NORTHERN Elders Forum (NEF) officials have accused southern governors of building up ethnic monsters and has warned political leaders who take advantage of President Muhammadu Buhari’s limitations to be careful.
Earlier this month, the Southern Governors Forum met in the Delta State capital Asaba where it passed a resolution banning open grazing across the south of Nigeria. In addition, the governors also called for the restructuring of the country and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to address the growing insecurity across the nation.
Although the NEF acknowledged that insecurity has spiralled out of control and urged President Buhari to halt Nigeria’s gradual descent into disaster, it cautioned against the current clamour for balkanising the country. Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, NEF’s director of publicity, said a majority of Nigerians did not want war or a breakup of the country.
He added that what Nigerians wanted is an end to insecurity, the escalating cost of living and the hate and the fear which many leaders are triggering. According to Dr Baba-Ahmed, the NEF has held back on taking issue with persons and groups intent on provoking a crises that would escalate beyond control.
Dr Baba-Ahmed added: “It is now clear that elected people sworn to protect the constitution and protect the unity and integrity of Nigeria have decided to surrender to deeply divisive or outright irredentist and secessionist tendencies and movements. In the southeast, governors are yielding their political turf and mandates to secessionists, criminals and subversives who think they can exterminate federal presence and northerners from the region, and achieve dubious political goals related to 2023, or break away from the country.
“In the southwest, elected leaders and pampered ethnic bullies are closing ranks to provide a front that apes the do-what-we-want-or-we-leave-the-country strategy of the marginalised leaders of the southeast. Governors are building ethnic monsters and hiding behind them to whip up sentiments in a crude attempt to extract concessions no one is in a position to give or guarantee.”
In addition, the forum added that the south-south is squeezed between fear and uncertainty as its leaders are gambling that they can benefit from further weakening the federal administration and the north if they support the rest of the south. It stated that a plastic unity was being contrived to create the impression that the south is united behind shared grievances against the presidency and Fulani herders and all northerners, who are cast as fair game in responding to all of President Buhari’s multiple failures.
According to the NEF, a desperate but futile attempt is being made to split the north along lines that suit people who ignore its complexities and plurality when it is convenient to lump all northerners and submit them to humiliation or attacks. It said most of these provocations fed from the widespread perception of a weak national leadership and a broken political process.
It restated its support for a programmed transition to eliminate open grazing and the establishment of productive, safe and sustainable options in managing the huge national assets in animal husbandry. According to the NEF, this cannot be achieved with threats and harassment but with commitment and collaboration involving all governments and stakeholders.