THE north appears to be divided over which section of the country to produce the next president. While the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, which is largely seen as the voice of the North and the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, have been insisting on a northern president in the 2015 election, a new group known as the Northern Elders Council, NEC, has declared its support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term in office. The NEC which was launched in Kaduna, on Thursday, February 6, has Tanko Yakassai, an elder statesman, as its leader. It also has in its fold Ledan Shuni, a former ambassador, as vice-chairman and Yusuf Mamman, a former Nigeria ambassador to Spain.
Yakassai said the new group was ready to partner with others and individuals from all parts of the country who believe in dialogue, mutual respect, harmony and peaceful coexistence. “We in Northern Elders Council appreciate the tremendous progress made in Nigeria’s march towards establishing a stable democratic order. We will work alongside Nigerians who wish to ensure that machinations of anti-democratic forces in this country are frustrated… It is unacceptable for elders to make inflammatory statements capable of breaching the peace,” Yakassai said.
The NEC’s unalloyed support for the 2015 re-election bid of President Jonathan runs against the position of both the ACF and NEF. But the ACF seems unfazed by the decision of the NEC.
Anthony Sani, the ACF spokesman, said an interview that the proliferation of groups by northern elders was unfortunate and would bring solution. “But ACF is not very worried, precisely because actually the North has never been a united whole unit when it comes to partisan politics,” he said.
We Must Defeat Boko Haram — Jonathan
THERE is one big task that President Goodluck Jonathan wants the new defence and service chiefs to accomplish: win the war on Boko Haram sect. Decorating them with their new ranks at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, on Thursday, February 6, Jonathan said it was not a day of speech making because of the task ahead. He enjoined the service chiefs to mindful of the fact that only winning the war against the Boko Haram, an Islamic sect, must be achieved by all means.
“Whenever I am decorating military officers I commend their wives because it is not easy to be barrack-based and for you to rise to this height. But the service chiefs, I don’t know whether I will congratulate you or I will sympathise with you because of the circumstances of the moment.”
“That reminds me, of the article I read when I was in secondary school written by the late Dr. Tai Solarin where he said: ‘I wish you what I wish myself every year. May you have a hard time this year.’ So I think I will wish you what I wish myself every year and may we have a hard time this period, because none of us will sleep till the Nigerians in Borno State can sleep.
“That is why I say today is not a moment for major statements. We will be having very fine talks from time to time, but definitely Nigerians will tell you what they expect from us, we must not fail this country and I believe this team will work together to be assisted by other intelligence services because the war against terror must be won in this country.
“I congratulate you all and your wives. I have worked with some of you in one way or the other and I am convinced that we selected the right team to salvage this country at this time. You must not disappoint Nigerians.”
The service chiefs decorated by President Jonathan are Alex Badeh, chief of Defence Staff, CDS, who was decorated as Air Chief Marshal; Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Army Staff, is now a Lieutenant -General, Usman Jibrin, Chief of Naval Staff, now a Vice Admiral and Ademola Amosu, Chief of Air Staff, an Air Marshal. The new service chiefs were recently cleared by the National Assembly. Speaking on behalf of the chiefs, Badeh promised that they would not disappoint Nigerians.
SSS Grills Asari-Dokubo
MUJAHID Asari-Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, NDPVF, was grilled by the State Service Security, SSS, for about six hours at the Department of State Services, DSS, headquarters, Abuja, on Thursday, February 6. Asari-Dokubo, who went to the DSS on the invitation of the SSS, arrived at the headquarters at 10am and did not leave the building until about 4pm. He was accompanied to the place by a lawyer from the chambers of Festus Keyamo and some dignitaries from the Niger Delta, including some members of his group.
Speaking after his release, Asari-Dokubo said: “It was a routine question and answer on my interviews. I gave them my opinion and reasons. I told them that it is wrong for some people to be treated as if they are above the law, as if they have the right to threaten others, make inciting comments and continue to intimidate people and get away with it.” He said further that he was asked to make a statement and warned not to do anything that could overheat the system.
Asari-Dokubo, who described himself as a regular visitor to the SSS, said his arrest should serve as a warning to those that have made inciting comments and threat in the polity. “My arrest has given us the opportunity to tell them that they should stop making inciting comments and stop threatening others, because if they do that now, they must also be arrested,” he said.
The SSS deputy director and spokesperson said the security outfit would no longer tolerate reckless statements which could cause chaos in the country. “We will ensure that the law takes its course on whoever makes such comments. This is why we invited Asari-Dokubo. Nobody is too big or small to be quizzed by this commission,” Marilyn Ogar said.
Dokubo landed himself in the SSS trouble when he was quoted as saying: “If it is war, the North wants, we are ready for them because Jonathan must complete the mandatory constitutionally-allowable two terms of eight years. At home, we have regrouped and we have put our people at alert….”
— Feb. 17, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT