He also advised President Buhari to bury the idea of general elections come 2023 without the necessary restructuring of the country to the path of federalism
“I urged President Muhammadu Buhari to bury the idea of holding an election before returning to federalism by restructuring the country now.
“There must be a country before elections are held; it would be patriotic of him to heed this advice. If Buhari is sincere about keeping the country together, he must restructure the country now; this is the only answer to halt the disintegration of the country. To save Nigeria, restructure the country now,” Adebanjo said.
He added that the consistent advocacy for the restructuring of the country to federalism is based on the founding philosophy of Afenifere.
Adebanjo appreciated other groups such as PANDEF, The Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum, and Middle Belt Forum for joining in the restructuring crusade for a greater and better Nigeria
He also hailed the Southern Governors Forum for joining the calls for restructuring.
The Northern Elders Forum says President Muhammadu Buhari must do more to secure the lives and property of citizens, other than continue blaming everyone else for the woes befalling Nigeria.
Spokesman to the Forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said it is clear that the government is not doing enough and that is why the results have been felt negatively across the nation.
Dr. Baba-Ahmed said it is tiring to hear the presidency continue to ascribe the complaints of Nigerians to the workings of the opposition.
The NEF representative who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily said “we can’t have a president that is just sitting there and then blaming everybody else for the woes of the country, that is not what we elected him for.”
He added that “If every time Nigerians complain about being marginalized, we (presidency) don’t want to hear this and you dismiss it as this is just the opposition, then these problems will grow. Because even if it is the opposition, it is your job to deal with the opposition.
“Ascribing problems to the opposition doesn’t solve them; because it is the job of the opposition to make you look bad, it’s your job to make the opposition less effective in making you look bad.
“If the only response of the presidency is that every criticism, every complaint, every grievance that the people say the government is not working, we don’t see the result of work, and you say that is just talk, then clearly you are not dealing with the problem.”
He asserted that it does not appear that the administration recognizes the magnitude of the problem faced by the country, adding, however, that even if in all fairness they do understand the enormity, then their response has been unsatisfactory and inadequate.
“This is a country that is facing unprecedented levels of insecurity from all angles and we don’t see any sign that they are doing anything different from what they have done in the last 3, 4, or 5 years, you cannot keep doing the same thing and expect to get different results,” Dr. Baba-Ahmed stated.
While noting that the military is under immense pressure in the northeast, the NEF spokesman said the truth remains that Nigeria is currently not winning the war against the insurgents and the bandits.
The former permanent secretary to the Federal Government said kidnapping and banditry have become big industries in Nigeria and the presidency has run out of ideas.
He emphasized that Nigerians don’t want to hear excuses, adding that the people want insecurity addressed outrightly.
With regards to the recent case of kidnapping at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Kaduna, Dr. Baba-Ahmed said, “Let the president fix security, if he can’t do it immediately then let him do something that indicates that he is capable of securing Nigerians”.
Additionally, he said: “If you are not going to pay money to get the Kaduna College of Forestry students out, then for goodness sake, use another means to get them. It’s not just the responsibility of Kaduna State government…”
“Please do something about how insecure we are, all these talks about the president is concerned, the president is doing something about it is not good enough, every single day our lives are getting worse we cannot wait for the president to get round to fixing things. He was supposed to hit the ground from day one and he hasn’t and consequently, things are just getting worse. “
The Northern Elders Forum on Saturday said Nigerians have lost faith in the power and will of the government to protect them from incessant bandit attacks after more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped at a school in Zamfara on Friday.
According to a statement signed by the Forum’s spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the life of the average is becoming increasingly endangered by the day.
The Forum advised Governors, especially those from the Northern region, to explore all lawful avenues to improve the security of citizens.
Governors should also ramp up their support to the security services, the Forum added.
They advised citizens to organise and raise their levels of vigilance but not to take laws into their hands.
“Parents should not be discouraged from sending children to schools, and all governments must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions,” the Forum’s statement said.
Read the Forum’s full statement below:
27th February, 2021 STATEMENT OF NORTHERN ELEDERS FORUM FOLLOWING KIDNAPPINGS OF STUDENTS IN NORTHERN SCHOOLS
Northern Elders Forum shares the profound shock and outrage of Nigerians at the spate of kidnappings of boarding school children in different parts of the North. The latest reported kidnapping of more than hundreds of female students in Zamfara State follows the abduction of student of GSC, Kagara, Niger State. Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions re-occurring as bandits engage in copy cat crimes in a region that is basically unprotected, these abductions will severely damage the poor state of education in the North, particularly girl-child education.
It has become painfully obvious that the Federal Government is unable to muster the will or the capacity to limit exposure of Nigerians to violent criminals. Governors have been left to quarrel over causes and strategies. Many are taking steps that have dubious legal foundations, most of which merely compound the State of Security of the citizen in the country. In spite of assurances from the Federal Government that it will end banditry and kidnappings, the life of the Nigerian is becoming more endangered by the day, and citizens have lost faith that Governments will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens.
The Forum advises particularly Northern Governors to explore all lawful avenues to improve the Security of citizens. While they should improve their support to the Military, the Police and Security Agencies, they should also explore avenues which give them more powers to secure citizens. of the constitution which gives states powers to establish policing structures, including those with specialization such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.
Governors should explore issues which aid the spread of banditry at local and community levels and resolve them. They should also intensify multi-pronged approaches to ending banditry and kidnappings, including measures which prevent the continuation of these criminal activities by those who show a genuine willingness to stop. Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.
Citizens should organize and raise their levels of vigilance. They should resist the temptation to take laws into their hands, and improve the manner they work with Security Agencies. Parents should not be discouraged from sending children to schools, and all governments must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed Director, Publicity and Advocacy Northern Elders Forum Abuja.
The Northern Elders Forum has raised concerns over what it describes as the dangers of sustained attempts to raise tensions and create fears among Nigerians.
In a statement by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum stated that the trend could lead to major crisis involving groups and regions in the country if not checked.
It emphasized that the nation is currently facing imminent threats from persons who are bent on pushing Nigeria to disaster.
“There are efforts to create multiple sources of falsehood in videos and other inflammatory materials in the media clearly targeted at inciting people to act violently against each other,” the statement read.
“Allegations of planned or actual genocide are being made with reckless abandon, and even the international community is being lobbied in futile efforts to sell the fiction that some groups are intent on mass extermination of other groups”.
While making known its readiness to continue to work to retrieve the country from the danger it said it has plans to meet with governors in the north and south and visit communities to improve responsible collaboration and synergy.
The forum urged President Buhari to consult and explore ways aimed at lowering the present tension and assure everyone that laws have meaning in Nigeria.
The Northern Elders’ Forum, (NEF) have lamented over the recent murder of farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents claiming that life has lost value under President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration
The Forum in a statement through its spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, lamented that the lives of Nigerians no longer have value under the present administration due to the constant attacks and killings of innocent citizens, hence they want President Buhari to toe the path of honour and resign for failing to ensure the security of the Nation.
“Northern Elders Forum (NEF) joins Nigerians in expressing outrage at the killings of farmers in Borno State and many other people on a daily basis in many parts of the North. Our voices have been raised without pause for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region.
“Under this administration, life has lost its value, and more and more citizens are coming under the influence of criminals. We do not see any evidence of a willingness on the part of President Buhari to honour his oath to provide security over Nigerians,” the statement read in part.
The Northern leaders also asked President Buhari to resign if he cannot secure the nation and ensure the protection of lives and property of citizens whom he swore to protect.
Highlighting a thread of threats in the Northern part of the country to include Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, rustling, and kidnapping, the Northern leaders said these need immediate intervention and solution.
“In civilized nations, leaders who fail so spectacularly to provide security will do the honourable thing and resign. Our voices have been raised without pause for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region.
“We have consistently drawn attention to lack of political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling, and kidnapping.
“We had offered suggestions on how the security infrastructure could be improved and leadership of the military could be made more effective,” they said.
The leaders lamented that their advice and that of many other Nigerians, “have made no impression on President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The Northern Elders also faulted the response of the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu over the Boko Haram killing of 43 rice farmers in Borno State, describing his statement as ‘most insensitive’.
“These particular killings have been greeted by the most insensitive response by spokespersons of the President. The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest produce merely exposed the misleading claims that our military had secured vast territories from the insurgency.”
The leaders said, “The killings and the reality they expose will make relocation of citizens and resumption of economic activities a lot more difficult to achieve even for leadership that attaches priority to them, and this administration does not.”
According to the Northern Elders, farming communities have been hampered by bandits and kidnappers and the “prospects for famine are real in the face of limited production of food in many of our communities.”
The Presidency has taken a swipe at the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) over its comments on the nation’s security challenges.
In a statement on Sunday, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, accused the group of being political in its activities.
The group had said that the insecurity in some Northern states of the country was an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors of those states have lost control over the protection of the people.
It added in a statement by its coordinator, Ango Abdullahi, that President Buhari’s government has failed in its fight against bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
According to the NEF, the people of the North are now completely at the mercy of armed gangs who wreak havoc at will in towns and villages, as a result of the recent escalation of attacks by bandits, rustlers, and insurgents.
In his response, Adesina believes the statement by the group is not strange and the Presidency’s position on what the group represents remains unchanged.
“A mere irritant and featherweight,” he said in the statement. “The former vice-chancellor signed the statement under the banner of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF). Hearing that title, you would think the body was a conglomeration of true elders.”
“But the truth is that NEF is just Ango Abdullahi, and Ango Abdullahi is NEF. It is a quasi-organisation that boasts of no credible membership, and its leader is akin to a General without troops.
“Before the 2019 presidential election, the one-man army called NEF had shown its antipathy against President Buhari and its preference for another candidate. They all got beaten together,” he added.
The President’s aide insisted that the NEF was merely waving a flag at half-mast, stressing that its comments should be disregarded.
He, however, stated that President Buhari has steadily and steadfastly focused on the task of retooling Nigeria.
Less than two weeks after lawmakers in the House of Representatives called for the sack of the Service Chiefs, the Northern Elders Forum has also lent its voice to the call by demanding a total overhaul of the nation’s security architecture, in a bid to competently tackle all the security challenges confronting the nation.
The convener of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi, said in a statement that the current government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to secure the citizens from incessant attacks by bandits and other terrorist groups.
According to the statement, the forum also lamented that poverty, particularly in the north, and massive social security have worsened under this administration.
“With this type of mindset, it is difficult to see how President Buhari can accept the challenge to radically improve his handling of our security situation.
“Nonetheless, we believe that Nigerians must continue to raise our voices and organize through all legitimate means to demand that the administration addresses major failings in his perception of our situation and his response to our demands for our rights to security,” the statement reads in part.
The Northern Elders Forum condemned the insurgents’ tactics of targeting Christians and publicising their execution but it also appealed to religious leaders not to fall into the trap of insurgents setting them against each other.
On community policing, the forum recommended the adoption of a more vigorous and inclusive process but asked state governments to exercise higher levels of restraint and responsibility in the manner they respond to security challenges.
Another issue the Northern Elders forum commented on was the restriction order on by the Lagos state government on the operation of commercial motorcycles and tricycle riders.
The forum urged northern state governments to mobilize and support affected riders from the north who may wish to relocate back to the territory.
The Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Northern Elders Forum and forum of Nigerian Leaders have criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the just concluded Presidential elections.
The forum in a statement jointly signed by the leaders of the Pandef, Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Middle Belt said it had reviewed major developments and management of the electoral process which led to the announcement of the election results.
They commended the Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar for his statesmanship and commitment to the democratic process but charged him to challenge the results in the court as provided by the constitution.
“We see his decision as patriotic, responsible and ultimately the highest contribution to the democratic system.
“The Forum observes that the elections have revealed massive irregularities and outright abuse of the electoral laws, the rules and regulations of INEC as well as the failure of security forces to remain neutral and operate within the highest standards of their calling.
“The Peace Accord was ridiculed by deliberate and open abuse of organs of the state, the denial of rights of many citizens to vote and blatant abuse of all the commitments made by the administration.
“To decline to challenge obviously fictional figures, failures to respect key elements of the electoral process such as the use of Smart Card Readers and preventing agents and observers access to all processes is to condone the massive setback which this election represents for the country.
“The outcome of the elections was clearly premeditated in the refusal of the President to sign the Electoral Act and the orchestrated suspension of Justice Walter Onoghen as the CJN shortly before the composition of Electoral Tribunals”.
The Forum called on the judiciary to uphold the highest standards of integrity and commitment to its hallowed role by doing justice to the appeals that will come before it knowing that the eyes of the world would be on them.
“We are aware that attempts are being made to demoralize and intimidate the judiciary to remove a conducive context for litigations.
“We remind the judiciary that it is the last defence of our democratic process.
“We appeal to all Nigerians to continue to show faith in the democratic process and remain law-abiding as we await the decisions of the judiciary on a matter that will ultimately determine the quality of our democratic process and the nature of the nation we all call our own.
“We recall that in endorsing the candidature of Atiku for the election ,we did anchor our support on identifying a candidate among many good candidates we interacted with who can retool Nigeria to move on the path of development as a true federal entity, the pattern of voting in areas where there were semi-free elections showed an overwhelming endorsements of our position by popular votes.
“And the results of the poll have shown further a badly divided polity that needs a unifier and not a divisive person as a Leader.
“We insist Nigerians must stand firm and ensure are governed by a legitimate leadership”, the statement added.
Ahead of next month’s presidential election in Nigeria, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has pledged its support for the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, on grounds that he possesses a better credentials to tackle the current security challenges in the country than his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) opponent and the incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
The forum led by former Nigeria’s permanent representative in the United Nations, Mr Maitama Sule, appealed to Nigerians to vote for Buhari in the presidential election.
Addressing a news conference in Kaduna on Wednesday, spokesman for the forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, said the forum’s support for Buhari as well as the huge support the former Head of State enjoyed from millions of Nigerians were based on the belief that “he has the capacity to eliminate corruption and transform the nation’s economy”.
The forum also raised alarm over an alleged move by a group of politicians to install an Interim National Government in order to stop the forthcoming elections, and therefore warned that Nigerians from all works of life will reject such moves.
The Northern Elders while requesting that President Jonathan provides the necessary enabling environment for the conduct of credible polls, also expressed worries with the mode of campaign of blackmail and violence being adopted by politicians and their parties. The also condemned the rising cases of deadly attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in the north-east, and however called on the military to intensify efforts in recapturing areas lost to the sect members in order to ensure that indigenes of those places would be adequately protected during and after the election.
Other issues raised by the forum include poor distribution of Permanent Voters Cards by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and the likelihood that Internally Displaced Persons in the north-east may not vote in the election. The group, however, urged the electoral body to ensure that the voting rights of the displaced persons were upheld.
The former head of state and Presidential Aspirant of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari says the greatest problem facing Nigeria is not religion or tribal differences, but the deliberate plot by the ruling People’s Democratic Party(PDP) led government to use religion and ethnicity to polarise the country for selfish gains ahead of the 2015 general election.
Speaking during the APC Northern Stakeholders Interactive Meeting held in Kaduna on Saturday, General Buhari noted that going by the militarisation of the last governorship election in Ekiti and Osun states where a large number of soldiers and other security operatives were deployed for the election, shows that the ruling PDP is desperate to hold on to power using every means at its disposal.
He argued that the abducted Chibok school girls from Borno state by the Boko Haram members would have been rescued if the federal government had deployed such number of soldiers to the north east where the Boko Haram terrorists have killed thousands of innocent people.
While stating that 2015 should be another year of extreme concern for the country, Buhari said another four years of PDP will send Nigeria down the drain and therefore called on the Independent National Electoral Commission( INEC) to ensure that it does not disenfranchise eligible voters in the ongoing voter registration and to also provide a level playing ground for all political parties and candidates.
Also speaking Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, stressed the need for the north to be united in order to defeat some of the challenges confronting the region, lamenting that the north had remained backward despite its contribution to nation building, calling on all Nigerians to be actively involved in the political transition by voting an APC government that will rescue the country from alleged maladministration of the PDP.
The Deputy national chairman of the party, Lawal Shuaibu who set the agenda of the day, said the meeting was convened primarily to discuss the state of the party as it affects the north and the country in general and thereafter seek the opinion of party leaders on how to move the party forward.
He said since the last APC national convention, the party has faced a number of challenges which include the impeachment of the former Adamawa state governor, Murtala Nyako, the move to remove his Nasarawa state counter part through unconstitutional means and the loss recorded by the party in the Ekiti state governorship election, stating that the meeting has nothing to do with discussing on who emerges as the consensus presidential candidate of the party.
Other speakers include the Northern Elders Forum and the Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF) which urged the party to come up with a formidable consensus presidential candidate that will be acceptable to the North and the country at large in other to defeat the ruling PDP in the next election.
Present at the meeting were presidential aspirants of the party, General Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Sam Nda Isaiah.
Others are governors of the party, senators, party chairmen and other stakeholders from the 19 northern states.