By Ibrahim Wuyo, Kaduna
The Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, has responded to certain issues raised by the Southern Governors Forum, saying while the North may not be opposed to the democratic and credible transfer of power to any competent person from any section of the country, the North will not support power moving to the zones of those that are using threats, violence and falsehood as a means for political ascendancy.
CNG said specifically, its attention was drawn to “the audacious resolve of the Southern Governors to shield felons, arsonists and mass atrocity perpetrators in their midst by challenging the prerogative of the federal government to enforce law and order in all parts of the country and to protect the state and innocent citizens from persons and groups whose conduct constitute grave threats to national security and public safety.”
The Northern Coalition in a statement signed by its Spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, noted that “the gang up against the North, in particular, to force a regional shift of the presidency in 2023 by whatever means and tactics, including those that are clearly undemocratic.”
“We also note the insistence by the Southern Governors on the retrogressive Anti grazing law that aims to selectively imperial the business of cattle herding and threaten the legitimate presence of pastoral communities in the South, irrespective of whether they are part of a crime committed or not.”
“Having made these points clear, the CNG hereby wishes to address specific issues arising from the threats revealed the communique released by the Southern Governors.”
“That the desperation of the Southern Governors to shield the assortment of criminals incite and carry out onies, attacks, and wanton destruction of lives and properties of other citizens and national security assets has exposed the level of their complicity in the operations of the armed terrorist groups in the South.”
“That their support for treasonable felony, by the subtle endorsement of the activities of such criminal separatist forces led by the likes of Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu, by warning the nation’s security agencies against operating in the region without obtaining permission from the governor of the particular state is a matter that must be given the seriousness it deserves.”
“That it is ironic for such leaders of a society that delights in unleashing mayhem against fellow citizens of other regions at the slightest of pretexts, to expect the other sections of the country to trust them or any of their proteges with presidential powers.”
“That the Southern Governors resolutions in that regard has further exposed a deliberate attempt to impose a contentious system of the rotational presidency that turns all democratic norms and accepted indices of our national demography on their heads; a rotation system that is clearly aimed at achieving dubious political goals; and one clearly designed to weaken the North.”
“That the Southern Governors’ threat to impose and enforce this undemocratic leadership selection process on the North, irrespective of its advantage of numerical superiority and inherent political sophistry, is part of a calculated design to continuously weaken our region politically and pauperize it economically.”
“That this conspiracy is actively perpetrated with the connivance of some northerners and accommodated by the personal ambition of a few of those that present themselves as northern political leaders.”
“That inevitably, the immediate trigger to the Lagos pronouncements was the collaborative assurances by the former Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima and the Kaduna State Governor Nasir Elrufai given just two days earlier.”
On National Security and zoning, the CNG categorically affirmed that the North will not be stampeded or blackmailed into taking major decisions around rotating the presidency and shall insist that only a candidate who is competent and able to unite and secure Nigeria should be President in 2023, irrespective of where he or she comes from.
CNG, therefore, warned the Southern Governors and their northern collaborators that any attempt to ride on the back of such gratuitous insults to democratic Fairplay and crass political opportunism, to hoist incompetent leadership on the nation in the name of rotation would not be accepted and shall be vehemently resisted.
“We specifically warn Kashim Shettima, Nasir Elrufai and other northern collaborators, of the futility of pursuing their personal exploits for the vice presidency through this impossible battle to hand over our future and the entire North to interests that see a united and numerically superior North as a major political obstacle.”
“On their part northern collaborators, one of whom led, and the other is leading administrations that have acquired the reputation of being the worst in the history of their respective states in terms of any capacity to generate confidence in achieving credible goals, should note that there the extent of their collaboration would not go unnoticed, and in the fullness of time, they will be called to account.”
“We call on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to disband all militias and armed groups in Nigeria by resort to the use of force if needs be, to ensure that no group has the capacity to challenge the State in its prerogative to maintain law and order and protect citizens’ lives and properties.
On Anti-grazing law”
“We emphatically repudiate the insistence on passing of the Anti grazing law by the Southern Governors that potentially jeopardizes the lives and property of pastoral communities in the South and call on the federal government to ensure their right to freedom of movement is not impeded by any legislation or obstacle imposed by a state or a community.”
“We invite all northerners to note that clearly, the pattern drawn from these strategies employed by the Southern Governors and elites are to achieve the results that the events of 1966 failed to realize, namely the destabilization of the country and in particular, bringing the North down on its knees by political and economic incapacitation.”
The group said while the North may not be opposed to the democratic and credible transfer of power to any competent person from any section of the country, the North will, for the avoidance of doubt, not support such power moving to the zones of those that are using threats, violence and falsehood as a means for political ascendancy.
“Our demands are further justifiable on the ground that if there was any rotation agreement in the All Progressives Congress APC in particular, that agreement had been invalidated when Chief Rochas Okorocha contested against Buhari at the 2015 APC Presidential Primaries.”
“The North is represented by 250 ethnic groups whose right to aspire to the presidency would be circumvented by delusional rotatory principles and these include people of Yoruba ancestry who belong to the geopolitical North.”
“The North Central Zone has not had any representation in top executive positions of President/Vice president since return to democracy in 1999 and so has even legitimate basis to aspire for the presidency in 2023.”
“Finally, while we remain vigilant over the direction and fate of our nation, it should also be clear that the North is a major stakeholder in whatever happens in and to Nigeria, and the South will be making a terrible mistake if it assumes that we’re a mere pushover to be turned into marginal elements in all calculations on the future of our nation.”
“And though the North will continue to play a significant role in the affairs of the nation, it will however not allow its people and what God has blessed us with; human population to be taken for granted for those who have for years”
“We, therefore, urge the northern intellectuals, the cultured section of our politicians, the professionals, the elders and the general northern public to mobilize to resist this onslaught of the Southern Governors and elites to intimidate us into abandoning the defences of our interests, in spite of the fact that the North enjoys an overwhelming voter strength to decide any election any day.”
“And in the best tradition of our founding fathers, we will continue to work for an inclusive society that provides at least the most minimal of equal opportunities for all Northerners and Nigerians,” the group said.