Viewpoint

April 23, 2024

Which Northern elders is Marafa speaking for?

OPINION: Sen Marafa and the pontification of honour

By Deyemi Saka

Some few weeks ago, it was widely reported that “the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed regrets and sadness that the region voted for President Bola Tinubu in 2023”. In the said report, it was further claimed that; “the region will prioritize unity and consensus in selecting a candidate for the highest office in the land”.

This claims were made by Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spokesman of the forum, on the strength that the President got the highest number of votes from the region among the three leading contestants at the last presidential election, and also because the region gave him the highest votes compared to other regions.

It is safe to say the bloated sense of entitlement, importance and obvious demonstration of poor education of nationhood was rejected, and wholesomely condemned by the region with the most appropriate response coming from the current Honourable Minister of State for Defence, HE. Bello Muhammed Matawalle. He described the group of “elders” as a burden to the region and paperweights.

In the wave of condemnation and denouncing of the group’s stance, an official statement was released by the group disowning the earlier report and in its denial, one will see a sense of patriotic duty and commitment to nation building and repairs.

In the newly released statement, it was stated that; “The attention of NEF has been drawn to a statement credited to the Forum by media – that the North regrets voting for President Bola Tinubu.

“NEF wishes to distance itself from the statement as it did not emanate from the Forum as it is the opinion of the person in his personal capacity and not that of NEF.

“Thus, the statement credited to NEF does not reflect the position of the Forum as it has never sat and assessed performance or non-performance of Tinubu administration.

“Similarly, NEF has never discussed, in any time, the politics of 2027, nor has it deliberated on who to support or not to support on such issues.

“The NEF considers it too early to be engaged in such distractions when NEF, like most Nigerians, are demanding good governance and dividends of democracy.

“NEF, for now prefers to, focus on advocating for what improves the northern region and Nigeria as a whole.

“The NEF charges leaders to always verify and authenticate information and treat issues within their specific contexts before making public pronouncements.”

To all rational minds, the new statement issued by the NEF has laid the matter to rest, and this is why the recent attempt by Senator Kabiru Marafa to resurrect a dead issue is an obvious act of mischief, an effort to seek relevance, and a projection of an obscured profile into national consciousness.

In his(Marafa) feeble attempt at his image revival, he claimed the Minister was out of order for negatively portraying the Northern elders, and ought to have listed the achievements, programmes, and policies, projects of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the North and the country as a whole in the first 10 months of the administration.

It is highly hypocritical that many who either lost their voice or never had it in the eight years of Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency which never dignified the live of an average northerner or interested in improving their lives through purposeful and productive leadership are now blasting like a hot furnace because the present occupier of the highest office of the land is not from their region? For how long does the North play such primitive politics?

It is also noteworthy to educate Senator Marafa and his co-travellers that the North alone didn’t make Asiwaju Bola Tinubu the president, and no single region can make or mar a political ambition. Our constitution made it so.

To also claim the North has a culture of not “disrespecting” their elders, I’d love Marafa to know that it is not only peculiar to the North, it is a common age-long cultural practice among all regions and Africa. What is also a cultural practice is always speaking the truth and standing by the truth irrespective of whose ox is gored. The sustained tradition of hounding people to silence in a bid to sustain the status quo which has made the region underdeveloped with high levels of poverty and illiteracy by elevating selfish politicians to the status of celestial beings is what HE Matawalle confronted and decisively dealt with.

This is the height of mischief as he attempts to project himself to be on the side of the people. I believe any and every good student of history will and should never take this media stunt by Marafa seriously or see it as an altruistic action. We are all living witnesses to how he denied his party, APC, the governorship of Zamfara State in 2019 on the altar of insatiable personal ambition. His relentless litigation in his pursuit of his selfish political agenda saw to the People’s Democratic Party and HE Bello Matawalle get into office. He was going to do the same, and there is a strong assertion among the people of Zamfara that his rising unpopularity and his greed cost the party the All Progressive Congress the governorship of Zamfara State in 2023.

*Deyemi Saka is a public affairs analyst and PR Consultant