President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with traditional rulers from the north led by His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III in Abuja.
During the meeting, the president briefed the leaders on some of the steps being taken to combat the security challenges in the country.
According to the president, the Nigerian Police Force is being overhauled, re-positioned and primed with modern technological gadgets to meet rising challenges across the nation, while an intelligence loop among all security outfits has been created.
He also noted that the ongoing reform of the police will include recruitment of more personnel, cultivation of stronger local intelligence and networking with communities, traditional rulers and adequate training.
The Presidency on Friday took a swipe at some leaders who recently faulted President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s way of handling the nation’s security challenges, describing them as ‘selfish leaders.’
The leaders of some socio-cultural organisations led by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), had issued a communique accusing Buhari’s administration of incompetence in handling the security situation in the country.
But the Presidency, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said it considered the communique “as the shedding of crocodile tears by selfish leaders.”
The Presidency said the leaders felt alienated after “a transparent and accountable system halted their disproportionate survival on resources of the state,” and therefore urged Nigerians to ignore them.
“The Presidency urges Nigerians to ignore the unholy alliance by these groups who are stepping up their assault on the All Progressives Congress administration. The Presidency notes with dismay that the refrain about President Buhari not doing anything about security in the country had turned into the number one fake news item,” the statement read in part.
Shehu said it is sad and misleading for anyone to say that President Buhari had not responded to the security challenges in the country.
He referred to a press statement recently issued by the President’s Special Adviser, Femi Adesina, highlighting the Buhari-led administration’s achievement in tackling security challenges. Shehu stressed that those condemning Buhari’s administration should read the statement.
“The press release which was titled: “Combating Insecurity in the Country: Lest We Forget – Presidency’’ listed out ongoing security operations: (1) Nigerian Army’s Exercise Ayem Akpatuma covering Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States launched in February to tackle cases of kidnappings, herdsmen/farmers’ clashes, among others; (2) Nigerian Air Force establishment of three new Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue States respectively, and deployment of Special Forces personnel.
“The press release also noted President Buhari’s approval for the establishment of a new Battalion of the Nigerian Army, as well as a new Police Area Command, in Birnin Gwari Local Council in Kaduna State, as part of measures to scale up security in response to the banditry affecting the area,'” he said.
Shehu added that those claiming that President Buhari has not done anything about security challenge are spreading fake news being peddled by selfish politicians with interests in keeping Nigerians incensed.
Elders, leaders of socio-political organisations and key stakeholders from the northern part of Nigeria have scored the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari low and, consequently, rejected him as their candidate for the 2019 general elections.
The leaders who met on Saturday in Kaduna insisted that the present leadership representing the region has failed in its mandate and, therefore, must be replaced by competent persons.
Leaders of the Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Borno Elders Forum, and Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria were among those present at the meeting.
In a communique read by a member of the Northern Elders Forum and Chief of Staff to Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the northern leaders lamented that almost three years after President Buhari was sworn in, the economy, security and political fortunes of the region have continued to deteriorate.
To make matters worse, they said the Buhari administration is doing little or nothing to salvage the situation.
‘Not enough strong will’
President Buhari had swept to power promising to tackle insecurity, fight corruption and boost Nigeria’s economy.
However, the northern leaders believe his administration has not demonstrated enough strong will to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency, rural banditry and herdsmen/farmers clashes that have claimed scores of lives in many parts of the region.
They added that little effort has been made to tackle the poverty that has continued to ravage the region and the entire country.
“We demand immediate and decisive steps to improve the security of lives and economic assets in the North by the federal and state governments. Too many communities are at the mercy of attacks from sundry groups of criminals who appear to have unchallenged access to space and weapons,” Baba- Ahmed said.
Furthermore, the northern leaders stressed that the region will not vote for any politician who fails to show a willingness to address the numerous challenges facing the region.
The communique read in part, “The Summit noted that despite 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”.
“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 other’s’ 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 Summit, having undertaken a thorough analysis of the state of the North and our communities, therefore urges all leaders, elders and communities to seek peaceful resolutions of conflicts between and among communities. Lives lost, injuries suffered, and losses incurred in any community must be redressed firmly and fairly. The roots of co-existence and inter-dependence in all Northern communities are much deeper than the barricades being erected around communities. All persons who are involved in killings and crimes against communities must be brought to book.
“The summit warns that 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 asserts 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.”
Political and traditional leaders from the northern part of the Nigeria are lamenting the deplorable state of the region, arising from insecurity, poverty and a downward plunge from its respected position of influence in the country.
The leaders made their position known on Monday in Kaduna state at the annual Pan Northern Summit of Leaders and Elders of the region organised by the Northern Elders Forum.
Speakers at the conference including the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar and Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, relived the unity and oneness of the people of the North in the past, saying that the fragmentation that currently exists among the people is responsible for insecurity and backwardness of the region.
Organisers of the summit believe it is time for leaders of the region to come together and address these challenges that have put them behind other regions.
In an emotion-laden speech, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state said that the current security challenges in the Northeast and particularly Borno State, where over 50,000 women have been turned to widows by insurgents, calls for serious concern not just from the citizens of the affected states but from Nigerians in general.
The Governor announced that Boko Haram has been largely contained that they no longer pose any security threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
He identified key areas which the northern leaders must address to overcome these challenges. They include poverty reduction through agriculture, job creation, reviving the education sector and gender equality.
Blessed with large land mass and population size, as well as abundant mineral deposits, participants at the summit agreed that northern Nigeria has no reason to be poor.
According to them, the way forward is for the people and the leaders to go back to the visions and dreams of the founding fathers whose tenure brought about unity and development of the region in the past.
The Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the State Governor to account for over 136 billion Naira SURE-P largesse allocated to Lagos State.
The party claims the money was collected by the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola.
In a statement issued by the Lagos State PDP spokesman, Taofik Gani, the party noted that the amount was enough to build at least 100,000 low cost accommodation and adequate hostels on all the state’s tertiary campuses.
“In spite of the huge state internally generated revenue (IGR) and the over 136 billion Naira SURE-P largesse over the years, Lagos residents are still lacking many ordinary social services.
“Where they are available, Lagosians (Lagos residents) pay exorbitant to enjoy such,” the party stated.
According to the statement: “even the APC governorship Candidate’s campaign jingles, posters and other messages are clear vote of no confidence in the services rendered by Governor Fashola.
“This is because Mr Ambode has himself declared emergency in virtually all the sectors of governance in the state by proposing trust and emergency funds in the sectors.”
The Akinwunmi Ambode is the Lagos State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PPD re-emphasised its confidence in defeating the APC in the coming general elections.
“We are good to go and defeat APC in the coming elections. Fashola was able to cajole Lagos residents for some years with pseudo and momentary projects, while neglecting areas of governance that affect the masses most,” the party said.
The PDP, describing the Governor as a mediocre in governance, said it would capitalise on the flaws of Governor Fashola’s administration to defeat of the APC in the state.
The Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has called on Nigerians, especially Northern leaders to save the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) from former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu and his cabal in the APC.
In a statement by Governor Fayose’s Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the Governor said he was worried that Tinubu and his cabal were pushing General Buhari too much because of their selfish interests and pleaded that; “Nigerians should appeal to Tinubu and his cabal to allow Buhari attend properly to his health”.
“Not The Candidate Of The North”
“Since last week Thursday that Buhari appeared for less than two hours at the Chatham House, where his doctors certified him fit, returning to Nigeria for the ‘final onslaught on the PDP,’ he has simply disappeared from public glare.
“Isn’t it strange that someone who is contesting an election in 28 days time could afford to stay outside the country for about two weeks?
“Buhari confessed that he actually saw his doctors, why did the APC cabal lie that he never visited any hospital, even going to the ridiculous and criminal level of using pictures taken in Abuja to authenticate claim that Buhari had a television interview in London?
“Like I have maintained, the same cabal that were involved in the Yar’Adua saga are also involved the packaging of Buhari and Nigerians must save the man from these people, who are only interested in using him to assume power,”Governor Fayose said.
While maintaining that Buhari was not the candidate of the north, Fayose asked: “Shouldn’t it interest Nigerians, especially the Northerners that only Malam Nasir El-Rufai was a Northerner among those who attended the last Thursday’s Chatham House event”?
The statement further read: “During the APC primary, delegates from the North voted for former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. Only delegates controlled by Tinubu, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Bukola Saraki voted for Buhari.”
“In appreciation of Tinubu’s role, Buhari gave him (Tinubu) the sole right to choose his running mate, with Tinubu still being rumored to be interested in the Vice President position that he gave his surrogate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
“Also, the APC confirmed yesterday that Buhari’s campaign is being funded by Tinubu and Amaechi.
“All these point to the fact that Tinubu and his cabal have a sinister agenda against the North, which they want to use Buhari to achieve”.
He further urged leaders in the north to intervene and free Buhari from the APC cabal now because, insisting that “General Buhari needs to take proper and adequate care of himself medically”.
President Goodluck Jonathan has said that Nigerians owe former President Olusegun Obasanjo an “enduring debt of gratitude” for his contribution to the development of the nation.
In a letter congratulating the former Head of State on the occasion of his 76th birthday, President Jonathan extended felicitations of behalf of his family and the country.
“On behalf of my family, the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and on my own behalf, I write to express warm felicitations to you on the occasion of your 76th birthday anniversary which comes up on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013; the letter states.
“Over the years, you have always readily given of yourself to the cause of the peace, stability, growth, and development of our country, Nigeria. For this, we owe you an enduring debt of gratitude.
“As you celebrate with family, friends and well-wishers I pray that Almighty God continues to guide, guard, and prosper you, even as He blesses you with many more years of robust health and abiding fulfillment,” President Jonathan wrote.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was born on March 5, 1937.
Lucky To Have Obasanjo
The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) has also paid tribute to the former President, saying Obasanjo has lived a fulfilled life of service to Nigeria and humanity.
The Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Niger State, Muazu Aliyu said at 76, Chief Obasanjo has remained the reference point on good governance, statesmanship, diplomacy, conflict resolution and prudent management of resources.
”Nigeria is lucky to have former President Obasanjo at every twist and turn in our march to nationhood,” the forum said in a statement.
The forum recalled that Chief Obasanjo had a distinguished carrier in the military and then went on to become Head of State and later democratically elected president, during which period he showed rare vision, courage and exemplary leadership.
They noted that they are “proud to be associated with the achievements of the former leader, especially his contribution to the deepening of the nation’s fledgling democracy.”
A political scientist and a lecturer at the University of Abuja, Kabiru Mato has called on Nigerian leaders not to disregard the comments of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar on the security in the North.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Mato said though modern politics in Nigeria has withered the powers of traditional leaders, but “the statement by the sultan should not be put aside by any serious minded political leadership because it is a statement that is coming out from one of the highest level of the Nigerian society.”
The University don said the situation where Nigerian leaders accept responsibilities for the ills in the country is an indication of progress. Mr Mato cautioned that “If the political leadership will choose to disregard this very honest and bold pronouncement by the sultan, it will do so at its own peril.”
The Sultan had on Monday blamed the North for the present insecurity in the region.
He had said, “Let us sit and talk freely and articulate positions that will bring us out of the quagmire we put ourselves. It is important that religious and traditional rulers from our various states sit together, so that each and every one of us will talk freely for us to articulate a position as the way out of this problem we find ourselves.
“We northerners have put ourselves in a quagmire, because whatever that is happening in the North is our own doing. This was because we did not do what we are supposed to do. And since we know that, we have to solve our problems ourselves. So, I think, it is not a bad idea that the committee was set up.”
The National Secretary General of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Ahmed Sule has affirmed the comments made by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar that the Northern leaders were responsible for the insecurity and suffering in the region.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Sule said the admission by the Sultan was a good sign. The Sultan had on Monday blamed the North for the present insecurity in the region.
On how the northern leaders would receive the Sultan’s comment, Mr Sule said they have no option but to accept the statement as the fact.
“They knew, everybody from the leadership to the ordinary man on the street knows that the problem is created by the Northern leadership,” he said.
He however said realizing the source of the problem is different from admitting responsibility for the problem insisting that the leaders may not want to be held accountable for the problems in the North.