With the campaign for 2023 general elections kicking off on 28 September, a leader in the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has counselled that the current national security concerns is more crucial than the polls.
In a statement from his media office in Abuja on Wednesday, Olawepo-Hashim explained that Nigeria’s political leadership must not concentrate only on permutations on the elections to the detriment of urgent national security concerns, adding that “we must have a nation first before election and our people must be alive and safe first to be able to vote”.
He rationalised” “The Barbarians are at the gate of the capital, our Republic is under threat, our tested ways of life pluralism, democracy, state secularism, are about to be imperiled. The clock is ticking, time is running out, the forces of evil are set to take the capital”.
According to a report by Beacon Consulting, a security risk management and intelligence consulting company, banditry and terrorist attacks have escalated across Nigeria, leading to the death of 7,222 persons and abduction of 3,823 others in the past seven months.
A geopolitical breakdown revealed that the North East recorded 777 incidents, in which 2,052 individuals were killed and 344 kidnapped. In the North West, 519 incidents occurred, leading to the death of 2,229 individuals, while 1,989 were abducted. No fewer than 494 incidents were witnessed in the North Central, of which 1,748 residents lost their lives, and 950 were kidnapped.
Olawepo-Hashim maintained that “in the past two years we have spoken on the nation’s security challenges and offered concrete suggestions on how to confront them, but all suggestions have been ignored. Now is the time for patriots and statesmen and friends of Nigeria to rally and defend the ideals of our Republic, the ideals of peace and the ideals of modernity and civilisation”.
On 10 August, last year, Olawepo-Hashim listed a six point agenda as a pathway to security and peace in the country, some of which included the establishment of a Defence Co-operation Agreement with a friendly nation to halt the enemy’s advance as well as creating the framework for states and local governments to have their own police.
Last 5 February, Olawepo-Hashim maintained that for the sacrifices and efforts of Nigeria’s gallant soldiers not to be in vain, “it is time for the nation to construct a new Defence and Security Architecture to permanently destroy the seed of terror and uproot banditry/kidnapping across the country”.
He added that with all manners of armed groups within two-hour drive to Abuja, from Niger and Kaduna, the government should not downplay the alarm raised by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State on the growing number of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters in the country.