THERE are now has as many as 6m illegal weapons in Nigeria spurring the incessant cycle of violence sweeping across the country according to former military head of state General Abdusalami Abubakar.
Of late, Nigeria has been plagued by unprecedented violence including a Boko Haram insurgency, murderous attacks by Fulani cattle herdsmen, kidnapping, banditry, rape and armed robbery. Overwhelmed by the crisis, the federal government appears not to have any solution to the problem which is being fuelled by the mass availability of arms and ammunition.
Speaking yesterday at a meeting of the National Peace Committee (NPC) in Abuja, General Abubakar expressed concern over the proliferation of arms, saying it was the reason insecurity in the country has heightened. The meeting was attended by the Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar, Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Simon Lalong of Plateau State as well as religious and military leaders.
He said the security challenges in the country had led to about 80,000 deaths and close to three million internally displaced persons (IDPs). According to the general, the challenges confronting the country were not only security in the narrow sense of the military definition.
General Abubakar said: “The proliferation of all calibre of weapons not only in our sub-region in general and in Nigeria in particular is worrying. It is estimated that there are over 6m of such weapons in circulation in the country, which has certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to 3m IDPs.”
He listed the challenges to include the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, rising poverty, calls for balkanisation of the country from different quarters; threat of hunger arising from insecurity that farmers have faced and continue to face, increasing sense of collective despair and despondency among the populace. General Abubakar said the country must find a way to resolve these challenges.
“We believe Nigeria must find a way out of these problems. Our hope is that perhaps among us by listening to your different perspectives, we can begin to build up confidence among our people so that we can hold together.
“So our hope is that we shall not only share our collective lamentations about the current situation but propose some concrete suggestions that can point the way forward, suggestions that can inspire more confidence among our people and ensure that our country remains one.”