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Nigeria needs healing — Atiku

FORMER Vice President Atiku Abubakar has urged those agitating for secession to embrace dialogue rather than war-war. 

Atiku, however, advised government against using force to quell agitations. He noted that the only means to address the incessant agitations from the separatist group is to address those issues that gave rise to them.

Appealing to separatist groups to lay down their arms in the interest of the nation, Atiku said taking up arms against the Nigerian state would do more harm than good.

He said: “I call on those who have taken up arms against Nigeria to have a rethink. Whatever differences they may have with the rest of Nigeria, whether religious, ethnic or political terror, violence and separatism are not the way. Let us learn from history.

“In Ireland, Israel, and the Balkans, such groups have seen the wisdom in giving up armed struggle for participation in the political process. There is much wisdom in the saying that to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. We must accept the reality that we are all brothers and sisters sired by our fatherland.

“We cannot defeat separatist groups by force of arms alone; we can only defeat separatism by making all Nigerians feel they belong. This is only possible when we live up to the words of our national motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.

“As a nation, we asserted our independence in our infancy by lending to other nations. We must be careful not to lose the hard-won independence of our heroes’ past. By learning to live within our means, we can put a stop to the needless borrowings that threaten our economic independence.

“Our nation is in dire need of healing. We must foster unity and douse the tense atmosphere which is breeding feelings of alienation. We must promote freedom of speech and freedom after the speech.

“As such, in the spirit of our 60th Independence Anniversary, I call on the federal and state governments, to release all political prisoners and detainees, and discontinue the prosecution of such individuals. If Nelson Mandela could reconcile with those who imprisoned him for twenty seven years, we can reconcile with those who have disagreed with us.”

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