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April 14, 2024

Tinubu: Rumble in the North as Defense Minister fires back at northern elders

Kano Emirate tussle: Wade in now before it degenerates into chaos - Ulamas to Tinubu

Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu

•Matawalle calls ‘threats’ to President ‘reprehensible, naive’

By Charles Kumolu& Kingsley Omonobi

The famed political bond among leaders of northern extraction appears threatened by perceptions about the contributions of President Bola Tinubu’s administration to the North.

Leaders of the region have surprisingly squared up against themselves, giving a glimpse of what appears like a growing division over what they viewed as the presidency’s attitude towards the North.

In an open display of this discontent, the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Bello Mattawale, yesterday, attacked the Northern Elders Forum, a body of eminent northern leaders, for daring to say they regretted voting for the President in 2023.


Spokesman for the body, Abdulaziz Sulaiman, had noted that in subsequent polls, particularly the 2027 general elections, the North would give preference to unity in selecting a candidate for the presidency.

His words:”The North made a mistake in voting Bola Tinubu to the presidency in 2023, and it is unlikely that they will repeat the same error in the future.

“They have learned from their past misstep and will strive to select a candidate who can unite the country and govern in the best interests of all Nigerians.

“Moving forward, the North will be more cautious in selecting a candidate for the presidency. They will prioritize someone who is seen as more inclusive, less controversial, and more aligned with the interests of all regions of the country.
“The mistake of supporting Tinubu in 2023 has taught them the importance of unity and consensus in selecting a candidate for the highest office in the land.’’

But Matawalle, in his riposte, said: “NEF is a group that has refused to accept reality and is living in delusion.

He described the forum as a political paperweight trying to embark on a destructive journey that would bring the North to disrepute for selfish gains.


The minister said this in a statement titled: Northern Elders Forum: A Political Burden To The North. They Do Not Speak For The Region.

His words: “My attention has been drawn to the threats issued by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which is ‘reprehensible and naive’. It is preposterous for a group of people seeking political relevance to overburden the system and create political disunity among Nigerians.

“The so-called NEF is more or less a political paperweight trying to embark on a destructive journey that will bring the North to disrepute for the group’s personal and selfish gains.

”This NEF is more of a political burden to Northerners. The group is seeking to erode other people’s rights to be recognised or made relevant in the scheme of things despite the failure of their sponsored candidates in the 2023 general election.

‘’In as much as many have overlooked them in respect of their utterances, it is pertinent to underscore their overbearing attitude on issues that affect political unity and cohesion. They can not offer any positive idea or thought about the future of Northern Nigeria or, indeed, of Nigeria and its unity and togetherness.

‘’We all know President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR won the February 2023 presidential election convincingly. So, who is the NEF to want to undermine the president’s victory and even threaten to unseat him?

‘’This same group of people have intentionally shied away from their responsibility of engendering unity in the North by appreciating the incremental development being brought to the North by Ministers appointed by President Tinubu from the North, especially North West. ‘’The NEF has not deemed it fit to seek an audience with Mr President to discuss issues affecting the Northern region despite the numerous challenges facing the North as rightly highlighted by the President and being addressed by him.

“The group has yet to visit any of the ministers dealing with issues of security, agriculture, water resources, police affairs, education, health, budget, foreign affairs, or any head of security agencies in the country so far for first-hand knowledge of government programs and actions.

The majority of them are more interested in faulting the government to be recognised or accorded some relevance.


“Our region, the North, is united, disciplined and politically driven enough not to listen and accept being teleguided by any group of elites who had fed fat in the past on the North’s resources and opportunities which had retarded development in the region and nation due to their selfishness.

“President Tinubu is poised to do a lot for the North as President of Nigeria, elected by the people of Nigeria, not by one ethnic group or the other, therefore, anyone mistakenly seeing President Tinubu as a failure or a weakling is making a mistake and should rethink.

“Such a person or group is either blind or misguided and unable to see the new Nigeria that is emerging.
“Therefore, the NEF’s statement allegedly expressing regret for voting for President Tinubu is unfortunate.
“NEF is not more than a group that has refused to accept reality and is living in delusion.

The truth is that the North is proud of its support and vote for President Tinubu and will continue to be proud of her relationship with the President given the enormous change and development his government has brought to the region.
“My advice to NEF and others alike is to support the present government and join hands with President Tinubu GCFR to further move the country forward.”

Meanwhile, the NEF’s position wasn’t the first time leaders of northern extraction were expressing mixed feelings about the situation in North and the region’s support for the President in 2023.

An Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, had during one of his sermons recently, attacked Tinubu, accusing him of appointing Southern Christians into key positions, saying the President would not get a second term in office.

The lawmaker representing Bauchi Central in the Senate, Abdul Ningi, had also said things were getting worse under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He said President Tinubu seemed not to understand the country and the issues affecting its components, especially the North.

“But the most painful thing is that Northerners stood for him and did all they could to bring him to power, but unfortunately, there was no agreement between them and the President on what should be done to the North and the Northerners, especially taking into consideration the importance and significant projects that the North has been yearning and aspiring to get for a long time. For example, the Ajaokuta project, the Mambilla power project, the dredging of River Niger and other notable projects,” Ningi noted.

Vanguard News Nigeria