North ready for Nigeria’s breakup – ACF, JNI, NEF, Arewa youths

Against the backdrop of fresh calls for restructuring, a coalition of Northern leaders on Saturday in Kaduna said the region is ready for the breakup of Nigeria.

They, however, added that the process must be “peaceful and responsible.”

They also vowed that nobody from the region would kill any Nigerian in furtherance of the ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari or any other aspirant.

The Northern leaders spoke on Kaduna against the backdrop of reports that some unnamed groups were mobilising Northerners to kill as many Southerners as possible if Buhari fails to win a second term.

Speaking in a communique after their meeting at Arewa House, the conveners said they would also not back any candidate who fails to outline steps to reduce the deep poverty in the North.

The communique was jointly signed by Prof. Ango Abdullahi, chairman Arewa Consultative Forum’s Political Committee and convener, Northern Elders Forum; Dr. Yima Sen of the Northern Elders Forum; Amb. Ibrahim Mai Sule (ACF); Engr. Bello Suleiman (CODE Group); Mataimaki Tom Maiyashi (Arewa Research Development Project); Zannah Hassan Boguma (Borno Elders Forum); Nafiu Baba-Ahmed
(Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria); Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame (Northern Union); Yerima Shettima (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum); Pastor Aminchi Habu (United Christian Leaders Eagle Eye Forum); Balarabe Rufai (Coalition of Northern Groups); Isa Tijjani (Labour Veterans Association); Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa (CAN Northern Chapter); Umar Ahmed Zaria (Jama’atu Nasiril Islam; Alh. Buba Adamah (Arewa People Unity Association); Hassan El-Adamu
(Arewa Initiative For Good Governance); and Abdulazeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network).

Titled: Draft ommunique of the Summit of Northern Groups, it reads: “Leading Northern Groups and Associations held a Summit of their leaders at Arewa House, Kaduna on Saturday 24th March, 2018. The Summit was convened to assess the security, economic and political circumstances of the North and Northern communities in other parts of Nigeria.

“Specifically, the Summit reviewed the worrying state of insecurity under which virtually all Northerners live; the worsening economic fortunes of the vast majority of Northerners and the options that are available to the North as it prepares to engage the political process towards the elections of 2019.

The Summit noted that in spite of 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.

The economy of the North continues to deteriorate in spite of the evident willingness of Northerners to work hard and earn legitimate incomes. Its basic infrastructure suffers massive deficits in funding while its growing population starves from lack of critical investment in human capital development. Federal government spending is severely tilted against the North, while most State governments only pay lip service to real development in their states. Agriculture shows limited glimpses of recovery, but almost entirely through efforts of peasants and antiquated processes. The North is completely de-industrialized, while the rest of the nation moves towards sustainable growth and development. There is no evidence of bold thinking, strong political will or serious concern by any leadership at any level to reverse the alarming decline of the Northern economy.

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 others’ 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 historic gains in Northern political unity secured by Northern votes in the 2015 elections have been wasted by the poor management of conflicts between and among Northern communities. Today Northern communities are erecting barricades against members of other communities, and politicians who have failed to lead and make impacts in lives of the poor and the vulnerable are daily feeding the people with hate and resentment instead of searching for genuine and lasting solutions. In a region with enough resources for every community or trade, our people are now fighting for morsels, while leaders think of new ways to turn our misery into electoral capital.

The Summit, having undertaken a thorough analysis of the state of the North and our communities, therefore:

1. 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.

2. DEMANDS 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.

3. APPEALS to Northern Governors and President Muhammadu Buhari to set in motion serious initiatives towards achieving higher levels of trust among Northern communities which is vital for the imperatives of peace and justice.

4. INSISTS that the routine denial of the rights of the North to its fair share of budgetary allocations by the federal government must cease from the 2018 budget. Northern representatives in the National Assembly must live up to their oaths to protect the rights of their constituencies to equity in the allocation of national resources.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. ADVISES all Northerners to be alert to plans to weaken the region through the manipulation of our fears and vulnerability and our ethno-religious differences. There must be vigilant scrutiny of opportunities for manipulation by outsiders of our present challenges. We must stand up and unite against those who kill villagers in Kogi, in Zamfara, in Benue, in Adamawa, in Borno, in Kaduna and in every village or town. No Northern blood is more precious than others, and we can only heal if we adopt common positions to finding solutions to our problems.

8. INVITES attention of the rest of Nigeria that the North knows its interests and place and will defend them in the context of Nigeria. Our people are willing and eager to put our union as a nation on the table and discuss with other Nigerians the relative values of ALL options and negotiate them with responsibility and respect.

9. CAUTIONS the Presidency and members of the National Assembly and Governors to resist the temptation to abuse the political process in pursuit of their personal ambitions.

10. COMMITS to sustaining the strong interests behind this Summit through other activities and actions which will strengthen Northern unity and prepare it to extract the maximum benefits from the 2019 elections.

The Summit welcomes the release of the Dapchi girls, and urges the government to intensify efforts to secure the release of all other abducted Nigerians. It calls on the government to ensure that no abductions occur again, and all communities are sufficiently protected and young Nigerians are free to acquire education without fear.

Professor Ango Abdullahi , CON
Chairman ACF Political Committee
Convener, Northern Elders Forum

Dr. Yima Sen
Northern Elders Forum (NEF)

Amb. Ibrahim Mai Sule
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF)

Engr. Bello Suleiman
CODE Group

Mataimaki Tom Maiyashi
Arewa Research Development Project (ARDP)

Zannah Hassan Boguma
Borno Elders Forum

Nafiu Baba-Ahmed
Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria

Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame
Northern Union

Yerima Shettima
Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF)

Pastor Aminchi Habu
United Christian Leaders Eagle Eye Forum (UCLEEF)

Balarabe Rufai
Coalition of Northern Groups

Isa Tijjani
Labour Veterans Association

Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa
CAN Northern Chapter

Umar Ahmed Zaria
Jama’atu Nasiril Islam (JNI)

Alh. Buba Adamah
Arewa People Unity Association

Hassan El-Adamu
Arewa Initiative For Good Governance

17. Abdulazeez Suleiman
Northern Emancipation Network