■ NASS crucial to resolving national challenges –SGF
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government has disclosed its plans to go after religious leaders using their pulpits to propagate hate speeches, and to also incite the people either against one another or against the government. The government statement disclosed that the Police and other security agencies would soon go after such religious and community leaders some of whom command massive and high loyalty and followership.
Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who disclosed the information at the third quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in Abuja, called on such clerics to be cautious when they talk, given the level of influence such clerics have on the psyche of millions of their followers, online and offline.
“As religious and community leaders, we must be careful with our utterances, and we must consider, in our actions, that life is sacred and must be preserved. We must promote comments and actions that would bring succour the people,” he remarked.
Admitting that it is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the people as well as improve their well-being, he added that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been doing just that in the past six years.
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in his remarks, accused the President of being biased in his approach to the issues of insecurity in Nigeria, hence the impression that he was in support of people of one region against the others. Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, in his remarks, disabused the minds of the people that the crisis in Plateau was religious or political, insisting that it was purely criminal act that would be punished soon.
The Northern Elders Forum has said that the North has never agitated for the breakup of the country, hence, it does not have any plan for it.
This is just as a member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed expressed disappointment in the leadership style of Northern peoples who hold various political offices in the country.
Making the assertion on Monday, a former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) party Bashir Othman Tofa, during the inauguration of students’ wing of Northern Youth Groups, organised by Coalition of Northern Youth held at Bayero University, Kano.
According to him, “If you look at our population and what we have together is more than what anyone can hope for. So to try to destroy this is certainly a lose-lose situation. That is why we here in the North would never say we want to leave this country. “
His words “If you examine the situation, you would find out it is only in Northern Nigeria that there is no agitation for the breakup of this country”
He said that the unity of the country is sacrosanct, adding that the North has been playing the role of encouraging the unity of Nigeria “That is why we are the root of this country. If the root is uprooted, the tree will not be there.
He then added that so we like to be patient, we like to encourage Nigerians to love their country to be united and tolerate one another. So that we can build a kind of country we like to build.”
He then advised Northerners to exercise patience in building the unity of the country, as they are the root of Nigeria’s unity.
It is Northern Nigeria that doesn’t have any specific plan of its own, in case Nigeria is divided. This means we have absolute confidence that being together is the best thing for all of us.”
Our responsibility is to exercise patience to make sure we guide this country to the kind of unity and progress we need to develop into a better country and even become a nation-state,” Mr Tofa said.
A member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed expressed disappointment in the leadership style of Northern peoples who hold various political offices in the country.
His words Northerners who hold different political positions had failed to address the region’s problems in areas considered to be of paramount importance for the region.
“We are disappointed with our northern leaders at all levels. We will be putting pressure on them to correct their mistakes of tackling the problem of insecurity, poor quality of education and health, the problem of economy among others.”
Alhaji Baba-Ahmed then charged northern governors to provide shelter for cattle headers in the zone to stop them from wondering about anyhow.
However, on the occasion, three regional coordinators for Northwest, Northeast and Northcentral geopolitical zones were inaugurated during the event.
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In a very perfectly worded article by the Time Magazine of November 10, 1958, it was very obvious that the amalgamation of Nigeria into one country was a mistake.
Sometimes in history, Nigerians are told as an utopian narrative that their forefathers or founding fathers were united and sort after a united Nigeria.
But a very cursory glance at the article from Time Magazine exposed such narrative as a very disturbing lie.
The founding fathers or those who fought for Nigeria’s independence were never united and such disunity seems to have passed down to the present generation.
In fact, this country Nigeria has never been united and there are no signs that it will ever be one in the future.
Below is the article from Time Magazine, just about two years before her independence.
“INDEPENDENCE WITHOUT DIFFICULTIES IS A DREAM OF UTOPIA.”
For one month, delighted Londoners watched the 80 ceremonially dressed Nigerians—some with necklaces of animal teeth, others with feathered straw hats, at least one with a jeweled crown—parade into Lancaster House for their historic conference.
Everything possible had been done to make them feel at home.
For the Colonial Office’s big reception at the Tate Gallery, all nude statues were carefully screened so as not to offend Moslems. The Lord Mayor served up a banquet of stewed peanuts and one paramount Chief—His Highness James Okosi II of the Onitsha —fulfilled a lifelong ambition: to ride the escalator at the Charing Cross underground station.[?]
In the end, the Nigerians got what they had come for: on Oct. 1, 1960, the largest (373,250 sq. mi.) of Britain’s remaining colonial territories would get its independence (TIME. Nov. 3). But behind the scenes, the conference had revealed ominous signs of trouble to come.
From the start, there was a clash between the personalities of the Premiers of the three regions —each obviously more important than the scholarly Federal Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
In Western eyes, Obafemi Awolowo of the Western Region seemed the most statesmanlike: as the conference began, the London Times carried a full-page ad proclaiming his declaration for freedom under the title “This I Believe,” prepared with the help of an American public relations man.
In contrast, U.S.-educated Premier Nnamdi (“Zik”) Azikiwe of the Eastern Region seemed to have learned more in the U.S. about Tammany tactics than Thomas Jefferson, and was somewhat under a cloud as a result of a British tribunal’s 1956 investigation into corruption in his administration.
The North’s Premier, the Sardauna of Sokoto, a haughty Moslem of noble birth, could barely conceal his contempt for his less aristocratic colleagues.
Insults & Accusations. Under the great chandeliers of the Lancaster House music room, where Chopin once played for Queen Victoria, the Premiers bickered, shot insults back and forth like poisoned darts.
When the conference took up the ticklish problem of how to protect the rights of minorities among Nigeria’s 250 tribes, Awolowo suggested creating three new states. The North’s Sardauna, not wishing to relinquish any of his own territories, vetoed the idea. Nor did he like the plan for a centralized police force under the federal government: he much preferred to use his own force, which, answerable only to him, can pop a man in jail with no questions asked.
At one point, the Sardauna accused Awolowo of sending his supporters to Israel to be trained as saboteurs in the North —a charge fabricated out of the fact that Western Nigeria has imported agricultural experts from Israel to advise its farmers. Awolowo countercharged that the Sardauna flogs his prisoners.
At receptions, the delegates sipped their orange juice, icily aloof from one another. In elevators, the conversation would suddenly stop if a delegate from another region got on.
Compromises & Contests. But as the weeks passed, the Sardauna grudgingly consented to let the constitution carry a bill of rights, though he was so thoroughly opposed to giving the vote to women that the conference decided that this was, after all, not necessarily a “fundamental” right.
The delegates then agreed on a centralized police force, but one that would be administered by a council of representatives from each region. Finally, with their own independence from Britain assured (as well as that of the adjacent British Cameroons, should they choose to become a part of Nigeria), the delegates started for home.
Until Nigeria’s federal election takes place next year, the three Premiers will continue jockeying for power, and the fate of Nigeria could well, hinge on who comes out on top. Last week, even as the National Planning Committee of Independence opened its contest for the design of a national flag (first prize: $300), many Nigerians had grave reservations about what lay ahead.
For all its jubilation, Nigeria’s West African Pilot felt obliged to warn: “Independence without difficulties is a dream of Utopia.”
(Time Magazine – Monday, Nov. 10, 1958)
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