Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday rallied Nigerians to put the brakes on the spiralling violence that has pushed Nigeria to the edge of a precipice as the nation cannot afford another civil war now.
He also urged the elite to speak out against forces of division in order to preserve the unity of the country.
However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is optimistic that the worsening insecurity, as typified by the rising cases of killings, kidnappings, terrorism and banditry, would not consume the nation.
Osinbajo, at a meeting on Tuesday night in Abuja with All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders from the South-east, said whether or not the country would experience another civil war, after that of 1967-1970 that claimed about two million lives, would depend on the actions and inactions of the political elite.
Osinbajo, in a statement yesterday by his media aide, Mr. Laolu Akande, said: “We cannot afford a war in this country…it is the political elite that will determine what will take place. If we keep quiet, if we say nothing and hope that things will just normalise, we may be wrong.
“And we may find ourselves heading for something much worse than we are seeing today.
“If the political elite do not speak up, if we don’t see anything wrong with what is going on, if we allow it to continue to slide, we will endanger ourselves and endanger the future of our country.
“I know that every conflict is a result of elite failure, the elite failure to speak up and tell the truth to their communities, that’s the cause of every one of these civil conflicts.
“So, I would urge that we speak up. I would urge that we stand for something. Sometimes it’s dangerous to stand for something. But the greater danger, of course, is to keep quiet.”
He cautioned that “the thing about the kinds of conflicts in these parts of the world is that it is usually a war without end. Everyone who thinks that they have some money stored up somewhere is wrong, you will eventually run out.”
Narrating his experience when he worked with the United Nations in Somalia, Osinbajo said he saw a Supreme Court judge queuing for food.
Insecurity Won’t Consume Nigeria, Says Obasanjo
But former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday assured Nigerians that the rising insecurity would not consume the nation.
He said there would be light at the end of the tunnel despite the killings and abductions.
Obasanjo, during a valedictory and commendation service for the retiring President of Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said he remained an “incurable optimist” that a better Nigeria would emerge despite the escalating security challenges.
The church held its 108th session at the Baptist International Conference Centre, Lufuwape Town, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The service was attended by other dignitaries, including Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; his Oyo State counterpart, Mr. Seyi Makinde; and Senator Ishaku Abbo (Adamawa North), among others.
Obasanjo, who is a member of the Baptist Church, added that Nigeria would surmount all the current problems.
He stated: “When I was coming here, I didn’t intend to make a speech. And you will see that unlike my two brothers (referring to Abiodun and Makinde); I don’t have anything to read.
“If you have brothers like this, do you have anything to fear? So, I told them to make a speech and I have come to concur. So, I concur.
“But having concurred, if I don’t say more than that, you will leave here and say ‘Obasanjo is I concur.’
“Is that good enough? My two brothers talked about the situation we are in (insecurity). You know, I’m an incurable optimist about a number of things but particularly about Nigeria.
“Epon agbo wa n fi ni, koni ja (the situation may be dire but we won’t be consumed). There will be light at the end of the tunnel.”
Nigeria Facing Extra-ordinary Security Challenges, Says Blinken
Meanwhile, the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken, has said Nigeria is facing extra-ordinary security challenges, but has an ally in his country.
Blinken, who was at a virtual roundtable with some selected journalists from Nigeria and Kenya after an equally virtual visit to both countries, said he discussed the security situation in Nigeria with President Muhammadu Buhari and some other top government officials.
While answering a question from one of the Nigerian journalists, Blinken said: “I think it is fair to say that the challenges that Nigeria face when it comes to security are quite extraordinary – and you referenced them – whether it’s terrorism, whether it’s banditry and criminality, whether it’s piracy. All of these are real challenges.
“The good news is this: One, we are in absolute solidarity between us in trying to address these challenges together. And the United States is committed to supporting Nigeria as it meets these challenges. And what that involves primarily is helping Nigeria continue to build its capacity through training, through resources, through information sharing, through equipment and all of that done, very importantly, with full respect for human rights.”
He added that: “But it’s also important that we work together, as we are, to address some of the drivers or facilitators of violence and instability that we know those engaged in these activities can sometimes feed on. And that’s why you have to have a comprehensive approach to these challenges. It’s not – the security piece is vitally important, but it’s insufficient, and so economic development, progress, opportunity is hugely important.”
U.S Advises Citizens on Movement within Lagos
However, the United States Consulate has cautioned Americans living in Lagos to be more security conscious, given the alleged rise in cases of armed robbery in the state.
The consulate, in an advisory, said it had recently seen a notable increase in crime in the state, including smash-and-grabs on the roads by armed men, especially in both Ikoyi and on Victoria Island areas.
According to the advisory, typically, men on a motorcycle will follow a vehicle until it stops at a traffic light or intersection then approach the vehicle, present a weapon, and rob the occupants.
It stated that although most of the incidents happen at night, the consulate in Lagos has received reports of robberies taking place even during daylight hours.
“Please remember to be aware of your surroundings, especially when driving at night. The following personal safety tips can help reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
“Keep vehicle doors locked and windows rolled up at all times while driving, especially in traffic jams or at traffic lights. Avoid driving alone at night and do not stop to help strangers on the road,” the consulate said.