By G9ija

As the nation gears up for the 2023 general elections, a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has counselled that the current national security concerns hovering over the nation is more pressing than the elections.

In a statement from his media office in Abuja on Wednesday, Olawepo-Hashim explained that the political leadership of the country must not concentrate only on permutations for the 2023 elections to the detriment of urgent National Security concerns, adding that “we must have a Nation first before the election and our people must be alive and safe first to be able to vote.”

He averred that “the Barbarians are at the gate of the capital, our Republic is under threat, our tested ways of life pluralism, democracy, State secularism, are about to be imperilled. The clock is ticking, time is running out, the forces of evil are set to take the capital.”

According to a report by Beacon Consulting, a security risk management and intelligence consulting company, banditry and terrorist attacks have escalated across Nigeria, leading to the death of 7,222 persons and the abduction of 3,823 others in the past seven months.

A breakdown in terms of geopolitical zones revealed that the Northeast recorded 777 incidents, in which 2,052 individuals were killed and 344 kidnapped. In the North-West, 519 incidents occurred, leading to the death of 2,229 individuals, while 1,989 were abducted. No fewer than 494 incidents were witnessed in the North-Central, of which 1,748 residents lost their lives, and 950 were kidnapped.

Olawepo-Hashim, a former Presidential candidate of the People’s Trust in the 2019 election maintained that “in the past two years we have spoken on the Nation’s security challenges and offered concrete suggestions on how to confront them, but all suggestions have been ignored. Now is the time for Patriots and statesmen and friends of Nigeria to rally and defend the ideals of our Republic, the Ideals of Peace and the Ideals of modernity and Civilization.”

The former Presidential Candidate had on the 10th of August 2021, listed a six-point agenda as a pathway to security and peace in the country, some of which include: the establishment of a Defence Co-operation Agreement (DCA) with a friendly nation to halt the enemy’s advance as well as creating the framework for States and Local Governments to have their own police.

Also on February 5, 2022, Olawepo-Hashim maintained that for the sacrifices and efforts of our gallant soldiers not to be in vain, “it is time for the nation to construct a new Defence and Security Architecture to permanently destroy the seed of terror and uproot banditry/kidnapping across the country.”

He added that with all manners of armed groups within a two-hour drive to Abuja, (the nation’s seat of power), from Niger and Kaduna, the government should not downplay the alarm raised by Governor Zulum of Borno on the growing number of ISWAP fighters in the country.

Olawepo-Hashim equally noted in his April statement that if between 2015 and now, the government has allocated approximately N5.081tn for defence, including the appropriation of N4.669tn to the Federal Ministry of Defence from 2016 to date and $1bn for the purchase of military equipment, the template on the fight on terror requires political responses that must tackle the underlining causes of the threats.

According to his statement today Wednesday 3rd of August, Olawepo-Hashim said “presently, it is an understatement to say we are at a turning point in our history when terrorist forces have technically surrounded our nation’s capital highlighting the severity of our national security challenge. Despite the offensive of the military to clean up the bushes in the capital, the axis surrounding the capital are still in the hands of the enemy and they retain the capacity, flexibility and initiative to launch attacks at any place and time of their choice ”

“We should never surrender through in-action, limited action or wrong and slow response to the urgent threat confronting our fatherland, our response must be deep, broad and all-encompassing.”