The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), having monitored the recent spring of protests across the country and playing a major role in stabilizing matters, wishes to first and foremost extend condolences and sympathy to all northern communities that suffered casualty in terms of life and properties.
Similarly, we sympathize with victims of the bad side of the protests from other parts of the country who, in one way or another, suffered life loses and damage to properties.
Meanwhile, we assure all victims from northern Nigeria, that the CNG is collating information on the circumstances, nature and extent of the negative impact of the protests on them, and shall within the next few days, come up with a comprehensive framework for ensuring the enforcement of their rights and accruable benefits, as well as their future safety wherever they live in Nigeria.
The CNG as well wishes to appreciate the spirit of cultured understanding and restraint displayed by, and around the North, especially by the youth that once again saved the whole nation by not escalating the situation despite efforts to provoke otherwise.
It is certainly encouraging and reassuring that this level of restraint, civilized patience and cultured discipline by northerners who are otherwise portrayed as uncivilized, has been publicly acknowledged by such prominent southern leaders as the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
CNG specifically wishes to appreciate the support, encouragement and solidarity from elders and every segment of northern society to its #EndInsecurityNow marches that ran concurrently with the controversial #EndSARS version.
Our appreciation also goes to the extremely patriotic courage of the Rivers State Governor Nwisom Wike, the only Southern Governor that called out IPOB and its activities, by committing efforts to the protection of residents from other sections of the country, including northerners who were targeted in Rivers.
We also commend his swiftness in redeeming the N200m pledge to families of 10 security agents killed in Rivers, and repose confidence that he would extend same to northern communities that also fell victim of the violence associated with the protests.
Holes in NGF Meeting
The CNG acknowledges the meeting of the Northern Governors Forum with traditional rulers, members of the National Assembly, the Inspector General of Police and Chief of Staff to the President in Kaduna recently.
We particularly commend the dedicated efforts of the Forum’s Chairman, Governor Simon Bako Lalong for convening a meeting of such magnitude with the resolve of making it regular.
We however, are convinced that whereas the expanded meeting is a welcome development in the search for improved northern cohesion, and some issues raised were apt, most are nevertheless misplaced.
Therefore, while we have some points of convergence with the decisions reached at the NGF meeting, we at the same time, have several points of divergence with most of them.
Point of Convergence
1. The CNG has no quarrel with NGF’s observation on the need for stated roles for traditional rulers.
2. The CNG is as well in convergence with NGF on the need for quick resolution of the overdrawn ASUU misunderstanding with the Federal Government.
3. We also agree with the NGF that to a large extent, social media platforms have been turned into avenues for dissemination of fake and dangerous information.
4. We also welcome the decision to sustain periodic engagements with other segments of northern leadership and critical stakeholders.
Points of Divergence
The CNG while converging with the NGF on some points, is however in serious divergence on many other points and finds the NGF meeting fundamentally flawed in many respects.
Essentially, the agenda for the NGF meeting was grossly misplaced in the sense that it accorded more relevance to the #EndSARS and the social media failings which should by far not be the major focus for concern for the North at the moment.
Points of Disappointment
1. The CNG and indeed the vast majority of the cultured northerners are disappointed that such a meeting of northern governors and traditional leaders, elected representatives and top federal government officials from the North should find it more important to dwell on #EndSARS and social media and neglect the more serious issues of security, youth restiveness, unemployment, poverty, dwindling fortunes of agriculture and general economic decline.
2. We are disappointed that such a meeting should lack the courage to make clear pronouncements on the unprovoked attacks on northerners and their properties at a time when their southern counterparts are proposing claims of trillions of Naira in compensation for their people.
3. We are disappointed that the meeting lacked the requisite statesmanship to define the northern position with regards to the falsified reports around the fictitious attacks on Lekki protesters that is causing the nation international worries.
4. It is disappointing that the meeting failed to see as priority the need to send a delegation to ascertain the extent of damage and to console the affected northerners in the southern states.
5. We are disappointed that the meeting did not have the presence of mind to discuss the necessity of compensating the innocent northerners who were unnecessarily attacked, assaulted, killed, displaced and deprived.
While hoping the northern governors and other leaders would rethink the apparent weak position adopted at the meeting and redeem their failure to articulate a more favourable northern position, the CNG wishes to express reservations regarding the two committees set up, their stated functions and the all-important issue of implimentation.
In the past, several committees have been variously charged with tasks of recommending the way forward for the region. But regrettably, a lot of the recommendations, viable though they may be, have characteristically been consigned to the dust bin of history.
While hoping that it will be different, at least this time around, we also expect that genuinely patriotic and productive minds would be engaged for meaningful imput particularly for the Youth and Civil Society Committee which is expected to engage the youths with a view to addressing thier pressing demands to put to rest their agitations.