THE controversial zoning of power by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between the North and South resurrected yesterday as northern elders responded to issues thrown up by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Through their umbrella platform, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the northern elders expressed worry over leaders of the region being labelled as opposed to the Goodluck Jonathan presidency because of his allegedly distortion of the PDP zoning scheme.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani, who reacted to allegations and reports in some national dailies, said contrary to the insinuations, the North is ever ready to join forces with the Federal Government to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
He added that the leaders of the region were neither working with the group nor planning to break up the country.
In a statement he issued in Kaduna yesterday, Sani said “following the last press conference by ACF through which the forum sought to address the hype in activities of Boko Haram and the allegations by some groups that there are plans to assassinate the President, there has been cascade of reports and commentaries in the media.”
Arewa said it was unfortunate that “some reports are to the effect that ACF justifies the quit order by Boko Haram to southerners residing in the North, others reported ACF as saying that the sect is capable of disintegrating the country, while some others said that the Federal Government does not possess the constitutional right to dialogue with Boko Haram.”
Sani lamented that most of the commentaries by some individuals and media establishments cast aspersion against the northern group and its efforts in ensuring that sanity prevails under the present situation of insecurity in Nigeria.
According to him, leaders of the northern group would continue to work assiduously in ensuring that peace and tranquility prevailed in the North just as they have been doing in settling the past crises in the region, adding that “at no time did ACF and northern leaders ever entertained any fear that a group can dismember Nigeria.
“Even the prediction of 2015 by United States (U.S.) intelligence, ACF never said Nigeria would disintegrate. It only said if not arrested by consciously directed efforts, such crisis could lead the country to a failed state by 2015,” Sani said.
The ACF said its position had been that the interdependence of constituent sections of Nigeria is such that divorce is not feasible and that what is required to move the nation forward is “national grandeur, purposeful leadership and the best in every one.”
It, therefore, urged Nigerians to ignore the insinuations by some individuals and groups that the North wants to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan.
“The position of ACF and northern leaders on the suspicion that the current level of insecurity and national malaise across the country, especially those caused by Boko Haram, are inspired by the North for the purpose of making the country ungovernable for President Jonathan on account of his mismanagement of politics of zoning, on account of his faith and ethnicity, is that those with such views are ignorant of democratic tenets.
“Abraham Lincoln, who defined democracy, went further to say that the majority have their way, whereas the minority will have their say. President Jonathan has been declared the winner of the elections by a lawfully constituted Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). As democrats, ACF and northern leaders, as well as the oppositions, are bound by the results and must support the government until when the next round of elections come in 2015. Towards that end, ACF congratulated the President and went further to pay him courtesy call. That is how it should be.
“What is more, President Jonathan’s ruling party controls 15 of the 19 northern states, which people are members of ACF, as against eight states in the South. In addition, the number two, three, four and five citizens of this country are also members of ACF. It is, therefore, unthinkable to imagine that the so-called northern power elite can make the country ungovernable in such circumstance, despite its criticisms of some of the policies and actions of the government. Northern leaders are not that naive to imagine 2015 will never come.”
On the alleged belated outings of ACF and northern leaders in condemnation of activities of Boko Haram, Sani said: “I wish to state my demur. As the spokesman of ACF, I cannot recall any violent acts by a group in the northern parts of the country, which ACF did not openly condemn.
“The forum condemned all the internecine conflicts that claimed life and property in Jos, Plateau State and environs. It did the same for all those in Bauchi State and bomb explosions during Independence Day celebration in Abuja, bomb blasts at the United Nations (UN) offices in Abuja, explosions in Maiduguri, Borno State and Damaturu in Yobe State.
“I can also remember former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, doing same. In fact, he texts me sometimes and directs me to condemn such acts of violence in the strongest of terms,” Sani stated.
Besides, Sani argued that when people “compare the militants of Niger Delta with Boko Haram, they do so without proper linkages,” stressing that, “arguably, all terrorist organisations transmute from insurrections the way Arafat’s PLO transmuted from political liberation struggles to Hamas’ terrorists organisation.”
Arewa defended its repeated calls for dialogue with the sect, insisting that the use of force would not work.
“Rather, it has stoked their activities. The preference for dialogue with terrorists of Boko Haram is not a matter of choice, but has been necessitated by the realisation that hard power of military might is yet to work on terrorists anywhere in the world.”