Arising from summit of Northern groups yesterday, the Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Elders’ Forum and sixteen other leading groups in the region has expressed dissatisfaction with the present administration and passed a vote of no confidence on the President, Muhammadu Buhari and politicians from the northern region.
The summit resolved after extensive deliberation said the President and politicians from the region have failed the north in the area of security and economy.
“Since 2015, Northerners have occupied positions with the potential to make decisive differences in the economy, security or political fortunes of the region. The hopes that leaders who have exercised power since 2015 will reverse the abuse and neglect of the region in the previous decade have been betrayed. Weak governance, gross insensitivity and unacceptable levels of incompetence have been compounded by battles of attrition in which northerners have sapped each others’ strength,” they said.
The position of the Summit of Northern Groups which held at the residence of the late Premier of the defunct Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello), Arewa House, Kaduna was contained in a four page communique issued which was read by the Chief of Staff to the Senate President. Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
According to the communique, “no Northern politician should expect to be voted for in the next general election unless they demonstrate a willingness to champion a massive assault on poverty and underdevelopment in the North. In this regard, most political office holders from the North are hereby served notice that they have failed the test to lead the region towards economic recovery and growth.
“The Summit noted that in spite of notable successes by the administration against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, many Northern communities still live under its threat. In many other parts of the North, communities are routinely exposed to attacks from shadowy killers, and suspicion and anger at known and suspected killers are pitching Northerners against each other. Armed bandits terrorize rural communities almost at will, while kidnappings and abductions have assumed alarming notoriety as crimes.
“The nation’s security and law and order assets are stretched beyond points where they can’t provide even the most elementary confidence and protection of citizens. The North has rarely been so exposed to multiple and varied threats.
“The economy of the North continues to deteriorate in spite of the evident willingness of Northerners to work hard and earn legitimate incomes. Its basic infrastructure suffers massive deficits in funding while its growing population starves from lack of critical investment in human capital development. Federal government spending is severely tilted against the North, while most State governments only pay lip service to real development in their states. Agriculture shows limited glimpses of recovery, but almost entirely through efforts of peasants and antiquated processes. The North is completely de-industrialized, while the rest of the nation moves towards sustainable growth and development. There is no evidence of bold thinking, strong political will or serious concern by any leadership at any level to reverse the alarming decline of the Northern economy.
The groups that signed the communique are, Prof. Ango Abdullahi Chairman ACF Political Committee and Convener, Northern Elders Forum, Dr. Yima Sen Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Amb. Ibrahim Mai Sule Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Engr. Bello Suleiman CODE Group, Mataimaki Tom Maiyashi, Arewa Research Development Project (ARDP), Zannah Hassan Boguma Borno Elders Forum, Nafiu Baba-Ahmed, Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, Northern Union.
Others are Alhaji Yerima Shettima, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF),Pastor Aminchi Habu,United Christian Leaders Eagle Eye Forum (UCLEEF), Balarabe Rufai Coalition of Northern Groups, Isa Tijjani Labour Veterans Association, Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa CAN Northern Chapter , Umar Ahmed Zaria Jama’atu Nasiril Islam (JNI), Alh. Buba Adamah Arewa People Unity Association, Hassan El-Adamu Arewa Initiative For Good Governance, Abdulazeez Suleiman, Northern Emancipation Network as well as Bilkisu Oniyangi, Arewa Initiative for Good Governance.
They equally advised all Northern to remain at alert to alleged plan to weaken the region through the manipulation of the fears and vulnerability of the peoples ethno religious differences.
“There must be vigilant scrutiny of opportunities for manipulation by outsiders of our present challenges. We must stand up and unite against those who kill villagers in Kogi, in Zamfara, in Benue, in Adamawa, in Borno, in Kaduna and in every village or town. No Northern blood is more precious than others, and we can only heal if we adopt common positions to finding solutions to our problems,” they said.
Adducing reasons for passing a vote of no confidence on its political leaders, the groups noted that since 2015, Northerners have occupied position with the potentials to make decisive differences in the economy, security and political fortunes in the region, adding that their political leaders had failed in all fronts necessitating them to call on them to brace up or be voted out in 2019.
“The hopes that leaders who have exercised power since 2015 will reverse the abuse and neglect of the region in the previous decade have been betrayed.
“Weak governance, gross insensitivity and unacceptable levels of incompetence have been compounded by battles of attrition in which northerners have sapped each others’ strength.
“Weak and incoherent responses to provocations from other parts of the country around the imperatives of re-visiting the foundations and structures of the Nigerian state have created the false image of a North without its own positions beyond survival as the parasite of Nigeria.
“The historic gains in Northern political unity secured by Northern votes in the 2015 elections have been wasted by the poor management of conflicts between and among Northern communities.
“Today Northern communities are erecting barricades against members of other communities, and politicians who have failed to lead and make impacts in lives of the poor and the vulnerable are daily feeding the people with hate and resentment instead of searching for genuine and lasting solutions.
“In a region with enough resources for every community or trade, our people are now fighting for morsels, while leaders think of new ways to turn our misery into electoral capital,” they added.
“The rights of all Northerners to examine all options in political choices they will make in 2019. The leadership selection process must be critically interrogated to present the best leader to Nigeria as a whole. No one should take the North for granted, and it is not for sale. It will resist shedding its blood for any candidate, and will critically scrutinize all politicians who will seek our mandate. At this stage, all options are on the table, and politicians who have betrayed the hopes and mandates of our people should be prepared to suffer rejection, in the same manner the votes of the North rejected the attempt to continue with impunity, corruption and indifference of the previous regime”.
Earlier, the Convener of the Summit, Prof.Abdullahi, in his opening remarks said the North was in search of credible leaders ahead of the 2019 elections.
Abdullahi noted that election was less than one year away and it was imperative that the north search for credible presidential candidate to replace President Buhari.
Apart from that, the former Vice-chancellor, said the elders were also searching for credible potential governors and legislators that would have the interest of the region at heart and reposition the north.
Abdullahi, who was also Presidential Adviser to Ex-President Obasanjo on Food and Agriculture, told the gathering that in searching for a northern torchbearer in the 2019 presidency, they would assess the current socioeconomic and security challenges in the country.
He said, “In less than one year, Northerners will troop out in millions to decide who becomes President. Our votes will be decisive in contests over different version of our future.
“We will choose governors and legislators who will decide our fates in a country fast leaving us behind.
” We will be failing in our privileged roles as leaders and leaders if we do not actively engage in search for credible options for the North.
“The signs are already clear that there will be no easy options. Our security, economic well-being and the political muscle to affect our circumstances will be central to the decisions we will make.
“We will also have assess our current situation, particularly our economy and current security challenges, and decide how we should manage them in such a way as to reinforce, rather than weaken our relative disposition.”