Chibok Girls Ultimatum: Northern Elders Fire Back at Presidency as NEC Attacks NEF
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has fired back at the presidency, saying it was indeed behinnd the October ultimatum given to President Goodluck Jonathan to rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls or forget his 2015 ambition of returning as the president of Nigeria.
An official of the forum and former vice-chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Prof Ango Abdullahi, who disclosed this during an interview with a selection of journalists in Abuja yesterday, said the group had every right as Nigerians to issue the ultimatum, adding that they were only exercising their freedom of expression.
On Monday, the forum, at press conference addressed by two of its members, Barr Solomon Dalung and Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed in Kaduna, had said that President Jonathan had until the end of October this year to produce theschoolgirls abducted in April, or face mass opposition to his re-election as president in 2015.
Reacting to the ultimatum by NEF on Tuesday, the presidency, through the senior special assistant to the president on public affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe blasted the group and said the president did not require any threat or ultimatum from the North or any group of persons for him to perform his constitutional responsibilities.
But Prof Abdullahi said his group was not surprised at the turn of events, adding that he wondered why anyone who did not know the real members of the NEF would question its membership.
“One is not completely surprised with the reaction of the presidential aide on the press conference put together by Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed and Solomon Dalung in Kaduna. First, Ithink the question with regard to whether the statement actually came from the Northern Elders Forum, perhaps they are not used to seeing other people apart from the usual persons speaking on behalf of the forum.
I want to make it absolutely clear that the press conference convened by Dr Hakeem and Dalung was convened with full knowledge and support of the Northern Elders Forum. In fact, it was a product of a meeting that took place that both translated into a press statement. So, that is to disabuse the mind of anybody who doubts thatthese two gentlemen are speaking for themselves. They are speaking on behalf of the forum.“One is surprised that someone who doesn’t know the Northern Elders Forum, should begin to question who are members and who are not members. But I want to assure listeners or readers, as the case may be, that Dr Hakeem and Dalung that convened this press conference in Kaduna did so with full knowledge of the Northern Elders Forum’s main committee. I want to clear that doubt in the mind of anybody, whether from the officialdom or from ordinary reading public,” Abdullahi said.
Meanwhile, a group of Northern elders under the aegis, Northern Elders Council, NEC, yesterday, took a swipe at the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, for asking President Goodluck Jonathan to forget about contesting in 2015 if by October, he fails to produce the Chibok Secondary School students kidnapped by the Boko Haram sect in April.
According to the group, rather than criticise President Goodluck Jonathan on the Chibok girls, the Northern Elders Forum should co-operate with him, in the collective fight against insurgency.
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Ambassador Yusufu Mamman, NEC urged the Northern Elders Forum which has former Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Coomasie as Chairman to shut up, saying they are rouble-rousers
The Northern Elders Forum had in a statement by Mr. Solomon Dalung and Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Monday, said that the “North does not believe that the Nigerian military cannot defeat the terrorists, and that the conflicts in the country were deliberately being prolonged simply to weaken the North politically and economically.
According to Mamman: “The Northern Elders Council appreciates and supports the efforts of the Federal Government in the fight against insurgency. It also appreciates the timeline as agreed by the Council of States towards ending the insurgency and similar criminal activities across the country on or before the end of the year.
“It is necessary to also appreciate our security agencies for their untiring effort and sacrifice to end the senseless killings of our fellow citizens.
“Terrorism as we are aware is a global phenomenon and any attempt to politicise it will not augur well for our country. It is time that we understood and fully appreciated the danger posed by this menace, so that we put all hands on deck and co-operate with government and our security agencies towards ending the scourge.
“Insurgency does not recognise sectional, ethnic, linguistic or cultural interests; it has no respect for them. To ensure that insurgency is nipped in the bud President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said that he will mobilise logistical and international support to ensure that our security agencies are fully provided of their needs to motivate them in surmounting the challenge posed by insecurity.
“As a measure of concern, strategy and compassion, there is the Presidential Initiative for the development of the North East region and Insurgency Victims Fund has been set up to cater for the victims and respond to the challenges posed by insurgency.
“Similarly, Nigerians and the world at large are aware that the President held a meeting with the parents of the Chibok girls, assuring them of the safe return of their children.
“Management of such delicate and complex release of hostages presupposes the primacy of having the girls alive and well by tact and carefully planned and executed strategy to ensure success.
“We call on all Nigerians to appreciate the efforts of our elder statesmen such as Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Gen Muharnmadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, including all retired Chief Justices of the Federation because of the level of their involvement in our collective will and effort to move the nation forward.”
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