Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has charged all Nigerians to unite in the fight to bring violence to an end in the country as failure to do so would mean that the nation would forfeit civilisation.
Speaking at Berom Cultural Festival in Jos, Plateau State Friday, he noted that every nation that has lost the war against violence has paid the price by losing its civilisation and even here in Nigeria, the North East is an example of how a nation can lose years of progress in development within a short period of unrest.
He stated, “What is confronting this nation, which is violence, must be stopped at all cost. The nation has had its full share of this unfortunate tragedy that has continued to happen to our nation, and I have said severally that we cannot afford to lose the fight against violence and still keep our civilisation. That has never happened, it will not happen, and it will never happen. Any nation that has lost the fight against violence, has always lost its civilisation. Take the situation with the Northeast where I come from, there are communities where you cannot find anything as representatives of the Government. Police stations are gone, roads, buildings, hospitals and schools have all been destroyed. How long is it going to take us before we even get back to the position where we were prior to the breakout of violence?”
To win the fight against violence, he continued, people would have to take a decision to be deliberate in building peace among themselves and promoting only those things that will sustain it, while resisting the urge to make the same errors that have contributed in long time strife and crisis and exhibiting courage to confront opponents and enemies in order to resolve issues.
“Of course, it is going to be difficult as always”, Speaker Dogara stressed, while stating further that, “the challenge has always been fear and mistrust. When you talk about courage, however, you cannot begin to exercise courage except fear is present. Without fear, there is no question relating to courage. So it will take leadership that believes in the courage to sit down together with the opponents, enemies, with even those who feel like killing you, in order to find a way out.
“I have reflected long and hard on the issues pertaining to this violence in Nigeria, which is perhaps everywhere now, especially in Northern Nigeria. I have discovered that most of us dwell on errors, and it is these errors that have served as fuel for these violence. For instance, there is an error that tells us that a whole ethnic group can be just wiped out. And any person who utilises his senses; will know that it is highly impossible to talk of just wiping out an ethnic group, except the God that created them decides to wipe them out Himself, else nobody would be able to achieve that, so that is an error.
“I have also heard of the error that stipulates that violence can be cured by more violence. It does not work that way. There has never been a conflict in the World, not even where the best of the war machines are used, that the weapons of war were thought to have resolved and brought peace. Peace has always been obtained at the table of brotherhood. So that is another error.
“One more error that I have heard consistently being repeated, which is a capital lie by some of the advocates of this violence to say that it is because of cattle rustling that there has been violence, but that is not true. Everyone who has reflected on the subject of cattle rustling would know that for some people to rustle cattle especially in this part of Nigeria, it would take a number of people from different tribes coming together to perpetrate that act. It is not usually the case that it is only one tribe that would rustle cattle. If it is in Plateau for example, there will be maybe a Birom man involved, maybe a Fulani man who knows how to process the cattle very well and other tribes associated with it, there may be those driving the castles to the Southeast in order to sell them. So this is all perpetrated by a syndicate of criminals. Then at the end of the day; it is the ordinary Birom farmer who pays the price, or an ordinary Fulani man who does not know what was going on in the region bringing his cattle in from somewhere.”
“I tell you, however, that we can defeat violence in Nigeria if we are determined to do so and we have the leaders who are willing to do so. I can give example in my own community. Everyone in Plateau knows what the situation was like there in Tafawa Balewa, we were labouring under those type of errors as well, until community leaders from both sides of the divide decided that despite their fears to embrace each other and frankly talked about the issues relating to the fears that we had. At the end of the day; we were able to resolve those issues. It got to a point when one Fulani man had gone to graze his cattle and he veered into a farm and somehow there was a misunderstanding involving the farmer who is from my own ethnic group and the Fulani cattle rarer and they was casualties on both sides. The people from my own ethnic group even offered to pay compensation to the Fulani man for his loss, but the Fulani refused to take their money in the spirit of the brotherhood and friendship that had recently been brokered. This continued to the extent if there is any incident involving our community and the Fulanis, our community would create a forum to interact with the Fulani, and vice verse with the Fulani community’s interaction with ours. So that is why the issue of conflict of violence in Tafa Balewa has been largely resolved and for more than Seven years now, there has not been such crises in Tafawa Balewa.
“This is a model that can be replicated everywhere we have crisis in Nigeria. So we can solve violence if we sum up the courage to face it; we will definitely deal with it.”
Hon Dogara also called on the Berom nation to unite, as there is nothing more than unity when there is a goal to achieve.
“Unity as we know is not in numbers, the United few are bettered than the scattered multitude. If you are not united; you cannot be strong, and as it is said: ‘United we stand, divided we fall’”.