The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, disclosed that the UN was adopting a victim-centred approach to tackling the menace in the country and that perpetrators of terrorism in Nigeria must be brought to justice.
The UN secretatary visited Maiduguri on Tuesday where he met with the internally displaced persons and assured them of the UN support.
Guterres’ admonition was against the backdrop of the de-radicalisation programme of the Federal Government which had resulted in a pardon for scores of former Boko Haram fighters.
He said “On that tragic day (August 26, 2011) an appalling terrorist attack on the UN House left 23 UN employees and civilians’ dead and 16 injured. Those staff members who lost their lives are heroes who proudly served Nigerians through the UN organisations.
“We encourage all Nigerians who have endured similar violence in their communities. In our victim-centered approach, perpetrators must be held accountable. We remain steadfast in our commitment for a peaceful Nigeria and for all people.”
Guterres also thanked the Federal Government for its support in reconstructing the UN House.
The UN boss had a succession of meetings with several groups, which included the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, members of the diplomatic corps, religious leaders, civil society organisations, women groups, and people living with disabilities and others.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with the UN Chief, the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said his interaction with Guterres was on how to “resolve the dilemma of a country full of talented people but facing a lot of problems.”
“Nigerians are genuinely religious but we see around us so much corruption and outright wickedness,” he noted.
The cleric further said it had become pertinent to interrogate “how a nation that is rich but full of poor people, a nation that is full of talented people and yet hardly organised.”
Onaiyekan stated, “Nigerians are not satisfied with how far the rulers are dealing with the issues concerning us, the issue of poverty, the issue of insecurity, and the issues of social services. The government tells us they are doing their best and we say that their best is not good enough. We believe we can do better.”
On the lingering issue of the herders-farmer crisis, he observed that in the last 10 years, the government had been struggling to address the issue of armed herdsmen, which had created a lot of problems including displacement of farmers.
He added, “It seems the displacement is becoming permanent and the herders are taking over the farmlands and the government still claims they have no way of bringing things back to normalcy. The result is that farmers can no longer farm and we are facing the prospect of famine because the parts of Nigeria that use to produce a lot of food, many of them can no longer farm.
“We must admit that the old traditional method of cattle rearing is no longer sustainable in this day and age because it has become a recipe for chaos. We must learn from how other people rear cattle and produce a lot of meat without disturbing anybody. It can be done and if it is not done, it must be that some people are not ready to do the right thing.”
Joy Ezeilo, a professor of Law at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, who met the UN Chief with her group, said, “We discussed the problems and the status of women in Nigeria and how he can help us to hold our elected officials to account, especially when it comes to gender parity and women participation in politics.”