The Northern Elders Forum said on Sunday that it regretted to declare that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has failed to secure and pilot the affairs of the nation.
The Prof. Ango Abdullahi led NEF stated this at a press conference on the state of the nation held after its meeting held in Zaria, Kaduna State on Sunday.
The Director, Advocacy and Engagements of the NEF and former INEC’s Secretary, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, read the text of the press conference.
The elders noted that Buhari did not only fail the north but the entire country with his style of leadership.
Saying that they were disappointed by the Buhari regime in terms of security the lives and property of Nigerians, the NEF joined the call for the service chiefs to be removed.
“The Forum demands a thorough overhaul of the leadership of our security and public safety agencies, and the injection of higher levels of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner our troops and the police and security agencies deal with security challenges,” the forum said.
They said despite the overwhelming support government received from Nigerians in the 2019 Presidential election, the president appeared not to have any idea on what would provide relief or solution to the security challenges.
The northern elders recalled that prior to the 2019 elections, they had warned Nigerians that President Buhari lacked the will, the competence and commitment to lead it into a secure and prosperous nation, but even as he was reelected, Buhari has shown that he had no capacity to lead.
However, the NEF urged Nigerians not to fall victim of the Boko Haram insurgency or other bandits’ antics of dividing Nigerians along religious lines with their recent activities.
The NEF said:
“The Forum regrets that by any standard of judgement, the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed the nation in the vital area of improving its security. Poverty, particularly in the North, and massive social security have worsened under this administration.
“The relationship between insecurity and poverty is fundamental, but the administration does not appear to have any idea on what will provide relief or solution.
“It gives the Forum no pleasure to say that it had warned Nigerians that President Buhari lacked the will, the competence and commitment to lead it into a secure and prosperous future before the 2019 elections.
“It is shocking that in spite of unprecedented consensus among Nigerians that the administration requires a new resolve, approach and leadership in the fight against the nation’s multiple security challenges, President Buhari appears either totally isolated or in deep denial over the result of his failures to secure Nigerians.
“With this type of mind set, 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.“
On current tactic by bandits to divide the country along religious lines, the NEF said,
“We appeal to our religious leaders and fellow citizens not to fall into the trap of insurgents to set us up against each other.
“We condemn the tactic of targeting Christians and publicising their executions by an insurgency seeking to exploit our different faiths.
“We also condemn the murder of thousands of Muslims and Christians in communities which the insurgency has made permanent targets in the last decade.
“These are times when we must unite and resist a common enemy as well us demand that our leaders protect us all as Nigerians.“
On the 2023 Presidency, the Forum noted that it would only support a candidate with the interest of the north at heart.
It said it observed the political manoeuvering surround 2023 as a region available for exploit but that the northerners would be careful towards that (exploitations).
According to the Forum, the region knows its interest and will stand by anyone with its interest.
The Forum insisted that politician should assumed they were entitled to the support of the north unless they showed that they had the interest of the north.
“The Forum has observed that political manoeuvres around the 2023 elections are targeting the North as a region available for exploitation.
“We want to make it clear that people of the North will be very careful in committing to persons seeking their support on the basis of their region or wealth.
“The North knows its interests, and will stand together to elect only persons who meet the standards and interests of the people of the North.
“No politician should assume that they are entitled to our support unless they show a clear understanding and a commitment to deal with our problems and meet our aspirations.”
On okada and Keke Marwa ban in Lagos
Meanwhile, the NEF urged 19 Northern governors to mobilize and support those Okada riders of northern extraction that were affected by the ban in Lagos State, to relocate to the north.
“With due respect to the rights of the Lagos State Government to take decisions that improve the environment and public safety, we are constrained to draw attention to the impact of its policy on banning Okada and Keke in parts of the State on the poor and operators, many of them from the North, who earn honest living through this trade.
“We urge restraint in the responses of those who are immediately affected by this policy, while we urge Northern State Governments to mobilize and support the people who will be compelled to relocate back to the North with other sources of legitimate living.”