The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has issued a strong warning to individuals, groups and politicians, who according to it, are trying to balkanize the country.
The forum, in a statement signed by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, blamed the weakness of the President Muhammadu Buhari government for all the agitations and conflicts between ethnic groups in the country.
NEF noted that recent developments, events and utterances from many quarters, suggest that the country is at a defining moment that will determine its fate and the security of all Nigerians for a long time to come.
According to the elders, Nigeria has never been so threatened by a combination of weak and ineffective governance under President Muhammadu Buhari and a determined effort from many quarters to capitalize on the weakness to attack the foundations which give all citizens and communities some comfort.
According to NEF, many groups and individuals with public standing and political adventurers are now seeing the weakness of the current government to intensify attacks on the foundations of the country.
“These groups’ activities suggest that they perceive a vacuum which provides a perfect setting for questioning the legitimacy of the Nigerian State, its ability to fight against subversion and other acts of hostility and its commitment to uphold the rule of law.
“The only voices being heard are those which demand the balkanization of the country, or encourage dangerous politics and other acts that pitch some communities against others.”
The group noted that many of these provocations and threats are directly related to maneuvers for 2023 election, as well as attempts to hurt and weaken the North by making it the culprit behind all manner of grievances, real or contrived.
“People who believe they can intimidate or threaten the North into submitting to their demands are grossly mistaken.
“The North also wants a Nigeria which addresses at least a minimum of its requirements, and these are many. Like all other Nigerians, it believes this country must meet particular and general interests, and no group’s interest is superior to the other’s.
“There is a long way to go before 2023. Our democratic process must not be made the hostage to dangerous and shortsighted politics.
“There are politicians who think weakening the country is their best guarantee for achieving their goals. Groups which are floating irredentist agendas to blackmail others do not impress the North.
“It is vital that elected leaders find the will to reduce the damage of opportunistic politicians. If, as it clearly appears to be the case, they cannot do this, citizens with the capacity to influence opinion and chart a course towards a safer country for all citizens should get involved.
“At the most minimal level, attacks on Fulani communities who live peacefully with communities in the South must stop.”