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More facts have now emerged on how the Second Republic Political Adviser, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, led some northern elders to form a parallel body within the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF).

The emergence of Yakasai-led Northern Elders Council, Sunday Sun gathered, might not be unconnected with the drama that played out during the last meeting of Northern Elders Forum held in Kaduna on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 under the leadership of Ambassador Yusuf Sule Maitama. The NEF had written to the Northern Traditional Council for a joint meeting to discuss the state of insecurity, unemployment and poverty in the country, and the north in particular.

The letter dated December 2, 2013 was written by the Chairman of the Elders’ Forum, Ambassador Maitama, and it was entitled, Request for the Gracious Approval of His Royal Eminence to Hold a Joint Meeting of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), and the Council of Northern Traditional Rulers.

However, a sharp disagreement ensued when a top security Chief represented by General Sarki Yaki Bello (Retd), Governors of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda, his Niger State counterpart, Muazu Aliyu Babangida, represented by his deputy, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, and Kaduna State’s Mukhtar Ramalan Yero stormed the venue of the meeting without a formal invitation.

Consequently, some officials of the elders’ forum requested that the uninvited guests be walked out of the meeting, but some elders opposed the motion, insisting that the three governors and the representative of the security chief should be allowed to attend the meeting. While some members of the elders’ forum felt that the embarrassment meted out to the concerned officials was unwarranted, those on the other side of the fence saw their intrusion as an insult to the group. After a prolonged disagreement, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, was said to have politely walked the representative of the security Chief and the three governors out of the meeting on the insistence of the elders before Maitama was given the go-ahead to read the letter to the audience.
Sunday Sun gathered that the formation of NEC as a parallel body to the NEF was the fallout of the drama that ensued during the meeting. Deputy leader of the NEF, Dr. Paul Unongo, an elder statesman from Benue State, told Sunday Sun that the invasion of the meeting by the security chief’s emissary and the governors was most insulting to the elders because they came as uninvited guests. “When we organized the meeting based on the letter we had written to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar , we decided to come to Kaduna. But on arrival, we saw people we didn’t invite. We saw government delegations and governors.

And strangely, they are governors from mainly one political party. We also saw some security personnel. We suspected that this was a very unusual development. Why the huge presence of government, a political party and security men? We felt that this was a discussion between fathers and children. So we felt it was funny,” Unongo said. The Northern Elders’ Forum has consistently maintained that President Goodluck Jonathan should not seek re-election in 2015 since he refused to obey the zoning arrangement for the presidency. They also blame the pervasive poverty and general insecurity in the country on the present administration.

Unongo, a member of the PDP, further stressed that any attempt by the President to return to power would amount to an abomination, threatening to join All Progressives Congress (APC) for the sole aim of ensuring the defeat of PDP and President Jonathan in the coming polls.
“What is happening now is an abomination. Why should we keep on extending tenure? It has destroyed the much needed harmony. Nigeria is bigger than any one of us. And, of course, it is not as if President Jonathan is doing anything fantastic or an incredible thing that nobody else can do. So, he wants us to go to sleep and allow him to do another four years with all the problems, all the agitations, insecurity, cry of marginalization in the country? It is time for the north to produce the next President,” he insisted.

On its part, the NEC has affirmed its total support for the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo in the next presidential race. Yakasai, while inaugurating the NEC last week, pointed out that recent statements on national issues by elder statesmen in the country were too inciting, adding that their responsibilities was to make peace and ensure the progress of leaders rather than to tear the people and the country apart.

He said it was based on the need to make peace in the country that the new group emerged. According to him, the aim of establishing NEC is to protect the socio-economic and political interests of the north as well as the corporate existence and stability of Nigeria as a whole.
Yakasai also applauded the excellent working relationship between President Goodluck Jonathan and his deputy, Alhaji Mohammed Namadi Sambo. “As political leader of the North, Vice President Namadi Sambo has shown total loyalty and dedication to Mr. President. We urge them to continue to work together in harmony in the interest of our nation. We are ready to partner with groups and individuals from all parts of the country who believe in dialogue, mutual respect, harmony and peaceful coexistence,” Yakasai added.

But in a swift reaction to the formation of the parallel elders’ group, Professor Ango Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) told Sunday Sun that the new groups were errand boys carrying out their masters messages. “They are hunters’ dogs, they are meant to run an errand, they have no electoral values, but some of us that have electoral value will continue to remain in the NEF,” Abdullahi said.

From NOAH EBIJE, Kaduna

Source: Radio Biafra.


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