The Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, yesterday, accused all former Nigerian leaders of northern origin as well as incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of being responsible for the past and present economic, social, security and political problems of Northern Nigeria.
In a communique issued yesterday, after an emergency meeting of all northern groups, called by the ACF, in Kaduna on Sunday, the groups said that it was time for the north to defend itself against the security challenge facing its people.
The communique signed by the ACF Secretary General, Colonel John Ubah (rtd) reads: “A meeting of leading Northern groups and Associations on National Security challenges and the North was held on Sunday, September 14, 2014, at the National Headquarters of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). The meeting was the result of efforts of Northern leaders genuinely committed to the interests of the North and the survival of Nigeria as a united indivisible, peaceful and prosperous nation.
“The meeting observed that the disastrous collapse of security around the population of the North East in particular and the inability of our armed forces to contain the spread of the insurgency represent a failure of President Goodluck Jonathan to protect Northerners and other Nigerians.
“In this context, Northerners have no option than to examine their situation critically, and take all legitimate steps necessary to improve their own security. “In the light of the need for unity of the North in dealing with the absence of security around the people, the meeting resolved to sustain the current efforts to improve unity of the Northern people through constant engagement of all groups and involvement of representations of all ethnic and religious groups in its activities”
He noted that against this background, the Arewa leaders have resolved to “establish joint committees on strategy and coordination, political matters and security, and support active mobilization of the population in support of all activities aimed at resisting the alarming levels of insecurity in the North,” stressing that “this is to improve awareness of the people of the North over attempts to emasculate the region and deprive its people of all faith and ethnicity of their rigths to live in peace.”
The ACF scribe further said that while “the meeting noted the failure of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to provide the necessary leadership and commitment in protecting people of the North, particularly those in the North East,” it has also decided to draw and “invite the attention of former Heads of State and President, General Yakubu Gowon, President Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar to recognize that they are severely under-utilised assets, and Northerners expect them to improve their inputs into influencing events around their security and economic well-being.
“We request the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives and all legislators from the North to note that Northerners expect them to execise greater commitment towards ensuring that President Goodluck Jonathan’s goverment is made more accountable to Northerners and the citizens of Nigeria in the manner it handles national security and the management of resources of the nation.”
Ubah also said that the northern elders “remind Northern Govenors that citizens are dissappointed over their seeming neglect of the security and welfare of the people of the North. In the next few weeks, activities of joint committees will approach Governors and involve them in mobilizing citizens towards supporting all measures to improve security in the North, and will inform Northerners of responses of all our elected leaders”.
On politics and security, the Arewa elders explained that “the meeting noted the need for improved unity in the North to mitigate the potential damage of partisan politics and attempts to use religion and ethnicity to weaken the region,” while adding, that they also “noted that the North has a majority in population, and should use this advantage to negotiate and support candidates and programmes that will address the current challenges of the region and its need for massive rehabilitation and economic reconstruction in the future.”
On the preparation towards the 2015 general election, Ubah said that the northern groups “reject the recent allocation of additional polling units by INEC which deliberately conferred undeserved advantages on states in the south, pointing out that “the creation of additional polling units should be re-visited, using standard criteria that INEC is aware of.
“Attempts to blackmail and stampede INEC into abandoning its hallowed responsibilities to do justice to all Nigerians, or sacrifice the rights of Northern voters are hereby condemned. The North expects INEC to re-allocate the polling units in strict compliance with its standard guidelines without fear or favour.
“We reject any excuse to prevent any citizen from participating in the 2015 general elections. Similarly, any attempt to secure extention of tenure under the cover of security will be resisted by people of the North. Like all Nigerians, Northerners expect the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to provide a secure and safe environment for the 2015 elections, and avoid any attempt to jeapodise the democratic process in Nigeria.”
While stressing further on the political crisis pavading the nation, Colonel Ubah (rtd), reminded all Northerners of the contents of the open letter of President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Jonathan, and the allegations made by Govenor Murtala Nyako.
“Many citizens in the region are alarmed at the appearance of attempts to subdue them by all means. The North will not accept the status of a defeated region, and will continue to work with other Nigerians to preserve our collective legacies and the foundations of a just and secure nation”.
He also stated: “All political, traditional and religious leaders in the North are urged to educate and mobilize their people on the need to get registered and issued with National ID cards and Permanent Voters Cards. Every effort must be made to ensure that during the 2015 elections all votes must count, and the will of the people must not be hijacked or subverted under any guise.
“All road blocks in the North should be dismantled and removed immediately, as they serve no purpose than remind Northerners that they are an occupied people who must submit to oppression and extortion.” [Vanguard]