* Says 80,000 have died due to insecurity
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Former Nigeria’s Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), has expressed concern over the proliferation of all calibre of weapons in the country which he estimated at six million.
He lamented that the proliferation of weapons has heightened insecurity in the country and led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Abubakar, who is also the Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), painted the grim picture of affairs in the country at a dialogue session of the committee with key stakeholders at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said the challenges facing the country is not only a security issue in the narrow sense of the military definition but that it has assumed an all encompassing nature.
He listed the challenges to include the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, increasing poverty, the calls for the balkanization of the country from different quarters, the threat of hunger arising from insecurity that farmers have faced and continue to face, the increasing sense of collective despair and despondency among the populace.
Abdulsalami said: “The proliferation of all calibre of weapons not only in our sub-region in general and in Nigeria in particular is worrying. It is estimated that there are over six million of such weapons in circulation in the country. This certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million internally displaced persons.”
The former Head of State also gave an assessment of the security situation, saying that the security forces are not just overstretched but under strength and funded.
He said the security agencies can perform better with more sophisticated weapons, equipment and more funding.
“We believe Nigeria must find a way out of these problems. Our hope is that perhaps among us, by listening to your different perspectives, we can begin to build up confidence among our people so that we can hold together. So our hope is that we shall not only share our collective lamentations about the current situation, but propose some concrete suggestions that can point the way forward, suggestions that can inspire more confidence among our people and ensure that our country remains one,” he said.
While welcoming the stakeholders, which included traditional rulers, the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong; religious leaders, military, police and other security agencies, Abubakar said that President Muhammadu Buhari was aware of the meeting and that he supported it.
He said the expectation is that the meeting will find out what are the causes of the conflict and how to mitigate them.