By Samira Golo
(Press Statement) The Association of Northern Nigerians in Canada (ANNIC) was incorporated in 1996, as a non-profit organization devoted to the welfare primarily of northern Nigerians and of other Nigerians who share the ideals upon which the organization was founded. In particular, we are a not-for-profit, non-partisan, non-religious, and multi-ethnic group, based in the Canadian Diaspora, who have pledged to extend mutual assistance to ourselves in all situations, and to provide assistance to our home nation Nigeria, so far as it is within our ability, and to assist in showcasing the good image of our dear nation.
Following a general meeting recently held to consider taking a stand on some of the burning security issues, not only in northern Nigeria but in Nigeria as a whole, the organization is issuing the statement below:
ANNIC condemns the growing violence in which countless lives and unquantifiable volumes of property have been destroyed in northern Nigeria, the most recent incident is the situation in southern Kaduna. These various forms of violence, characterized as communal, religious, ethnic, said to be perpetrated through farmers/herders clashes or banditry, seem to be engendering the eye-for-an-eye syndrome, which will surely leave everyone blind.
ANNIC deplores the current situation in which life is fast becoming cheap and worthless, to be wasted at will by obviously sponsored criminals, and where communities that have existed for hundreds of years are dislodged and decapitated with abandon. We deplore especially the carnage that has either occurred or is currently occurring in places like Kaduna, Taraba, Borno, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states. These wanton killings are generating serious humanitarian crises in the region. The population primarily hit the most by the crises consists of young productive farmers in the rural areas who are losing arable lands to the activities of bandits. The crisis is setting northern Nigeria back as a leader in food production for the country, and exacerbating general unemployment, hunger, and intense poverty in the region.
ANNIC is also distressed at the security reports pointing to Al-Qaeda/ISIS’s growing incursion in the north-west and north-central regions of the country. This threatens to be an expanding security crisis which, if not effectively tackled, might link up with the devastation being wreaked in the north-east for almost a decade now by Boko Haram.
ANNIC is also against police brutality that has led to the death of many people, especially youths in Nigeria. This is a total deviation from the core responsibilities of the police which is to protect members of the community, prevent crimes and improve quality of life of the citizens.
ANNIC also notes, with regret, that the worsening security situation in Nigeria has spared no one or groups in the country. The intensity of the violence and the lawlessness demonstrated by it is unprecedented in the history of our country. Frequent and coordinated attacks on unarmed civilians is driving an urban rush of populations from the hinterland, where people are needed for the exploitation of the huge agricultural and mineral resources of the region.
Finally, ANNIC is painfully aware of the Environmental degradation as a result of the on-going crises in northern Nigeria. The increasing desertification and deforestation, caused by multiple unaddressed factors, such as bush-burning, illegal logging, inattention to tree-planting, drought, etc, diminish the quantity and quality of water, arable and grazing lands, resulting in frequent internecine conflicts and a deepening of poverty among rural folks (with serious implications for urban folks as well).
Having given exhaustive consideration to all of these issues, ANNIC wishes to make the following recommendations:
(a) The ongoing efforts by state and federal authorities aimed at restoring peace and order in all parts of the country need to be intensified. The current circumstances of fear and anxiety in every part of the country, and in the northern part of the country especially, is anti-productive and diminishing the very essence of nationhood. Collective security of life and property is perhaps the most important factor in the decision of populations to live together under the authority of a state. This we believe is a responsibility of every government to its citizens.
(b) Employing dialogue and genuine reconciliation to address disagreements and conflicts needs to be a number one priority. Force has been used for a very long time to match force with no end in sight to the crisis rather, the continuous deterioration in societal relationships and monumental loss of resources. In scaling up dialogue, the mode of operation should be inclusive, and involving coordinated efforts by traditional rulers, youth organizations, the media, civil society and community-based organizations, and even the armed forces. A multi-faceted crisis requires addressing multiple fronts.
(C) The governors of northern Nigerian states, and other states in the country, must begin to apply intelligence and creativity to tackle the most devastating and dehumanizing factor amid our population, poverty. After 60 years of independence, Nigerians are beginning to witness unprecedented deterioration in the standard of living. Many factors, some attributable to governmental malfeasance, are responsible for poverty among Nigerians. The government must employ effective and sustainable ways to manage available resources to achieve its mission – to protect the ever-growing numbers of its population from poverty, ignorance, disease, and all human and physical vulnerabilities.
C) Another factor to be considered in addressing poverty is, of course, the environment. It is high time the government and the people of northern Nigeria, begin to demonstrate responsible environmental stewardship. The government must roll out intelligent, customized, and doable policies against environmental degradation. Public education on the dangers of environmental despoliation and the links between it and growing poverty needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency by the government, to stop the current trend of resource destruction and mass impoverishment.
D) The government in Nigeria and especially northern Nigeria should hone their skills in diversity management. Every state in northern Nigeria is a mini Nigeria composed of several ethnic groups and religions; different occupations and means of livelihood. It is necessary to run an inclusive government that gives a sense of belonging to everyone.