[Peoples Daily] Senate President David Mark yesterday warned that Nigeria may eventually break up if the wanton killings and destruction perpetrated by the dreaded Boko Haram sect is not checkmated. Mark in his remarks at the opening of a three-day retreat for senators in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom state, challenged various stakeholders, especially northern elders to call the radical sect to order immediately before greater damage is done to the corporate existence of the country.
“The way the exercise is going at the moment, if Boko Haram is not halted, it may result to the breakup of this country and God forbid, because people will not take it for too long”, he said.
The Senate President said so many reasons have been adduced for the insurgency but affirmed that none of the reasons was strong enough to warrant the wanton destruction being perpetrated by the dreaded sect.
According to him, “People have given reasons for the causes of the violence by the Boko Haram sect; they say it is poverty. To me the reason is very tenuous. If every poor man in this country decides to be a suicide bomber, Nigeria strictly will not exist. Secondly, people have said it is lack of education. I agree that that will be an issue but we cannot overcome that overnight, somebody who is not educated cannot wake up overnight and become educated.”
He said the excuse of unemployment in the country was equally untenable even as he identified the issues of ideological and religious fundamentalism as the main causes of the social dislocations in the country.
While urging the government to continue executing its programmes as halting same would translate to the success of the ‘terrorists’, Mark said the development has succeeded in promoting ethnic and religious conflicts in the country.
The Senate President added that the government must dialogue with the sect to end the reign of terror but insisted that it will not do so with a faceless group whose leaders are unknown. He said there has been clamour for development in the North but asserted “the same people who are crying that under-development is in the North are at the same moment responsible for the subsequent under-development that is occurring in the North. No investor is going to bring his money and invest in Kaduna, Kano or Jigawa when his life is in danger.”
Mark said the National Assembly must review the laws on terrorism with a view to giving more powers to security agencies fighting the menace even as he suggested that the mantra of the rule of law may have to be jettisoned.
Equally speaking on the need to halt terrorism in the country, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who delivered a paper at the retreat said: “We need to re- examine our laws again, to see if there are loopholes we can plug, and if there are more creative ways we can liaise with the other arms of government to bring synergy into the efforts to stop the unending state of violence.”
Declaring the retreat open, President Goodluck Jonathan said: “Mr. Senate President, Distinguished Senators, Ladies and Gentlemen, to ensure the security and safety of our people, and safeguard our national borders from insurgents, I will continue to re-organize and reposition our security operations. As we do this, we need to put in place new legislations that will make it easier to track, obstruct, prosecute and punish terrorists. And I need your support.
“As an elected leader, my primary responsibility is to protect Nigerian citizens and those who come here to work. Security is that which primarily concerns me as an elected President. I will continue to reorganize and reposition the security apparatus of the country to address insecurity challenges to a logical end”, he said.
It would be recalled that Jonathan on Friday sacked his Minister for Defence, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed and his National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Owoeye Azazi. His latest comment of yesterday in Uyo may be a veiled disclosure that the Service chiefs are on firing line since he has disclosed that he would continue to reorganize and reposition the security apparatus.
Meanwhile, the President further solicited the cooperation of the lawmakers for proactive laws to combat the evil of terrorism in the country. He added that as politicians, they must not play politics with national security.
Commenting on areas of conflict between the National Assembly and the Executive, Jonathan said: “The performance of the oversight functions by the National Assembly or the use of executive powers by the President must not act as a barrier to the compelling need for cooperation in service delivery for the good of our country. We are one government with one constituency, the Nigerian people.”
Speaking on efforts made so far to curtail the activities of the Boko Haram sect in the country, the President said “Over the past one year, we have upgraded our capabilities and intensified our actions against this threat. Although the threat has far from abated, we have implemented several measures that weakened the terrorists’ infrastructure.”
The President had before leaving the Akwa Ibom state capital held a closed door meeting with Mark, Tambuwal, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Reverend Mathew Hassan Kukah, among others who were at the forum.