SONI DANIEL.VANGUARD.May 17, 2013
Northern elders, yesterday, broke their silence on the slamming of state of emergency on three states, describing the action of President Goodluck Jonathan as an indirect declaration of war on Northern Nigeria.
The President’s action, which took the northern elders by surprise, came barely three weeks after Jonathan accepted a roadmap from the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, on how to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
The elders had successfully impressed upon the Presidency to raise the Boko Haram committee to dialogue with the sect to restore elusive peace to the region.
Jonathan, who met with the NEF leadership in Abuja in April, subsequently inaugurated the Turaki-led committee with a mandate to broker peace with the sect and compensate their victims within a two-month time frame.
However, after inaugurating the panel, the sect leadership rejected the amnesty offer, saying that it was the government that should seek amnesty for having killed its Muslim brothers.
But irked by continuous bloodletting in several parts of the north, President Jonathan on Tuesday called on the armed forces to move into the states of Borno, Yobo and Adamawa, arrest suspected terrorists and restore peace in those places.
Many reports indicated that soldiers armed with armoured tank were already on the ground in the affected states preparatory to take out terrorists from their strongholds scattered in the North Eastern part of the country.
But a spokesman for the NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi, who relayed the position of the group, told Vanguard that they were disappointed by the sudden change of tactic by Jonathan on how to resolve the crisis in the north.
Abdullahi said: “It is very sad to see that the President has easily changed direction from dialogue and reconciliation to war in his bid to end the cycle of violence in the north.
“The volte-face by Jonathan amounts to undermining our agreement with him on peace and reconciliation and we are disturbed that he has opted for force rather than peace to end the violence.
“What the President has done has now justified the fear of those who rejected membership of the Boko Haram amnesty committee on the suspicion that he was not sincere in setting up the panel and that it was programmed to fail so as to justify military action against the north.
“We hereby call on the President to immediately disband the so-called Boko Haram amnesty committee, as there is no need to continue to waste public funds on a matter, whose purpose has been deliberately truncated by the very person who initiated it.
The NEF has lately been mounting opposition against Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015, insisting that it is their turn to occupy the top post.
Vows to truncate Jonathan’s 2015 presidency
The group has vowed to wrestle power from Jonathan in 2015 by presenting a candidate that would defeat the President at the polls.
At a meeting with the Borno State Governor on Tuesday, the NEF stated that they had what it takes to produce the next President of Nigeria and they would seek to do just that.
Though Jonathan has not openly declared his intent to run, his kinsmen and foot soldiers have been threatening there would be war if he is dumped at the poll.
The Presidency is yet to condemn or distance itself from the strident calls by various Ijaw groups and individuals in the Niger Delta for him to be re-elected or for Nigeria to break up.