Due to the violence and others issues bedevilling the country, the Nigerian government has been warned that the country’s democracy might collapse before the 2023 presidential election.
The UK said that though the police and army are in urgent need of reform, the United Kingdom said the solution to Nigeria’s instability does not lie in simply strengthening the police and army, but rather in building an effective social contract system.
Development Director, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Chris Beecroft, in a goodwill message at the launch of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative (PISI) in Abuja on Thursday, said conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.
Beecroft, who stated that Nigeria is facing peace and security challenges, added that: “The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections.
“There is an active insurgency in the North East; farmer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the South-East; and banditry in the North West.
“Conflict destroys lives, destroys livelihoods, destroys hope and ambition for the future. Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development,” Beecroft stated.
According to him, the proliferation of small arms and weapons and the weaponisation of social media, are drivers of conflict and instability.
Former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), in his remarks, decried what he described as “the instrumentalisation of violence,” noting that violence has become a commodity in Nigeria.
Abubakar, Chairman of the National Peace Committee, who was represented by Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, said Nigerians are averse to diagnosis.
He disagreed that poverty is the cause of violence in Nigeria, arguing that China has about 300 million unemployed persons.
The former Head of State also condemned the spate of defections by politicians from one party to another, noting that “when a governor or senator defects, it has a destabilising effect. The problem of this decision spurs violence.”
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi said Nigeria, is still at the crossroads, adding that the level of insecurity across parts of the country is not only eroding citizens’ safety and peoples’ means of livelihood but also threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians.
Fayemi, who is governor of Ekiti State, noted that the spate of violence and coordinated criminal activities have undermined the government’s authority and waned public trust in recent times.