The spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed has revealed how he and other members of the forum worked hard to ensure former President Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the leader of Nigeria.
Baba-Ahmed who spoke on Wednesday said the forum never started as an opposition group or a political party but as a group of people who thought the North needed a firmer stand on matters that affected its welfare and destiny.
He said over time, the group has evolved to become stronger and recently worked with others to ensure Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the President of Nigeria.
In a column article published in the Vanguard, Ahmed-Baba, however, disclosed that they fought the administration of President Buhari when it became clear that it was inept and indifferent, and the North was becoming its prime victim.
According to him, NEF allows individual members to hold political opinions and engage in partisan politics, but the group is united enough to take a stand on political happenings in the country.
Baba-Ahmed said this while defending his decision to accept a nomination to work as the political adviser to Vice President Kashim Shettima despite the mixed reactions that have greeted the development.
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He said, “One group I have come to be identified with, the Northern Elders Forum, thrust me forward from the withdrawn and characteristically restrained posture of serving and retired civil servants into the ring as its face and voice, as well as an advocate for a region, the North.
“This has been an eventful decade, and it is difficult even for founding members to remember that the Forum was never designed as an opposition instrument. We started as a break-away small group of respected Northerners who thought the North needed a firmer stand on matters that affected its welfare and destiny.
“This handful of elders attracted others, and a few of us who understood the damage of poor governance on a people already bringing up the rear in a country that was becoming increasingly fractured by small-scale politicians began to carry bags and walking sticks into meetings.
“We have done well, even if I say so myself. We worked hard with others to put President Buhari in power and worked even harder to insist that he governed well. We collaborated with similar groups from other parts of Nigeria on issues that we believed served all of us as Nigerians.
“On many occasions, we received and returned hard blows as and when needed. We stood up for the North in circles that thought it was weak enough to be consigned to the status of a nuisance, and we collaborated with the same groups when it became clear that collaboration was what was needed.
“We fought President Buhari’s administration when it became clear that it was inept and indifferent, and the North was becoming both its prime victim and a pariah in a country that it had paid more than its dues to build.
“We put our cases firmly and as logically as the illogical nature of Nigerian politics allowed. We allowed individual members to hold political opinions and engage in partisan politics, but the group was united enough to survive the huge chaos and damaging stresses of Nigeria’s politics.