By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
As the 2023 general elections approaches, the founder, Vision Africa and the ADC Gubernatorial Candidate, Bishop Sunday Onuoha has said that Nigeria must address all agitations adding that the country cannot afford another civil war.
According to Onuoha, Nigerians must not fight for any politician but work for credible candidates in the 2023 general elections.
Speaking at an Inclusive Security Dialogue organised by Global Peace Foundation, Vision Africa and IDF International, Sultan said Nigerians should not fight for individuals but work for the unity and security of the country.
Onuoha, who said they must act fast to curb election violence, added that religious leaders must take a serious part in the 2023 general elections.
“We must focus on the increasing understanding of the root causes of conflict and violence affecting us as a people. We must increase the positive relationship between the Nigerian government and various agitating groups across the country, and Encourage a refocus on the importance of universal principles and shared values as the glue for social cohesion and sustainable peace.
“As Nigeria threads the path to yet another election in 2023, the panacea to a violence/crisis-free election is right here in this room today!
“Committed and humane leaders and influencers of the polity, who are not bashful to acknowledge and understand the deep frustrations of other communities, but rather willing to put in the tent-pegs and lay out the milestones in the collective process toward security and peace in Nigeria, ” he said.
According, “We will meet with a cross-section of youth organisations in Nigeria, as we acknowledge and recognize that young people are meaningful drivers of change at all levels of conflict prevention and peace-building.
“Every responsive, inclusive, and representative decision-making process excluding young people lacks sustainability.
“As the 2023 Nigerian elections approach, youth participation in conflict prevention and peace-building should be on the front burner because Extremist and dissident groups often look to raise fresh recruits among young people living in desperate conditions or within fractured societies.
“If we are to sell “Inclusiveness and Social Solidarity” to the people, it will produce fast and tangible results in cohesion and nation building,” Onuoha said, adding that the time has come for the elite and the political class to hear the cry of the poor and the marginalized, ” he said.
According to Onuoha: “If the political elite and the wealthy class continue to ignore the pain of the larger society, I am worried that very soon the poor will be pushed to revolt.
“I am concerned that a time will come when the marginalized will push back, the unpaid workers whose backs are against the wall will break the divides and take back what they deserve, and when even the suckling infant will ask why and no military might can withstand it.
“How can we justify unguarded statements and utterly hateful speeches by leaders who are supposed to protect our collective interest? Why are some elites above the law even in the face of brazen crimes?
“A time will come when those persecuted because of their religious persuasion will demand accountability, because it is the duty of the state to guarantee the fundamental rights that make us all human and humane. Can we truly say that in all parts of the country, people are free to practice their religion as guaranteed in the constitution? How can we as a country preach unity and oneness, yet we continue to maintain and enforce the ‘state of origin’ principle? What a paradox!
“In a society where people are angry and expressing their dissatisfaction, we must be humble enough to bring them to the dialogue table. No one should be too proud of dialogue, and no community should exclude herself from the dialogue table, because it is at the table that you can hear the cry of the aggrieved. It does not matter where you stand, we are first of all a common family under God – one humanity superseding any religion, ethnic bias, political affiliation and social status.
“Decades ago, Nigerian leaders stood on the Aburi commitments. When the terms of the engagement were varied, they should have gone back to Aburi to continue with the dialogue: then they would have avoided the millions of lives that were lost in that reckless, irresponsible and avoidable Nigeria-Biafra civil war. We cannot afford to make such mistakes again, because if you saw the war, you would dread a recurrence. I was a victim as a child, and it is not an experience you want to reenact.
“It is time to call on the International community to stand with us as we navigate toward yet another electioneering period, knowing fully well that peace and security in Nigeria is peace and security in the whole world. Crisis in Nigeria is global refugee crisis the world over, for over 200 million displaced persons will be unleashed in the world. The international community helping to sustain peace and security in Nigerians also a way to sustain peace and security in the larger global community
“Peace and security in Nigeria is more important than campaigning. If there is no peace, no one will come out to campaign or to vote. With the rate of wanton killing in the country today, an average Nigerian is asking: is Nigeria at war with itself?” Why is it that people can no longer go to the farm without being kidnapped or raped in their own farms, and some even raped in their homes in the presence of members of their family – the cries of our innocent women have gone loud, and if the state cannot protect them, we should worry about them fighting back. Our highways that were initially death-traps, have also become kidnapping zones, and even the national capital appears to be under siege,” Onuoha said, adding that they cannot shout it too loud.
“We cannot sing it too often, the time to act is now, and we may just be at the precipice of a historic change if care is not taken,” Onuoha added.