No Chibok girls, no 2015 elections —Northern Elders
The Northern Elders' Forum (NEF) has said in Kaduna on Monday that President Goodluck Jonathan should forget his re- election bid for 2015 unless his government rescues the missing girls from Chibok before October 2014.
Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna, a former Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr Solomon Dalung, said the Alhaji Sule Maitama-led NEF had to give the president October 2014 ultimatum, because it was taking too long for the girls to be released, while the security situation had continued to deteriorate.
“The warning became necessary because we were of firm conviction that the insurgency occasioned by the activities of the sect and other related security challenges poses a threat to the 2015 elections and the survival of the nation.
'In the light of this conviction, we strongly advise President Jonathan to bring an end to insurgency and produce the Chibok girls before the end of October 2014.
'General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, General Abdussalami Abubakar, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Architect Namadi Sambo, General T.Y Danjuma and all retired Chief Justices of Nigeria from the North represent grossly under-utilised assets of the North.
'The NEF joins millions of northerners in appealing to these leaders to raise their levels of involvement in the fortunes of our region,' they said.
The Northern elders said failure of the president to produce the Chibok girls and tackle other security challenges in the land would amount to the forfeiture of his rights to ask for another mandate to lead Nigeria beyond 2015.
'Fellow citizens in and around Gwoza in Borno State in particular live and die, that will not be tolerated by any people, who have a government and a leader sworn to defend them.
'The trend must be reversed immediately. In the event that President Jonathan fails to do this, Nigerians will be left with the only conclusion that he has forfieted his right to ask for our mandate beyond 2015.
'NEF resolved that most of the security challenges in some parts of the region are being carried out to weaken the north politically.
'The security situation in our nation today represents the most serious threat to our individual and collective lives in our entire history. The reality is that the threats posed by what appears to be an insurgency that has many manifestations and defies a clear and consistent identity is growing due to the absence of a clear national consensus over its nature, and it solutions.
'Lack of a strong will at the level of the presidency to fight it, as well as deep-seated corruption and incompetence in government and in the management of our security challenges has allowed a band of terrorists to take and hold vast parts of our land and populations hostage, while every citizen lives in fear of being its next victim.
'The Northern Elders' Forum does not believe that the Nigerian military cannot defeat these terrorists. We also reject the notion that multiple internal security challenges, such as attacks on villages, ethno-religions conflicts and banditry springing up by the day in many parts of the North are all a coincidence.
'Indeed, we are convinced that most of these conflicts are being engineered to weaken the North politically and economically by interests which intended to exploit such weaknesses for electoral benefits.'
The elders also linked the attitudes of past leaders of the North to the security and economic problems of the region, even as they could not reverse the dangerous trends befallen the North.
'It is no secret that the vast majority of northerners lament their marginalisation, insecurity and poverty and blame it more on the inability of unwillingness of its past and present leaders to utilise all access to power which they enjoy, to bring us redress and relief,' they said.
It could be recalled that for over 100 days now, over 200 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect and there is still no any clue as to their whereabouts, in spite of the reported international effort to find them.