Northern Elders Forum has pledged support for Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, urging him “to exercise responsibility, as he did in the past, with commitment, sensitivity and respect for the constitution.”
The Forum in communiqué issued at the end of its emergency meeting held in kano at the weekend while praying for the full recovery President Muhammadu Buhari and his return to duty, commended “the steadfast respect for the Constitution in the manner the President assigns responsibility to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo whenever it has become necessary for him to travel for medical treatment.”
The Communiqué was signed by the forum’s leaders, namely, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, Magajin Rafin-Zazzau, and AVM Mouktar Mohammed (rtd).
According to them, “the Northern Elders Forum has followed national issues very closely, particularly in the past few months when our democracy, political unity and national security have come under serious scrutiny.”
The Forum said that as it is its tradition, the Forum “restrained from idle and unproductive engagements which only divert attention and dissipate energy of leadership at all levels, and create tensions where none are necessary.
“At this moment, it has become necessary to state the following positions of the Forum.
“Like millions of other Nigerians, Northern Elders Forum prays for the return to full health of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We commend the steadfast respect for the constitution in the manner the President assigns responsibility to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo whenever it has become necessary for him to travel for medical treatment.
“We pray for the return of President Buhari in good health, so that he can continue to exercise the mandate given to him by the Nigerian people.
“The Forum expresses its full support and encouragement behind Acting President Osinbajo, and urges him to exercise responsibility, as he did in the past, with commitment, sensitivity and respect for the constitution”, the Communiqué stated.
The northern elders urged the Acting President to ignore mischief which seeks to pitch him against the President or the Nigerian people whose mandates they both exercise.
“The Forum expects that the task of governing the nation will continue uninterrupted until the return of President Buhari. We therefore appeal to all persons with responsibility to cooperate fully to sustain a united, focussed and committed administration.
“While commending the sterling contributions of Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara in providing the necessary leadership to stabilize the polity, we appeal to the executive and legislative arms of government to work together to pass the 2017 budget without further delay.
“We also expect that the war against corruption will not suffer a setback, and current investigations and activities will not be stalled due to the absence of President Buhari.
“We are aware that attempts are being made to exploit the absence of President Buhari to achieve dubious political goals, and we warn those seeking undeserved political advantages to desist.
“The North is conscious of its obligations and rights, and will discharge and defend them without reservations.
“The Forum has noted a renewed interest in the clamour for political restructuring of the nation, and sentiments which tend to create tensions around our coexistence as a nation that is diverse and united.
“For the record, the Forum wishes to state that the North welcomes honest and sincere discussions on all aspects of our existence, and remains available to engage any group to discuss and advance the nature of our union.
“We will resist the attempts to create the false impression that the North is hostile to enquiries into the basics of the nation’s structures and operations.
“We will also join other Nigerians in resisting any attempt to seek sectional and parochial goals outside the constitution and the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘The Forum welcomes the release of more of our daughters abducted from Chibok, and appeals to the administration to intensify efforts to free all other abducted persons from Boko Haram.
“The Forum invites attention to all persons who exercise leadership responsibilities to be sensitive to the fact that they need to work much harder to reduce poverty, youth delinquency and unemployment.
“Northern Governors in particular are reminded that they carry huge responsibilities to exercise mandates which expire in 2019.
“The Forum stands ready to assist in improving good governance and accountable leadership”, the elders pledged.