A prominent Nigerian and former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, says a high percent of the country’s population live in absolute poverty, and many more are starving.
In a statement titled, ‘Mr. President, Governors: The Time for Dialogue is NOW’, Prof Jega, a former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Gen. Martin Agwai, Dr. Usman Bugaje, said that Nigerians are facing “double suffering” due to insecurity and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nigeria, like the rest of the world is battling the coronavirus pandemic. However, citizens in Nigeria are facing double the suffering because they also have to contend with rising insecurity and violence across the country.
“Kidnapping for ransom is an acute concern across Nigeria. The North-East is witnessing resurgence in Boko Haram activity, and thousands of people are internally displaced by banditry across rural communities in the North-West.
“Criminality in rural areas further complicates the situation by undermining food security, as many farmers have been unable to go to their farms for months for fear of losing their lives,” the group said.
The Nigerian government must immediately address the rising insecurity, if it is to succeed in the fight against the pandemic. A recent USIP-commissioned survey in Nigeria found new linkages between COVID-19, instability, and conflict.
Amb. Fatima Balla, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Mrs. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Dr. Nguyan Feese, and Dr. Chris Kwaja are also members of the Nigeria Working Group on Peace-building and Governance.