Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Chief Audu Ogbeh, responding to the claims of the Interim Chairman of the North-central Peoples’ Forum (NCPF), Chief Gabriel Aduku, said that he knows nothing about the NCPF.
In this exclusive interview with Sunday Sun, Ogbeh said that he wished the NCPF well in its endeavours, even as he said that he had no strong views about them.
The Interim Chairman of the North-central People’s Forum, Chief Gabriel Aduku, said that you are also a member of the group, is it true?
I have never heard of it.
You have never heard of it?
I have not been told anything about it.
Did you receive any invitation to the meeting?
No. I didn’t get it.
What is your take on the formation of the North Central People’s Forum?
Well, people are free to associate as they wish. But again, all these socio-cultural organisations I believe, I have no strong views about them. People should be free to associate as they wish. Like I said, we are not antagonistic to any associations anywhere, hoping that all that we are trying to do is to achieve greater cohesion and understanding in the country.
There are media reports that it is a splinter group from the ACF. Do you believe that?
I don’t think so. We have the Northern Elders Forum, we have the Middle Belt Forum and we now have what they now call the North Central Peoples’ Forum, I don’t think they are splinters in any way. I don’t think so. As far as I am concerned, my real worry is the economic and social situation of the area called Northern Nigeria which is very fragile. So, maybe everybody can bring in his or her contributions towards solving the problems facing us.
The interim chairman also said the purpose of forming the group is to bring development closer to the people. Do you believe?
Exactly! Exactly! Let everybody try whatever they can. Let every group try and bring development to the area, improve agriculture, improve industrialisation, and less violence. We thank God for whoever wants to do that.
But as the Chairman of the ACF, are you not worried that this is a kind of disintegration during your era?
No, no, no, no, no. I mean, hey, that doesn’t mean that there are no people who are from the North-central zone who are part of ACF. There are. You understand? But there is no law that says people cannot form what they want.
He also said their governors are behind them, in support of the formation of the group. How do you see the development?
I do not oppose anything, in the same way the governors are also in support of the ACF. The same governors are in support of the ACF. I wish every organisation well. As long as the objective is the development and progress of the area called Northern Nigeria, which is in very bad shape, that is very serious indeed, and we need to improve on education, on agriculture, on productivity and on peace. We need to improve on all that, especially as it concerns our younger generation coming from behind. So, I wish everybody well. They are welcome on board. As many associations as can come up with the target of improving the wellbeing and economic and social lives, they are welcome on board. And we shall all work together and cooperate to see how far we can take because what everybody must realise is that we are in very serious trouble, economic and social trouble.