ACF tells ex-heads of state: You’ve failed North


•Yakassai carpets group
 Former heads of state from the North yesterday came under attack of the region’s main group – Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). The forum was angry that the former leaders did not do enough while in power to assert their influence for the security and economic well-being of the people.The ACF’s outburst was contained in a communique issued after a one day meeting of northern groups held with the forum in Kaduna.This is even as another group, Northern Elders’ Council (NEC) carpeted the ACF, saying the latter cannot speak for the North. It was a reaction to weekend’s condemnation of the Federal Government. The NEC’s Chairman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, gave the tirade at a press conference held in Abuja yesterday.

The ACF’s communique which was signed by its Secretary-General, Col. John Ubah (rtd), said: “It resolved to invite the attention of former Heads of State and President, General Yakubu Gowon, President Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar to recognize that they severely under-utilized assets and northerners expect them to improve their input into influencing events around their security and economic wellbeing.

“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 exercise greater commitment towards ensuring that President Goodluck Jonathan’s government 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;

“Remind northern govenors that citizens are disappointed 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,” it said.

On politics and security, the communique said, it “rejects the recent allocation of additional polling units by INEC which deliberately conferred undeserved advantages on states in the South. The creation of additional polling units should be revisited, 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.”

According to the communiqué, the meeting also resolved to mobilize its northern  leaders to engage leaders from other parts and sections of the country in discussions and activities aimed at finding solutions to common problems and long term strategies for improving the nation’s security, unity and prosperity.

The meeting, according to the communiqué, also 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. The communique also states that the North will reject any excuse to prevent any citizen from participating in the 2015 general elections. “Similarly, any attempt to secure extension of tenure under the cover of security will be resisted by people of the North.  Like all Nigerians, northerners expect the Jonathan administration to provide a secured and safe environment  for the 2015 elections, and avoid any attempt to jeopardize the democratic process in Nigeria.”

The meeting was attended by the leaderships and prominent members of ACF, NEF, Code Group, Northern Re-awakening Forum, Arewa Research and Development Project. Others are Northern Union,Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, Arewa Media Forum, North East Unity and Development Forum.Northern Youth Coalition and Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria.

Speaking in Kaduna at the weekend, ACF Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, regretted that the North had been at the receiving end of insurgency as a result of bad leadership,  accusing President Jonathan of not doing enough to tackle the Islamists sect in the North-East.

But addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Alhaji Yakassai accused chairman of the ACF, making the forum available to “a motley crowd of desperate opposition politicians” which he noted, had hijacked the machinery of the ACF.

He said: “Northern Elders Council (NEC) regrets totally the way and manner the ACF addressed the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in his recent press conference. “To say that President Jonathan doesn’t like the North is outrageous and uncharitable. And to say that he has failed, is untrue. NEC received the statement with complete surprise and total bewilderment.  The ACF leadership appears not to adhere to the tradition of the organisation which was originally conceived as a non-partisan umbrella organisation to harmonise and promote all shades of interests and opinions in the North.

“The statement accredited to the chairman has confirmed the allegations of partisanship and the claim that ACF is hobnobbing with opposition elements and unrepentant critics of the Jonathan administration,” he said.

Yakassai accused leadership of the ACF of what he called poverty of ideas for not doing enough consultations “with key managers of the security establishment who are eminent northerners and who are in the frontline in the fight against Boko Haram,” before accusing government and its security agencies of ineptitude in fighting the insurgents.

“The NEC wishes to affirm that the ACF chairman’s  statement in no way represents the general opinion in the North, nor does it represent attitude of majority of northern leadership to the Jonathan administration,” Yakassai noted.

Source: Sun

Publish Date: 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014