Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has declared the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari a total failure.
The group said it had warned Nigerians that Buhari has nothing to offer to them, adding that the President has failed to tackle insecurity and improve the economy.
NEF said the Buhari-led government appeared helpless in finding solutions to the numerous challenges the country is faced with.
NEF’s position was made public by the Forum’s Director, Advocacy and Engagement, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmad shortly after a meeting convened by the chairman of the forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi.
Those that attended the meeting were: Abdullahi, former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alamin Daggash (retd); Secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups, Abdullahi Usman and Ambassador Yahaya Kwande; Deputy National Chairman of NEF, Alhaji Bello Kirfi (Wazirin Bauchi), DIG Labaran Wurno, Alhaji Yakubu Shehu and former MD, defunct Bank of the North, Hajiya Amina Yahaya, among others.
Baba-Ahmed said, “Northern Elders Forum has refrained from comments on major developments relating to management of national security and governance because it is convinced that these are times which require the highest levels of responsibility and circumspection in the manner elders and leaders in the nation contribute to the search for solutions to the multiple problems which face the nation.
“It has become necessary and appropriate, however, to make public, the position of the Forum on important matters that affect the manner Nigerians live, and the future we must address.
“This Forum extends its hand at any group or interest willing to discuss this important matter, and will utilize its entire assets to collaborate with other groups to achieve an understanding on the way forward. We advise all governments to exercise higher levels of restraint and responsibility in the manner they respond to the challenges of improving our security and safety.
“In this regard, the Forum notes that the comments of the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), in response to the opinions of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar do not conform with the culture of respect and reverence for leaders which Northerners are noted for.
“The Forum demands that the Chairman of BOT of Coalition of Northern Groups should apologise to His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto without reservations. The Forum notes that His Eminence has many avenues for relating with the Coalition, and urges him to continue with his close relations with the Coalition and utilize his position to extract the maximum benefits which could accrue to the Northern community in his relations with the Coalition.
“In moments of tension and stress, Nigerians tend to find easy solutions or scapegoats. This Forum is concerned that the apparent resurgence of certain types of conflicts such as ethnic and farmers/herders clashes will have multiplier effects and cause damaging setbacks to the successes made in improving community relations. We appeal to governments and communities to commit further to living together in peace and earning a living within the ample resources we are blessed with.
…Presidency fires back
The Presidency has dismissed the assessment of the Buhari administration by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), describing the forum as a quasi-organisation that boast of no credible membership, and its leader was akin to a General without troops.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the forum had on Sunday scored the All Progressives Congress led Federal Government low, saying the Buhari -led government appeared helpless in finding solutions to nation’s security challenges as well as poverty in the country.
The forum addressed Journalists at the end of the meeting convened by its chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, where it alleged that”poverty, particularly in the North and massive social security have worsened under Buhari’s administration.”
Presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, however, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, expressed reservations over the NEF verdict on the Buhari administration, saying Abdullahi had again shown his antipathy against the president.
”Prof. Ango Abdullahi on Sunday signed a long-winding statement on many issues relating to the North, and purportedly to the country.
”The former vice chancellor signed the statement under the banner of 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 Muhammadu Buhari, and its preference for another candidate. They all got beaten together.
”NEF is merely waving a flag that is at half-mast. Buhari steadily and steadfastly focuses on the task of retooling Nigeria, and discerning Nigerians know the true state of the nation.