Former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar has described insecurity as the biggest challenge affecting Nigeria.
Gen Abdulsalami made the statement at the 19th edition of the Daily Trust dialogue themed “2023: The Politics, Economy and Insecurity.
The former Head of state who was the Chairman of the occasion, charged government to unite all Nigerians or the country will continue to struggle to achieve its potential.
He said: “Nigeria is once again at a crossroads. Insecurity remains the single most difficult challenge for our country today- the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West, violent secessionist agitations in the South-East, kidnappings and abductions of travellers across many states all continue to fester in the land. Ethnic, religious and communal conflicts are rearing their ugly heads again in many parts of the country. All of these have greatly challenged and overstretched our security forces.
“Whatever we discuss and agree today, we hope that the authorities will take it in advisement in good faith and work with it. In my own experience as a leader, I have found that collective wisdom is all better than individual ability.”
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Lamenting the significant number of lives and resources lost to insecurity in Nigeria, Gen Abdulsalami continued;
“These challenges have caused thousands of deaths and millions of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Nigeria over the past 13 years. According to the Global Conflict Tracker compiled by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, CFR, some 350,000 persons have been killed and three million displaced directly or indirectly in the conflict in the North-East since 2009.
“A report by Beacon Consulting, a Nigerian security risk consultancy here in Abuja, Nigeria, recorded 574 cases of kidnappings and 431 confirmed fatalities in security incidents that cut across 29 states and 96 local government areas in December 2021 alone.
“About 75 per cent of the kidnappings and 57 per cent of the fatalities occurred in the North-West. This is clear indication that the epicenter of insecurity in the country has shifted from the North-East to the North-West.
“A major cause of the insecurity in Nigeria is the proliferation of all calibre of weapons in Nigeria in particular, and in the West Africa sub-region generally. For example, the 2018 small arms survey estimated that there are over six million such weapons in circulation in Nigeria. This has certainly exacerbated the insecurity situation we face in the country.