By Chimezie Godfrey
According IBAN, what started as a regional concern has now become ubiquitous in every part of the country.
IBAN said,”Today, the level of criminality being perpetrated on a daily basis across the country through acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and violent herders/farmers clashes, and the resultant loss of innocent lives and property is unprecedented and therefore, not acceptable by any global standard. The danger looming over our nation is real and palpable.
“Dealing with these challenges requires the collective resolve, determination, commitment and resilience of all Nigerians. Unfortunately, the discordant tunes and actions that have accompanied heightened incidences of insecurity in different parts of the country have exposed our susceptibility to centrifugal forces of regionalism, ethnicity and religion.
“The unnecessary tension this has generated in the polity portends great danger for the peace, unity and corporate existence of our country. This can only serve the evil agenda of those who do not mean well for our country.
“As patriots, we have strong faith in the unity, indivisibility and indissolubility of our country as solemnly declared in our constitution.
“We have, therefore, decided to add our voice to the voices of reason to appeal for peace and unity in the face of these challenges.
“We call on all Nigerians to be guided by our resolve as a people with common destiny to live together as a united and peaceful country.”
It added that history is replete with examples of nations that have collapsed on account of their inability to effectively manage their internal contradictions and bring about the much-desired unity, integration and cohesion.
“We must not allow this to befall our country no matter the effort by unpatriotic elements and their foreign collaborators to derail our nationhood.
“Given the need for a united and formidable front in the ongoing fight against all forms of insecurity in our country, it is important to remind ourselves that:
“Security is a collective responsibility requiring the support, collaboration, cooperation and contribution of all Nigerians. While government remains in the vanguard of carrying out its constitutional responsibility of ensuring security and welfare of citizens, without deliberate support and cooperation of Nigerians, government alone cannot succeed.
“The key motive behind the actions of those who seek to destroy our country is pure criminality; which has no boundary, gender, ethnicity and religion. We all have been and still remain victims of these criminal acts irrespective of our identity factors.
“As a nation, we cannot imagine or contemplate war or disintegration as all of us will surely be consumed. How do you execute war in a country where citizens from diverse backgrounds are so inter-woven,” he asked.
IBAN stressed that the path of war must be avoided at all cost, and appealed to those beating the drums of war to immediately truncate this evil enterprise and allow sense of reasoning to prevail.
“As an Association of patriotic and peace-loving Nigerians who seek the peace, growth and development of Nigeria.
“We wish to strongly appeal that Nigerians should set aside all forms of primordial sentiments, emotions and agitations, and consider those who kill and destroy innocent lives across the country as our common enemies. They must be identified and treated as such,” the statement said.
IBAN urged governments at all levels and their relevant agencies to synergize for greater success, adding that they expect public officials to speak and act with one voice in order to send strong signals to criminals that the nation united in this war.
The group also called ok n the political, community and religious leaders to guard against making utterances that can inflame religious and ethnic hatred and tension.
The group which commended the security forces for their sustained effort in the various theatres across the country, however, stressed that there is need for new innovative and technology-driven strategies to prosecute the war.
According to IBAN, the intelligence community must rise to the occasion to ensure that planned attacks are nipped in the bud.
“Government must not only be strategic in dealing with current violence, but must be proactive in dealing decisively with emerging variants of violence as seen in recent times.
“As confidence building measure, perpetrators of these heinous crimes, their collaborators and sponsors must be identified, apprehended and made to face justice irrespective of who they are in the society.
“Our recommendation above is however without prejudice to the clamour for bandits to be granted amnesty. If the issue of amnesty is considered a viable option, then the issue must be thoroughly examined in all its ramifications so that we don’t create conflict out of another conflict.
“The idea of state police should be given urgent consideration. Currently, the Nigerian military is not only inadequate, but is seriously overstretched. We are aware of the ensuing arguments about the merits and demerits of state police.
“We therefore recommend that whatever legal and institutional frameworks are to be used, it is extremely important to strike a balance between its desirability as a complementary force to fight crimes and its vulnerability as an instrument of oppression against political opposition.
“The time has come for Nigeria to seek for support and help through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, but without compromising our sovereignty as a nation.
“We wish to reiterate our earlier call for calm, peace and unity in the face of the challenges confronting us. As a nation, we have come a long way to truncate the journey. Nigeria is not an accident of history.
“Whatever we find dysfunctional in the system that governs our nation can be resolved through dialogue and appropriate constitutional means. We have no better home than Nigeria. Let us work together to keep it secure, safe and vibrant.
“In conclusion, we live in the information age, and information is a power that impacts on public discourse. Freedom of expression is not only the core of a healthy media but also a fundamental human right and vital for a democratic structure, but we must respect the freedom given to us in our democratic society because we have one country and we are one people,” he stressed.
IBAN said it is committed to continue to partner with the Federal Government to face the challenges caused by COVID 19 Pandemic.
“We will once again provide free airtime by all IBAN member Stations to further enlighten and educate Nigerians on the health benefits of taking safety precautions and encourage Nigerians to get vaccinated when the vaccines become widely available from March 2021.
“We would be presenting our offer worth Five hundred Million Naira (500,000,000) Half a Billion of Airtime to the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on Covid 19 to work out modalities for the next Nationwide TV and Radio campaigns.
“The future of this Nation lies in our ability to move beyond rhetoric and practically build our country and change the narrative that has been portrayed to the world about us, we must all build Nigeria together,” he reiterated.
The Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) is an association of owners of private and independent television and radio stations in Nigeria.
The Association’s key objective is to address common challenges, foster and enhance relations between its members, key decision makers and stakeholders, while also deploying the platform to promote excellence, innovation and professionalism for the advancement of the Nigerian society.