Adopting National Security Strategy for Tackling Secessionist Agenda
By Ya’u Mukhtar
I was thrilled with the contents of the latest document the “National Security Strategy 2019 that was released by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The document is general in content and its implementation depends on other national strategic documents such as the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, the National Defence Policy and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
In his remarks on the foreword, President Muhammadu Buhari said the document captured and emphasized his renewed bond with Nigerians in ensuring the nation’s security and welfare. He therefore, commended the document to all Nigerians, stakeholders and key players, as the overarching policy and strategic basis for protecting, preserving, promoting and protecting our core national values and interests in the face of internal and external threats.
Some of the sections in the document emphasising the need for unity and peaceful coexistence among Nigerian citizens. However, it is excruciating when looking at how often the different groups in the regions of the country are clamouring for secessionist agenda thereby promoting hatred, instilling fear and casting doubt on our national unity.
Recently, a former Niger Delta Militant Leader, Asari Dokubo declared for the formation of Biafra Customary Government and blamed injustice and marginalization of the Igbos as the reason behind the creation of the new shadow government.
Similarly, a Yoruba self-acclaimed activist, Sunday Igboho also declared Oduduwa Republic and demanded the secession of the southwest states from Nigeria. Igboho claimed that most of the resources in Nigeria are controlled by the northerners while Yorubas are being killed and their land confiscated by herdsmen.
Igboho, therefore, called on Yorubas residing in the north to quickly return to the southwest region before the break-out of another civil war.
Responding to Igboho’s unpatriotic declaration, Arewa youths under the umbrella of Arewa Youth Assembly [AYA], issued a 72hours ultimatum to Igboho to evacuate his people from the north by providing transport facilities to convey them home or they would help him to do so. AYA, in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Mohammed Salihu Danlami said that since Igboho the Yoruba nation would no longer accommodate the presence of northerners in their region, the Northerners were ready to take decisive actions too.
The worrisome rhetoric of agitators is creating unnecessary tensions and anxiety in the country.
It is necessary to point out that our ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity are sources of national strength and not for antagonistic and divisive tendencies. Harnessing this strength and reinforcing our social cohesion is one of the cardinal requirements of our national security and remains a priority for the nation.
I strongly believe that our traditional, religious and political leaders have tremendous roles to play towards containing the excesses and the combatant postures of the youths clamouring for secessionist agendas. A lot of programmes and policies have worked I the past towards promoting national unity and cohesion. More of such can be revived. Guided by the values of inclusion, tolerance and respect for universal human rights, the government must also fortify unifying institutions such as the Federal Character Commission and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) that enhance our integrative potential by promoting the equality of every citizen and combating discrimination and prejudice in all forms.
As indicated in the National Security Strategy, we should continue to encourage ties among persons of different ethnicities, creeds and cultures and also safeguard democracy and the socio-cultural pluralism that provides an expression for our heterogeneity while promoting national consciousness and identity.
Nigeria belongs to all of us as the constitution clearly states that a Nigerian can live in any part of the country, irrespective of his or her religious and tribal placements. The time is ripe to nip in the bud all ethnic and sectional sentiments and invest our energy toward the achievement of a common national goal, peace and security. The government at all level should also work round the clock by prioritizing unity and peaceful coexistence among the citizens.
The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), should not only ensure that the NSS document is widely circulated to the stakeholders but to ensure the implementations of the strategies which can go a long way in addressing most of the challenges we currently face as a nation.
Ya’u Mukhtar writes from Madobi in Kano state. He can be reached via [email protected],