• Gives conditions on 2023 Presidency

BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has described President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration as a misfit for failing to tackle growing insecurity and also appearing helpless in finding solutions to biting poverty in the country.

This also as the Forum vows that only a presidential candidate with genuine commitment to deal with the region’s problems and meet its aspirations in 2023 will enjoy the support and goodwill of the North.

Convener of NEF, Professor Ango Abdullahi said after its meeting in Kaduna on Sunday that; “The forum has observed that political maneuvres around the 2023 elections are targeting the North as a region available for exploitation.”

But the Forum’s Director of Advocacy and Engagements, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who read the communique said: “The Forum regrets that by any standard of judgment, the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed the nation in the vital area of improving its security.

“Poverty, particularly in the North, and massive social security have worsened under this administration. The relationship between insecurity and poverty is fundamental, but the administration does not appear to have any idea on what will provide relief or solution.

“It gives the Forum no pleasure to say that it had warned Nigerians that President Buhari lacked the will, the competence and commitment to lead it into a secure and prosperous future before the 2019 elections.”

According to the Forum, “It is shocking that in spite of unprecedented consensus among Nigerians that the administration requires a new resolve, approach and leadership in the fight against the nation’s multiple security challenges, President Buhari appears either totally isolated or in deep denial over the result of his failures to secure Nigerians.

“With this type of mindset, it is difficult to see how President Buhari can accept the challenge to radically improve his handling of our security situation. Nonetheless, we believe that Nigerians must continue to raise our voices and organise through all legitimate means to demand that the administration addresses major failings in his perception of our situation and his response to our demands for our rights to security.”

The Forum also demanded “a thorough overhaul of the leadership of our security and public safety agencies, and the injection of higher levels of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner our troops and the police and security agencies deal with security challenges. We appeal to our religious leaders and fellow citizens not to fall into the trap of insurgents to set us up against each other.”

Furthermore, NEF spoke against divisive tendencies being promoted by insurgency groups in the country, saying; “We condemn the tactic of targeting Christians and publicising their executions by an insurgency seeking to exploit our different faiths. We also condemn the murder of thousands of Muslims and Christians in communities which the insurgency has made permanent targets in the last decade.

“These are times when we must unite and resist a common enemy as well us demand that our leaders protect us all as Nigerians.”

On political intrigues around the 2023 general elections, NEF stated thus; “We want to make it clear that people of the North will be very careful in committing to persons seeking their support on the basis of their region or wealth.

“The North knows its interest and will stand together to elect only persons who meet the standards and interests of the people of the North.

“No politicians should assume they are entitled to our support unless they show a clear understanding and a commitment to deal with our problems and meet our aspirations.”

Dealing with the issue effective policing, Dr Baba-Ahmed said; “In principle, the Forum supports the idea of improving the policing capacities of the nation. It is important to emphasise, however, that all initiatives to improve public safety must find accommodation within our laws, and must not be designed to threaten or harass particular groups or interests.

“We recommend the adoption of a more vigorous and inclusive process which will result in the creation of acceptable frameworks and higher levels of confidence among all communities with respect to policing strategies.”

Also attracting the NEF’s attention is the no love lost relationship between Governor Abdulahi Ganduje and Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II. It said; “The Forum had engaged a broad spectrum of opinion on the stress in relations between the palace of Sarkin Kano and the Government of Kano State.”

According to the Forum, efforts are on at engaging the warring parties towards an amicable resolution of the festering crisis in the ancient city of Kano.

On the Okada and Keke ban in Lagos, the Forum said though it is within the rights of Lagos State government to take decisions aimed at improving the environment and public safety in its domain, such actions must always have a human face as not to inflict more pains and hardship on the ordinary Nigerians.

“We are constrained to draw attention to the impact of its policy on banning Okada and Keke in parts of the State on the poor and operators, many of them from the North, who earn honest living through this trade. We urge restraint in the responses of those who are immediately affected by this policy, while we urge Northern State Governments to mobilize and support the people who will be compelled to relocate back to the North with other sources of legitimate living.”

NEF members at the meeting included: Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alamin Daggash (rtd), Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Deputy National Chairman, Alhaji Bello Kirfi (Wazirin Bauchi), and DIG Labaran Wurno.

The list also had Secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Abdullahi Usman, former Managing Director, defunct Bank of the North, Hajiya Amina Yahaya and Alhaji Yakubu Shehu
among others.

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