THE bloodbath in the North-Central states has continued for so long, inuring the public and media to an unfolding human tragedy. While national and global attention is riveted on the atrocities of Boko Haram terrorists, bloodletting, arson, brigandage, rape and impunity are on the rampage in large parts of the region with attendant human misery and economic ruin. The federal and state governments concerned need to respond more effectively to halt this descent into anarchy.
Never since the run-up to, and during, the Nigeria Civil War have so much violence and bloodletting gripped the country. In parts of the North-Central states, pogroms and what some describe as ethnic cleansing are clearly in evidence. Cattle rustlers and herdsmen continue to pillage villages and slaughter their inhabitants, joined often by ethnic militias and mercenaries disguised as herdsmen. The carnage has not only shattered the social cohesion of the region and cast its over 200 odd ethnic nationalities into mutually hostile camps, people are dying in their thousands and the economy is in tatters. Government’s tepid response should give way to a more effective strategy before the entire Northern Nigeria implodes into a lawless wasteland.
From Nasarawa to Kaduna, Plateau to Taraba and Benue to Kogi states, peace has departed many communities. Just last week, 38 persons, mostly women and children, were killed by gunmen who attacked some villages in southern Kaduna State’s Sanga Local Government Area. At the end of the mayhem, the local people recorded a death toll of 200. The state had witnessed a similar mayhem in January when seven members of the same family were slaughtered in Manchok; about 100 persons died in attacks on three villages in Kaura LGA in March, while six persons were killed during an attack on Fadan Karshi village. Last Saturday, gunmen ambushed and killed 13 Fulani herdsmen in Maihula, Bali LGA of Taraba State.
Hundreds have been similarly slaughtered in Plateau, the formerly renowned centre of hospitality. There is a common element in the mayhem: everywhere, Fulani herdsmen are fingered as prime perpetrators of pogroms and mindless slaughter of the innocent, with local youths staging equally bloody reprisals. In Benue, several villages have been sacked in the last one year in a war of attrition on Tiv villages, allegedly by Fulani gunmen and mercenaries. The war between the two has spread from Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa to Taraba State, with Wukari as its epicentre. Between 270 and 300 persons are estimated to have been killed in Wukari in the three months to June this year.
So far, the Federal Government has failed to understand the dynamics of the onslaught on communities in the Middle-Belt and further southwards. According to rights groups tracking ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria, murderous attacks by “Fulani herdsmen” have spread through all the Middle-Belt states, predominantly non-Muslim, minority areas of the north-eastern and north-western states and down to the southern states.
Indeed, the pattern of attacks, the state’s response to them and the reactions of the northern majority elite have persuaded groups such as the minority self-determination associations, the Northern chapters of the Christian Association of Nigeria and several state and federal legislators from the zone that there is a deliberate ethnic cleansing agenda under way to drive millions away from their homelands and fill them with new nationalities or, at least, dilute the majority of the indigenous population. The Fulani on the other hand, allege that their cattle are often stolen and their families attacked by locals.
Human Rights Watch estimates that over 150,000 persons have died in ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria since 1979. Since 1986, the North-Central zone has accounted for a significant number of this figure.
Inter-ethnic conflict in the North-Central zone is doubly vicious because it invariably becomes ethno-religious and sectarian. At the root of the conflict is usually contest over land ownership and access to water sources. Unlike ethnic conflicts among southern nationalities, however, minority ethnic groups in the North are often mostly Christians, while the Fulani, Hausa and associated ethnic groups are predominantly Muslims. Since the minorities are predominant in the Middle-Belt and southern parts of the North-East and North-West, their conflicts with the Fulani and Hausa invariably assume a religious dimension. The International Crisis Group also explains that the prolonged Sahelian drought has forced the herdsmen southwards from Chad, Niger Republic and far Northern Nigeria to contend for grazing land and water with agrarian communities in the Middle-Belt, leading to conflict and violence.
But the crucial factor promoting violence in the region is the evil convergence of politics and religion. The Northern political elite has for long used religion to gain political ascendancy and, in the process, has spawned violent religious extremist groups that preach a hate-filled ideology that seeks to exterminate opposing faiths and their adherents.
We cannot continue on this self-destructive path. The Federal Government needs to overhaul its entire security apparatus and restructure the intelligence, police and military for greater efficiency. Violence continues to escalate despite the existence of numerous task forces and deployment of military in 33 out of the 36 states of the federation. Moles, traitors and officers who take sides in the sectarian and ethnic strife should be identified and severely punished to deter others.
The vaunted cohesion of the old North and the slogan of “one destiny” have been shattered to the extent that all attempts to solve common problems have stalled, while the region continues to record the world’s poorest poverty, health, employment and literacy rates. The 19 Northern states should urgently come together to map out joint strategies to save the region from total collapse and end the horrendous carnage.
Until the Northern state governors stop blaming the centre and the cynical manipulation of religious and ethnic sentiments, the region will continue to slide into anarchy.
According to Section 15 (2) of the Constitution, “National integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited”. The cut off marks are over the bars for discrimination. Some pupils would be admitted with two marks while their mates require 139 marks.The discrimination hurts the North too. Students from the North are treated as second class: they are not. Leadership in the North has woefully failed to provide facilities that would encourage education; instead it wants to produce pupils who cannot be competitive.
This type of entitlement would enhance laziness on the part of the authorities and pupils. They would both think quota is a solution to a challenge that runs through culture, belief, social stratification and the North’s politics.Proponents of this warped national integration model depend on Section 14 (3) of the Constitution. It states, “The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria …thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies”.Federal character, in appointments and employments, has been extended to admission to educational institutions.
How would a two-mark pupil compete against those with 139 marks? Would quota system be extended to securing school certificate qualifications for the pupils?We have pushed federal character to a national ethos. We execute it with patriotic zeal. Sessions of the National Assembly are halted to debate implementations of quota system, or federal character. None of these passionate Nigerians apply Section 14 (2b), “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Such hypocrisy is behind acceptance of discrimination as a national ethic.The North needs help, but not one that cuts it off from the reality of a competitive Nigeria. – See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/cutting-off-the-north/#sthash.OLR3Q0hR.dpuf]]>
Given the unexpected turn of political events that have emerged in the last three years which appear to have shattered the zoning formula with the election of President Goodluck Jonathan from the minority Ijaw in 2011, the stakes have become higher, the battle fiercer and the future unpredictable — but that is the nature of the “cliffhanger” politics Nigeria democracy has become. The fortuitous emergence of Jonathan as President in 2010 truncated the eight-year Northern slot which began in 2007 with the election of Umaru Yar’Adua (new late) as president. The death of Yar’Adua and the emergence of Jonathan in a landslide electoral win in 2011 angered the Northern establishment. At the time of Yar’Adua’s death, the North had made a case for the continuation for the Presidency to remain in the region by frustrating all efforts to have Jonathan sworn in as President. But the constitutional provision that made the then Vice- President assume the Presidency put paid to the North’s ambition.
The Presidential election of 2011 again presented another chance for the North to renew their agitation for the region to present a candidate to complete the second term of a Northern slot. Some Northern elders under the Arewa Consultative Forum threatened violence if a Northerner was not elected to complete an eight-year-zoned presidency. However, President Jonathan won the election but as predicted, the North erupted in an orgy of violence- ostensibly, a reaction to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s loss, a candidate, many in the North considered as their representative. The seed for future discord had already been sown. Will it manifest in 2015? Since the North’s loss of presidential power in 2011, the insecurity that has ravaged the country is believed by many to be the handwork of reactionary elements angered by the region’s perceived descent into the backwaters of Nigeria’s politics which they had dominated since independence.
There is a sense in which the violence that broke out after the 2011 presidential election seemed to be an indicator of the unpredictability of the politics that will play out in 2015 as the major ethnic groups strengthen their claim to the Presidency. Already, there are predictions by both local and international think-tanks that political infighting among the ethnic groups staking claims to the centre may signal the death knell to the Nigerian federation in 2015. The seed for future instability arising from the jostle for the Presidency was sown since independence. The schisms created by the major ethnic groups seeking to dominate politics at the centre have further driven a wedge into the chord that binds the country together. Having ruled the country for 36 years since independence, the North is seen by many Nigerians to have had its fair share in a country where the ethnic groups are as diverse as the population. But having stayed in power for that long, Northern leaders naturally consider the Presidency a birthright. Therein lies the problem. The rude awakening for the region came in 2011 when the country massively voted for a minority candidate thus ending the zoning formula since 1999- a move that also shattered the myth of North’s invincibility.
There are questions that need to be asked as the possibility of a stalemate confronts the nation in 2015. Should the Presidency be determined by the zoning formula in 2015? Should power return to the North or other ethnic groups in the spirit of zoning which had determined the Presidency of the country since 1999? Should we continue to benchmark the choice of a President on a subjective zoning formula that promotes mediocrity or should we as a country uphold merit as the sole determinant for leadership at all levels of governance? Does the ethnic background of a President matter? Some points need to be made here in defence of zoning; were zoning to be adopted as the determining factor in choosing a future President, what better right does the North have to stake a claim to the Presidency having governed the country since independence? Do they have a superior claim to the Presidency than other ethnic groups like the Igbo, for example?
Let’s even look at the issues critically and dispassionately. Which ethnic group in the country deserves to rule the country now and in future than the Igbo? Have they not sacrificed more to keep the nation united? Have they not suffered injustice more than other ethnic groups in the country? Years after a devastating civil war, the Igbo have had their kith and kin massacred in senseless orgies of religious violence that have engulfed the country in our recent past. Yet, they have not threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable. The point has to be stressed here that no region has the superior claim to the Presidency. It is also high time the North weaned itself of the “Presidency-at-all-cost or we-all-perish mentality”. There are many more ethnic groups in the country that can never assume the Presidency either because they are disadvantaged politically, in population and absence of mineral resources that can be used to bargain for the number one spot in the country.
That is why I fault the move by Northern leaders who have consistently threatened that the country would cease to exist if the region does not get the Presidency in the future. Rather than expend energy in a venture that has not brought development to the region, they should begin to hold their governors accountable for the region’s underdevelopment. The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, echoed the danger of zoning recently. He condemned the advocates of power shift “for its sake”, saying it is irresponsible to frame elections on the basis of ethnicity. He frowned at the ways the political class in Nigeria leant on ethnicity and tribal sentiments to champion their political interests to the detriment of the growth of the economy and democracy. He also advocated for the ban of ethnic and socio-cultural associations. But not many politicians from his region will agree with this view.
As the country journeys into an unpredictable political future, what we need is a President who will see the entire country as his constituency. The political parties have a role to play in ensuring that an acceptable candidate with proven track record is presented for future elections. Zoning promotes mediocrity. It is the reason why the country has stagnated after 52 years of independence. But if the North insists, should the Presidency return to the region in 2015?
It has therefore, asked politicians in the area who nurse presidential ambition to tarry- a -while, before embarking on their campaigns as such activities could compound the bad situation
The ACF’s position is coming against the backdrop of opposition against zoning by the Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido.
The ACF which is the umbrella association of all socio-political groups in the north, made this known in a communique after an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council, NEC, and the Board of Trustees in
Abuja yesterday, even as they expressed solidarity with Kogi State over its dispute with Anambra and Enugu States over the oil finds along the border areas of the three states.
The meeting was called to receive and consider the Road Map for Peace, Unity and Development of Northern Nigeria, which was the product of resolutions of the Arewa Conference on Peace and Unity held in December last year.
The communique which was signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Anthony Sani noted that the divided Northern Nigeria needed peace and unity if it was to compete as an entity in the larger Nigerian federation, adding that the task of uniting the zone needed the support of all its stakeholders.
The communique further read, “While the Forum supports any political strategies that would put the North in a position which will enable it negotiate with other sections of the country from a position of strength and secure some favourable terms, it was the considered view of the Forum that it is too early to start full-fledged political activities for 2015.
’’This is because such early start is capable of detracting from the task of governance at our collective peril.
”Concerning the controversy on the oil finds among states of Anambra, Enugu and Kogi, the meeting heard a briefing from a delegation from Kogi State.
“The Forum then asked the people of the states concerned not to be agitated unduly, precisely because both the offices of the Surveyor General and the National Boundaries Commission are there to resolve boundary disputes.
“And that the Forum would stand by people of Kogi state for what is legally due and payable to them.”
Meanwhile, the Jigawa State Governor, Dr Lamido, has said that he feels flattered by the story linking him with the 2015 presidential ambition, pointing out that he did not believe in the zoning of the coveted position.
According to Lamido, “Neither zoning nor whatever is the answer. What we really need in this country is for people to believe in themselves and their leaders for things to work well.
“By the time every Nigerian develops confidence in each other, trusts each other and supports one another then who becomes the president or governor would be immaterial. Because we have a rich culture with poor people and because the resources of this country have not been properly applied we think it is the system which is denying us what we really need as a people.’’
Lamido, who is a founding member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, however did not confirm or deny speculations about his alleged presidential ambition.
A section of the media had last month reported that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, had anointed Lamido to run with the Rivers State Governor, Chubuike Amaechi, as the PDP presidential and vice-presidential candidates in 2015; causing ripples in the political circle.
However, Obasanjo promptly denied the report, saying that he had not endorsed anyone for the election. This was even as people in the 27 local government areas of the Jigawa State reportedly went into wild jubilation, over the news report, contending that their governor had done well and needed to replicate his development strides across the country.
But, Lamido told newsmen that he was surprised when the speculation became a public debate in the country.
The governor said, “To be honest with you, I feel flattered that in a country with over 160 million Nigerians, my humble self from a small village in Jigawa State is being talked about. Secondly, the issue of leadership in this country is something which is within the exclusive preserve of God, who gives power to whoever He wants at the time He chooses.”
Those who are here now were not there 10 years ago and those who were there some years ago are no longer here. So no matter what happens someone will be in an office and a Nigerian must be there. And so, to me what matters is: let God give to Nigeria what is best for her and it does not matter who he is. It could be any Nigerian.”
Reacting to claims that opposition parties were already regrouping to oust the PDP in 2015, Lamido dismissed the perceived strength of the other parties are non-existent.
According to him, the PDP would continue to wax stronger since most of the so-called members of the opposition did not have active and committed members across the country like his party.
Scoffing at the opposition, he asked rhetorically, ‘’which are the parties in this country that are threatening ours? I do not see any threat from anywhere. Which of them is really an opposition party? None. In 1999, it was only PDP, APP and AD. Today it is only PDP and other formations. Ten years after it is only PDP and other later inventions. They are all inventions made up of persons who have failed in the PDP and other parties and thrown out as garbage.”
He also said that his administration spent over 65 percent of its monthly allocation of about N3 billion on recurrent services but vowed not to borrow a dime to execute any project.
He stated that he had so far managed to provide the critical infrastructure that would propel the state towards industrialization and progress with the resources at his disposal.
“I am always conscious of the fact that if I begin to take loans it might be difficult for my successor to grapple with the development of the state. hat is why I have made it a policy that by the time I leave office, I will not leave behind a single kobo as debt. I do not see any justification in borrowing money. Why should I eat into the income of the next governor?” he added
He also said it was regrettable that the northern part of the country, which he said was once leading in peace and tranquillity, had become the theatre of war.
The minister spoke on Monday night at the First Dialogue and Peace Iftar Dinner organised by Ufuk Dialogue Foundation in Abuja.
Maku said Nigerians must be worried that a region once known for its peaceful atmosphere and co-existence was already having dwindling fortune due to incessant terrorist attacks mostly by the Boko Haram sect.
He said, “Unless we are able to stop the fire, development will continue to elude the North. If the North lags behind, the whole country may not move forward.”
He called on Nigerians to embrace dialogue as the best option to settle their differences, adding that since almost all Nigerians believe in God, they should not resort to self-help when there were grievances among them.
He said, “If there are two religions that share the same ancestors, they are Islam and Christianity. These two religions not only share the same prophets, what you say in Quran is what you read in the Holy Bible. If there are two peoples that share same values, they are Muslims and Christians.
“I see no reasons why Nigeria cannot succeed. The way of Nigeria is important for all Africa. What we do today (the dialogue) is what we must do often.”
Also speaking at the event, the Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwanbo, said suspicion remained a contributory factor fuelling insecurity in the country.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of suspicion not only along religious lines but among individuals, the only way we can clear this misunderstanding is through dialogue,” he added.
Archbishop of Catholic Diocese of Abuja, Rev. John Onaiyekan, said he was happy that such dinner was organised during the Ramadan.
He said he and other religious leaders would continue to “go all over the world and say ‘if you want to see where Christians and Muslims are living together in peace and mutual respect, come to Nigeria’.”
He added, “The average Nigerian Muslims and Christians want to live together and they are doing so. This two great religions – Islam and Christianity, we are able to manage our difference; above all we are able to exploit them to maximum our commonalities.”
The President of Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, Oguzhan Dirican, said the foundation’s aim was to promote peace and dialogue, cultural coexistence and mutual understanding among every nation.
He said the sustainable contribution would continue with a series of conferences and events in different states of Nigeria.]]>
SATURDAY PUNCH investigations on Friday showed that top politicians of Northern origin are scheming to build on the appointment of Sokoto State-born Sambo Dasuki as the new National Security Adviser to perfect their plan to get one of their own back as the President in 2015.
Dasuki had replaced Gen. Owoye Azazi, who was relieved of the NSA job by the President penultimate Friday.
It was gathered that the unending Boko Haram crisis was one of the factors that made Jonathan to pick a northerner as NSA.
Jonathan had, during a Presidential Media Chat on the Nigerian Television Authority last Sunday, linked the removal of the NSA and the Minister of Defence, Dr. Haliru Mohammed, to the Boko Haram crisis, which is currently affecting the North.
He had stated, “But if you look at the evolution of Boko Haram, they have changed their tactics. The interest of terrorists is to destabilise the government. If they use one thing, it doesn’t work; they want to use another thing.
“So, you too will begin to change your personnel, change your style (and) change your strategy.”
It was learnt that the North had begun moves to clinch more security positions, which would place it in a better position to return to the Presidency in 2015.
A prominent northern leader told our correspondents that the feeling in some circles in the North was that the Boko Haram problem would subside if the Presidency returned to the region.
He said, “The unabating attacks by Boko Haram made the President to bow to pressure and sack Azazi, who is from the South-South and appoint Dasuki.
“The thinking of the President is that a Northerner may be able to solve the problem since it is restricted to the region.
“Those who are also using the crisis as a bargaining tool feel that a Northern President would be able to solve the problem.”
It was gathered that with the likelihood of President dropping some service chiefs, the far North was making discreet moves to get some of the positions.
Besides the new NSA, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ola Ibrahim; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Mohammed Umar, and the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, are from the North.
The Northern leader, said that prominent politicians from the far North felt that whoever controlled the security agencies was more likely to get the Presidency.
Investigations showed that two retired generals from the North had a hand in the choice of Dasuki as the NSA.
A South-South leader said that the concern of the people from the region was the closeness of the new NSA to some retired generals.
He stated, “One of them is his in-law, while he worked with the other as aide de camp. These generals can be influencing the Presidency by proxy.
“All this will tell in the security advice that will be given to the President in the build-up to the 2015 polls. They may come out to say that it is not advisable for Jonathan to contest the Presidency.”
He stated that some retired generals were behind the efforts of the far North to win back the Presidency.
The South-South leader said the claim that the appointment of the NSA and security chiefs from the North would put an end to Boko Haram would soon be proved wrong.
He said, “We are waiting to see whether the new NSA will end Boko Haram. If that happens, everybody will be happy. But I doubt if this will happen.
“The use of Boko Haram as a bargaining tool for the Presidency is also wrong. We feel uncomfortable that the President appointed a person who is close to people eyeing the Presidency as NSA. We pray that these people will not work against him.”
Investigations showed that the South and the Middle Belt are aware of discreet moves by leaders from the North to capitalise on the security situation in the country to achieve their presidential ambition in 2015.
But it was learnt that the two regions were banking on an alliance to counter the efforts of the Northern power brokers.
The South-South leader, who confided in our correspondents, said that based on current political calculations, the North could not win the Presidency single-handedly.
He stated, “Politicians from the far North eyeing the Presidency must make an inroads into the South and the Middle Belt.
“You will recall that the Congress for Progressive Change’s presidential candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), lost the 2011 presidential poll despite winning many states in the far North.
“This is to tell you that no zone can do without the other. The earlier the far North realises this, the better.”
The top politician noted that the bombings by Boko Haram had wrongly or rightly created the impression that the activities of the group were sponsored by some politicians in the North against the Jonathan Presidency.
He stated, “This has distanced the far North from other parts of the country, who see the situation as the common problem of the country.
“This has provided a fertile ground for an alliance between the South and the Middle Belt to counter the moves of the far North.”
The 19 northern governors on Thursday rose in defence of the Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari’s party on Wednesday had described the Jonathan administration as the “most corrupt ever,” in response to the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party’s attacks on his person over a comment in which the retired General threatened bloodshed in 2015 if the government dared rig the elections.
The northern governors on Thursday said Buhari’s comment was in order, observing that many eminent Nigerians had made worse comments.
Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Babangida Aliyu, during a question-and-answer session with journalists after the Forum’s meeting in Kaduna, noted that Buhari had only sought to keep the Federal Government on its toes in order to ensure a free-and-fair election in 2015.
Aliyu is the governor of Niger State and a member of the PDP. Like Aliyu, the majority of the northern governors belong to the PDP.
The PDP had said that Buhari was bloodthirsty and suffering from “combat withdrawal syndrome.”
Aliyu, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, explained that what Buhari meant was that govenment should not ‘go and do bad election.’
He noted that Buhari’s statement was subject to different interpretation and cautioned eminent Nigerians against further inflammatory statements that could heat up the polity.
He said, “In a democratic system every individual has his ways and there are many of us whose ways of communication are quite different from others. Give the same statement to somebody, he may have used a different vocabulary.
“Again, certain facts are understood, that if this happens that would happen, I think it is a natural thing to do. Maybe those who may be too concerned have not looked at what other eminent Nigerians have been talking about.
“I saw one that said Nigeria is going to be Somalianised. I saw another one who has been talking like there would be war tomorrow. That statement should be taken on its own value.
“All of us who are involved in elections – political parties, contestants and voters themselves – we must all be careful so that there would be a semblance of good in whatever we do. But, again, like I said, certain people are so much in that position, they should be careful with certain vocabularies they use. So, both ways let’s take it on our own strides and ensure that future elections are seemed to be transparent and are seemed to be good.”
Buhari had made his now controversial comment while hosting members of the CPC from Niger State who had paid him a courtesy visit in Kaduna.
“God willing, by 2015, something will happen. They either conduct a free and fair election or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood,’’ he reportedly told his party men.
The Presidency had issued a quick response via a statement by Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, saying Buhari’s statement was saddening and not worthy of a statesman.
The PDP, in an earlier reaction, had lambasted Buhari and asked the Federal Government to engage him in order to cure him of what the party said was “combat withdrawal syndrome” haunting the ex-head of state.
“If the retired general was suffering from combat withdrawal syndrome, then the Federal Government should allow him to lead the ECOWAS military contingent to Mali or Guinea Bissau to enable him an opportunity to exorcise the bloodletting demons apparently haunting him,” publicity secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said at press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.
However, the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria had also on Wednesday lent its support to Buhari’s warning.
‘’We hold no brief for anyone. But it is true that if elections are rigged, as they have been so shamelessly and brazenly done by the PDP since 1999, naturally people will react, and in doing so it is impossible for anyone to predict how far things can go,” the party said in a statement by its spokesman, Lai Mohammed.
In a communiqué by the northern governors on Thursday, they noted the worsening state of security in their region and resolved to intensify efforts at finding lasting solutions to the problem by reaching out to all stakeholders.
The communiqué reads in part, “The alarming state of insecurity in the Northern states was discussed, thereafter, the Forum resolved as follows:
“We shall intensify efforts to find lasting solutions to the problem by reaching out to all stakeholders.
“The Forum cautioned eminent Nigerians against making inflammatory statement capable of affecting our fragile unity and security. We must be concerned with unity and development of the country in all ramifications.”
Meanwhile, the South-East chapter of the PDP on Thursday cautioned Buhari and described his contentious statement as “incendiary and bereft of patriotic intent.”
The PDP’s national vice-chairman in the zone, Col. Austin Akobundu (retd.), in a statement, applauded the prompt reaction of the Presidency and PDP to Buhari’s “outbursts.”
“The lamentable and wanton killing of South-Easterners, the shedding of the blood of our promising graduates on National Youth Service, soon after a similar speech by the CPC Presidential candidate after he lost the 2011 elections, informed the urgency of our speaking out now,” Akobundu said.
Speaking the minds of his colleagues at the opening session of the meeting, chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, and Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu said the northern governors, this time around, will not allow what happened in 2011 to repeat itself in 2015 as they will unite against candidates from the south.
According to Governor Aliyu, “we must be united more than ever to go into the 2015 elections as one entity with the aim of producing the president”. He then advised all governors and politicians in the north to remain focused and pursue issues of development rather than trivial issues that have led to the retrogression of the region in recent years.
Meanwhile, following the war of words between former head of state, and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, General Muhammadu Buhari and the presidency over the general prediction of a bloodbath should the 2015 election be rigged, the forum admonished political leaders in the country to be cautious about their comments on important national issues that may polarise the country.
In a communique issued after the meeting, the forum said, “we want to caution eminent Nigerians against inflammatory statements capable of affecting our fragile unity and security. We must be concerned about the unity and development of the country in all ramifications”
Chairman of the Forum, Babangida Aliyu who was asked by newsmen after he had read the communiqué to state the position of the forum on the comment credited to Gen. Mohammed Buhari had this to say: “May be those who may be too concerned have not looked at what other eminent Nigerians have been talking about. I saw one that said Nigeria is going to be Somalianized; I saw another one who has been talking like there would be war tomorrow. So, for me, that statement should be taken on its own value – do not go and do bad election.
“ I think that is the whole thing I will take there. All of us who are involved in elections, political parties, contestants and voters themselves, we must all be careful about what we say. But, again, like I said certain people in that position, certain vocabularies they use should be chosen carefully. So, both ways let’s take it on our own stride and ensure that future elections are seen to be transparent and are seen to be good”, he said.
On security in the North, the communiqué reads: “The level of insecurity in the northern states is alarming. The forum resolved to intensify efforts to find lasting solutions to the problems by reaching out to all stakeholders”.
On the major economic issues affecting the northern states, the communiqué said various committees have been set up to address them accordingly. The committees have been set up on agriculture, Textile industries and the New Nigeria Newspapers whose workers have been on strike for more than three months.
Speaking before the commencement of the meeting, Muazu Babangida Aliyu stated that the Northern governors would stake their mandates together as a united team in 2015..
He however noted that 2015 was still too far to become the main topic of discussion among serious elected leaders.
For this reason, Babatunde Fashola not being a rough fighter and an eccentrically voluble self-promoter like Adam Oshiomole may have a hell of a time managing a Federal government in Aso Rock. I may be right and I may be wrong in my speculations. But something tells me that Babatunde Fashola is the type that will serve Nigeria best in a position similar to Okonjo-Iweala’s. An informal and imperial Prime Minister exercising her powers quietly but decisively. This is absolutely without prejudice to other superior qualities and qualifications that Okonjo-Iweala no doubt has. She has shown during the fuel subsidy crisis that she can also fight back if she is wrongly put in a pillory. She is not afraid of confrontation. On the contrary, Babatunde Fashola comes across as a man who is most comfortable operating smoothly away from the gaze of shine and glamour.
Comparing this attribute to the imposing characters of the three northern musketeers of our present dispensation, it will be easier to understand the point I wish to make. As the Jonathan example is presently showing, quietness and shyness from the limelight seem poisonous for the office of the President of Nigeria. Even worse is the lack of guts to take on rich and powerful exploiters to protect the interest of the nation even if it means ruining ones own political career. This fear of confrontation and preference for backstage dealings to foster business as usual is one character that Fashola seems to share with President Jonathan. The much publicized dispute between Fashola and Bola Tinubu in the run-up to the last general elections and the manner in which the issue was resolved quietly in the aftermath of obvious horse-trading seems to show Fasholas glaring lack of appetite for confrontation. Confrontation however is an indispensable variable in the office of President.
On the contrary, we can all imagine how many rich and powerful exploiters will wet their pants in fear and panic if Nuhu Ribadu was suddenly picked to become President of Nigeria today. The Aondoaakas who subverted justice and probably enriched themselves illegally may run to exile overnight in the speed of Hussain Bolt. I do not know where High Court Justices like Marcel Awokunleyin who gave James Ibori a clean bill of health would choose to hide. Panic will definitely greet the rank and file of the powerful and stealing community. James Ibori tried to dare the fangs of President Jonathan but had to bolt helter-skelter when even Jonathan showed his teeth to fight his personal enemy the way he fought Timipre Sylva. Unfortunately the same Jonathan will never fight the enemies of the State. That is the impression Nigerians have of the President at the present moment.
Imagine Nasir El-Rufai being called upon today, to take the reins of leadership in Aso Rock and figure out how many enemies of the Nigerian State will go on self-imposed exile. Imagine Sanusi Lamido Sanusi mounting the imperial throne that he no doubt, would personally crave and figure out how many people will bolt.
Now, my motive in this essay is not to assess the overall suitability of these three northern musketeers for the office of President but to highlight the boldness and courage that these men undoubtedly have in the things they do much unlike Goodluck Jonathan the President of the nation. They have shown it abundantly in the discharge of their duties. Coincidentally, boldness and courage are two key attributes that any President of Nigeria needs. Olusegun Obasanjo showed Nigerians how necessary these attributes are and Goodluck Jonathan is confirming it daily by forcing Nigerians to miss precisely these essential attributes of the Obasanjo days.
Northern Nigeria blessed us with these three young patriotic men and I have no doubt that every Nigerian will agree with me that these three musketeers are patriotic to the bone. They are all well read, intelligent and intellectual in their different capacities. The most outstanding quality that they all have in common however, is their love for their country! You heard me right Their country!
Even though they all share Nigeria with us all, questions abound as a matter of compulsion if these three outstanding northerners of our present day love Nigeria as we all know it – Nigeria from North to South! I am deliberately refusing to include leading northerners of the older generation such as Ibrahim Babangida, Shehu Shagari, Umaru Dikko, Adamu Ciroma, Muhammadu Buhari or Abdulsalami Abubakar in this analysis. They are the known leaders of yesterday who laid the groundwork for the troubles of today – selfishly and inadvertently. We have therefore cried out loud for generational change and Obasanjo ushered it in wittingly or unwittingly.
While many southerners of the younger generation excelled in thievery (see Lucky Igbinedion and James Ibori) Nasir El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu worked themselves into the hearts and minds of discerning observers. I personally became a die-hard fan of Nuhu Ribadu. Indeed, words could not describe how I felt when I heard that the ACN had nominated him for the presidential race in 2011. I mobilized very close and intelligent friends in my German abode and we all agreed to watch the situation very closely. We were ready to launch a vocal movement for Ribadu if we were sure that the game was genuine. We were very soon disillusioned when Nuhu Ribadu ran a very poorly managed campaign with what we considered to be a very inferior mode of strategizing. Nuhu Ribadu began to flirt with the self-declared committee of northern elders led by the infamous Adamu Ciroma. He was virtually begging to be named the northern consensus candidate after the demise of Abubakar Atiku. His focus was the north.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who has spoken himself into the hearts and minds of Nigerians, who love any semblance of intelligence, emerged from nowhere thanks to the late Umaru Musa YarAdua. Many of us opposed his appointment as Governor of the Central Bank when it was obvious that the late President was running a strategic course of northernizing leadership in Nigeria. We all began to have a rethink however as soon as we heard the man speak English. It sounds too simplistic and stupid but it is the plain truth. He didnt only speak sound and clear English, he was also talking a whole lot of sense. We all became proud of him particularly when he courageously voiced out long overdue concerns about the legislative looting of Nigeria’s treasury. He didnt care that he could lose his job. That was courageous.
Nasir El-Rufai stepped on toes as the Special Minister of the Capital territory. Till today he is paying the price for those patriotic deeds in an ungrateful society. He was courageous.
Unfortunately however, the mere mention of the word North is enough to mark the end of courage, patriotism and neutrality for our three northern musketeers. In a manner symbolic and perhaps characteristic of a seemingly pervasive northern psyche, none of the three has the will or courage to mention some objective and courageous home truths when it comes to the north. Till the present day, I am yet to hear a single northern Nigerian with political leadership function coming out openly to show a little understanding for the complaints and suspicions of the south.
While the Northerners are absolutely correct in condemning the behavior of the ruling PDP in flouting its own zoning regulation to smuggle Goodluck Jonathan into the presidency, no single northerner has ever flipped the coin to see or even try to understand the other side of the debate. While the propaganda machine of the north makes haste to tell the Americans that the Boko Haram killers are no terrorists but merely economically deprived bunch of innocent young lads, no single northerner summons the courage to shout out loud and clear that northern leaders who ruled this country for almost three-quarter of the years since independence are responsible for the marginalization that a southern President should tolerate bombings for.
Neither Nuhu Ribadu nor El-Rufai stood up for one single day to say Come to think of it northern siblings, to some extent, I can understand the south. The axiomatic and inevitable reality that the south will get up one day and say Come on buddy, we also have a right to rule this country was not factored into any intellectual reasoning whatsoever. The simple need to appreciate this basic fact before proceeding to pillory the PDP for flouting its own zoning policy was simply lost on the north in a collective and seemingly conspiratorial manner. This single courageous move alone would have made Nuhu Ribadu an immortal creature whose de-tribalized spirit would have hovered visibly above any serving presidential material until he is moved onto the throne of supremacy alive or as an unsung hero in the future history of the country.
While El-Rufai is busy blowing the trumpet of negotiations with Boko Haram, Sanusi Lamido is leaving no one in doubt that his constituency is first and foremost, northern Nigeria. I therefore ask myself a few crucial questions: Will there ever be a de-tribalized northern Nigerian in this country to look across the borders of the northern states? Do northern leaders not have an obligation to pacify the rest of the country and chart a new peaceful path forward?” Is Nigeria not for us all or is there a separate country for the Northerners? Are northern Nigerians truly immersed in the illusion that Nigeria is theirs to rule and theirs alone?
If the realization dawns on our northern brothers and sisters that they have ruled this country for such a long period of time and are therefore largely responsible for most of the fundamental problems that we suffer, will they not understand that they owe a duty to restore peace and pacify the rest of the country rather than rejoicing quietly over Boko Harams atrocities? There is indeed nothing wrong in adopting the enticing carrot approach to convince justifiably aggrieved southerners to sheath their sword and let Nigeria begin afresh. Instead, the northerners are aggressively beating the drums of war in a battle that no one stands to win but will ultimately end in the destruction of a promising Nigeria. It is so unfortunate that the foremost elites prefer to play the religious card to win the hearts and minds of ordinary northerners knowing fully well that the spread of Islam by the force of arms is absolutely impossible in today’s world order of aggressive globalization.]]>
Afenifere Leader, Dr. Reuben Fasoranti, has cautioned the Northern leaders against their threat that the North is not afraid of the breaking of Nigeria.
A leader of the Arewa Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdulahi, on Wednesday said the North was prepared to go alone if the nation breaks up, adding that the North would not, however, champion the disintegration of the country.
Fasoranti told our correspondent in an interview in Akure that the news came to him as a shock.
He said, “I strongly appeal to the Northern leaders against such move because it would never be in their interest.
“They obviously don’t know the implication of such action and they should better don’t take a hasty decision they would forever live to regret.
“They would definitely benefit better if they remain in the same federation with the south because their own resources are limited.
“Their natural resources cannot possibly sustain them so they should not take any hasty decison because of the prevailing circumstance.”
The Arewa Consultant Forum, the umbralla body for the North, however, remained evasive regarding the position of Abdullahi, preferring to tacitly endorsing a united Nigeria.
ACF National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, said on Thursday. “Professor Ango Abdullahi merely echoed what has been said several times that the North is committed to a united Nigeria in diversity not out of fear that the region cannot exist without oil but because of our deep and wide interdependence among constituent parts that make divorce impossible.
“Moreover, the size of the country is a huge advantage not just now but in future when the economy picks up. As result, the North would not be the cause of any contemplated break up.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo dismissed Abdullahi’s threat, describing his submission as pointless.
The Deputy President General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Chief Gary Igariwey, said, “We cannot react to such threats. Anybody could come from anywhere to make threats of breakup or secession, so it’s pointless reacting to such.”
He added, “There are so many groups now seeking attention, but there are those we recognise, like the Arewa Consultative Forum.
“Even if it comes from the Arewa Consultative Forum, it must come from the right people in the group, not just anybody.”
Coordinator of the Federation of Middle Belt Peoples, Mr. Manasseh Watyil, distanced the zone from the position of the Northern leaders.
Watyil said, “Who are the Northerness? We better distinguish between the owners of the North. If they want Nigeria to break that mean they are going back to where they came from. That will not affect the Middle Belt; they are free to go.
He added, “It is because of these challenges that the Middle Belt is calling for true federalism or Sovereign National Conference if we will stay together.”
A member of the Ulam council in Plateau State, Mallam Sani Muazu, however lamented the penchant for people or group to claim that they were speaking for the North.
He said there was nothing called one monolithic North, adding that there were no issues that could warrant any breakup of the country. Muazu said what united the country was more than what could divide it.
He said, “Who is the voice of the North? What is the criteria used in determining that voice? Is there one monolithic north? What are the issues at stake that warrants a breakup? Who is agitating for that? To achieve what?