A former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, has attributed the rising insecurity in the country to the proliferation of weapons, saying an estimated six million illegal arms are currently in circulation.
Abubakar, who is also the Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), raised the alarm on Wednesday at a dialogue session with key stakeholders in Abuja.
According to him, the proliferation of weapons has aggravated insecurity in the country and led to over 80,000 deaths.
The meeting was attended by traditional rulers including the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III; The Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus, Abuja Catholic Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan; Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi; Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong; religious leaders, the service chiefs, business mogul, Aliko Dangote, among others.
Other contributors at the meeting also dwelled on the best way to tackle challenges in the country including the role of the media and the need to create jobs to fast-track development.
According to Abdulsalami Abubakar, the challenges facing the country were not only insecurity in the narrow sense of the military definition.
He cited Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, increased poverty, calls for balkanisation of the country from different quarters, the threat of hunger arising from threat to farmers, the increasing sense of collective despair and despondency among the populace, among others as the salient issues afflicting the country.
He 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 six million of such weapons in circulation in the country.
“This certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million internally displaced persons.”
The ex-military head of state also said that the security forces were not just overstretched but underfunded, assuring that they could perform better with more sophisticated weapons, equipment and funding.
According to him, “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.”
Also, a former Head of State retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, urged all Nigerians irrespective of religious and political differences to see the challenges confronting the country as ones that must be tackled and resolved collectively.