A coalition of Civil Society Organizations under the aegis of Gender Advocacy for Justice Initiative, GAJI, has attributed the cause of insecurity in Benue State and other parts of the country to long years of poor governance and structural imbalances.
It expressed dissatisfaction with the practice of federalism in the country, saying it was enveloped with what it called “ethnic and sectional ideologies even within the public service.”
The group also said as the Nigerian Army begins full special operations in Benue State with a view to curbing the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state, troops deployed in the state must not only be neutral but also respect the rules of engagement in the operation. On the other hand, it called on the citizens of the state to cooperate with the operators of the Operation Cat Race Exercise,so that they can achieve their aim of restoring peace in the state.
The Gender Advocacy for Justice Initiative, GAJI, comprising members of Civil Society Organizations, mid level professionals, members of the academia, practitioners in peace and conflict resolution and retired public servants,in a statement Sunday, by its Chairman, Cliff Gai and Secretary, Tersoo Agera, respectively, insisted that long years of poor governance and structural imbalances fueled current insecurity in the country.
The group’s positions, according to the statement, were the fall-out of a meeting it convened in Abuja on Friday February 23, 2018, to identify the immediate, medium and long term strategies in response to the recent developments in Benue State, Middle Belt, of Nigeria. “The long years of poor governance and structural imbalances are responsible for the insecurity situation in Benue and other parts of the country, “it said while adding:” We observe with dismay the lacklustre response of the Federal Government of Nigeria towards the security situation in Benue State and many parts of the country and condemn it in the strongest terms.”
“We decry the nature and practice of our federalism and the noticeable rise in ethnic and sectional ideologies even within the public service, the security forces and the implications this has on national unity and integration, “it further said. While it acknowledged what it described as “the critical, responsive and sustained role of the media in creating awareness on the security situation in Benue State, the coalition said:” However and strangely too, we observe with great concern the lack of interest of the national civil society groups and networks regarding the situation in Benue State.”
Commenting on the Open Grazing and Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law in Benue State, GAJI, while throwing its weight behind the law, asked the state government not to shirk in its responsibility of protecting the citizens of the state. “We observe that the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law is a product of a legitimate process and reaffirms commitment and support to its full implementation.
” We, however, observe with dismay the tendency for otherwise well respected international organizations not only taking sides in the Benue situation but also yielding their platforms for inciting and misleading publications capable of escalating an already bad situation, “it further said.