FORMER President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday declared that governments of former President, Goodluck Jonathan, and Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) paid ransom to kidnappers but they denied it.
Obasanjo said he did not believe in payment of ransom to kidnappers and banditry, maintaining that it encouraged criminals indulging in the act.
He spoke on Wednesday at his Penthouse residence within Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while playing host to members of Tiv Professionals’ Group led by Prof. Zacharys Anger Gundu.
He, however, submitted that the government must develop the means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of ransom payment.
Obasanjo insisted that it required a “carrot and stick” approach to fight insecurity challenges to a standstill.
He said, “Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage.
“But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it. Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during (Goodluck) Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”
Speaking on the forthcoming 2023 elections, Obasanjo said leaders must ensure the election birthed the emergence of a new federation in Nigeria; otherwise the country might be “sliding into grand dissolution.”
He bemoaned insecurity challenges and insisted that 2023 must mark a watershed for Nigeria.
He said, “I do believe that whatever else we do we have to make the year 2023 a watershed for Nigeria. The year 2023 should give us the beginning of emergence of a new federation or feeling that the rot continues, and then, we are going to be sliding back to a grand dissolution. God forbid.”
While relaying the position of a military friend, Obasanjo expressed fears that those beating drums of division in Nigeria didn’t think about the interest of the minority ethnic groups.
He added, “And he would say to me if the Yoruba can stand as a country, if the Igbo can stand as a country, if the Hausa/Fulani can stand as a country, if you, major tribes, decide to break up from the country, where do you want the minority ethnic groups to stand? That, many Nigerians don’t know about, unfortunately.
“Where do we want those minor groups to stand? Wherever they stand, now they are by virtue of Nigeria’s present situation a little bit protected. But if Nigeria breaks up and they are in a smaller country, they will be oppressed. They will always be exterminated. Are we thinking of that?”
Presenting a paper earlier, the leader of the group, Prof. Zacharys Anger Gundu, told Obasanjo that “blood is flowing in Benue State” following killings of the people allegedly by Fulani and bandits.
He, however, demanded that full compensation for the victims of killings and destruction in Tivland, proscription of armed fulani groups, while “land grabbing must stop and all occupied lands must be vacated.”
Eid: Buhari asks Nigerians to pray against banditry, kidnapping
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday asked Nigerians to pray against kidnapping, banditry and blackmail.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President made the call in his Eid-il-Fitr message.
The statement was titled ‘On the occasion of Eid, President Buhari calls for unity and solidarity’.
Shehu quoted the President as saying, “On this blessed occasion, I wish that the Eid festival brings with it peace, safety, security, brotherhood and love amongst all.
“Unity and solidarity among all citizens, Muslims and Christians are imperative especially at a time when our country is faced with multiple challenges which are surmountable only when we come together as one.
“It is important that we remember how we share, through our faiths, common bonds that should serve to unite us and not allow ourselves to succumb to those who seek to divide us, using our two great religions, for their own selfish advantages.
“We should jointly pray against the tragic incidents of kidnapping and banditry and the desperate quest for political power expressed through blackmail against the existence of our country as a united entity.
“We must resist the temptation to retreat into our communities. I urge our political and religious leaders as well as traditional rulers to encourage our citizens to turn towards one another in love and compassion.”
Insecurity: Southern Governors ban open grazing, ask Buhari to address nation
The governors in 17 states of the southern part of Nigeria have demanded the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of the people.
The Forum stated this in a 12-point communique read by its Chairman, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, at the end of its four hours meeting held in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The governors affirmed that the people of Southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria on the basis of justice, fairness, equity, oneness, and peaceful co-existence between and among its peoples with a focus on the attainment of shared goals for economic development and prosperity.
He said, “Southern Governors expressed very grave concern on the security challenges currently plaguing the nation and strongly urged that Mr. President should address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity and restore the confidence of our people.
“We observed that the incursion of armed herders, criminals, and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives including pursuing various productive activities leading to a threat to food supply and general security.
“Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria.
“Agreed that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to the evolution of state police, review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments and creation of other institutions which legitimately advance our commitment to and practice of true federalism.
“In view of widespread agitations among our various peoples for greater inclusiveness in existing governance arrangements, the Federal Government should convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency.”
The forum expressed concern about the continued gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
The meeting, therefore, recommended the activation and establishment of ports in other states of the federation to create new jobs and promote socio-economic activities in the country.
The Southern Governors also expressed concern on the economic implications of another lockdown on the country and therefore suggested greater coordination and cooperation between Federal and State Governments in evolving strategies for dealing with the pandemic.
Fifteen governors were in attendance at the meeting.
They are Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
Others are Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Willie Obiano (Anambra). Imo and Akwa Ibom States were represented by their deputy governors, while Osun and Cross Rivers states were absent at the meeting.
Buhari sends delegation to Ghana over Nigerian traders’ plight
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has directed that a ministerial delegation be sent to Ghana to resolve the prolonged conflict between Nigerian traders and Ghanaian authorities.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, disclosed this on Monday.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, the minister spoke at a meeting.
The statement was titled, ‘FG delegation to visit Ghana over Nigerian traders’ conflict with Ghanaian counterparts.’
“President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that a ministerial delegation be sent to Ghana to resolve the lingering conflict between Nigerian traders and Ghanaian authorities,” the minister was quoted as saying.
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Adebayo, who said he would be leading the delegation, added that members of the delegation “will also engage in further dialogue with Ghanaian authorities with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problem.”
He disclosed that the delegation is expected to embark on the visit between May 31 and June 1, 2021.
Other member of the delegation include the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo; the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Yewande Sadiku; Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa; and the President of National Association of Nigerian Traders, Dr Ken Ukaoha.
There has been lingering controversy over $1 million levy imposed on Nigerian traders and foreign investors by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre.
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