OPENING REMARKS BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE TOWN HALL MEETING ON NATIONAL SECURITY IN KADUNA, ON THURSDAY APRIL 8, 2021
I welcome you all to this Town Hall Meeting on National Security. I want to most warmly welcome my colleagues, the Honourable Ministers, who have taken time off their busy schedule to be here. I also welcome our panellists, and indeed all those who have taken the pains to be here. Thank you all.
2. Please permit me to extend our sincere gratitude to our host, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, for once again agreeing to host our Town Hall Meeting. This is the second time we will be holding a Town Hall Meeting here in Kaduna. Each time we came calling, His Excellency has always welcomed us with open arms and shown us great hospitality. Your Excellency, we thank you.
3. For the record, the Ministry of Information and Culture launched the Town Hall Meeting series in Lagos on April 25th 2016 to provide a platform for the federal government to regularly give account of its stewardship to the people, get a feedback and input from them and, overall, to enhance citizens’ participation in governance. This Town Hall Meeting here today is the 18th edition.
4. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this Town Hall meeting – with the theme “Setting Benchmarks for Enhanced Security and National Unity in Nigeria” – is yet another in a series of efforts of government, in its expansive consultation with stakeholders, to address the twin issues of insecurity and its concomitant effect on our national unity and cohesion.
5. Ominously, the general state of insecurity, as reflected in incidences of farmers/herders clashes, Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, ethno-religious clashes and intolerance, cultism, drug addiction and kidnapping for ransom, are now triggering rising call for secession as well as politicization of ethnic and religious differences. Bluntly put, the insecurity and its manifestations pose a dangerous threat to the unity of the country and its continued existence as one indivisible nation.
6. How did we get here and what can we do to change the narrative? We believe that finding a way out of the situation in which we have found ourselves requires teamwork, reflecting all diversities and leveraging on all our collective creativity to pursue with diligence the project of rescuing Nigeria.
7. Perhaps the correct starting point towards addressing these myriad of problems is the building of an “elite consensus” on the security, unity, indissolubility and peaceful existence of Nigeria. Such elite consensus had worked in the past. Can we make it work now and proffer solutions in order to stave off the threats to our unity as a nation?
8. This is why we have decided to bring all critical stakeholders together, under a Town Hall meeting setting, to deliberate on the issues and possibly reach a consensus on the way forward. We expect this Town Hall meeting to develop concrete, implementable resolutions, because a lot of talks and postulations had taken place with little or no requisite outcome.
9. We have no doubt that with the seriousness of the issues involved, the expected contributions of a wide range of stakeholders and the quality of our panellists, including the Lead Presenter, Prof. Jubrin Ibrahim, and our Discussants – Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Prof. Chudi Uwazuruike (both of whom will join us virtually), Prof Saka Nuru and Prof (Mrs) Kokunre A. Eghafona – this Town Hall Meeting will go a long way in proffering solutions to what has now become an existential crisis.
10. On that note, I want to once again welcome you all to this Town Hall Meeting on National Security and also thank you for your kind attention.