Revisiting Obasanjo’s Open Letter on Insecurity, By Isah Ismaila Gagarawa  

By Isah Ismaila Gagarawa

“The initiative is in the hands of the president of the nation, but he can’t do it alone”- Olusegun Obasanjo

The above quote is from the Open Letter written by  former President Olusegun Obasanjo  to President Muhammadu Buhari advising him to make hay while the sun shines on security issues. With the presence of heated transitional issues and uproar all tied to insecurity, killings and kidnapping in the Nigerian polity, there is a dire need for possible action rather than talks without action.

In the letter Obasanjo described Nigeria’s issue as a “momentous concern to all well-meaning and right thinking Nigerians.” Stressing on the need for the letter to be made available to all those who can help in proffering effective solutions to the insecurity in the fatherland in which I believe he is one of the most qualified persons to assist in peace and security related solutions in this country.

As a former head of state (military/Civilian), and exemplary qualities as a military leader, instead of just writing an open letter, he should have also provided some strategic actions to be taken to address the insecurity. For he rightly said, “a stitch in time, saves nine”. He has  accused the government for abandoning Nigerians in the hands of criminals, but again solutions from him would go a long way.

Notwithstanding, OBJ equivocally pointed out that public debates and dialogue should be opened and adopted by the PMBs’ administration which is indeed a welcome development  towards attaining integration and peace in the polity and that is commendable. I agree with his position to brainstorm and find major avenues to counter these issues from the grassroots before moving to the larger society. Interestingly, building local knowledge of peace and stability from grassroots can contribute enormously to national peace building initiatives and policies.

The issue of killing and kidnapping people for ransom in the polity is indeed worrisome either by the ‘Fulani herders’ or bandits! It is uncalled for and needs to be dealt with seriously. It is disheartening when certain politicians champion killing of innocent lives for political experiments in achieving certain political goals knowing that it heightens tension and chaos. Yet, they still arm hoodlums to kill for them damning the consequences.

Pa Reubens’ loss is indeed a painful one. His daughter, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin was murdered in cold blood for no just cause. A Hausa adage says “da zafi-zafi a ke dukan karfe” meaning “it is only when hot, a metal can be bent/reshaped”. It is high time the president find lasting solutions to kidnapping and killings in the country because condoling with Afeniferes’ family or other victims of kidnapping cannot in anyway bring them back, but bringing the faceless killers to justice can be soothing perhaps.

Decisions of the Northern Elders Forum(NEF) has brought about different reactions from southern leaders, the Afenifere and a host of other critics. Simultaneously, their decision is inappropriate because instead of heating the polity, we should try in our utterances to be patriotic as words have power and people have varied perspective to understanding and interpreting issues. The NEF should advocate for long lasting peace to help keep our diverse population together as our predecessors have struggled to maintain it. Also, the NEF should caution bad eggs among the accused people rather than asking them to return to the north.

This country belongs to us all, we should carry our cross. Both North, East, South and West. But to achieve this, the president should work with or solicit the assistance of past leaders and experts (both civilian and military) and come together to design active peace and development plans. Also, the media should not only set agenda for public discuss but engage in more realistic investigative journalism to find out facts of people behind the scenes and those perceptible in the crime.
We should not only sit and talk, we should rather be active in our intentions with reactions to precede our travails. To reduce the rate of insecurities we must however from the grassroots collectively find and put in place lawful peace mechanism to protect our families and society at large.

A lot has happened to innocent people. Some killed while some extorted; it could be anyone of us tomorrow. Thus, the government should wake up from slumbering and strive amid these tribulations to restore peace and unity in the country.

Inarguably, peace cannot be imposed from the top to the bottom. Rather, if the grassroots approach for peace and conflict resolution is embraced, undoubtedly, we will head to the pathway to stability in our country.

Isah Ismaila Gagarawa is a serving Corp member in Abuja and can be reached on



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