The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has again faulted the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari over what it called failure to tackle the security situation in the country, especially in the northern part.
Prof Ango Abdullahi on behalf of the forum said the nation’s security situation was getting out of proportion.
According to him, the constant attacks by bandits and Boko Haram insurgents are indications that the government “has failed woefully” to protect her citizens.
However, Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, in his reaction described the Northern Elders Forum as “a mere irritant”. He described the group as a “one-man army” which is driven by political interests and its dislike for the president.
Abdullahi, a former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria had said, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) is alarmed at the rising insecurity of communities and their properties in the North. Recent escalation of attacks by bandits, rustlers and insurgents leave the only conclusion that the people of the North are now completely at the mercy of armed gangs who roam towns and villages at will, wreaking havoc.”
He observed, It would appear that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and governors have lost control over the imperatives of protecting people of the North, a constitutional duty that they swore to uphold.
“The situation is getting worse literally by the day as bandits and insurgents appear to sense a huge vacuum in political will and capacity which they exploit with disastrous consequences on communities and individuals.”
Abdullahi said the north has never experienced this level of insecurity, adding that the president and his administration only issue empty threats which the bandits know.
“As a responsible body, the forum has joined millions of others in prayers and in giving advice and encouragement to all authorities that have responsibility to protect our communities. It is now time to say, enough is enough. Our people are known for their patience and respect for constituted authorities, but all governments must be aware by now that all Northerners have been pushed to the wall.”
Abdullahi added that, “The forum is aware that some citizens are contemplating peaceful protests, which are their constitutional rights, to draw attention of President Buhari and all levels of authority to the plight of people of the North.
“The forum urges all citizens to conduct themselves in peaceful and responsible manner, and it urges governments to respect the rights of citizens to express their opinions peacefully.”
He said the forum was already meeting with other organisations to work out an effective approach to the issue. “The Forum reminds President Muhammadu Buhari that provision of security and pursuit of economic welfare of citizens are the only two constitutional responsibilities of the state which all leaders must achieve.”
He lamented that “Our current circumstances in the North clearly demonstrate that President Buhari’s administration has woefully failed to achieve either. This is unacceptable. We demand an immediate and comprehensive improvement of our security in the North. We are tired of excuses and verbal threats which criminals laugh at, and our fellow citizens see as a clear failure of leadership which they see as part of them. Enough is enough.”
Adesina in his statement said, “We are not surprised by this latest statement by Prof. Abdullahi, and our past position on what his group represents remains unchanged: a mere irritant and featherweight.”
The presidential spokesman continued, “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-organization that boasts of no credible membership, and its leader is akin to a General without troops.”
He said the group was a “one-man army” and had shown its “antipathy” against Buhari before the 2019 presidential election, but was “beaten together” with its preferred candidate.