Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday in Abuja disclosed that the way out of the insecurity problem in the country is dialogue.
Studies, according to Obasanjo, have shown that a number of factors are responsible for violent conflicts in the country.
He gave tha factors as: poverty, unemployment, religious intolerance, ethnic rivalry, growing acculturation and resource control agitation.
Speaking as the Chairman of the opening ceremony of a two-day National conference on culture peace and national security: the role of traditional rulers and local government chairmen organised by the National Institute for Culture Orientation (NICO), Obasanjo said the most critical of the factors is ignorance, which leads to suspicion and mistrust.
He said the issue of national security should be accorded top priority attention as no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of chaos and persistent violence.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, advised government that: “the product of this conference should be an addendum to the array of ideas that are pending for utilisation in combating insecurity and ensuring peace in our country.”
His words: “I accepted to honour the invitation to be the chairman of the occasion out of my unquestionable desire and interest in the oneness of this country and ensuring that peace and security is sustained in Nigeria at whatever cost and efforts.
“Your Excellencies, your Royal Highnesses, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, a way forward is dialogue, enlightenment and sensitization programmes such as we are having today. Studies have shown that a number of factors are responsible for violent conflicts in Nigeria which are poverty, unemployment, religious intolerance, ethnic rivalry, growing acculturation and resource control agitation and ignorance. The most critical of these factors for me however is ignorance which leads to suspicion and mistrust.”
“It was for these reasons that United Nations, Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation was established shortly after the 2nd World War. It was established based on the understanding that wars or conflicts, in whatever form, arise from ignorance, suspicion and mistrust and therefore the need for defence of peace be constructed in the minds of men and women.”
“Another critical factor worthy of consideration is a breakdown of our cherished values. Hitherto, Nigerians are a peace loving people and therefore had an in-built culture of respect for sanctity of human life, elders and constituted authority, appreciation for ethnic differences, hardwork, diligence, cooperation, hospitality for strangers, and encouragement of communal living. In the days of yore, our seeming diversity was our strength. These values accounted for the peace that pervaded our society in the past.”
“Unfortunately, the evasion of these values due to increasing acculturation and negative external influence has also contribution largely to the spate of violent crimes and general insecurity we have today.”