Former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has said there are over six million illegal weapons in circulation across Nigeria.
Abdulsalami, who is the chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), made the disclosure during a dialogue session of the committee with key stakeholders in Abuja on Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by traditional rulers, including the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III; John Onaiyekan; Ekiti State governor and chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi; Plateau State governor and chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong; religious leaders and service chiefs.
The former head of state stressed that the proliferation of weapons has heightened insecurity in the country and led to over 80,000 deaths.
He further said the challenges facing the country is not only insecurity in the narrow sense of the military definition, but one that has assumed an all-encompassing nature.
He listed the challenges to include Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, increasing poverty, calls for balkanization of the country from different quarters, threat of hunger arising from insecurity that farmers have faced and continue to face, the increasing sense of collective despair and despondency among the populace, among others.
Abdulsalami further pointed out that security forces are not just over stretched, but also under-funded.
“The proliferation of all calibre of weapons not only in our sub-region in general and in Nigeria in particular is worrying. It is estimated that there are over six million of such weapons in circulation in the country,” he said.
“This certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million internally displaced persons.
“We believe Nigeria must find a way out of these problems. Our hope is that perhaps among us, by listening to your different perspectives, we can begin to build up confidence among our people so that we can hold together.
“So our hope is that we shall not only share our collective lamentations about the current situation, bit propose some concrete suggestions that can point the way forward, suggestions that can inspire more confidence among our people and ensure that our country remains one.”