The North unleashed yesterday a blistering criticism of President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing him of “insensitivity.”
The North’s apex socio-political organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, (ACF), is not pleased with Dr. Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast.
The ACF listed its grouses against the President and his administration in “an open letter to Mr. President on security situation in the North” .
The letter is signed by the ACF Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, a former Inspector General of Police, and Secretary JIP Ubah, a retired colonel.
The ACF described as worrisome, Jonathan’s “nonchalance attitude to the plight of northerners, whose area has suffered gruesome murders and arsons from the extremist sect since 2009.”
It expressed fears that in spite of the emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, towns and villages are being sacked, people maimed and killed while Nigeria’s territories are being seized by a group of insurgents.
“There has been no decisive action to expose, contain and resolve the Boko Haram insurgency”, the ACF alleged, adding that “the attitude of Mr. President towards the plight of the missing (Chibok) girls is, to say the least, appalling and un presidential.”
The ACF gave a three-point way forward. They are:
•Jonathan should put a “halt to the brazen seizure of Nigerian territories and confront the insurgents decisively;”
•He should constitute a high powered team to investigate persistent allegations of complicity now echoed by Stephen Davis against Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and others ; and
•implement recommendations of three panels – the Sheikh Lemu, Gaji Galtimari and Tanimu Turaki – set up on the insurgency.
The ACF said it was forced to write the open letter because Nigerian citizens in the affected areas were being slaughtered like animals with women and children raped, adding that Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, has been isolated as most of its link bridges have been destroyed.
According to the ACF, there is widespread feeling that the crisis is being used as a ploy to punish the north and neutralise its advantages and potentials by permanently destabilising the region.
The group flayed the the federal government’s tardiness or inaction “which has led to loss of confidence in government and widespread contempt for security personnel and institutions.
“Another reason for our growing concern is the failure of government to investigate and prosecute persons widely believed to be involved in the insurgency. The recent revelation by the Australian negotiator, Steven Davis, fingering Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika is one of many examples.
“In spite of this and several other disclosures, Mr. President has become so insensitive.”
It added: “We are left with no option but to strongly believe that a covert war is being waged against the North.
“The spate of assassinations, murder, arson, destruction of lives and property of innocent citizens in the North East in particular and the entire North in general has continued unabated and assuming an unprecedented gravity and ferocity, it is looking more like an agenda being executed sequentially and successfully too.
“Considering the enormity of the loss of lives and property and the mayhem being unleashed generally on Northerners, the Arewa Consultative Forum is compelled to draw the attention of Mr. President to the following highlights:
“Assassination and mass killing of innocent persons: The series of assassinations of prominent Northerners and mass killings of innocent people in the last six years are most disturbing and worrisome. These appear to have been carried out by hatchet men.
“The killing of General Muhammad Shuwa for example was carried out in a very suspicious circumstance and the reaction from a known serving General pointed to the fact there was a root to the murder. Other victims include Sheikh Jaafar Adam, Sheikh Albani and other religious and traditional rulers. The mass killings in Baga, Konduga, Gamboru-Ngala, Bama, Government College Buni Yadi, Benesheik, Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa etc, went without counter action by our security agencies.
“We doubt it very much if investigation into these heinous crimes have been launched and if carried out, the result have not been made public as no one has been charged to court, leaving the families of the dead and the entire North to carry the burden of the loss of lives of their fellow citizens.
“The attempts on the lives of the Shehu of Borno, the Shehu of Bama, Deputy Governor of Borno, the Emir of Fika, the late Emir of Kano, former head of state H. E. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, former Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue all posed serious security challenges that ought to have been taken seriously and addressed by Government, instead we have continued to witness more killings, destruction of property, displacement of persons and indeed a state of helplessness.” It said.
“Mr. President is not unaware of the plight of many internally displaced persons living in various camps in the North east. Some have even sought refuge in the neighbouring countries of Chad and Cameroon. Equally disturbing is the absence of decisive action to verify, expose, contain and resolve the Boko Haram insurgency. Thus leading to a debilitating wave of rumour that the Boko Haram is a franchise deployed to cripple the north.
“Another reason for our growing concern is the failure of government to investigate and prosecute persons widely believed to be involved in the insurgency. The recent revelation by the Australian negotiator Mr. Steven Davis fingering Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff and Gen. Ihejirika is one of many examples. In spite of this and several other disclosures, Mr. President has become so insensitive that in utter disregard has chosen to travel with Senator Ali Modu Sherrif to Chad recently on a state visit as reported in the media to discuss the insurgency in Nigeria with President Idris Derby.”
It said, despite involving better equipped Boko Haram militants against ill-equipped and less-motivated Nigerian armed forces and the Police, the rest of the country and in particular the Federal Government of Nigeria, choose to carry on daily business as if all is well with the nation.
“Rather than tackle this menace of insurgents and save lives of innocent citizens of the North east, the President and his government have chosen to shift the blame on opposition politicians, Northern leaders and governments of Northern States. Indeed there is no greater fallacy than to insinuate that any northern leader would orchestrate a crisis of such catastrophic proportion against his people just in order to destabilise the Federal government of Nigeria. This posture is totally unacceptable as no authority in the country is higher than that of the President.
“The President has declared a National Emergency on Ebola Virus which has just claimed a few lives with a whooping N1.9bn, yet a greater catastrophe of killings, maiming, abduction, rape and displacement of many Nigerians taking place daily in virtually all states of the North, is not worrisome for him to declare a National emergency. Instead, it was reported that the Federal Government is seeking $1tr foreign loan to equip the Armed Forces to enable them face Boko Haram.
“ Is it a case of neglect or grand design to destroy the North? The ACF and indeed the entire people of the North are compelled to believe that refusal to tackle the insurgents decisively is a grand design to reduce the population of parts of the North and to cripple the region economically and otherwise.