Divisive Comment: You Can’t Take Role Of Govt, Presidency Fault Northern Elders Forum

Divisive Comment: You Can’t Take Role Of Govt, Presidency Fault Northern Elders Forum
  • We didn’t release any statement urging a group to leave Nigeria –Baba-Ahmed 

By Caleb Ishaya, Abuja 

Presidency has come down hard on the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, for allegedly instigating a section of the country to leave, saying “any group can refer to themselves as “leaders”, but if you have not been elected by Nigerians to a leadership roles, then you are not and the government certainly doesn’t recognise you as such.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement yesterday, in Abuja, also noted that, “Like many other countries, Nigeria is feeling the strain of the current period of volatility and uncertainty”.

Besides, Shehu added that, “Now is not the time to seek to exacerbate divisions among Nigerians. Rather, we call on all Nigerians to come together and work to overcome the challenges we face as one nation, one people”.

He, however, reassured Nigerians that it remains their democratically elected leadership which takes the decisions that steer our nation and no one else.

In this vein, he said, “No self-appointed and unelected group can take this right from Nigerians; no matter how much coverage they might enjoy in the media.

Nigerians listen to elected leaders, not opinionated tin-gods who have no traction with any responsible group.

“It is a delusional arrogance that would lead such a group to publicly state terms and conditions for the existence of our nation.

“Who gave them the right to ask for the exclusion, or expulsion of any one, group or section of the country from the Federal Republic of Nigeria?

He further stated that, “Nigerian government does not take guidance or invitations from such groups, only from the Nigerian people who elected governments in office.

AljazirahNigeria recalls that the NEF occasionally come under attack over its stance on key national issues not only from the Federal Government but also from cultural bodies as well as opinion leaders in the country. 

For instance, sometimes in June 2020 the Presidency lashed out at the Forum for criticising President Muhammadu Buhari over spiraling insecurity in the northern parts of the country.

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina in a statement said the government was not surprised at the statement made by the NEF’s convener Prof. Ango Abdullahi, “We are not surprised by the statement of the group” and our past position on what the group represents remains unchanged.

However, in a post on Twitter NEF spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed denied the divisive statement credited to the forum, saying the, “Northern Elders Forum did not release any Statement urging a group to leave Nigeria as is being circulated under the handle of @NGRP. NEF urges the Presidency to take steps to protect its communication”. 

AljazirahNigeria recalls that the Forum in June 2021 supported the call by the secessionist group from the South-east to be allowed to separate.

The Forum said, “We  arrived at the difficult conclusion that if support for secession among the Igbo is as widespread as it is being made to look, and Igbo leadership appears to be in support of it, then the country should be advised not to stand in its way”, NEF spokesman Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said.

“It will not be the best choice for the Igbo or Nigerians to leave a country we have all toiled to build and a country we all have responsibility to fix, but it will not help a country already burdened with failures on its knees to fight another war to keep the Igbo in Nigeria”.

Baba-Ahmed further stated that standing in the way of the agitators will only worsen the insecurity in the country.

He said the agitation by the Igbo for secession has become widespread, adding that the leaders in the state appear to support the decision.

Speaking with a legal luminary from the South-east zone who craves anonymity recognized that there are clear-cut marginalization and unequal treatment by the Nigerian government especially the government of President Buhari who didn’t mince words when he sated 97% as against 5% votes and that signposts the zone he will favour most.

You can see the skewed appointments under this administration of President Buhari, no South-east was among his kitchen cabinet and the service chiefs for over 6 years. This alone can trigger secessionist moves. But it wasn’t enough for our people to secede.  

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