The Northern Elders Forum said on Sunday the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had failed to secure and pilot the affairs of the Nigerian nation.
The Prof. Ango Abdullahi-led NEF stated this at a press conference on the state of the nation in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Sunday.
The Director, Advocacy and Engagements of the NEF and a former Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who read the text of the press conference, said Buhari had failed not only the North but the entire country with his style of leadership.
Notable northerners at the briefing included a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alamin Daggash (retd.); Secretary of the Coalition of Northern Groups, Abdullahi Usman; and NEF Chairman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi; Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Deputy National Chairman of NEF, Alhaji Bello Kirfi (Wazirin Bauchi); DIG Labaran Wurno, Alhaji Yakubu Shehu, former Managing Director of the defunct Bank of the North, Hajiya Amina Yahaya, among others.
Saying that they were disappointed by the Buhari regime in terms of the security of lives and property of Nigerians, the NEF called for the change of the nation’s service chiefs.
“The forum demands a thorough overhaul of the leadership of our security and public safety agencies, and the injection of higher levels of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner our troops and the police and security agencies deal with security challenges,” the forum said.
The northern elders recalled that prior to the 2019 elections, they had warned Nigerians that Buhari lacked the will, the competence and commitment to make the country a secure and prosperous nation.
The NEF said, “The forum regrets that by any standard of judgment, the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed the nation in the vital area of improving its security. Poverty, particularly in the North, and massive social security have worsened under this administration.
“The relationship between insecurity and poverty is fundamental, but the administration does not appear to have any idea on what will provide relief or solution.
“It is shocking that in spite of unprecedented consensus among Nigerians that the administration requires a new resolve, approach and leadership in the fight against the nation’s multiple security challenges, President Buhari appears either totally isolated or in deep denial over the result of his failures to secure Nigerians.
“With this type of mindset, it is difficult to see how President Buhari can accept the challenge to radically improve his handling of our security situation.
“Nonetheless, we believe that Nigerians must continue to raise our voices and organise through all legitimate means to demand that the administration address major failings in his perception of our situation and his response to our demands for our rights to security.”
The northern elders urged Buhari to do all to ensure that bandits did not divide Nigeria along religious lines.
On 2023 Presidency, the Northern Elders Forum said it would only support a candidate with the interest of the North at heart.
Meanwhile, the NEF urged 19 northern governors to mobilise and support the okada riders of northern extraction that were affected by the ban in Lagos State, to relocate to the North.
But reacting to NEF, the Presidency said the forum lacked credibility.
The Presidency said NEF was at best a one-man squad led by its Chairman, Prof Ango Abdullahi, describing NEF as the case of an army General without troops.
A State House statement by presidential media aide, Mr Femi Adesina, said NEF was all about Abdullahi and had no other credible names of worth.
The Presidency stated, “Prof. Ango Abdullahi on Sunday signed a long-winding statement on many issues relating to the North, and purportedly to the country.
“The former Vice-Chancellor signed the statement under the banner of Northern Elders Forum. Hearing that title, you would think the body was a conglomeration of true elders.
“But the truth is that NEF is just Ango Abdullahi, and Ango Abdullahi is NEF. It is a quasi-organisation that boasts of no credible membership, and its leader is akin to a General without troops.”
The Presidency recalled how ahead of the 2019 presidential poll, the NEF allegedly opposed Buhari’s bid to seek a second term by backing another candidate.
However, it said the preferred NEF candidate lost.
“NEF is merely waving a flag that is at half-mast. President Buhari steadily and steadfastly focuses on the task of retooling Nigeria, and discerning Nigerians know the true state of the nation.
“They don’t need a paper tiger to tell them anything.”