The Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) has accused governors in the Southern region of surrendering their states to secessionists.
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The NEF also said the governors are building “ethnic monsters” and hiding behind them to whip up sentiments.
In a statement made available to journalists by its spokesman, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum berated southern leaders over the ban on open grazing, saying they are making a desperate but futile attempt to split the north.
Baba-Ahmed noted that the forum will only support citizen-driven national dialogue.
“It is now clear that elected people who swore to protect the constitution and protect the unity and integrity of Nigeria have decided to surrender to deeply divisive or outrightly irredentist and secessionist tendencies and movements,” he said.
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“Governors are building ethnic monsters and hiding behind them to whip up sentiments in a crude attempt to extract concessions no one is in a position to give or guarantee. A desperate but futile attempt is being made to split the North along lines that suit people who ignore its complexities and plurality when it is convenient to lump all Northerners and submit them to humiliation or attacks.
“In the South East, governors are yielding their political turf and mandates to secessionists, criminals and subversives who think they can exterminate federal presence and northerners from the region, and achieve dubious political goals related to 2023, or break away from the country.
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“In the South West, elected leaders and pampered ethnic bullies are closing ranks to provide a front that apes the do-what-we-want-or-we-leave-the-country strategy of the marginalized leaders of the South East.
“The South South is squeezed between fear and uncertainty, and its leaders are gambling that they can benefit from further weakening the federal administration and the North if it rides along with the rest of the South.
“The forum supports a citizen-driven national dialogue and a campaign to get the government to accord its outcome the respect it deserves.
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“The forum extends its hands to groups that genuinely believe that Nigerians should demand and design the type of country we want, and should not wait for people we elected to set the boundaries and conditions of our existence.
“The forum restates that the North will not be cowed and stampeded into escorting political ambitions of politicians at the cost of its rights, security and dignity.
“It demands that President Buhari asserts the powers our constitution gives him to protect our territorial integrity and secure citizens, or accept that he is incapable of leading the nation through these unprecedented challenges.”