As Nigeria marks its 57th Independence anniversary, the country’s former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (Rtd), wants Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue as antidotes for conflict resolution.
General Babangida in a statement on Saturday – the eve of the Independence anniversary, also called for a careful appraisal of the country’s journey to nationhood, warning that agitations and conflicts are hurting the country.
“Dialogue remains the best option in resolving conflicts and agitations in the country. Recent conflicts and agitations, chanting slogan of war and hate speeches are derailing the nation’s development and unity,” he said.
“As an active participant in the civil war and as a retired military officer, with the hard lesson learnt, I will never be tired of calling for the oneness and unity of our great nation.”
According to him, with the nation bedevilled by agitations and conflicts, there is the need for careful appraisal of our journey to nationhood.
The former military head of state commended the military for their role in protecting the country, saying, “The resilience of armed forces of Nigeria to curtailed secessionists agitation throughout our nation’s post-independence era has reduced tensions and unnecessary destruction of lives and property.”
General Babangida explained that some of the policies formulated under his military regime was aimed at tackling agitations and called on government at all levels to encourage tolerance.
“During our tenure in government we deliberately formulated policies, programmes, projects and even the creation of states to further weaken unwholesome agitations for secession and promote mutual and peaceful coexistence devoid of ethnic, religious and regional discrimination,” he said.
He urged Nigerians to pray and work towards peace and progress of the nation and advised those beating the drums of war through hates speeches to sheathe their swords and support the government in addressing security and economic challenges.
“We should support the government in addressing the security and Economic challenges as I urge Nigerians to extend their gestures with a hand of fellowship to one another and assists those affected by natural disasters, conflicts and communal clashes that are presently confined at Internally Displaced Camps (IDP’s),” he said.