The Northern Elders Forum has attracted the wrath of leading groups in the South-West, South-East and Middle Belt, For insisting that the presidency would be retained in the North in 2023 and beyond, They have slammed the Northern leaders, saying they were living in the past.
Pan Yoruba socio-cultural political organisation, Afenifere, said the Northern elders were like a drowning ship clinging to whatever it could.
Director, Research and Strategy for Afenifere, Dr Akin Fapohunda said: “They don’t know that the Middle-Belt is out.
Can they reckon with Benue, Plateau, the way it was during the civil war? Can they reckon with Southern Kaduna as part of the North?”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the gentleman’s agreement on power rotation between the North and the South should be sustained by all means.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said for justice, equity and fairness, power must rotate to the South East in 2023.
President, Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu said power shift is an arrangement by political parties, not that of northern elders.
“It is not for northern elders to determine what happens in PDP, APC or any political party for that matter. It is what the parties want to do that will carry the day. So, they are just making a political statement,” he said.
Leading Igbo groups, including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Women wing, Concerned Igbo Stakeholders Forum (CISF), and Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), slammed the spokesman of Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, for declaring that the north would retain power in 2023 and beyond.
They said Nigeria was not an estate of the north, adding that the era of one region lording it over the rest of the country was long gone.
Leader of the Concerned Igbo Stakeholders Forum (CISF), Chukwuma Okenwa, in a statement in Enugu, described such comments as very disappointing and an aspersion to the intelligence and patience of southerners.
He said such comments were capable of exacerbating the already fragile peace of the country, by further fueling secessionist movements.
For the COSEYL, it was unfortunate that a man of his standing whom the youths looked up to for better direction and guidance held such view on such important and sensitive issue.
Expressing their disappointment, President General of the group, Goodluck Ibem and Secretary General, Kanice Igwe, in a statement said the likes of Baba-Ahmed wanted Nigeria to return to pre-amalgamation, when there were Northern and Southern Protectorates.
The youth leaders said: “It is a well-known fact that the North cannot produce Nigerian President without the support of the Southern Nigerians. President Buhari had the full support of the North and he contested in 2003 and he lost.
He contested again in 2007 and 2011 and lost. He won the election in 2015 when he aligned with the Southern part of the country who voted for him and he emerged as president.
“We are very surprised that Hakeem has suddenly forgotten so soon how President Buhari emerged as president. History doesn’t lie, he should go back to history to refresh his memory.”
For the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Women Organisation, since the North was very determined to lord it over the Southern Nigeria perpetually, then they can prepare their votes and vote a President of Northern Nigeria and not a President of the entire Nigeria.
Chairman, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Abia Onyike said the northern elders were daydreaming. He said: “The North is no longer a monolithic power block today.
Unless a miracle happens, I don’t see the core North and the Middle Belt operating as one cohesive political entity. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has divided and devastated the old Northern block.”
Igbo stakeholders’ leader, Okenwa said in the spirit of equity and fairness that a president from southern extraction, specifically the South-East, should be a non-negotiable agenda.
According to him, Southern Nigeria is more united than ever; and will vehemently resist any attempt to impose a Northern President on Nigerians come 2023.
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