Insisting that those calling for emergency rule in the states “are bent on plunging the country into a deeper crisis”, the governors urged the Federal Government not to allow itself to be distracted “from our collective goal of curbing the insurgency in some parts of our country once and for all”.
A statement signed by NGF Chairman and governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, reads: “We in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) hereby condemn the recent violence and killings in some parts of our country – Borno, Nasarawa, Benue, Adamawa and some other states. We also commiserate with the people and government of those states, our security agencies and the families of the victims and pray God to give them and indeed every Nigerian the fortitude to bear the loss.
“While urging security agencies to continue to do their jobs as professionally as possible, we appeal to all aggrieved individuals and groups in Nigeria to appreciate the fact that violence can never be a solution to any problem. We have no other country to call home and it is important that we understand the danger and futility of destroying our land in the pursuit of a selfish agenda.
“It is gratifying that government – Federal and State – are working hard to get to the root of the killings and nip these orgy of violence in the bud. We are impressed by the magnanimity of the Federal Government, which has demonstrated an uncommon love for the country by setting up a Committee to explore the possibilities of granting amnesty to the members of the Boko Haram sect. It is also a good step that government has agreed to cooperate fully with the National Human Rights Commission in the investigation of the killings in Baga.
“We also commend our security agencies for the selfless sacrifice they are making in the interest of us all to restore calm to all parts of our country.
“We urge the Federal Government to continue to support affected states in the bid to check violence. The Federal Government should remain focused and continue to provide leadership until every part of Nigeria is rid of violence and insurgency.
“We also call on the Federal Government to ignore the ongoing agitation for a state of emergency in some parts of the country. These requests are being made by people who do not wish our country well and who are bent on plunging the country into a deeper crisis. The Federal Government should not allow itself to be distracted from our collective goal of curbing the insurgency in some parts of our country once and for all”.
In a related development, Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), in a statement signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, also condemned the call for emergency rule.
The statement reads: “We have received reports of the Presidency’s intention to declare State of Emergency in Borno, Nasarawa and Yobe States amongst other states in the country. The foregoing is against the backdrop of the spate of violence that has been the bane of the security of lives and property in the states.
“The Progressive Governors’ Forum unequivocally condemns the breach of peace and mindless bloodletting in the states and empathises with our brother Governors Alhaji Kashim Shettima, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam and the good people of Borno, Nasarawa and Yobe states, as well as the people of other states affected. We equally extend our sympathies to the families of the gallant soldiers, policemen and men of the State Security Service (SSS), that have lost their lives in the course of duty.
“While it might be argued in some quarters that the Presidency is well-intentioned with the reported intended course of action aimed at restoring sustained peace to the affected states, we would like to draw the attention of Mr. President to historical perspectives and contemporary conflict resolution methodologies for consideration before taking such a far-reaching decision.
“We find the reported course of action incongruent with the posturing of the Presidency which has been reported to be pursuing dialogue with the non-state actors reportedly responsible for the breach of the peace in those states. Less than three weeks ago, a Presidential Committee was empanelled to look into the issues and deploy mediation, among other measures, and make recommendations to Mr. President. Why then would the Presidency want to pre-empt the work of the committee by declaring state of emergency in the affected states?
“We note that the Federal Government, under the leadership of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was able to successfully contain the Niger Delta crisis by creating the space for credible dialogue with the aggrieved militants, within the framework of a period of amnesty. More importantly, the government at the time worked assiduously with all stakeholders to address the socio-economic issues that catalysed such unrests, especially youth unemployment.
“In view of the foregoing, the Progressive Governors’ Forum implores Mr. President to be consistent with the combination of dialogue and mediation which he has already set in motion, and stay action on the planned declaration of State of Emergency in the affected states, which we believe would be counter-productive. It is also suggested that the Presidency, in addition to the committee, consults extensively with the leadership of the Christian and Muslim Communities as well as Eminent Traditional rulers across the country, pursuant of a critical path to sustainable peace in the country.
“Already, the international community has condemned the excesses of our security forces in their recent campaigns that recorded widespread human rights violations – a state of emergency would precipitate the conditions for the escalation of such excesses.
“Mr. President is further encouraged to step-up the criminal intelligence gathering machinery of our security forces with a view to pre-empting the wanton destruction of lives and property. This, in our opinion, is in tandem with contemporary statecraft which focuses on preventive rather than reactive responses to breaches of peace and tranquillity in any state.
“We believe the presence of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the affected areas is capable of restoring peace, if properly coordinated. Thus, any attempt to declare a state of emergency would be seen as a mere excuse to remove the governors by every means.
“Lastly, it is in our collective interest for the Presidency to concentrate efforts on addressing the socio-economic issues that catalyse crime in any society as well as ensuring equity and justice in the administration of our great country, Nigeria. In other words, an economic-cum-security strategy would yield more enduring dividends than a law and order response. This, in our view, is the surest way to achieve peace and progress”.