Tuesday 14 May 2013

State of emergency: Northern leaders in crucial meeting

Alarmed by the grim prospects of the declaration of a state of emergency by the Presidency in five of their states, Northern elders are converging on Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, with a view to taking far-reaching decisions to halt such a move, which they see as punitive.
Meanwhile as the northern leaders were putting heads together to come up with a decision, the 36 state governors under the aegis, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, yesterday, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to ignore those agitating for state of emergency in some troubled states.
There were reports that the Presidency was contemplating the declaration of a state of emergency in five states of Borno, Yobe, Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau states following escalating violence.
But the Presidency said on Saturday that it had not yet taken a firm decision on what to do in those states with rising violence.
The Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said: “The Federal Government is studying the situation in the affected states and will take a decision that would be in the overall interest of the security of not just the people of the states affected but the whole country.”
But Vanguard learnt that the northern elders were worried that the Presidency had concluded plans to slam emergency rule on those states and jettison the peace move already initiated by them.
A source said the imposition of emergency rule in the affected states by the Presidency was a foregone conclusion, which would take the north unawares.
Although it was unclear as at press time what the elders would do to stop the move, Vanguard learnt that the meeting would discuss strategies for boosting the position of the north to take back the Presidency in 2015.
A picture taken from a video distributed to journalists in recent days through intermediaries and obtained by AFP on March 5, 2013 reportedly shows Abubakar Shekau (C), the suspected leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, flanked by six armed and hooded fighters in an undisclosed place.
Discourse to focus on amnesty for Boko Haram, Northern Presidency in 2015

The elders, it was also gathered, would review the amnesty being worked out for members of the Boko Haram sect and also take a critical look at the recent nomination of the wife of the Leader of the Northern Political Leadership Forum, NPLF, Adamu Ciroma, Maryam, as the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan last week nominated Hajiya Inna Maryam Ciroma along with others to head strategic parastatals in the country, a move seen by many in the North, as an attempt to lure Ciroma towards supporting Jonathan’s re-election in 2015.
The north has openly opposed Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015, saying that one of its own should be elected in accordance with the zoning arrangement of the Peoples Democratic Party.
A top northern leader, who confirmed the meeting to Vanguard yesterday, said the northern elders would adopt a common position on the rumoured imposition of a state of emergency in the north.
The source, which spoke in confidence because the northern elders had not taken a position on any of the issues listed for discussion, said the north would not support the imposition of a state of emergency in the area.
“We will never allow them to destroy the north by imposing emergency rule when policemen and soldiers are being killed daily in Bayelsa and other parts of the country without any discussion of emergency in those states of the Niger Delta”, the source hinted.
We ‘ll not support state of emergency —Northern leaders
“We are convinced that there are some people in this government, who deliberately want to destroy the north and then provoke the people to revolt by always talking about imposing emergency rule in the region at the slightest provocation while overlooking massive killings, kidnapping and oil bunkering in the South-East and South-South.
“We want the government to perish the thought of emergency rule and concentrate on how to bring about genuine peace to Nigeria,” the northern elder said.
Reacting to the offer of the post of managing director of NIWA to the NPLF, Adamu Ciroma, the source described the appointment as an attempt to weaken the former Central Bank Governor’s opposition to Jonathan but quickly added that he did not believe that offer would change anything.
“But we do not think that Ciroma would be cajoled by the offer to change his position towards Jonathan’s re-election in 2015 but we are going to discuss the matter during our meeting as we have always pointed out to him that he is on his own as far as allowing his wife to take key jobs from the government of President Jonathan,” the source explained.
Inna Maryam Ciroma was the Women Leader of the PDP at the peak of the confrontation between the President and the NPLF led by Alhaji Adamu Ciroma. That notwithstanding, Ciroma opposed the nomination of Jonathan for the Presidency and stood against him to the end of the election, which Jonathan won with a wide margin.
Ciroma has not spoken about the re-election of Jonathan in 2015 but the Northern Elders’ Forum, NEF, of which he is a member, has made it clear they will not be backing Jonathan in 2015, even though Jonathan has not officially declared his interest in the polls.
However, his foot soldiers have spoken for him and threatened to make the country ungovernable if he is not returned as President in the next election, a declaration that has been roundly condemned by well-meaning Nigerians.
The 36 state governors have meantime pleaded with the President and the Federal Government not to allow itself to be distracted by calls for emergency rule in the troubled states, especially against the backdrop that all hands were on deck to find a solution to the insurgency.
Ignore calls for emergency rule — Govs tell Jonathan
In a statement signed yesterday by Chairman of the forum and governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the governors who condemned in totality the recent violence and killings in Borno, Nasarawa, Benue, Adamawa and other states, said, “We also call on the Federal Government to ignore the ongoing agitation for a state of emergency in some parts of the country.
“These requests are being made by people who do not wish our country well and who are bent on plunging the country into a deeper crisis. The Federal Government should not allow itself to be distracted from our collective goal of curbing the insurgency in some parts of our country once and for all.”
Amaechi in the statement continued, “We in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, hereby condemn the recent violence and killings in some parts of our country – Borno, Nasarawa, Benue, Adamawa and some other states. We also commiserate with the people and government of those states, our security agencies and the families of the victims and pray God to give them and indeed every Nigerian the fortitude to bear the loss.
“While urging security agencies to continue to do their jobs as professionally as possible, we appeal to aggrieved individuals and groups in Nigeria to appreciate the fact that violence can never be a solution to any problem. We have no other country to call home and it is important that we understand the danger and futility of destroying our land in the pursuit of a selfish agenda.
“It is gratifying that government – Federal and State – are working hard to get to the root of the killings and nip these orgy of violence in the bud.”
Govs hail Jonathan on amnesty
Hailing President Jonathan and the government for the planned amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect, the governors said, “We are impressed by the magnanimity of the Federal Government, which has demonstrated an uncommon love for the country by setting up a committee to explore the possibilities of granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect. It is also a good step that government has agreed to cooperate fully with the National Human Rights Commission in the investigation of the killings in Baga.
“We also commend our security agencies for the selfless sacrifice they are making in the interest of us all to restore calm to all parts of our country.
“We urge the Federal Government to continue to support affected states in the bid to check violence. The Federal Government should remain focused and continue to provide leadership until every part of Nigeria is rid of violence and insurgency.”

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