Northern elders have restated their unflinching support to President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC-led federal administration in the country.
They have also appealed to Nigerians to be patient and believe in the Buhari government, saying the president was taking steps to addressing the current challenges especially insecurity confronting Nigeria.
This came as they berated stakeholders in the region over what they described as their long silence in the face of unbearable criminal acts by herdsmen across the country thereby denting the image of the region.
The elders under the umbrella of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, in a statement on Saturday, however, commended renowned Islamic Scholar and preacher, Sheik Abubakar Gumi for taking bold steps aimed at ending the menace through consultation with the perpetrators.
In the statement signed by the group’s national coordinator,Engr. Zana Goni, the elders also back clamour by the Igbos to be included in the country’s security management, asking kinsmen to support the move as according to them, such could give the South East a sense of belonging thus deflating the tension arising from the activities of some elements in the region.
They particularly appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to consider the issue as that of national importance by immediately reviewing recent appointments of service chiefs to right the perceived wrong.
” We are deeply concerned about the wanton and brazen criminal activities of some of our Fulani kinsmen and the shameful loud conspiracy of silence by some of our notable northern elders and stakeholders that should have risen up to speak against the evil acts.
“These despicable acts by some of our kinsmen masquerading as herdsmen is highly condemnable and we must begin to speak out against them now if we must be taken seriously in Nigeria.
“The activities of some of these criminal herders started like a joke and because we kept quiet which showed that we were rather supporting them, they heightened their actions which have regrettably gotten us in this present situation,”they said.
The elders noted with regret that,”In every part of the country now, Fulanis have been tagged as the people behind Kidnappings, armed robbery and other violent crimes.”
They said,”While we must acknowledge that they may be some local collaborators, Fulanis remain the masterminds and arrowheads in most criminal activities going on across the country today”,”this is highly unacceptable and must be stopped now.”
” The unhealthy drum of war that is currently raging in Nigeria today is greatly caused by the insecurity perpetrated by actions of these our brothers and the continued silence of our elite,”they noted.
According to the group,” Threat to peace anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere and this is why we must speak out now.”
“We strongly commend some of our Northern clerics who have risen to this occasion and have started speaking out to the Fulani community, especially sheik Gumi. This singular act and many more is commendable and should be sustained,”they said.
Noting that:”Almost all the states of the federation have had their own fair share of Fulani atrocities”, the group fumed:”Is Fulani the only tribe in Nigeria?”
“We must know that this country belongs to all of us and every state and person of the federation has equal stake in the Nigerian project. No single state, person, tribe or religion, has the right to intimidate another,”the group warned.
Commenting on what it perceived as injustice to the South East region following recent appointments of security heads by President Muhammadu Buhari, the group appealed to the president to review the appointments to accommodate the Igbos.
The elders said:” We also wish to draw the attention of the our Northern elders to the continual injustice being done to the Igbo nation over the just concluded appointments of service chiefs in the country where no Igbo man from South East was appointed in a two straight appointments of service chiefs.”
According to them,”These appointments to us, remain insensitive and remain unfair until Mr President exercises his discretion by reviewing it to include at least an Igbo officer from South East.”
Noting that “Igbos are more Nigerians, more reliable than most tribes in Nigeria”,they added:”Go to any state and village in Nigeria, you will see an Igbo man doing business there.”
“How can we continue to accuse such people of not believing in Nigeria? Is it because of the actions of one fugitive known as Nnamdi Kanu and his group, IPOB,and which notable groups,leaders and stakeholders have all come out to denounce several times?”
They noted that,”As it stands in Nigeria today, every region has one security challenge with some groups championing and nobody is holding it against the region. Why is the Igbos’ own different? Why are some mischievous people using IPOB to judge the loyalty of Igbo to Nigeria? Is this fair? Obviously no.
“We believe it is nepotism that is playing out against the Igbos and we appeal to President Buhari to write his name in gold by correcting these wrongs against the South East.
While they said it was commendable that the president has sited many projects in Igbo land,they, however,said the projects are not enough because, according to them,the president was “doing the same projects in other regions where he appointed service chiefs from.”
“We humbly appeal to all Northern elders, stakeholders, opinion leaders to come out and speak for South East people at this time because what goes around must come around,”the statement said.
According to the group,”Bringing Igbo into the core security architecture would have naturally given them some sense of belonging and some of these unnecessary agitations would naturally die down.”
Noting that:”While not trying to justify some of the agitations by some groups as it is only natural for people to express their opposition to any government when they are marginalized”,they, however,said any such actions must be legally presented.
“It is sad that Igbo people cannot hold some appointments in this country since the inception of this government and this must he addressed soonest for justice and equity to reign,”they stressed.
The group, while noting that:”We mobilized and voted for president Muhammad Buhari in 2015 and 2019, respectively and vowed that “we will do it again if given the opportunity”, however said:”He must be sensitive to correct this gross marginalization against the Igbo people.”