By Agbenu Oyale, Abuja
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has appealled to leaders in the country to take deliberate measures and speak out to de-escalate the rising tension, build confidence in the system, promote and preach peace, justice, unity and tolerance among the citizens.
A statement by Paul Odenyi, Assistant Director, Press of NOA said the appeal was contained in a special letter culated to selected community and religious leaders across the country and signed by the Director General, Dr. Garba Abari, NOA. Abari said the situation called for leaders across political, religious, traditional, professional and the social landscape to do all within their powers to arrest the situation from further deterioration.
Part of the statement read: “At these very challenging times, all the nation and its citizens need are deeper reflection and sobriety in what we do and say, as truly, the forces of disunity and national disintegration are at work. Community, political, religious and economic leaders of the country should urgently build consensus on the need to rescue Nigeria from the grips of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, secessionism and violent cultism to avoid a slide into anarchy.”
He noted that some social and orthodox media platforms have been used to fan the embers of violence that now envelope the country and urged leaders to desist from all forms of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric, noting that “If we allow Nigeria to burn, it will consume all of us”.
He said the Agency is concerned about the spate of violent attacks and killings of both security agents and innocent citizens and destruction of public and private infrastructure across the country by violent groups, saying this is the time to partner with government to bring about peace and stability.
Abari added that the activities of insurgents, bandits, hoodlums and ethnic militia in parts of the country ultimately hurt everyone in every part of the country. He therefore stressed the need for urgent and concerted peace building measures that look beyond parochial benefits and prioritize national interest.
Speaking specifically to youths, whom he said constitute more than 80% of the violent groups around the country, the NOA DG said “The youths, especially, must realize that they are the biggest stakeholders and beneficiaries of a peaceful Nigeria. They should therefore, make concerted effort to build a stable nation where they will realize all of their life ambitions and potentials. Crises will disrupt our lives, abort our dreams and leave us with the future task of building the country anew”.
The NOA urged stakeholders to take the opportunity of government’s willingness of partnership with individuals, groups, other agencies, men and women of good conscience and influence to actualize the desire to build and restore peace in their communities and other areas of influence.
“Every person of influence in Nigeria should, at this time, work towards dissuading violence and galvanizing all persons within their sphere of influence for the peace of the country. he said.