Major stakeholders in the North have taken their eyes away from President Muhammadu Buhari in the search for a presidential candidate from the region in 2019.
They said that they were no longer keen on the President to continue in office beyond 2019 because he had performed far below their expectations.
The leaders, who met at the weekend in Kaduna, insisted that Buhari must be replaced by a competent person from the North.
The meeting was attended by the leaders of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Borno Elders Forum, the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, among others.
In a communique read by a member of the NEF and Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the northern leaders declared that the Buhari administration had not demonstrated enough political will to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and herdsmen/farmers’ clashes.
He said: “We demand immediate and decisive steps to improve the security of lives and economic assets in the North by the federal and state governments. Too many communities are at the mercy of attacks from sundry groups of criminals who appear to have unchallenged access to space and weapons.
“The summit noted that despite notable successes by the administration against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, many Northern communities still live under its threat. In many other parts of the North, communities are routinely exposed to attacks from shadowy killers, and suspicion and anger at known and suspected killers are pitching Northerners against each other. Armed bandits terrorize rural communities almost at will, while kidnappings and abductions have assumed alarming notoriety as crimes.
“The nation’s security and law and order assets are stretched beyond points where they can’t provide even the most elementary confidence and protection of citizens. The North has rarely been so exposed to multiple and varied threats.
“Since 2015, Northerners have occupied positions with the potential to make decisive differences in the economy, security or political fortunes of the region. The hope that leaders who have exercised power since 2015 will reverse the abuse and neglect of the region in the previous decades has been betrayed. Weak governance, gross insensitivity and unacceptable levels of incompetence have been compounded by battles of attrition in which northerners have sapped each other’s’ strength. Weak and incoherent responses to provocations from other parts of the country around the imperatives of re-visiting the foundations and structures of the Nigerian state have created the false image of a North without its own positions beyond survival as the parasite of Nigeria.”
“The summit, having undertaken a thorough analysis of the state of the North and our communities, therefore urges all leaders, elders and communities to seek peaceful resolutions of conflicts between and among communities. Lives lost, injuries suffered, and losses incurred in any community must be redressed firmly and fairly. The roots of co-existence and inter-dependence in all Northern communities are much deeper than the barricades being erected around communities. All persons who are involved in killings and crimes against communities must be brought to book.
“The summit warns that no Northern politician should expect to be voted for in the next general election unless they demonstrate a willingness to champion a massive assault on poverty and underdevelopment in the North. In this regard, most political office holders from the North are hereby served notice that they have failed the test to lead the region towards economic recovery and growth.
“The summit asserts the rights of all Northerners to examine all options in political choices they will make in 2019. The leadership selection process must be critically interrogated to present the best leader to Nigeria as a whole. No one should take the North for granted, and it is not for sale. It will resist shedding its blood for any candidate and will critically scrutinise all politicians who will seek our mandate. At this stage, all options are on the table, and politicians who have betrayed the hopes and mandates of our people should be prepared to suffer rejection, in the same manner, the votes of the North rejected the attempt to continue with impunity, corruption and indifference of the previous regime,” Baba-Ahmed stated.