Shasha clash: Our political leaders must convene a national dialogue ― PGF DG
• Says everyone now an ethnic warlord
Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, has reacted to the violent clashes between the Yoruba and the Hausa-Fulani in the latter settlement, Shasha in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
The Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, has since imposed a curfew between 6 pm -7 am in the affected community.
Reacting to the development, Lukman who said the bad conduct of a certain Hausa tomato seller instigated the violence expressed disappointment that reactions by Nigerians on the social media on the unfortunate incident have been driven severally by ethnic profiling.
In a statement entitled, “Cries for Justice: Sasha and the Burden of Political Leadership, he raised the alarm that the country was on the precipe except Nigerians revive their patriotic spirit. Lukman called on eminent political leaders to seize the initiative to convene a national summit towards supplanting the growing ethnic hatred in the country.
He said: “Since the beginning of January 2021, there are so many alleged communal attacks in the country, which are subject of public speculation with all the tensions they generate. Sadly, we have cases of political and sectional leaders riding behind information related to all these conflicts, some of them unconfirmed, to mobilise hatred in the land. While it is important that all law-abiding citizens dissociate themselves from all the campaigns of ethnic hatred going on in the country, we must caution our political leaders to wake up to the responsibility of providing political leadership on a matter that has taken over every political debate.
“As it is today, it is impossible to debate any issue in Nigeria without the attempt to interpret it along ethnic and religious lines.
“In the 1970s, 1980s and up to 1990s, once there is an issue threatening the peaceful co-existence of the country, the tradition is that our national non-governmental organisations will convene meetings to review situations and decide accordingly.
“Trade unions, civil society, women, students, youth and even religious and traditional organisations will meet to take decisions. Eventually, those decisions taken on the platforms of these non-governmental organisations provide the parameters for policy demands and negotiations with the government.
“The requirement to meet and take decisions was not some distant considerations but the need to guide members across the country in terms of what needs to be done to guarantee the safety of life of members in every part of the country.
This is not a matter that should be driven by sentiments. Our organisations were conscious of the fact that a threat to a member in any part of the country is a threat to all members across the country.
“Before Sasha, there were many reportedly alleged cases of communal violence across the country. Till today, there is hardly any reported position or proposal taken by any of our national organisations. All we have is clamour by ethnic bullies and warlords mobilising support against ethnic groups they considered as their enemies.
“Even leaders of national organisations have become not more than ethnic bullies and warlords. Once leader takes a position based on ethnic sentiments without the humility to consider positions of other members who are part of organisations he/she is leading, such a leader is nothing more ethnic bully or warlord.”
In an apparent reference to the remarks attributed to the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who justified the possession of arms by herdsmen, the DG of the Forum of APC governors called on political parties to ensure that henceforth, ethnic champions were denied access to platforms to attain elective offices as he noted that such individuals were dangerous to the survival of the nation and its democracy.
“The level of intolerance in the country on account of our ethnic background is beyond imagination. The source of it borders on how issues of justice are compromised in virtually every part, affecting every section of the country. In the circumstance we find ourselves as a nation, we should begin to campaign that any political leader who overtly or covertly defended criminality must be regarded as either a criminal or one with the intention to commit crime too.
“Why should we allow any form of defence of criminality to dominate political debate and contest in the country? This is the main reason why we vilify every political leader that is not from our tribe, which then produce some fear in us that made us not to allow ourselves to be defeated by such candidates. Given that ethnic groups are being tagged as criminals, there is all manner of political mobilisation based on ethnic undertone.
“As we move towards 2023, this is going to be a serious problem. It is important that our parties are able to consider new approaches that should challenge our political leaders to become leaders and champions of peaceful co-existence. With all the attacks against APC, it has the best potential of coming up with initiatives that can push political leaders to work for peaceful co-existence in the country.”