The Presidency on Sunday attacked the convener of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, after the forum lambasted President Muhammadu Buhari for the inability of his administration to arrest the worsening security situation in the northern parts of the country.
In a statement on Sunday, by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, rather than address the issues raised said Abdullahi and his group are mere irritant with no political value.
”We are not surprised by this latest statement by Prof. Abdullahi, and our past position on what his group represents remains unchanged: a mere irritant and featherweight.
”The former vice-chancellor signed the statement under the banner of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
”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.
“NEF is a quasi-organisation that boasts of no credible membership, and its leader is akin to a General without troops.
”Before the 2019 presidential election, the one-man army called NEF had shown its antipathy against President Buhari and its preference for another candidate. They all got beaten together.
”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,” Adesina said.
The elders forum had in statement decried the level of insecurity in the northern region. In a statement on Sunday, Abdullahi, said the north has been pushed to the wall following unabated attacks on its people by criminal elements while Buhari issues empty threats.
The statement reads, “We are alarmed at the rising insecurity of communities and their properties in the North.
“Recent escalation of attacks by bandits, rustlers and insurgents leave the only conclusion that the people of the North are now completely at the mercy of armed gangs who roam towns and villages at will, wreaking havoc.
“It would appear that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and governors have lost control over the imperatives of protecting people of the North, a constitutional duty that they swore to uphold.
“The situation is getting worse literally by the day. Bandits and insurgents appear to sense a huge vacuum in political will and capacity which they exploit with disastrous consequences on communities and individuals.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the people of the North have never experienced this level of exposure to criminals who attack, kill, maim, rape, kidnap, burn villages and rustle cattle, while President Buhari issues threats and promises that have no effect.
“The situation under which our communities from Kogi to Borno States, from Sokoto to Taraba States live is no longer tolerable.
“As a responsible body, the Forum has joined millions of others in prayers and in giving advice and encouragement to all authorities that have the responsibility to protect our communities. It is now time to say, enough is enough.
“Our people are known for their patience and respect for constituted authorities, but all governments must be aware by now that all Northerners have been pushed to the wall.
“The Forum is aware that some citizens are contemplating peaceful protests, which are their constitutional rights, to draw the attention of President Buhari and all levels of authority to the plight of people of the North.
“The Forum urges all citizens to conduct themselves in a peaceful and responsible manner, and it urges governments to respect the rights of citizens to express their opinions peacefully.
“The Forum is also consulting other groups and organisations which share its goals and concerns to lend our voices to the demands for action and relief from the unremitting assaults on our lives and livelihood as Northerners.
“The Forum reminds President Muhammadu Buhari that provision of security and pursuit of the economic welfare of citizens are the only two constitutional responsibilities of the state which all leaders must achieve.
“Our current circumstances in the North clearly demonstrate that President Buhari’s administration has woefully failed to achieve either. This is unacceptable.
“We demand an immediate and comprehensive improvement of our security in the North.
“We are tired of excuses and verbal threats which criminals laugh at, and our fellow citizens see as a clear failure of leadership which they see as part of them. Enough is enough.”