Amid growing concerns over the Afghanistan crisis, the Association of Journalists for United Nigeria, better known as Journalists for United Nigeria (JUN), has urged Nigerians to first seek the peace, unity, and security of their country.
This comes after the unsavoury scenes from Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover of the country's government.
Meanwhile, Western nations have scrambled to evacuate their citizens from an increasingly chaotic Kabul airport while other Afghan citizens have also been seeking to flee the country for fear of a brutal rule by the militants.
In a statement on Tuesday, the convener of the group, Fredrick Nwabufo, noted that the easy transition of power to the Taliban in Afghanistan despite decades of military support by powerful countries should caution Nigerians, particularly those who are bent on foreign intervention.
He said, "There is no salvation in the West or in the East; we Nigerians are the potter, we must build Nigeria with our own hands."
The statement partly read, "The events in the country recently call for patriots to rise up and hold the fort. We cannot palliate the enormity of the challenges that confront us as a people today. We have come to a point where all citizens, statesmen, and women, young and old, must hold out hands and forge a common fist to deal with these existential threats.
"We must embrace peace-building as a path to peace in our communities. We need state protection, but it is much easier when we are not propagating hate and division.
"Nigeria is ours. Nigeria is worth fighting for. As a peace and national unity advocate, the Association of Journalists for United Nigeria (JUN), better known as Journalists for United Nigeria (JUN), calls on all Nigerians and critical stakeholders in the country to make the pursuit of peace at this tempestuous epoch in our evolution a bounden duty."
The group further urged all self-determination groups in the country to embrace peaceful methods as it emphasised that self-determination is a universal right. However, it noted that "taking up arms to kill citizens and security agents pivots on the bounds of terrorism."
JUN advised that Nigerians make demands using constitutional methods to maintain peace as it called on the government to employ peace-building initiatives where necessary to avoid a crisis.
‘’JUN, a group committed to peace-building, national cohesion, and progress, notes the agitations for secession in some sections of the country. While it is within the rights of anyone to agitate and seek self-determination, violence, and coercion in any form, should not be part of any righteous advocacy.
‘’We must denounce violence in all forms by all actors. Violence should not be found among the civilised human species. Violence achieves nothing but death, broken bones, and spilt blood. When agitations result in loss of lives and property, the state naturally will move to restore order.
"We would like to emphasise that self-determination is a universal right, but taking up arms to kill citizens and security agents pivots on the bounds of terrorism. All Nigerians should pursue constitutional means in whatever they seek. The cost of war is greater than the price of peace. There are no real victors in a war -- only death and destruction.
"We acknowledge some of the fundamental issues behind these agitations – social inequality, poverty, unemployment, injustice, and corruption. These are issues affecting all the people of Nigeria. Every Nigerian is marginalised. And this is a consequence of leadership failure over the years. We ask the government to look into the underlying causes of these agitations – beyond deploying force. We cannot successfully treat metastasising cancer if we do not surgically address the root causes.
"We suggest that the government employ peace-building initiatives, dialogue where necessary, and hold out the olive branch when practicable.
"Section 24b of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) says 'it shall be the duty of every citizen to help to enhance the power, prestige and good name of Nigeria, defend Nigeria'. JUN draws its mandate from this section of the constitution.
"Journalists for United Nigeria (JUN) is strictly non-partisan; not a pressure or lobby group, but a think-factory to connect minds in the media who are committed to a united Nigeria.
"We believe the media possesses some of the brightest minds. JUN is more or less a discussion forum for like-minded people. It is non-partisan; it is not a pressure group. It is not a lobby group; it is not a political group. It is a forum where journalists can converge to exchange ideas and opinions on how to strengthen national unity
"We need in abundance citizens who can be Nigerians. It is our view that only journalists fit into this. By virtue of being men and women of the pen, we shape opinions and narratives. The sustenance of our unity rests largely in our hands. We must rise to the occasion and mobilise both the political class and the populace to imbibe our togetherness. We have no other country but Nigeria. Let us, through our profession, lead by example.
"We would like to be emphatic here; this group was conceived out of a strong desire for the peace and progress of Nigeria. We believe we are stronger together.
"Again, JUN is purely voluntary for Nigerian journalists. No financial rewards whatsoever; except for the psychological fulfilment that comes from knowing you are contributing to the peace and growth of your country.
“We appeal to all Nigerians to put the unity, peace, and security of Nigeria first in their engagements, public statements, and actions."