Northern leaders have accused the Presidency of a desperate attempt to blame the insecurity in the region on them rather than proactively taking measures that will bring an end to the situation.
One of their main bones of contention was that the President refused to offer the Boko Haram Islamist sect amnesty because he said they were ‘ghosts’, yet he asked the Northern elders to prevail upon the Islamist sect to stop the bombings across the country.
It will be recalled that during a visit to Borno State last month, Jonathan had rejected calls for amnesty to Boko Haram members, saying that he could not be dealing with those he described as ‘’ghosts”.
A member of the Northern Elders Forum, Dr. Junaid Mohammed and National President of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, both described the action of the government as a deliberate attempt to blackmail and provoke the north.
They both carpeted the President for refusing to grant amnesty to the sect members, saying that what was good for one part of the country was also good for the other.
Mohammed, who was a lawmaker in the Second Republic, noted that the President had failed to use his position as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to find an answer to rising insecurity that has led to the killing of innocent men, women and children in the north despite the avalanche of security apparatus and intelligence at his disposal.
On his own part, Shettima said that the north took serious exception to the attempt by the Presidency to associate its leaders with the Boko Haram sect.
Shettima noted, “We don’t control Boko Haram and have no way of knowing what they are doing and what they want. It is the President who once declared that there were Boko Haram members even in his government.
“Having made that public declaration before the world, it is baffling why the President has found it difficult to deal with such members in his government but has continued to make contradictory statements almost on a daily basis, trying to rope in northern elders”.
“We therefore, plead with the President to leave northern elders out of the Boko Haram issues and devise realistic ways of solving the problem of insurgency in the country, one of them being, the carrot and stick approach, so as to give peace a chance to reign in the land.
Last week, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, issued a statement, calling on the Northern elders to prevail on the sect to down tools and accept dialogue as the Niger Delta militants did before the late Yar ‘Ádua offered them pardon.
“There is no need for over-politicization of the demand for amnesty, or to blackmail the President for taking strong, patriotic views that are contrary to those of some of our respected elders.
“The true expectation is that our respected leaders will go back to the drawing board and increase consultation and networking with the aim of reaching out to the leadership of the insurgents and convincing them to do the needful and step out to be counted,” he said.
Meanwhile, a prominent youth group in the North has accused the leaders in the region of being responsible for the security crisis in the North because they have not shown enough interest in tackling the challenges to pave way for peace and development.
The National President of the Arewa Youth Forum, AYF, Alhaji Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, said that most of the leaders of the region were more interested in pursuing their personal goals than working for the overall welfare of the people.
He said: “We are disappointed that since the upheavals in the region started and is slowly crippling the economy of the region, those that are said to be representing the region have not deemed it necessary to meet and find a lasting solution to the impasse.
“As youths from the north we are not only disappointed but we also feel let down by those that we toiled for to occupy the exalted positions they are now enjoying today. We are worried that instead of working for the good of the people, these leaders are busy pursuing personal agenda to the detriment of all.
“It is in view of this that we call on leaders of the north at different levels, governors, senators, ministers, lawmakers at the state and national levels, commissioners and even those at the local government level to join hands with the Vice President Namadi Sambo, who is the political leader of the north and tackle the problems in the region.
“We use this opportunity to call on these leaders to put their personal ambition behind them and work for the good of the north as the youths and other well-meaning individuals are watching what is happening and will take necessary action when the time is right”.
“AYF wants to call on persons like the Katsina State Governor Shehu Shema that Arewa Youths are disappointed that instead of staying in Katsina to attend to the needs of the people; the governor is now more prominent in Abuja and Niger Delta.
“AYF is calling on those in the league of the Katsina Governor to have a rethink as after all is said and done, power resides with the people and no matter what the supposed godfathers think, the Nigerian people will one day decide their own fate.”