ABUJA—Leaders and Elders of Nigeria under the aegis of Northern Elders Forum, NEF; Afenifere, Ohaeneze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Middle Belt Forum, yesterday, took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari over his comment where he elevated national interest above the rule of law, asking him to withdraw the statement.
Pres. Buhari According to the leaders, there were very frightening indicators in the political climate that must be addressed as Nigeria, as a country, was at a crossroad and if not checked, the country would be in a very serious danger.
They said the comment by the President was quite unfortunate and must be withdrawn, as it could be described as hate speech. They also called on the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to retract his statement that Nigeria’s problem was not that of restructuring, against the backdrop that it negates the position of the vast majority of Nigerians. The elders also called for the setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry to examine the recent invasion of the National Assembly by security agents, and the outcome made public.
The leaders of the prominent regional groupings in Nigeria led by South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, converged on Abuja, yesterday, to review the state of the nation and proffer a way out of its numerous predicaments. Clark, who is the leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, dismissed recent claim by the presidency that the elders meeting over what they perceive as poor governance, were doing so because they were out of favour with the present dispensation. Clark added: “This is a country where the rule of law should prevail over national interest. These are issues that concern all of us whether you are in government or not. We all have the right to talk about our country. “On the national security, I want to reassure you that no one can intimidate us from discussing the progress of this country. At 91, I am old and I do not need anything from anybody. So, we are free to speak our minds, provided it is in the interest of this country.”
On his part, Abdullahi who is the leader of Northern Elders Forum, challenged the presidency to name those among the elders who asked for favour from government. He said: “Clark is speaking the truth on the state of our nation. We are worried about what is happening in our country. Our last meeting was commendable, that is why we feel encouraged to hold another one.
Nigeria first before any other thing. “People who want to cause problem for this country will never succeed. The Northern Elders Form has agreed that this country must develop. We cannot give any reason why this cannot work. We must continue to sustain peace in this country. For us in the northern region, we want to assure our colleagues from other parts of the country that we are determined that this country must survive.” Speaking, yesterday, at the meeting, elder statesman and chieftain of Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-cultural group, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, noted that the President must withdraw the statement as it amounts to hate speech. He said: “He is now rewriting the constitution. I think we have to remind our president that he did not stage a coup to become the president and he should know that we are guided by the law. We in this meeting must send serious warning to the president that those of us who are alive when we got independence, we are aware of all that happened then and what the constitution says.” Also at the meeting were Chief Olu Falae, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chairman of PANDEF, AVM Idongesit Nkanga (retd), among others.