Evang. Uko

OBINNA EZUGWU

Founder, Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) and Secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, has accused the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) of shying away from the truth in its response to alleged attacks on “Fulani communities” in the South, noting that the group conveniently forgot that the current insecurity enveloping Southern Nigeria, was triggered by attacks on communities by pastoralists who suddenly announced that they owned every inch of Nigerian soil.

NEF had in a statement by its spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed on Monday, condemned what it called attacks on Fulani communities in the southern part of Nigeria, warning that, “At the most minimal level, attacks on Fulani communities who live peacefully with communities in the South must stop,”

Baba-Ahmed insisted that “Elected leaders must rise to their responsibilities of protecting citizens and their property,” while alleging that there were moves to blackmail some groups because of the 2023 elections.

“Many of the provocations and threats are directly related to manoeuvres for 2023, as well as attempts to hurt and weaken the North by making it the culprit behind all manners of grievances, real or contrived. People who believe they can intimidate or threaten the North into submitting to their demands are grossly mistaken.”

He went on to describe the nationalist wave sweeping the country as the antics of some politicians desperate to occupy the highest office in the land.

“Many of the provocations and threats are directly related to manoeuvres for 2023, as well as attempts to hurt and weaken the North by making it the culprit behind all manners of grievances, real or contrived. People who believe they can intimidate or threaten the North into submitting to their demands are grossly mistaken.”

However, responding to NEF in a statement on Thursday, Evang. Uko said the group is shying away from the truth, as according to him, those who declared that they own every inch of Nigerian soil, were to blame for the security situation in the Southern part of the country.

Uko also wondered why in NEF failed to address the issue of restructuring, which he said remained the only way of ensuring the survival of Nigeria as one entity.

According to him, though “everyone agreed with the salient points raised by the Northern elders forum on the precarious state of the nation, but nobody could understand why they danced around the inevitable restructuring of the polity that would save Nigeria, if Nigeria would survive. The truth is the truth. Shying away from the truth is unhelpful.”

Uko said, “Advising that the country “sits down” to sincerely appraise the way forward, isn’t enough, shying away from the truth, isn’t very helpful. The days of decorating the needful with diplomatic language, is long gone. We have entered “injury time”. We must tell ourselves the truth only, if Nigeria should be healed.

“No rational person believes Nigeria will survive without a new people’s constitution affirmed at a referendum. Delay to set the ball rolling is the big issue today. Why are some people still humouring themselves, talking about constitutional amendment by the National Assembly, why are leaders and elders across board silent and reluctant to speak up. This is the plain truth today, why Nigerians are worried.

“Now, how did we get here? Yes, there’s been clamour to restructure Nigeria, for years, hence numerous national conferences.

“But the harsh economic situation, the hopelessness in the land, the horrific insecurity, and the brazen impunity fearlessly exhibited by armed herdsmen, brought nightmares and the urgency to address this multi faceted monster, before it consumes us all. Armed bandits in love with abducting school children, confirmed to all that our government is overwhelmed.

“It is important we do not forget that all hell was let loose, when a certain pastoral and nomadic tribe, suddenly announced that they owned every inch of Nigerian soil. Things were bad enough before this, but this singular statement sent grave fear down the spine of Nigerians, who waited in vain for the government to reprimand those who made this frightening claim.”

Evangelist Uko pointed out that the unholy silence of the President Muhammadu Buhari government amid the murderous activities of herders in the South and other parts of the country, had given rise to strong suspicion that there is hidden agenda behind the carnage, hence the responses.

“The unholy silence by Aso rock, confirmed Nigerians worst fears. Bewildered citizens concluded that the horrific brigandage, rape, beheading, decapitation and ruthless slaughtering of farmers nation wide, must be a well planned, well organised, carefully orchestrated land grab agenda and internal colonisation scheme, deliberately instigated by invading farmlands with cattle,” he said.

“This claim of owning every inch of Nigerian soil and the attendant silence by the authorities, more than any thing else, spiked an unhelpful and unhealthy frenzy amongst every region, especially communities that have consistently suffered invasion and attacks by the herdsmen to organise how to defend themselves.

“Diaspora tribal unions began raising funds to acquire and smuggle in weapons to defend their ancestral lands from the herdsmen who claimed they owned every inch of Nigerian soil, the disturbing silence by the Presidency, was seen as agreement and acquiescence with the frightening claim of the herdsmen over every inch of Nigerian soil.

“Overnight Sunday Igboho emerged a hero. Non state actors began flexing their muscles, fear and trepidation over the claim by the herdsmen that they owned every inch of Nigerian soil seems to justify the emergence of militias and regional security outfits every where.

“In all these developments and disturbing movements, our Northern brothers, including the Northern elders forum suprisingly remained mute, carefully shying away from addressing the spurious and provocative claim that the herdsmen owned every inch of Nigerian soil. Messrs Lai Mohamed, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina, all conveniently refused to reprimand the claimants of every inch of Nigerian soil, thereby creating deep fear in the hearts of citizens.”

Uko advised NEF and Baba-Ahmed again “editing” facts about how the hostile invaders of communities triggered the current situation, even as he accused them failing to reprimand the violent herders.

“It is unhelpful to edit certain facts that deepened the present situation in the land, while refusing to reprimand the provocation engineered by the belligerent, bellicose and hostile invaders of citizens farmlands with uninvited cattle, who quickly become bloodthirsty warriors with specialty in attacking peaceful hamlets, slaughtering unarmed villagers, farmers, sleeping children and other soft targets.”

According to Uko, “The structural defects of the 1999 unitary constitution and the erosion of trust in the land, as a result of nauseating nepotism in the leadership of security agencies, only fuels the distrust and frustration that governs the land today, leading to the expansion of seccesionist clamour all over the country, and recently, even from the usually pliant South west.

“The Northern elders forum should know that addressing the worrisome state of the nation, without stating the truth, is frankly, uninspiring and does not serve any useful purpose. Nigeria is at crossroads, fuelled by the militarily designed unitary constitution that has clearly become outdated and unhelpful.

“The Northern elders forum have before now stated the obvious need to restructure and save Nigeria, that truth should be amplified consistently and tirelessly until the needful is done.

“Nothing else can save Nigeria, except a wholesome reconstruction of the polity by convening a constitutional conference that would throw up a new people’s constitution affirmed at a referendum, a fresh constitution anchored on true federalism and power devolution. There’s no other way. Piecemeal amendment of the constitution by the national assembly will not inspire the desired sense of belonging to every region, needed to create a new Nigeria acceptable to everyone. Time is running out.

“The inevitable constitutional restructuring of Nigeria will give every region the impetus to boost agriculture, mine solid minerals and plan for infrastructural development and security arrangements. No region will remain stagnant and unproductive, as is the case today. Every region will plan with their resources.

“Deliberately delaying the restructuring of Nigeria is actually unpatriotic, because it is inevitable. Time will tell.

“In conclusion, the Northern elders forum should actually direct its energy towards convincing the anti restructuring elements in the North, that restructuring will not hurt the North, rather it will empower the North greatly and release latent energy that will transform the North positively. We should do well not to shy away from the truth.”