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Military intervention heightened ethnic tension

By Jide Orintunsin – Abuja

Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) Salihu Lukman has blamed the heightened ethnic distrust and tension in the country on repressive military interventions in governance and political process.

Apparently referring to the ethnic face-off in Ondo and Oyo States between herdsmen and farmers, Lukman argued inability to address issues of ethnic tension by successive administrations has continued to inflame all manner of political crisis.

Lukman expressed this position in a statement titled: “Nigeria’s volatile politics and the APC report on true federalism” in Abuja at the weekend.

The PGF boss, who is also a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), lamented the “reckless and brazenly repressive conducts by the military leadership heightened ethnic tension in the country.”

He noted the unattended to tension has led to ethnic profiling which tends to stigmatise a particular group of people to a crime

He traced ethnic frustrations and failed attempts to correct injustice associated with failed political transitions of the military under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Sani Abacha between 1985 and 1998 as a build-up to the current ethnic tension.

According to the PGF boss: “Although problems of political tension between our ethnic groups could be said to be less volatile than what obtains today, reckless and brazenly repressive conducts by the military leadership heightened ethnic tension in the country. Twice, the political transition programme initiated by the military was disrupted with hardly good justifiable reasons.

“Even when the process, in June 1993, was leading to the emergence of a President who would have successfully won votes from all sections of the country, notwithstanding the fact that both the candidate, Chief M. K. O. Abiola and his running mate, Amb. Babagana Kingibe, were both Muslims, the military leadership of Gen. Babangida provocatively went ahead to annul the election without any convincing reason.

“The annulment of June 12, 1993 election further worsened ethnic relations in the country such that although the elections produced one of best electoral results that confirm there is still a good possibility for national unity and coexistence, campaigns for its actualisation sharpened divisions along ethnic lines.

READ ALSO: Incompetent leaders took over from military in 1999, says Bello

“This was aggravated by the tight-fisted political transition of the Gen. Abacha administration between 1993 and 1998. Chief Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 election spent the remaining parts of his life between 1993 and July 1998 under arrest.”

Lukman maintained part of the challenge that requires proper attention is the need to resolve problems of mismanagement of the country’s transition from military rule to the current Fourth Republic.

The PGF boss observed prior to 2015, the closest the country came to addressing the issues was the appointment of the Justice Oputa Oputa Human Right Violation Investigation Commission under President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 and the 2014 National Conference under President Jonathan Goodluck.

He however commended President Muhammad Buhari’s political will to right the wrong and douse the ethnic tension of over 20 years by conceding to the agitations and demands of Nigerians by recognising June 12 as Democracy Day.

The APC chieftain advised Buhari and leadership of the ruling APC to immediately commence the process of implementing the recommendations of the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai led Committee on True Federalism report submitted to the party in January 2018 in order to address the current ethnic tension.

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Source: The Nation

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