BRITAIN has warned the Nigerian government to pay serious attention to the growing number of calls for breakup and secession across the country because they have the potential to disrupt the 2023 general elections.
Over recent months, Nigeria has been engulfed by growing calls for balkanisation, with several regional campaign groups calling for the break-up of the country. Chief among these is the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob), led by Nnamdi Kanu and the Yoruba Nation campaign headed by Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
Both campaigns have grown in response to the continuous murderous activities of Fulani cattle herdsmen who have terrorised Nigeria over recent years. As the death count rises, these campaigns have gathered strength and in response, the government has recently ordered a clampdown, abducting Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya and declaring Sunday Igboho wanted.
With the crisis appearing to get out of hand, Chris Beecroft, the director of the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said Nigeria was currently faced with significant peace and security challenges. Speaking at the launch of Nigeria Governors’ Forum Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative in Abuja, he noted that Nigeria was at a critical juncture in its journey, adding that time had come for new thinking and action to build a more peaceful future for all Nigerians.
According to Mr Beecroft, there is an active insurgency in the northeast, farmers-herders’ conflicts which are extending across the country, resource conflicts in the Niger Delta, tension in the southeast and banditry in the northwest. He added that the federal government needs to address all these problems ahead of the 2023 elections.
Mr Beecroft said: “We are at a critical juncture in Nigeria’s journey and now is an important moment for new thinking and action to build a more peaceful future for all Nigerians. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office values our relationship with the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and have supported it through our programmes, most recently the technical assistance provided in framing the Peace and Inclusive Security initiative.
“Nigeria faces significant peace and security challenges and the rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections. Conflict destroys lives, destroys livelihoods, destroys hope and ambition for the future and represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.”
At the event, the NGF raised the alarm that the level of insecurity in the country was not only eroding citizens’ safety and peoples means of livelihood but also threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians. NGF chairman and Ekiti State governor Kayode Fayemi, noted that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country had also made the insecurity situation worse and exacerbated the level of violence and fatalities from crime.
He added that between May 2011 and February 2021, over 76,000 deaths were reported by the press and tracked by the Nigeria Security Tracker. According to Governor Fayemi, one of the key areas where there is urgent need for consensual action today is security governance, given the escalation in the spate of violence and coordinated criminal activities that have undermined government authority and waned public trust in recent times.