NEF And Habitual Histrionics

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“We regret voting for Tinubu in 2023. We won't repeat such a mistake again, say Northern Elders”. That was the banner headline carved out by the media from the latest intervention of the Northern Elders' Forum, NEF, in Nigeria's political space.


I chuckled. It's an old trick. Mother Fowl knows what to do when it wants more corn.

The struggle for domination in the business of selling political-spare-parts is older than Nigeria's flag independence. In every corner of the political space, there have always been self-styled  Elders, Youths, Professionals, Critical Stakeholders, Vanguards, Progressives, Custodians and all sorts of unelected persons elbowing each other for prime access to the media space.


Northern Elders

The Northern Elders' Forum (NEF), founded eleven years ago by Prof. Ango Abdullahi, former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, is one such contraption. It claims to speak for the entire northern region of Nigeria and has vigorously pursued whatever agenda it sets itself in the geopolitics of Nigeria. There are many such elite interest groups scattered all over the country; so, NEF hasn't really done anything wrong.

I do not grudge the NEF their right to freely associate. It's a free world where other ethnic nationalities in the country are also entitled to cobble out their own special purpose vehicles for political patronage or other self serving fallouts of programmed activism.

Until recently, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed was the most visible face and spokesperson of the organisation. In the recent past, he has been the chief of staff to Senate President during the tenure of Dr Bukola Saraki. He is now a Special Adviser On Political issues in the office of Vice-President Kashim Shettima. There is something to be said for media visibility in the political space, especially when you give the impression that your exertions are altruistically based on the common good. Nigerians recognise a selfish quest even when disguised as heroism.

Last year, the NEF controversially declared that the presidential race should still be open to candidates from the Northern part of the country because the North had a deficit of four years in the Nigerian power roulette: “Since 1999, the South has ruled the country for 14 years and the North for 10 years” it said.

Many people have, over the years, wondered which North the NEF claims to be speaking for when its silence or equivocation over serious heists that have bedevilled the Middle Belt area of the region has been louder than a thunderclap? Can it truly claim to speak for every section of the North in the same way that the Ohaneze speaks for the Igbos?



The arrogant presumptuousness that attends some of its pronouncements is remarkable. During the campaigns last year, it claimed that no region had ever suffered under any leader than the North did under the Buhari administration and no region benefited from more undeserved advantages than the South did. That was at a time when nepotism had become a defining stamp of President Buhari's government and the children of political bigwigs were unfairly smuggled into juicy public appointments, thereby distorting the federal character composition of many parastatals and agencies.

NEF's claim that, at the right time, it would advise Northerners on who to vote for, was seen by analysts as proof that the elderly members of the organisation were still living in the past.

I don't play ethnic games, nor am I interested in ‘politricks'. I insist, however, that if we must navigate our way out of our serious national problems, we have to re-interrogate our assumptions, shun the “We-Vs-Them” attitude that brought the First Republic to grief, and reject blackmail as a negotiation tool.

To say all this is to reassert my right to love the North and other parts of Nigeria as I do, and help the area achieve its great potentials without pulling down the larger household. If Nigeria must exist, then it must work for all Nigerians, not just a section of it.

The Forum's recent claim that President Tinubu has failed to secure the country, and that the northern part of the country has been the most hit as a result of the president's incompetence was downright laughable, considering that, measure for measure, Buhari who hailed from the North had a poorer record (within an 11-month timeline) than the incumbent president in many areas of governance. For example, it took Buhari six months to appoint ministers. He fiddled most times while Nigeria burnt. His statements during crises were divisive. Indeed, ethnic killings became rife under his administration. Remember the Naira recolouring scandal? What about the eventual bastardisation of the Ways and Means procedure?

NEF was largely silent when it mattered most in the eight years of the Buhari government. That fact in itself does not disqualify the Forum from commenting on public affairs; it only means that it should use its tongue to count its teeth before doing so.

According to NEF's new spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the fact that the criminals were ‘allowed' to kidnap the school children was a sign of serious security lapses.

“It is unacceptable for Nigerians, particularly those in the northern region, to continue living under such insecure conditions. Unfortunately, just months into the Tinubu administration, there have already been clear signs of failure in providing the vital aspects of security of life and property to citizens.”

Many netizens are now asking NEF, where were you when the list of terror sponsors of Northern origin was released? What is your comment on the development? What solutions do you proffer?



And talking about solutions, another unelected body which describes itself as a coalition of statesmen in Nigeria under the aegis of the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), has blamed foreign invaders masquerading as religious extremists for the spate of killings and bloodshed in the country.

“Nigeria is facing a racial and cultural domination agenda disguised as religious intolerance… In Plateau and Kaduna states the owners of the land have been driven into IDP camps while the names of the villages have been changed to Fulani names. In Plateau State, over 102 villages were reportedly taken over by Fulani invaders while in Kaduna State, over 109 villages have been dislodged. The owners of the land are in IDP camps”, says NCEF.

To reset the country on the path of normalcy, the NCEF recommends the following:

Immediate implementation of the report of the 2014 National Conference.

Immediate ban of nomadic cattle rearing and abolishment of the RUGA project mooted by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Dismantling of terrorist cells and infrastructure.

Any business investor that requires land should apply for land like other citizens.

Preferential treatment should not be accorded any group in Nigeria.

The ethnic nationalities should assert their right and ownership over their ancestral land and assert the dominion of their thrones in Nigeria.

The ethnic socio-cultural groups should consider these issues in greater . The demand for devolution of power should be intensified by the ethnic nationalities.

President Tinubu should appoint a Special Investigator to conduct a Commission of Inquiry into the causes, as well as expose the actors, in the various acts of terrorism and religious insurgency that overwhelmed Nigeria since 2009.

The Forum called on the various indigenous ethnic nationalities to come together to renegotiate Nigeria.

It appears to me that, going forward, anyone who wants to be politically relevant and ‘appointable' will have to ventilate a larger, more all-encompassing vision rather than the same atavistic tricks in the service of narrow agendas which have kept the various regions of the country, especially the North, on their mendicant knees.


Congratulations, Pelumi

Hearty congratulations to the travel content creator who is the first woman to solo drive a car from London to Lagos, and now Lagos Tourism Ambassador, Pelumi Nubi. As they say in cyberlingo, Naija no dey carry last!

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