ADDRESS BY THE COALITION OF NORTHERN GROUPS DURING VISIT TO THE CHAIRMAN NORTHERN ELDERS FORUM, PROFESSOR ANGO ABDULLAHI
July 16, 2019
With due respect sir, we are here today as we dutifully agreed to update you on developments since our last press conference at which we reviewed the current state of the nation in relation to the Northern region.
We noted the unceasing disturbances in the polity with particular concern to the security situation in the North and the various reactions from the South.
We emphatically repudiated the attempt at vilifying, profiling and isolating the Fulani herders and exposing them to stigmatization and attacks in many parts of the country.
We specifically placed the Federal Government on a 30-day notice to halt the harassment, intimidation and forceful expulsion of the Fulani instigated by southern leaders. We also urged state governors to give peace a chance by re-considering their hard stance against the federal government’s resettlement initiatives for the pastoralists.
Our submission naturally drew the usual varied responses with the ones that actually matter, coming from the Northern Governors Forum and the Northern Elders Forum which we feel obliged to acknowledge.
Heeding your fatherly advice, we stayed action and agreed to utilise the engagement window provided by your Forum and that of the Northern Governors.
We have had an interface with the leadership of the Governors Forum on Tuesday 16th July at which we had fruitful discussions with far reaching mutual commitments and anticipations.
While we appreciate the concern and committed undertaking of the northern governors, we are however not really convinced that states do have the required wherewithal to carry out such a capital intensive project without intervention from other sources.
Within the grace period since our last statement, we watched with concern the escalation of the collective resolve of the southern leaders in rejecting every initiative for the resettlement of the Fulani which did not preclude the use of inciting and provocative languages to instigated hatred against northerners, particularly herders living in the South.
Specifically, the southern governors had on 9th July gone ahead to issue a joint decision to stop the unhindered movement of herders and cattle in all the southern states.
The governors even arrogated to themselves powers to decide which category of herdsmen can be allowed to live in the South and others whom they tagged as criminal elements.
This resolution by the governors had inspired the Ohanaeze youth to issue a one-week ultimatum after which they would force all herders in the South to comply with the movement restriction imposed by their governors.
Also within the same period, some section of the southern leadership had introduced a fresh round of instigations by indiscriminately blaming the death of the daughter of the Afenifere leader Fashoranti on the Fulani and threating reprisals on northerners contrary on the spot account of her own driver and the official explanation by the police that the culprits were yet to be identified.
Throwing caution to the winds, Gani Adams, Fani Kayode, Yinka Odumakin and a host of other southern regionalists shamelessly insisted on changing the narratives around killing of the Fashoranti lady. In the process, they threatened all forms of violations and breaches against northerners including the threat of an all-out war.
With all these statements and steps taken by the southern governors and opinion leaders, we are worried that none of the northern governors or federal official has deemed it apt to caution them.
The failure or neglect of the police to trace a connection between the Fashoranti murder and the seeming prearranged conduct of Fani Kayode, Odumakin and Adams by their haste to shift the blame in order to render the Fulani object of attack is certainly suspicious.
We are concerned about the sincerity of the federal government in implementing the NLTP going by the manner previous efforts at executing development projects like the Mambila hydro-electric power project and several initiatives on the herdsmen dilemma were invariably stalled.
We are equally worried that the NLTP is vested in the office of the vice president that is believed to have frustrated previous project meant for the north.
We find it difficult to trust the commitments of this government which has for the past four years failed to execute any positive initiative towards resolving the herders problems nor shown any encouraging concern for the dilemma of the Fulani who have been attacked in various states.
Based on the above observations sir, and the fact that the instigation of hatred against the Fulani persists, we feel obliged to advice the leadership of the Northern Elders Forum to consider calling on the Fulani to forego their right to live and flourish anywhere in the south and relocate to their various states in the north to ensure their safety noting the inherent return value of such denial.