The Senate President, David Mark, yesterday warned that Nigeria risks breaking up if the cycle of bombings on churches by Boko Haram is not checked in good time.
Senator Mark was speaking at the opening of this year’s Senate retreat in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, whose theme is: “National Assembly and National Security: Securing the Future for Development’’, held at the Le Meridien Hotel and Golf Resort.
“At the moment, we cannot just go with the rule of law,” he said, adding, “The way Boko Haram is going, if nothing drastic is done to halt it, God forbid, it may result in the break-up of the country.”
He called on the leaders of northern states to think properly before they allow what he called “a few selected cabals in Boko Haram” to bring the North to its knees with what they are doing.”
The Senate president stated that there is a limit to which Christian leaders will continue to appeal against vengeance, with the targeted attacks on churches.
“If allowed to go on, it (the attacks) will encourage disunity and religious war, because there is a limit to patience.
“Christian leaders have been appealing against vengeance. But, for how long will the people continue to listen, while they are being killed?”
Mark also rejected the notion that poverty, unemployment and illiteracy are responsible for the Boko Haram insurgency, arguing that it is a problem of ideology and religious fundamentalism.
The Senate president also warned that the North stands the risk of being left behind economically if the current insecurity in the region persists. “Other regions are not going to wait for the North to develop before they carry on their development programmes,” he said.
According to him, “The same people who are crying about under-development in the North are responsible for the current situation, because no investor would risk investing his money in any part of the North when his life is in danger.
“The investor who comes into Nigeria would look at the safe areas of the country to do business, and the safe areas in the country today are the southern states.”
Mark said there is an urgent need to investigate the source of funding and training of the militant group. Towards this end, he proposed an immediate comprehensive review of existing laws on terrorism to give more powers to security agents to tackle the insecurity.
He, however, urged Nigerians to stop politicising the Boko Haram issue, avoid the reprisal attacks, leave vengeance to God, intensify prayers in all churches and mosques, and seek “external cooperation and reviewing of our existing laws, among others.”
While declaring open the Senate retreat, President Goodluck Jonathan vowed that his government will not relent in taking decisive actions to put an end to the wanton killings and bombings by Boko Haram.
Calling Boko Haram a ‘faceless group of enemies of our democracy and prosperity of our nation,” he affirmed that “terrorism, which has become a global phenomenon, is now unfortunately a direct experience in this country,” as the group “continued to carry out terrorist attacks on innocent people in our nation.”
He said: “This development is one that particularly concerns me as the President, and is one I will continue to decisively deal with. It is one on which I seek the support and cooperation of the Senate and the House of Representatives. We must work together, under a new social and political contract, to safeguard our nation.”
The President urged the National Assembly to enact laws which would give government the drive to fight terrorism in the country and enjoined politicians not to play “politics without bitterness”.
He identified politics without love and full with embers of hatred as the root cause of insecurity threatening our secured, peaceful coexistence.
Jonathan said: “Politics is the root cause of all our insecurity. We must return to politics without bitterness as propounded by the late presidential candidate of the defunct Great Nigerian Peoples Party (GNPP), Alhaji Wazari Ibrahim.”
According to him, Nigerian politicians employ all kinds of crude means to ensure that they run down their opponents to ensure victory.
“If God did not wish us well we wouldn’t have been one. We must use this retreat to come out united and defeat the forces of darkness,’’ he said.
Noting that the nation’s unity is the will of God and our diversity is the binding ligament of our strength, the President called on Nigerians to “unite to prosper,” saying, “Those who want to weaken us use axes of hate to cut the tree of our strength. We refuse to be weakened. Let us unite to defeat the forces of darkness.”
Also speaking, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom state tasked the National Assembly to use “this unique event to find lasting solutions to the havoc being unleashed on innocent Nigerians by the Boko Haram sect.”
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