Pan-Arewa socio-political group, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has replied the presidency, clarifying that it never asked any region to secede from Nigeria.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, had tackled NEF for what he called ‘delusional arrogance’ over its comments for a particular region to leave the country.
“We are aware of the latest statement from the so-called ‘Northern Elders Forum’.
“We wish to reassure Nigerians that it remains their democratically elected leadership which takes the decisions that steer our nation–and no one else.
“No self-appointed and unelected group can take this right from Nigerians – no matter how much coverage they might enjoy in the media.
“Nigerians listen to elected leaders, not opinionated tin-gods who have no traction with any responsible group,” Shehu had said.
But NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement, yesterday, debunked the allegations.
Baba-Ahmed described Shehu’s remarks as ‘monologue castigating the Forum over fiction which only he can understand.’
He said: “The attention of Northern Elders Forum has been drawn to a Statement by Malam Garba Shehu, Special Assistant to the President on Media, claiming that the Forum has released a statement instigating a section of Nigeria to leave the country.Malam Garba Shehu’s Statement did not quote single word in the “Statement”, did not mention its signatory or its date.
“As a former journalist, he must know that no self-respecting journalist will take this Statement seriously.
“His Statement was entirely a monologue castigating the Forum over fiction which only he can understand.
“The Forum believes in the rights of all Nigerians to live in peace and aspire to their dreams.
“It believes in the utility and desirability of a united and strong Nigeria which will meet the aspirations of all citizens.
“When the Forum made comments in the past about the challenges to our union, security or governance, it always did so openly and in a responsible manner.
“It is baffling to see this unfair attribution from the Presidency, at a time when calm nerves are needed, and statesmanship should be in display.
“Northern Elders Forum restates that it made no such release, and advises leaders to note the very sensitive times in which we live at the moment.”