THE Presidency, on Friday, blasted the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and leaders of other groups who are pushing for the replacement of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration over perceived incompetence.
The leaders of the various socio-political organisations in the country had a summit in Abuja on Wednesday and resolved, among other things, “to insist on the emergence of a visionary and dynamic leadership which will effectively deal with our security and economic challenges, and ensure good governance in the country,” saying, “it is imperative to revamp the security architecture of Nigeria.”
Other groups that participated in the summit were North East Forum for Unity and Development, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and New Generation Representatives (NGR).
But in its reaction, contained in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in Abuja, the Presidency said it considered the communique “issued by some ethnic and sectional groups assembled in Abuja recently as the shedding of crocodile tears by selfish leaders, who felt alienated after a transparent and accountable system halted their disproportionate survival on resources of the state.”
It observed that the communique issued by the leaders of the organisations led by NEF had accused the Buhari administration of incompetence in handling the security situation in the country.
The Presidency urged Nigerians to ignore “the unholy alliance by these groups who are stepping up their assault on the All Progressives Congress administration as it expands its national dominance and moves closer to securing an outright victory in the elections next year.”
It noted with dismay that the refrain about President Buhari not doing anything about security in the country had turned into the number one fake news item being peddled in the media.
The Presidency referred “all the purveyors of falsehood” to a State House press release published a few days ago and signed by Special Adviser the President, Femi Adesina, which “clearly outlined the government’s major achievements and initiatives in tackling security challenges from January to July 2018.”
It added: “The press release which was titled ‘Combating Insecurity in the Country: Lest We Forget – Presidency,’ listed out ongoing security operations: (1) Nigerian Army’s Exercise Ayem Akpatuma covering Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States launched in February to tackle cases of kidnappings, herdsmen/farmers’ clashes, among others; (2) Nigerian Air Force establishment of three new Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue States respectively, and deployment of Special Forces personnel.
“The press release also noted President Buhari’s approval for the establishment of a new Battalion of the Nigerian Army, as well as a new Police Area Command in Birnin Gwari Local Council in Kaduna State, as part of measures to scale up security in response to the banditry affecting the area.
“We advise Nigerians to read Adesina’s statement if they haven’t yet, or re-read it for better understanding of the efforts to ensure peace in the country.
“It is sad and misleading for anyone to say that President Buhari has not responded to the security challenges in the country.
“No one can honestly say that President Buhari is doing nothing about security. It’s just a fake news item being peddled by selfish politicians with vested interests in keeping Nigerians incensed, and it risks being entrenched as reality if we don’t educate ourselves with the truth.”
The summit with the theme “State of the Nation: The Rising Spate of Killings Must Stop,” also resolved to seek a consensus for the restructuring of the country.
In the communique issued at the end of the summit, the leaders had resolved: “To insist on the emergence of a visionary and dynamic leadership which will effectively deal with our security and economic challenges, and ensure good governance in the country,” saying, “It is imperative to revamp the security architecture of Nigeria.”
The summit observed “with regret, the negation of this administration’s commitment and undertaking to provide security to all Nigerians.
“The country now witnesses unprecedented incompetence and enthronement of mediocrity in dealing with the horrendous spate of killings and general insecurity across the country.
“In the eyes of many affected communities, there appears to be palpable government complicity in the killings going on around the country.
“These killings claimed more than 3,500 lives in 2017, a figure that could be much higher in 2018. That the number of internally displaced persons has risen to about 4 million from 1.5million in 2015.”
On the economy, the summit noted “with dismay, the mismanagement of an economy already approaching recession by 2015.
“Today, the economy is characterised by significant loss of output, massive youth unemployment, a rising level of poverty, instability and irregular migration of skilled and unskilled labour.
“In fact, according to the World Bank, the unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased despite its purported exit from recession in 2017. This is a national embarrassment and a disgrace to a country that is endowed with abundant resources.
“Summit further notes that, according to World Data Laboratory, Nigeria overtook India this year as the poverty capital of the World.
“In addition, Nigeria’s ranking on the Human Development index was one of the lowest in the world standing at 152 out of 188 countries surveyed in 2017.
“Summit also notes with great concern that despite the present administration’s war against corruption, the highly acknowledged global monitor of corruption perception, Transparency Intentional, has adjudged Nigeria to be more corrupt today than it was in 2015.
“It is disturbing that Nigeria has in the last three years degenerated from the 136th to the 148th place out of 180 countries surveyed for corruption perception in 2018.
“Summit observes that the kleptocratic nature of govemance and appointments to public offices and institutions as well as the care-free attitude of government to citizens’ discontent have resulted in breading deep divisions and inter-communal distrust.
“This is a development that is of grave concern to all Nigerian patriots.
“Furthermore, summit observes with alarm the flagrant abuse of, and disrespect for, the rule of law, as well as the systematic violation of our electoral processes.
“These infractions are steadily eroding public confidence in our hard-earned democracy.”
The leaders also called for the removal of marauding killers from the communities they have occupied and return same to their rightful owners who now live in IDP camps.
On restructuring, it resolved to “strive to reach a consensus on the positions of the various Nigerian communities and arrive at an agreed template on the issue of federalism and restructuring in Nigeria, among others.”
The summit was organised to review the alarming rise and spread of killings and general insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria.
It was also meant to identify possible causes of the current insecurity, to contribute to finding short and long-term solutions to the killings and pervasive insecurity and to facilitate forging of national consensus on the key pillars required for building national security unity and survival, in a just and democratic country.
According to the communique, the goals of the summit also included underscoring the failure of public policies which have resulted in enormous hardship to vast segments of the Nigerian population.
The summit observed the general insecurity and incessant killings in the country which, it said, had escalated in recent times with several communities at the mercy of marauding killers.
It added: “This has reached totally unacceptable proportions that gravely endanger the peace, unity and development of the country.
“The security of lives and property is the cardinal responsibility of government. And the present administration had identified security as one of the three pillars of its change agenda.
“However, the country’s entire security and law and order assets appear incapable of arresting the drift towards a state of anarchy.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the guest of honour at the event, was represented by former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
Other prominent Nigerians in attendance were Chief Edwin Clark, AVM Idongesit Nkanga, Colonel Lawan Gwadabe, Yinka Odumakin, Chief John Nwodo, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Isa Yuguda, Olusegun Mimiko, Bashir Tofa, Ghali Na’abba, Okwesilieze-Nwodo, Ibrahim Mantu, Bello Haliru, Saidu Dansadau, Buba Galadima, Mohammed Goni, Banji Akintoye, Ibrahim Bunu and Dan Nwayanwu.
Others were Tanko Yakasai, Yahaya Kwande, Mohammed Bello Kirfi, Al-Amin Daggash, ABC Nwosu, Umar Ardo, Tony Nyam, Adolphus Wabara, AVM Morgan, Abduljelil Tafawa Balewa, Bala Mande, Senator Femi Okunromu, Stephen Akaagerger, Professor Remi Sonaiya, Colonel Isa Mohammed, Paul Wapana, Abba Gana, Idris Wada, Professor Rahila Gowon and Suleiman .
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