Recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, disclosed that the Federal Government had adopted dialogue as an option to proffer a solution to the perennial agitations and insecurity crises in the South East based on the yearnings of the people. But this is coming after several lives, as well as both public and private property, had been wantonly destroyed in the region. Nigerians bare their minds on the dialogue option.
Usman-Doko Abdullahi, teacher, Minna
No, please! Government should not even set the table. We have seen how they had tried to do that in other parts of the country and it metamorphosed into other groups because they feel that the “sector” is lucrative.
These people are non-state actors that are insignificant. The handwriting on the wall is clear. They no longer hide under the umbrella of religion, party or ethnicism. Let’s solve violent problems with violent solutions. We are yet to hear the president speak in the language they can understand. He should first remove that “dot in the circle.”
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Felix Khanoba, journalist, Abuja
If they can be identified, there is nothing wrong with the Federal Government having a dialogue with the so-called unknown gunmen terrorizing the South East. Using force to restore peace is not the best approach if the issues that led to non-state actors taking up arms against the government are not properly addressed. Government should provide an opportunity for the trouble makers to table their grievances and find a way of resolving the issues and strike a peace deal with them.
Habeeb Ishaq, 29, freelancer, Kano
I think Buhari is right. All criminal elements should be spoken to in the language they understand. There’s a saying that he that lives by the gun, dies by the gun.
That’s why I don’t believe in a non-punitive approach in tackling criminals that have launched an indiscriminate onslaught against the Nigerian state.
Any person or group of miscreants who would declare or has declared war against the unity, peace, stability and prosperity of Nigeria is a public enemy. Enemies of this country should be put down militarily without any option of repentance.
Dialogue should only be a second option, after having crushed them to remnants, disbanded them and have them running for dear life.
Ibrahim Babangida, 25, self-employed, Kano
The Federal Government should never negotiate with the people causing the problem in the South-East. Dialoguing with IPOB/ESN which have been declared terrorists will give birth to another different group of agitators in the country. If the Federal Government agrees to their terms and conditions, they will win the war and that will be a shame.
Dialoguing with a group that doesn’t believe in one Nigeria as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is akin to giving immunity to it or paving way for the disintegration of the country.
Jauhar Sulaiman Salihu, 27, corps member, Abuja
The current security situation in Nigeria, especially in the Southern part, has made political and community dialogues a serious challenge. The system has broken down because political and security institutions have become increasingly polarized along regional, communal and ideological fault lines. The violence, hate and mistrust among the parties as well as communities are strong.
Dialoging under such circumstances requires several efforts such as public awareness campaigns to educate people about it. Leaders who take dialogue seriously know when to stop talking and start listening.
Haruna Isma’il Abdullahi, 29, trader, Kano
What they want is visible – breakaway. It’s a generational phenomenon. It can’t be resolved by mere negotiation with the gun-wielding miscreants. Equally disturbing is the silence of their elders despite the unrest which further depicts their unanimous resolve to break away.
People who carry weapons against the state have to be dealt with decisively. Meanwhile, a referendum should be conducted to give a fair hearing to all and sundry on whether they want to secede or remain in the existing union. Once the referendum is concluded, the outcome must be binding.
Eunice Nnachi, 43, journalist, Yenagoa
Dialogue is very necessary for the ongoing agitation in the South East to avoid escalation of the security crisis in the zone and Nigeria at large. Federal Government should not use force in resolving the crisis. It should call the leaders of the zone and youths to a roundtable and resolve the problem amicably.
Government should not consider amnesty for the agitators because an average Igbo man is not lazy but very hardworking. There should be constitutional, administrative and policy reforms that would respond to the demands of the South East agitators. Government should work to build bridges of unity among all Nigerians.
Chief Chinedu Arthur-Ugwa, politician, Yenagoa
Dialogue is very important in resolving the crisis in the South-East. Federal Government should not adopt force in terms of deploying troops as that may worsen the insecurity situation.
Also, leaders of the zone should not leave the peace effort in the zone to only the Federal Government. They should also call for a security summit to discuss with the youths in order to find a lasting solution to the problem.
The Federal Government should look inward. Let’s come together, dialogue and iron out ways to resolves this issue. The government cannot be threatening people with war and expect peace.
Patricia James, 26, businesswoman, Jos
Dialogue is the only way out because day in, day out, people are dying for no just cause. I think it is high time the government got bold enough to adopt dialogue as a means of curtailing the menace.
Abdulkadir Aliyu Shehu, 41, journalist, Gombe
I do not support any dialogue. It will create room for others to also carry arms whenever they want to achieve their political ambition. It was a similar strategy used by the South-West in the aftermath of June 12 through which they forced power to shift to their zone when the country returned to a democratic rule in 1999.
Kamal Ibrahim, 27, teacher, Bauchi
There should be no dialogue. Every hand of diplomacy extended to criminals is a subtle message to intending criminals that they, too, would get such a hand of diplomacy. So, dialogue with South-East trouble makers is clueless because it is clear support for separatists in the land to openly blow the trumpet of their agitations.
Abdul Ahmed Burra, lecturer, Bauchi
I think the Federal Government should adopt the dialogue option. This is because their demands are defined. They rightly or wrongly feel marginalized and resort to violence in order to secede from the country. Government should invite all the stakeholders in the zone such as traditional leaders, elder statesmen, sociopolitical groups and the aggrieved groups to a roundtable meeting and find a peaceful way of addressing their grievances. The aggrieved groups who are mostly youths may lack experience and know little about the history of the country. Through dialogue, they can be enlightened on how to peacefully push for their demands and have them met by the government. The Government should show a sincere commitment to addressing their demands.
From Chidimma C. Okeke, Usman Bello Balarabe, Kano, Bassey Willie, Yenagoa, Hassan Ibrahim, Bauchi, Ado Abubakar Musa, Jos & Haruna Gimba Yaya, Gombe