…says ‘if we don’t save the North now, we’ll lose it’
We are faced with the problem of killings day and night which are greater than ever, except during the civil war. We have not faced this type of challenge before: killings day and night. At no time has life been so tough except during the civil war –Chairman of ACF, Chief Audu Ogbeh
Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has cautioned traditional rulers, religious, ethnic and political leaders in the North to refrain from making wild and inflammatory utterances on the killings and general insecurity in the region. It declared that unguarded statements have a tendency to aggravate the already tense situation. Also, the ACF called on state governors to take urgent steps to arrest the deteriorating security situation in northern Nigeria. Chairman of the ACF, Chief Audu Ogbeh, gave the warning yesterday at a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the apex northern group held in Kaduna.
Ogbeh, a former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, lamented that the North has been gripped by a general sense of insecurity due to the numerous violent conflicts resulting in the killing of hundreds of people and destruction of property. He said that whereas the Northern Region comprising 19 states occupies 78% of Nigeria’s landmass, it is currently facing so much insecurity that people have been losing their lives on a daily basis. “We are faced with the problem of killings day and night which are greater than ever, except during the civil war.
“We have not faced this type of challenge before: killings day and night. At no time has life been so tough except during the civil war,” he said. The meeting deliberated on a wide range of issues of concern and relevance to the North and resolved to prevail on the federal and state governments to take urgent steps to arrest the deteriorating security situation which has resulted in insurgency, banditry, ethnic and religious disturbances all over the region.
“Because of the existing tensions and crises leading to a general sense of insecurity, destruction of property and killings in the North, religious, ethnic, traditional and political leaders in the North should be cautious in their utterances and should refrain from making wild and inflammatory utterances that will aggravate the situation. “Federal and state governments must take urgent steps to arrest the deteriorating security situation in northern Nigeria which has led to insurgency, terrorism, banditry, ethnic and religious disturbances all over the North,” ACF said.
In a communique signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, the ACF resolved that the northern states should take advantage of the N75 billion loan to farmers in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the Nigerian Incentive- Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). It urged the Northern state governments to take advantage of such programmes by paying adequate attention to agriculture which, according to them, offers more opportunities for diversification and the development of a more sustainable economy for the North and the country.
The forum lamented that school enrolments have remained low in the northern region and urged state governors to take urgent steps to enhance school enrolment and eradicate the rampant incidence of street begging which is very unhealthy for the overall development of their region. ACF also decried the high rate of unemployment in the northern region and advised state governors to design employment schemes for the teeming youths who have become frustrated and posed an additional threat to the security of the North and the country.
The ACF noted that: “Unemployment has become a big menace to the northern region. State governors are advised to design employment schemes for our teeming youths who have become frustrated and pose an additional threat to the security of the North and the country.
“State governors are also advised to key into programmes of the Federal Government designed to offer employment to the youth and alleviate poverty.” Ogbeh, who presided over the meeting of the forum for the first time since his election in March this year, said that the forum could not meet earlier than now due to the coronavirus pandemic which forced Nigeria and other countries into a lockdown. According him, the ACF was not a political party or an ethnic organisation, but a forum through which the various groups in the North could work for peace and stability in the region.
“Some Nigerians mistake the ACF to be an ethnic, tribal, religious or a political organization. It is none of these. We have over 300 tribes in the North and we cannot afford to be an ethnic organisation. Our responsibility now is greater than before. If we do not save the North now, we will lose the North,” he warned.