While some northern governors have already endorsed Buhari for another term, the 18 northern groups –including the apex socio-cultural group Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) — warned in the communique shared with TheCable that no one “should take the North for granted”.
They also said the leadership selection process must be critically interrogated “to present the best leader to Nigeria as a whole”.
Other prominent groups that attended the summit and signed the communique are the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, Jama’atu Nasiril Islam and the northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
“The historic gains in Northern political unity secured by Northern votes in the 2015 elections have been wasted by the poor management of conflicts between and among Northern communities,” they said, adding that that most political office holders from the north “are hereby served notice that they have failed the test to lead the region towards economic recovery and growth”.
THE FULL TEXT
Communique of the Summit of Northern Groups, held at Arewa House, Kaduna, on Saturday, 24th March, 2018
Leading Northern Groups and Associations held a Summit of their leaders at Arewa House, Kaduna on Saturday 24th March, 2018. The Summit was convened to assess the security, economic and political circumstances of the North and Northern communities in other parts of Nigeria. Specifically, the Summit reviewed the worrying state of insecurity under which virtually all Northerners live; the worsening economic fortunes of the vast majority of Northerners and the options that are available to the North as it prepares to engage the political process towards the elections of 2019.
The Summit noted that in spite of notable successes by the Buhari administration against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, many Northern communities still live under its threat. In many other parts of the North, communities are routinely exposed to attacks from shadowy killers, and suspicion and anger at known and suspected killers are pitching Northerners against each other. Armed bandits terrorize rural communities almost at will, while kidnappings and abductions have assumed alarming notoriety as crimes. The nation’s security and law and order assets are stretched beyond points where they can’t provide even the most elementary confidence and protection of citizens. The North has rarely been so exposed to multiple and varied threats.
The economy of the North continues to deteriorate in spite of the evident willingness of Northerners to work hard and earn legitimate incomes. Its basic infrastructure suffers massive deficits in funding while its growing population starves from lack of critical investment in human capital development. Federal government spending is severely tilted against the North, while most State governments only pay lip service to real development in their states. Agriculture shows limited glimpses of recovery, but almost entirely through efforts of peasants and antiquated processes. The North is completely de-industrialized, while the rest of the nation moves towards sustainable growth and development. There is no evidence of bold thinking, strong political will and/or serious concern by any leadership at any level to reverse the alarming decline of the Northern economy.
Since 2015, Northerners have occupied positions with the potential to make decisive differences in the economy, security or political fortunes of the region. The hopes that leaders who have exercised power since 2015 will reverse the abuse and neglect of the region in the previous decade have been betrayed. Weak governance, gross insensitivity and unacceptable levels of incompetence have been compounded by battles of attrition in which northerners have sapped each others’ strength. Weak and incoherent responses to provocations from other parts of the country around the imperatives of re-visiting the foundations and structures of the Nigerian state have created the false image of a North without its own positions beyond survival as the parasite of Nigeria. The historic gains in Northern political unity secured by Northern votes in the 2015 elections have been wasted by the poor management of conflicts between and among Northern communities. Today Northern communities are erecting barricades against members of other communities, as well as and politicians who have failed to lead and make impacts in lives of the poor and the vulnerable are daily feeding the people with hate and resentment instead of searching for genuine and lasting solutions. In a region with enough resources for every community or trade, our people are now fighting for morsels, while leaders think of new ways to turn our misery into electoral capital.
The Summit, having undertaken a thorough analysis of the state of the North and our communities, therefore:
URGES all leaders, elders and communities to seek peaceful resolutions of conflicts between and among communities. Lives lost, injuries suffered and losses incurred in any community must be redressed firmly and fairly. The roots of co-existence and inter-dependence in all Northern communities are much deeper than the barricades being erected around communities. All persons who are involved in killings and crimes against communities must be brought to book.
DEMANDS immediate and decisive steps to improve the security of lives and economic assets in the North by the federal and state governments. Too many communities are at the mercy of attacks from sundry groups of criminals who appear to have unchallenged access to space and weapons.
APPEALS to Northern Governors and President Muhammadu Buhari to set in motion serious initiatives towards achieving higher levels of trust among Northern communities which is vital for the imperatives of peace and justice.
INSISTS that the routine denial of the rights of the North to its fair share of budgetary allocations by the federal government must cease from the 2018 budget. Northern representatives in the National Assembly must live up to their oaths to protect the rights of their constituencies to equity in the allocation of national resources.
WARNS that no Northern politician should expect to be voted for in the next general election unless they demonstrate a willingness to champion a massive assault on poverty and underdevelopment in the North. In this regard, most political office holders from the North are hereby served notice that they have failed the test to lead the region towards economic recovery and growth.
ASSERTS the rights of all Northerners to examine all options in political choices they will make in 2019. The leadership selection process must be critically interrogated to present the best leader to Nigeria as a whole. No one should take the North for granted, and it is not for sale. It will resist shedding its blood for any candidate, and will critically scrutinize all politicians who will seek our mandate. At this stage, all options are on the table, and politicians who have betrayed the hopes and mandates of our people should be prepared to suffer rejection, in the same manner the votes of the North rejected the attempt to continue with impunity, corruption and indifference of the previous regime.
ADVISES all Northerners to be alert to plans to weaken the region through the manipulation of our fears and vulnerability and our ethno-religious differences. There must be vigilant scrutiny of opportunities for manipulation by outsiders of our present challenges. We must stand up and unite against those who kill villagers in Kogi, in Zamfara, in Benue, in Adamawa, in Borno, in Kaduna, in Taraba and in every village or town. No Northern blood is more precious than others, and we can only heal if we adopt common positions to finding solutions to our problems.
INVITES attention of the rest of Nigeria that the North knows its interests and place and will defend them in the context of Nigeria. Our people are willing and eager to put our union as a nation on the table and discuss with other Nigerians the relative values of ALL options and negotiate them with responsibility and respect.
CAUTIONS the Presidency and members of the National Assembly and Governors to resist the temptation to abuse the political process in pursuit of their personal ambitions.
COMMITS to sustaining the strong interests behind this Summit through other activities and actions which will strengthen Northern unity and prepare it to extract the maximum benefits from the 2019 elections.
The Summit welcomes the release of the Dapchi girls, and urges the government to intensify efforts to secure the release of all other abducted Nigerians. It calls on the government to ensure that no abductions occur again, and all communities are sufficiently protected and young Nigerians are free to acquire education without fear.
24th March, 2018
Professor Ango Abdullahi, CON (Chairman ACF Political Committee and Convener, Northern Elders Forum)
Dr. Yima Sen (Northern Elders Forum, NEF)
Amb. Ibrahim Mai Sule (Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF)
Engr. Bello Suleiman (CODE Group)
Mataimaki Tom Maiyashi (Arewa Research Development Project, ARDP)
Zannah Hassan Boguma (Borno Elders Forum)
Nafiu Baba-Ahmed (Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria)
Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame (Northern Union)
Yerima Shettima (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF)
Alh. Mohammed Bello Kirfi, CON (North East Forum for Unity and Development)
Pastor Aminchi Habu (United Christian Leaders Eagle Eye Forum (UCLEEF)
Balarabe Rufai (Coalition of Northern Groups)
Isa Tijjani (Labour Veterans Association)
Rev. Bitrus Dangiwa (CAN Northern Chapter)
Umar Ahmed Zaria (Jama’atu Nasiril Islam (JNI)
Alh. Buba Adamah (Arewa People Unity Association)
Bilkisu Oniyang (Arewa Initiative For Good Governance)
Abdul-Azeez Suleiman (Northern Emancipation Network)