a governor in Ondo State when the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) riot started. What I did was to call for dialogue and there was no riot in my state. What the government is doing now is more or less of a fire brigade approach. What we are facing now is a national malady.”


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