Former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a commission of inquiry which will inquire into the violent and non-violent agitations in Nigeria and make recommendations (immediate, short and long-term) as a way of de-escalating the rising tension in the land.
He warned that military actions or even foreign help alone would not bring permanent solutions to the conflicts and agitations currently rocking the nation, but for the president to create a platform to hear Nigerians out.
In an open letter to the President, Anyim noted that the current crises rocking the nation all started as non-violent agitations, but festered as they were left unattended.
He said: “The current violent agitations originated from non-violent agitations; e.g. Boko Haram started as a non-violent procession; the herders/farmers clashes which have degenerated into a deadly conflict with many states now bloody theaters of war; ethnic conflicts in Kaduna, Ebonyi, Cross River, Benue, Plateau states etc.; banditry in virtually all states of the federation, particularly Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto; kidnaping which has become occupational in most parts of the country.
“To worsen matters, Boko Haram, has acquired new impetus that they now overrun the military and have even expanded their base to Niger State. IPOB has become a regional challenge.
“On the non-violent side, agitations for restructuring are scaling up in momentum; ethnic consciousness and allegiance even among the elite is far eroding national concerns.”
The search for solutions to these crises, Anyim warned, must involve the citizens.
He advised Buhari to take a cue from the colonial administration which set up the Willink Commission of 1957 in the build-up to securing the Nigerian Independence.
That commission, named after its Chairman, Harry Willink, he said, produced a far-reaching report after extensive hearings of the complaints and suggestions from the people.
“It can be argued that no other document in the history of Nigeria has had more far-reaching impact on our political structure than the Willink’s report. It guided the debates in subsequent constitutional conferences before the independence; gave structure to the emergent constitutions and indeed gave health to the socio-political structure of the nation at independence,” Anyim noted.
The former Senate president noted that reservations about the continued existence of Nigeria are building up, and that no solution will provide an enduring solution, except that which is birthed by an independently conducted engagement with fact-based recommendations arrived at with the participation of the citizens.
He stressed: “It is important to note that in a democracy, no action is deemed successful or completed until the buy-in of the people is secured through a democratic process. This buy-in is an imperative that is yet to be pursued in the fight against violent agitations in Nigeria.
“I must say that as long as the people are not part of the process of finding solutions to the conflicts, a permanent solution will be a mirage.”
Listing some benefits setting up such a commission, Anyim said it help de-escalate the current tension in the country and create a platform for exchange of ideas; (it will) offer the citizenry the opportunity and platform to share their concerns and to be heard, thus building confidence and reducing animosity and mutual suspicion; and help identify the immediate and remote causes of the current challenges and provide a framework for their resolution.
Also, Anyim said such a commission would propose immediate, short and long-term solutions and develop a roadmap towards addressing them.