Minna - Two former Nigeria leaders, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, have jointly called for peace, tolerance and dialogue in the interest of the nation’s unity and progress.
A statement jointly signed by the two leaders said the call was in response to the “unfolding events that are threatening to unravel the nearly a century-old labour of our founding fathers”.
The two leaders stressed the need for a strong, united, peaceful nation that can accommodate and cater for the needs and aspirations of our diverse communities.
``Internecine crises are raging across the land unabated with damaging consequences on the social, political and economic life of the nation and, in the process, untold hardships are being visited on all citizens in one form or another on a daily basis.
``The loss of innocent lives being experienced by the day across the nation is simply unbearable,” the statement said.
“Currently, the nation is gripped by a regime of fear and uncertainty that virtually all citizens have difficulties going about their normal day-to-day lives without great anxiety and trepidation.
“This cannot be allowed to continue!”
The two leaders said, ``the people of this country must not allow whatever sense of frustration, fear and despair we are experiencing now to supersede our hopes for a collective destiny which lies in our continued existence as a nation.
"For us, and we believe for millions of other Nigerians, the continued unity of this nation is not only priceless but non-negotiable.
``Whatever robust security measures are put in place to contain the situation as is normal in such circumstances, they must be complemented with an equally intensive process of community involvement.
``We also call on the Federal and State governments not only to encourage these grassroots engagements for peace and beneficial coexistence but to work out the framework to sustain the engagement.
``In all these efforts, it is important to emphasis that our diversity is a cause for celebration, not a cause for lamentations.
``As the Holy Month of Ramadan commences, Nigerians, wherever they are and whatever religion they profess, are accorded a great opportunity to turn the tide against insecurity, violence and hatred.
``Religious leaders, in particular, have an even greater challenge to use the immense virtues of this Holy period to inculcate among the millions of citizens the spirit of mutual respect, humility and forgiveness.
``Ample opportunities are, therefore, at hand to bring all armed belligerents to the table for meaningful dialogue with the authorities for our future and that of our children and grand-children.
``We need peace and harmony to harness them, not just for our own well-being, but also that of our children and grand-children. We owe the future generations of Nigerians this much.
``On our part, we are ready to do whatever is possible to promote the quest for peace and harmony, and to join hands with all patriots to sustain and further enhance the unity and progress of this country,” they said.