Northern elders: Buhari’s comments on restructuring, state police insensitive
• There should always be room for political solutions
From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has stated that President Muhammadu Buhari dos not have the final say on the contentious issues of restructuring, state police, and the release of detained agitators for self-determination.
Reacting to President Buhari’s statement in an exclusive television interview on Wednesday, spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmad said the voice of majority of Nigerians advocating restructuring must be respected.
Ahmad also said that Buhari’s fear that state police might be abused by state governors did not hold water, adding that there is federal might to checkmate such abuses.
On the release of agitators, NEF Spokesman cautioned Buhari to allow judicial process has its way, rather than heating the already tensed situation.
“The worry now is the huge distance which appears to exist between the thinking and posit of the President and those of other Nigerians.
“There is virtually unanimity on the need to restructure the country, even if the details may vary. To shut out a major issue like restructuring that could determine the future of the country is insensitive at best and contemptuous at worst.
“On state police, if the President’s objection is predicated on abuses by governors over local government assets, we have to ask what he has done to stop such abuses with his huge powers. In any case the country should work towards producing better quality of leadership at all levels so that our federal system is not held hostage to incompetence and corruption of elected leaders.
“On the release of agitators, we have made our position very clear. The judicial process should be allowed to determine whether they are guilty of threatening our existence as a country or not, as well as their involvement in criminal activities.
“There should always be room for political solutions, but they must not cause more damage that already exists,” Baba-Ahmad said.
APC has jettisoned its campaign promises –PANDEF, MBF, SOKAPU
By Vincent Kalu
The midweek television interview in which President Muhammadu Buhari spoke extensively on some contentious national issues, while fielding questions from his interviewers, have continued to attract reactions from across the country.
National President of PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, wondered why the president and his ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), would jettison what was a campaign promise on which they rode into power.
“If after six years, going to seven, he came out to bluntly tell Nigerians that there is nothing like restructuring, it means they have to look for a saviour that would restructure Nigeria in some other party. Nobody can say, ‘no’ to restructuring because Nigeria can never have peace until it is restructured.”
National President of Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu, agreed with Essien when he mentioned the case of Katsina State taken out of then Kaduna State, which in terms of population is about one third of the state. Yet it was given 34 local governments areas while Kaduna has less than 30, he pointed out. “This thing happened all over the North and today, we base everything on local governments, whether it is primary elections, revenue allocations, etc. We are all watching; everything he does is being watched and assessed. In the South-West, why would Osun have about 30 or more local government areas? What is its population? There are some local governments that were made federal constituencies just to favour a section of this country.”
He warned: “That is what created all these distortions, which has made Nigeria what it is. If we don’t correct these things so that people will no more continue to use them to destabilise this country and to override the rest, we would continue to have problems.”
Essien who expressed his disappointment with the President’s decision to veto the idea of state police, said: “State police is one of the things that will restore peace to Nigeria. Nigerians should appeal to Mr. President to reconsider his stance on the issue.”
Reacting, on the issue, Jonathan Asake, the National President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) said: “Look at the banditry and terrorism going on in the North. If our hunters and vigilantes are supported and empowered, they will be able to flush them out. But the government of the day has not got the will to do that. Whether state police or not, the political will of the leadership is not there.”
On the continuous call for the release of agitators, Essien and Pogu noted that if the President could allow political solution to be applied in resolving the issue of Boko Haram members who allegedly repented, by reintegrating some of them into the society and security forces, then what is good for the goose is good for the gander, in the case of Nnamdi Kanu.
“Otherwise it might be construed that the President has special hatred for the South-East and the South as a whole. If the Boko Haram members are given amnesty and political solution, they are also murderers; so, it should apply also the Kanu,” Pogu added.
Asake lamented that whereas the Minister of Justice and Attorney General was quick to gazette the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization, he is only doing that of the bandits one month after, and tagged it a clear case of nepotism.
Afenifere, YCE to Buhari: You’re not being properly briefed
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
For restating his opposition to state police and restructuring, and for saying he would not consider any political solutions in the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), President Muhammadu Buhari has come under attack from the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organisation, Afenifere, and the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE).
In separate interviews with Saturday Sun on Friday, the two leading Yoruba groups contended that the statements made by Buhari during a recent interview, showed that he had either lost touch with reality, or he was not being properly briefed by people around him on the true situation of things in the country.
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Jare Ajayi, said: “It’s so sad that in spite of various advocacies that have been made, in spite of the appeals and agitations that have been made along this line, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could still maintain the kind of stand he enunciated in his interview, because these are the areas where the solutions to the multi-various problems that Nigeria has, lie.”
Secretary-General of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, also noted Buhari “was expressing his personal opinion and to my opinion, he has not been able to really see himself as combining his personal opinion with the headship of Nigerian state. So, one wonders if he is truly really very patriotic, as some of us have held him to be.”
On restructuring, Afenifere stated that: “There is no way Nigeria can do without restructuring. So, it is a pity that Mr. President has not seen that.” But YCE is pushing for a new constitution for the country, saying the 1999 constitution is a fraud and that the 1963 and 1958 Constitutions of Nigeria should be the way to go. He added that the new constitution would ensure restructuring of the country into a truly federal system.
Olajide said: “You cannot compel us to live under a unitary system. In fact, I don’t agree with restructuring because it really should be one of the byproducts of a new constitution. A new constitution is what will ease the problem of Nigeria.”
Reacting to tBuhari’s opposition to state police, Afenifere stated: “By saying no to state police, he is saying that Nigeria is no longer being run under a federal system because state police is a component of the federal system of government, which means each layer of government, federal, state and local should have their own security outfits. When I was growing up, I knew native authority police (akoda) of the native council, which is an equivalent of local governments today. It made taking care of security at the local level easier.”
But for YCE, Olajide said: “There is no country in the world as diverse as Nigeria that has a centralized police system. One, Nigeria is made up of different ethnic groups with different culture, history, habits, backgrounds and religions. When you are bringing different people together to form a country, they must sit down to agree on the basis of their union. That is what gave birth to the United States in 1776. The 13 colonies had to sit together to agree on powers to be ceded to the centre and the powers that each of them would hold in the federating units. So, you cannot run Nigeria as under a unitary system of government and unitary system of security.
“On the issue of no political solution to free self-determination agitators like Nnamdi Kanu and Chief Sunday Adeyemo, better known as Sunday Igboho, everything about that issue is political. For the president to say there is no political solution, it means he is not been realistic. He is not in touch with reality because the whole issue is political. This is giving us an impression that those who surround the president are not briefing him properly for him to be in touch with reality.
And, through their spokesman, the Yoruba elders noted: “There is no where in the world where any president rules out political solution to a problem. Even, people who committed murder, they were granted amnesty after some time in incarceration. For me, such a blanket statement is misplaced. Igboho did not breach any of the Nigerian laws. He was exercising his fundamental human rights. He expressed his opinion that he wants his people to go with him to a separate country. It was his opinion. In United Kingdom, it happens that citizens can abuse the Prime Minister and nothing will happen. We never heard that Igboho killed anybody anywhere. So, for Igboho, it has to be a political solution. Though I don’t know much about Nnamdi Kanu, the president cannot rule out political solution. It was not a mischief, but a misplaced statement.”