Prominent cleric and former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan has warned that Nigeria will soon be overpowered by bandits if the government continues to dialogue with non-state actors.
The Nigerian government’s failure to address rising insecurity according to the cleric has emboldened “a large gang of criminals that are almost taking over our country”.
Onaiyekan stated this in Minna the Niger State capital where bandits abducted dozens of children from a school during an attack on Wednesday, the latest in a series of terrorists attacks in the country’s northern states.
Sheikh Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric has in some instances significantly featured in negotiating the release of some hostages, meeting the bandits in the forests on several occasions.
But Onaiyekan shortly after an ordination ceremony on Saturday warned that the government will soon be overpowered if it does not take stringent actions to end banditry.
“We should not be living in a country where you are always with your heart in your mouth when you are moving from one place to another; where children cannot study in peace in their schools and where bandits — whatever you call them — come from nowhere and cart away 20, 30 children and their teachers into the bush and sit somewhere and boast, calling for dialogue,” he said.
“And even government agencies talking about reaching out. It is not the right thing to do. It is about time we have a government that takes care of its people.
“This is nothing political; it has nothing to do with PDP, APC, and it has nothing to do with Islam or Christianity. Not even with our tribal differences. We have a large gang of criminals that are almost taking over our country. The government should either do it or allow others to do it.
“If the government cannot secure the lives of the people, they should call for a kind of national cohesion. They should stop pretending that they are the ones ruling. In some countries when these incidents happen, it gets to a stage where the government will call for national unity where everyone comes on board to proffer solutions.
“If the government continues this way, it will get to a stage where non-state actors will take over.”
By Abel Ejikeme