‘Mas­sacres big­gest chal­lenge be­fore North­ern del­e­gates’

From Hir Joseph, Lafia, Isa Saidu, Zaria, Ismail Mu­dashir, Kano & Lami Sadiq, Jos

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - Cont’d from page 1

The ma­jor con­cern be­fore del­e­gates at the on­go­ing na­tional con­fer­ence should be to fo­cus at­ten­tion on mas­sacre of in­no­cent civil­ians al­most on a daily ba­sis and to seek sup­port of their col­leagues to end it im­me­di­ately, prom­i­nent north­ern elders told Daily Trust yes­ter­day.

Dr. Paul Unongo, Malam Ab­dulka­dir Balarabe Musa, Prof Ango Ab­dul­lahi, Bar­ris­ter Solomon Da­long and Al­haji Abubakar Tsav ex­pressed these views and many oth­ers when speak­ing in sep­a­rate in­ter­views with our re­porters.

Unongo, a for­mer min­is­ter

North­ern del­e­gates should nar­rate their predica­ment to their South­ern coun­ter­parts

in Shehu Sha­gari’s govern­ment said his heart bleeds that north­ern del­e­gates will con­tinue to sit on a con­fer­ence while much of the re­gion they are rep­re­sent­ing is gripped by a daily slaugh­ter of in­no­cent people, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren.

“It wor­ried me that the del­e­gates from the North do not even have the ca­pac­ity to know that the area they are rep­re­sent­ing at the con­fer­ence of hand­picked per­sons, is deeply trou­bled, and has con­tin­u­ally suf­fered from a daily mas­sacre and slaugh­ter of in­no­cent people in large num­bers.

“Is it that they are not ca­pa­ble of be­ing both­ered that we will wake up to­mor­row to find out that there is no north be­cause the flames of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated vi­o­lence un­known to the re­gion will burn on con­tin­u­ally when those who know con­tin­u­ally re­main pas­sive,” Unongo, asked.

He told Daily Trust on phone that, act­ing in good con­science, North­ern del­e­gates have no busi­ness at the con­fer­ence. “Who are they still sit­ting there for, when the re­gion they are rep­re­sent­ing is at the risk of be­ing wiped out through care­fully spon­sored mas­sacres of their con­stituents.

“By the time they are done with the sit­ting, if it is for the sake of the sit­ting and not the in­ter­ests of their re­gion; the po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion would have been a done deal. Some­body is not think­ing, lest we would have un­der­stood that some­thing sin­is­ter and strange has come to the North; overnight, we have re­alised we do not need each other, and do not un­der­stand each other in this re­gion. And it serves a pur­pose; which is that the people in this area do not love them­selves, they love wars and are un­govern­able; that we have re­li­gious prob­lems and are back­ward.

“We have never had these kind of crises in the North; why now? Some­body is not ask­ing ques­tions. We are only in­ter­ested in sit­ting on a con­fer­ence be­cause we were hand­picked and given the priv­i­lege which mil­lions of our people do not have,” Dr. Unongo, who is also the leader of the North­ern Elders’ Fo­rum, said.

For­mer gover­nor of old Kaduna State Malam Ab­dulka­dir Balarabe Musa on his part said north­ern del­e­gates should in­ti­mate their south­ern coun­ter­parts on the true sit­u­a­tion of the in­se­cu­rity chal­lenges fac­ing them.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view, the el­der states­man said North­ern del­e­gates should use the op­por­tu­nity to nar­rate their predica­ment to their South­ern coun­ter­parts.

“If they boy­cott it, the con­fer­ence would go on be­cause the pres­i­dent wants it. And in Nigeria, this is how pol­i­tics of in­cum­bency goes. This in­se­cu­rity chal­lenge fac­ing us is a na­tional mat­ter and we are ex­pect­ing re­spon­si­ble north­ern del­e­gates to use this op­por­tu­nity to en­lighten re­spon­si­ble south­ern­ers on this prob­lem fac­ing the North so that a na­tional so­lu­tion can be given to it.

“When the Niger Delta cri­sis started, the people of the area took the rest of the people in con­fi­dence and that was why the level of degra­da­tion in the area was made to be na­tional prob­lem and they were able to get na­tional sym­pa­thy. We too should use this to get the sym­pa­thy of the people of other re­gion. Our del­e­gates should take their south­ern coun­ter­part in con­fi­dence on our plights,” he said.

The for­mer gover­nor said the people of the other parts of the coun­try are not fa­mil­iar with the true pic­ture of the in­se­cu­rity chal­lenges fac­ing the North and that as such they should be en­light­ened by the del­e­gates at the con­fer­ence.

“In spite of the loss of lives in­volved, in spite of the pos­si­bil­ity of it be­com­ing even more, there is now an­other worse thing, the cat­tle rustling. It has gone to the fea­ture of ter­ror­ism as they are sack­ing a whole vil­lage and ab­duct­ing women, this cat­tle rustling is also as mur­der­ous as Boko Haram if not more. Who is re­spon­si­ble for this Boko Haram and cat­tle rustling and for what pur­pose? People are be­gin­ning to ask whether there is po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tive to it,” he said.

Also, Bar­ris­ter Solomon Da­long, a mem­ber of the North­ern Elders Fo­rum (NEF), said the North­ern Elders Sum­mit had ad­vised the del­e­gates from the North to fo­cus on is­sues that will help bring an end to the killings in the re­gion.

How­ever, he de­scribed the un­abated killings in the north as a cal­cu­lated at­tempt to desta­bilise the re­gion ahead of the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions.

Da­long who spoke to Daily Trust on phone said the federal govern­ment had shown lit­tle in­ter­est and con­cern with the killings adding that “The Pres­i­dent has not vis­ited any of these ar­eas where you here that over 140 people have been killed. Look at the man­ner of the at­tacks, they are usu­ally well or­gan­ised and the at­tack­ers are well armed. Then we have to look at the he­li­copter the­ory which has been men­tioned in Katsina and Benue states. You will also look at the way the Fu­lani are be­ing killed by soldiers. So ever since, I have men­tioned the po­si­tion that all these killings are cal­cu­lated at­tempt to desta­bi­lize the north.”

For­mer Vice Chan­cel­lor of the Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity (ABU) Pro­fes­sor Ango Ab­dul­lahi ad­vised lead­ers of the re­gion to rise up to their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and bring the men­ace to an end.

“Those who care for the North should talk about these on­go­ing killings in the re­gion. A re­spon­si­ble lead­er­ship from the North should have risen to con­front this im­punity. The killings that are go­ing on are very sus­pi­cious. Some of the gov­er­nors have started say­ing so.

“Ques­tions are be­ing raised as re­gards to source of ar­moury, about the people mov­ing around in soldiers’ uni­form killing Fu­lani and other North­ern­ers in their towns and in large num­bers. I think north­ern­ers must do some­thing,” Pro­fes­sor Ango said.

On his part, Abubakar Tsav, for­mer La­gos State po­lice com­mis­sioner, said it is pos­si­ble that North­ern del­e­gates on the con­fer­ence will con­tinue to sit there, un­both­ered about the mas­sacres of their con­stituents be­cause they are not or­di­nary north­ern­ers be­ing killed on a daily bases.

“Are they both­ered? Are they com­mon North­ern vil­lagers suf­fer­ing the mas­sacres? They know they live in cer­tain places where they can­not be touched be­cause of their class. Even if trou­ble comes to their doorsteps, they have a way to es­cape it. They are men and women of many al­ter­na­tives: al­ter­na­tive power sup­ply, al­ter­na­tive wa­ter sup­ply through in­di­vid­ual gen­er­a­tor; al­ter­na­tive health­care sys­tem, for­eign schools for their chil­dren; and now, al­ter­na­tive se­cu­rity. They can leave their places at any­time and fly into Abuja and stay. They can run abroad,” Tsav said.

“All North­ern lead­ers have ran away from the trou­ble-hit ar­eas be­cause they are men and women of many al­ter­na­tives, un­like their people. Now, at the Na­tional Con­fer­ence, they can­not sit there with good con­science wor­ry­ing about the same people they have aban­doned to die.”

Tsav also slammed Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan for his trips across the coun­try to re­ceive de­fec­tors into the PDP, when in same states, the people do not sleep be­cause of con­stant fear for their lives.

“I am not sur­prised at all that the pres­i­dent is pre­oc­cu­pied with host­ing a con­fer­ence that does not ad­dress the real prob­lems of the Nige­rian people. Nige­ri­ans are hun­gry and die from cur­able dis­eases; ed­u­ca­tion has col­lapsed; elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion has fiz­zled out. Cor­rup­tion and greed are now the only work­able is­sues. These are our prob­lems, not his con­fer­ence,” Tsav added.

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