Atiku Abubakar Lends Support For Restructuring of Nigeria

atikuThe former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, is in support of the restructuring of Nigeria along federating units.

He stated that Nigeria is not working as it should because the centre has more powers than the federating states.

The former V.P said that a restructuring would foster national unity and integration, and also lay to rest the continuous agitation for resource control and creation of more states by different geo-political zones.

He made the remark in Kaduna State during the memorial conference for late General Hassan Usman Katsina.

Speaking on the topic, “Restructuring Nigeria For Greater National Integration and Democratic Stability”, Atiku said that there is the need to restructure the nation to make it stronger and more united.

According to him, while Nigeria must remain a united country, the unity which most citizens desire should never be taken for granted or taken as evidence that Nigerians are contented with the current structure of the federation.

The conference which had the theme: ‘Challenges of National Integration and the Survival of Democracy in Nigeria’, gathered dignitaries who came to celebrate the former military governor of the defunct Northern region, General Hassan Katsina.

Atiku also argued that the current presidential system of governance has thrown up so many issues in the polity such as struggle for power rotation at the centre, and overbearing control of resources by the federal government with limited resources going to the states and local governments.

The former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ango Abdullahi, cautioned the agitators for control of oil deposits in the Niger Delta region to have a rethink.

He argued that it was the proceeds from the North that was used in developing the country before the advent of oil.

He also stated that Nigeria is divisible if the various political zones fail to work collectively as one, stressing that the north is not scared of separating from the rest of the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahaman Danbazau, said that the time to achieve national unity was now, considering the numerous security and economic challenges confronting the nation.

He also stated that good governance remains the key for the sustenance of national integration, adding that the federal government under his leadership is making effort to enthrone political stability and protect the lives and property of every citizen.

Northern Elders Forum Backs Buhari, Says He Will Eliminate Boko Haram

BuhariAhead 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.

Group Urges All Political Parties To Field Northern Presidential Candidates

President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term in office appears to be tearing the north apart as the two leading groups in the region; the Northern Elders Forum and the newly inaugurated Northern Elders Council have engaged themselves in a war of words over his ambition.

While the Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF), which is largely seen as the voice of the North and the Northern Elders Forum  have been insisting on a northern president in the 2015 election, the  new group,  the Northern Elders Council (NEC) has declared its support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term in office.

The group which was launched in Kaduna, on Thursday, February 6, has Tanko Yakassai, an elder statesman, as its leader.

Yakassai said the new group was ready to partner with other individuals from all parts of the country who believe in dialogue, mutual respect, harmony and peaceful coexistence.

While the Northern Elders Forum is urging all political parties in the country to field only northerners as their presidential candidates and avoid being moved by groups from the region canvassing for a level playing ground for everyone, the Tanko Yakassai-led group is insisting that all candidates, including President Jonathan, should be giving an equal opportunity.

The Northern Elders Forum led by Ambassador Maitama Sule also accused the Federal Government of using some politicians to divide the region along religious and ethnic lines.

Speaking to Channels Television in Kaduna, spokesperson of the Northern Elders forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi noted that fielding a northern presidential candidate by political parties in 2015 would go a long way to balance the existing rotational arrangement of two tenures of eight years between the north and south.

He lamented that President Goodluck Jonathan, who was a beneficiary of rule of law, was trying to truncate that arrangement by seeking re-election in 2015, but vowed that the north would resist the attempt.

But the Publicity Secretary of the newly formed Northern Elders Council, Ambassador Yusuf Mamman, disagrees with the professor, dismissing all the issues raised by the Northern Elders Forum, describing their position  that power must return to the region  as “self-serving and a baseless agitation”.

He said President Jonathan had the constitutional right to seek a second term in office, if he so desired, and wondered why some group of elders in the region were trying to overheat the polity with their selfish ambitions.

However, the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, at the inauguration of the new leadership of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in Kaduna called for caution.

According to him, the north cannot make any meaningful political and economic progress with the proliferation of group of elders.

Gowon, who is the chairman of Board of Patrons, said there was no need for proliferation of the elders’ group since all of them gave birth to the ACF as one channel that should speak for the North.

ACF, Northern Elders Forum Reject 2015 Election Timetable

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have rejected the 2015 election timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Friday.

Instead, both groups are calling on INEC to conduct all elections on the same day to ensure credibility.

In rejecting the sequence of the planned elections, both associations said the timetable prepared by INEC was designed to encourage electoral irregularities. They expressed fears that an attendant bandwagon effect was likely after the presidential election, which is the first.

ACF in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Anthony Sani said “We are uncomfortable with the sequence of the election. We prefer all elections to hold the same day in order to reduce cost and avoid bandwagon effect. But INEC has said there is no enabling law by the National Assembly that will make it possible for the elections to hold the same day; and we have also called on the legislature to make that possible.

“ACF prefers electoral disputes in courts to be disposed of before inauguration, but now INEC timetable is too close to inauguration. As a result, inaugurated winners will still use government resources to fight electoral disputes in tribunals and courts. That will be most unfair to the alleged losers in the elections and Nigerians,” the statement said.

On its part, the NEF in a statement signed by its spokesman, Professor Ango Abdullahi, expressed reservations about INEC’s preparedness for the 2015 general elections, saying that there was nothing sacrosanct about the dates the electoral body had outlined for the polls.

“There is nothing so significant about the dates that have been reeled out by INEC; however, I do not see any reason for INEC’s inability to conduct the elections the same day because it is possible and this is done all over the world, so Nigeria cannot be an exception in this case.

“Apart from the possible bandwagon effect that is likely to be associated with the current outline as enunciated by INEC, the likelihood of a winning presidential candidate in the February 14 poll manipulating the subsequent elections cannot be ruled out,” he said.

INEC had on Friday released the timetable for the 2015 elections, fixing the presidential and National Assembly elections for February 14, while the governorship and state houses of assembly polls will hold two weeks later.

Northern Elders Threaten To Drag Ihejirika To ICC Over Extra-Judicial Killings

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has threatened to drag the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, and some other top military officers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged extra-judicial killings.

The news comes barely 48 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan removed the nation’s service chiefs from office.

The Northern Elders in a communique signed by its spokesman, Professor Ango Abdullahi, at the end of its meeting in Kaduna, accused the outgoing Chief of Army Staff and six others of alleged extra-judicial killings and strangulation of civilians by soldiers in Bama and Giwa Barracks in Borno State, using an underground detention centre.

While the statement did not mention the six other persons involved, Abdullahi said that the forum had earlier set up two investigative committees to probe the use of soldiers against civilians in Bama and some parts of Borno State.

“The Forum has therefore resolved to harmonise the reports of the two committees, preparatory to filing a case of extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian Army under the then Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubuike Ihejirika and six others.

“The reports will be harmonised at our emergency meeting in Abuja on Wednesday the 22nd of January 2014, for further action”, the statement read.

Group Faults Northern Elders, ACF Over Insistence On 2015 Presidency

The Northern Youth Forum (NYF) has criticized the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for their insistence that the region must produce the next president in 2015.   

A statement signed by the director media and publicity of the group in Kaduna said the recent press conference by the NEF and ACF led by Professor Ango Abdullahi, was designed to promote selfish interest at the expense of ordinary Nigerians.

While the NYF condemns in strong terms the negative utterances of elders from the south south zone on the 2015 elections, they noted that the future of the region cannot be compromised to serve the interest of few individuals such as the northern elders and ACF.

The statement further accused  the northern elders, among them, former public office  holders of being responsible for  the under development and other challenges facing the region.

It however advised the elders to champion issues that would bring about development and peace in the north and the country in general, rather than pursuing their selfish interest.