A former Presidential Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, has called on the President Muhammadu Buhari Federal Government to embrace peace, and dialogue with the people of the South-East region, to find out exactly what they want, .
He also called for the immediate release of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, if that would bring peace back to the region.
He stated this and more in an interview with The Punch, on Tuesday, in Abuja.
His exact words: “The Anambra State election is no doubt a security nightmare, and a major cause for concern for many Nigerians. Whether we like it or not, IPOB has become an established “Army of Resistance” for self-determination in the South-East.
“Also, we must come to accept that the Biafra ideology has come to stay. Although, it is self-evident that the major Stakeholders of these movements are predominantly youths, the adult themselves share the concerns of these fighting youths, even though they may prefer a different approach to achieving the same goals.
“Unfortunately also, concurrent events in the nation make the counsels of the Elders untenable, and therefore, unacceptable to the warring youths.
“The Police have deployed 34,000 Officers. We do not know the numbers for the Military and Civil Defence Institutions. To the average citizens in Anambra State, this militarisation and over-policing, though inevitable, can nevertheless, be comforting.
“From my own projections, no fewer than 50% of normally voting population, purely out of fear and apprehension, will stay in their houses and avoid voting. If this happens, the election itself becomes substantially flawed. This is because a major ingredient of democratic suffrage, ‘free and fair’, will be absent.
“While one must of necessity concede to the Federal Government that it should not normally tolerate or succumb to internal threats to peace and good order, perhaps, it is now time to seek the seemingly elusive peace in the South-East.
“I hereby call on the Federal Government to release Nnamdi Kanu, if that will bring peace in the South-East zone, especially Anambra State. Nnamdi Kanu should be released for the sake of peace and order in that region. Nigerians are in pain. Nigerians are suffering, and we cannot afford war whether local, regional, or national. We do not need it. We need peace.
“Nnamdi Kanu is more important than the Anambra State Governorship election. We need peace in all parts of this country, and if the release of Kanu will bring peace in Anambra State and the entire South-East zone, please the Federal Government should release him now.
“I call on the Federal Government at this point of our national history, to invite the Leadership of IPOB to a peace meeting. The government should listen to the complaints of the youths from the South-East region, and see how a true solution can be negotiated.
“I say this as someone who was part of government when boko haram was in its wake or infancy. The presumed might of the Federal Government made it look preposterous for the government to call a rag-tag group to a negotiating table.
“Now after more than 10 years, thousands of deaths, human tragedies, and millions of internal human displacements, and with billions of dollars down the drain, I am convinced that it was indeed an error not to have negotiated for peace ab initio.
“Historically, since the mid-1900s, no insurgency, once fully established, lasts less than 15 years on the average. This is what I will like to remind this administration. Nigeria cannot afford to sustain another major internal rebellion, for another 15 years.”