Tinubu: We must unite against terrorists, bandits

National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said on Saturday that there is no better opportunity than now for Nigerians to show the true meaning of the national motto of peace and unity.

Tinubu, who spoke against the backdrop of the spate of violence and banditry across the country, asked Nigerians to stand up to those he branded agents of destruction and merchants of violence.

Citing the terror being visited on the agricultural community by gunmen, the APC leader said it is one of the strategies adopted by ‘terrible people and strong forces’ to destroy the country’s future.

He said Nigeria cannot afford to have its agricultural players feed the nation and fight bandits at the same time.

“We must decide whether our farmland and grazing areas are to be battlegrounds or they are to return to their role of feeding the nation,” the APC leader said in his acceptance speech after he was conferred with an honourary doctorate degree in Management by the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi at the 23rd to 25th convocation ceremonies of the institution.

Reviewing the political landscape, he said: “We approach a defining moment as a nation. A reckoning of special importance beckons.

“We must decide whether to give the truest meaning to our national motto “peace and unity” or we allow the agents of destruction and merchants of violence to have their way with us.

“Terrible people and strong forces want to break Nigeria’s appointment with its greater destiny. These people have unleashed terror and violent criminality against us.

“By attacking agricultural players across the nation, they seek not only to ravage the agricultural community but to visit misery on the rest of the nation through food scarcity and food costs that poor people can simply not afford.

“In effect, these mean forces seek to impose a food production and distribution crisis on us by disrupting strategically important agricultural areas and activities.”

Tinubu said although the federal government has devoted itself to improving the agricultural sector, it must do more with the people also playing their part.

In this regard, he said, committed Nigerians of all stripes and vocations must join in the search for peace and unity.

“Whether city or rural dweller, whether farmer or herder, we must join in common cause against the real enemies that we face: the terrorists and bandits who attempt to pull us apart,” he said.

Continuing, he said: “Those who need peace in order to ply their trade must recognise the bigger threat that now confronts them.

“We can work the differences between farmer and herder. However, there is no way to reconcile either with terror or banditry without forfeiting their livelihoods, if not their very lives.

“Thus, first and foremost, good Nigerians must stop fighting each other so that we can present a unified front against the common violent threat.

“In the war against terror and criminality, the nation must protect its ability to feed its people. The military must begin to revise their strategies so that agricultural communities are better protected. This will enable higher food production, thereby reducing hunger and poverty.

“Even with these changes, we also must do better with food security. We must produce more and be more efficient in bringing the increase to market.

“During this moment of food scarcity, we must launch a programme to expand the production of food staples.

“The concept of ‘agricultural sustainability’ advocates food production in a way that makes the optimal use of existing technical capacities by focusing on the most appropriate genotypes of seeds and livestock for our environment.”

He asked the state and federal governments to subsidise the restart of agricultural activity interrupted by terror and criminality, saying such will “serve to tame food scarcity and price inflation in the short run”.

Tinubu congratulated the graduating students, expressing hope that they would go on to distinguish themselves in their chosen fields as their predecessors have done.

He also thanked the management of the varsity for deeming him fit for the honour.

Also conferred with honourary doctorate degrees at the occasion were former Adamawa State governor, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako; Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emiefele; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timpre Sylva; and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari.

Nyako, like Tinubu, called for massive investment in agriculture as a means of creating employment opportunities in the country.

© The Nation

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