By Ralph Madugu
The National Christian Elders Forum has declared that the time has come for Nigerians to renegotiate Nigeria so as to prevent the country from becoming like the former Sudan which was later split into two.
Rising from an emergency meeting held after the attacks and destruction that followed the #ENDSARS protests, the elders said that the political imbalance in the country has produced nothing but sorrow, poverty and death for Nigerians.
They added that the unjust and sectional political structure left behind by the British colonialists was no longer sustainable which had made it necessary for the ethnic nationalities to sit together and re-negotiate the country and called on socio-cultural groups in the country to commence arrangements for such negotiations and not wait for government to initiate them.
The elders advised the government to take advantage of the #ENDSARS protests to introduce state police to ensure adequate and effective security nationwide, adding that failure to do so would imply that a centrally controlled police is desired by the government in order to continue to provide state cover for marauding Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits and Boko Haram.
NCEF also called for structures be put in place to ensure that state governors do not solely appoint and sack state police commissioners so that the state police can be free to work professionally.
The Christian elders called on the National Assembly to investigate the causes of the deaths and destruction that trailed the peaceful #ENDSARS protests and invite all affected public officers, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and the Chief of Army Staff to publicly testify.
“That the Government must be fully investigated for the role played by Security Agents in deploying, transporting, and supervising vandals and thugs to attack the protesters.
“That the prison breaks and widespread arson should be diligently investigated as there are allegations of Government complicity to discredit the protest.
“That the 9th Assembly should stop acting as an appendage of the Executive arm of Government and for once, rise to fulfill its obligations to the country. Erring government officials must be held accountable for their actions.”
The elders also called on civil liberties organizations and affected individuals to engage in litigation over what they described as “unnecessary display of aggression by the Government against the peaceful protesters” and appealed to the Nigerian Bar Association to arrange for lawyers to represent, pro bono, those who desire to utilize legal means to seek redress.
The NCEF also requested the Federal Government to pay compensation to those affected by the various attacks on the #ENDSARS protesters while state governments should compensate those whose businesses and means of livelihoods were destroyed, alleging that if government officials had not mishandled the situation, there would have been no destruction.
“President Muhammadu Buhari should seek to demonstrate more empathy and sensitivity to the unnecessary sufferings his government has inflicted on Nigerians. Even the speech of the President, delivered two days after the killings of unarmed protesters, was not humane.
“Nigerians must henceforth mobilize massively to participate in politics and ensure that only competent nationalists are elected to govern the country. Youths should divert their energies to political mobilization and active participation in democratic process to ensure good governance in the country.” The elders, however, urged Nigerians to remain calm and prayerful as the country was going through another phase of turmoil and expressed optimism that the nation shall overcome these travails which will give birth to a new nation where truth, justice and fairness shall prevail.