The Maitama Sule-led Northern Elders Forum (NEF) replied President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday, debunking his description of some elder-statesmen as touts.
NEF’s Spokesman, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who addressed reporters at his Zaria-based farm, said some sitting leaders were worse than pick-pockets in a motor park.
He added that the president should not have made such abusive statement on statesmen, who fought for the country’s unity.
Prof. Abdullahi, who is also a member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), also flayed the Tanko Yakasai-led Northern Elders Council (NEC), saying the group lacked principle.
According to the NEF’s spokesman, the Yakasai-led NEC was not speaking for the generality of Nigerians.
The former Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) vice chancellor and special adviser on Agriculture during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration said NEF was more focused and committed to the political well-being of northerners and Nigerians.
His words: “President Jonathan should know that in a motor park, there are touts and there are pick-pockets. So, if some past leaders are touts, some sitting leaders are pick-pockets and thieves. So, you have to make your pick from that.
“This is acountry is complaining about corruption and the President himself has said that stealing is a small corruption.
“And so, for him to even come around and refer to some people as touts, he should remember that, some of them sitting there are pick-pockets and some of them are even worse than pick-pockets.
“Pick-pockets in a motor park cheat the passengers as well as the owner of the vehicles, while the touts do some work for a commission. So, you see, these are some of the things that are clearly pointing to the fact that the incompetence that we have been complaining about is the additional basis of rejecting the man’s leadership in 2015. It is now clearly showing across the country.
“It used to be Northern Elders Forum, which is seen as partisan, sectional, and divisive and so on. Whenever we say something, it was misconstrued as outright opposition against the government or against the president, because we are not and we are not president at the moment. But thank God, the truth will always be one. People across the country today seem to have agreed that this is an incompetent government that is about to wreck or completely ruin this country, and sooner Nigerians come to grips with this, the better.
“Jonathan may disagree with Obasanjo, he is one of our leaders that come out to say things the way they are. You can criticise him on what he has done or what he has not been able to do, but he should also be seen as he has always been since 1979, since I knew him.
“This is a man that has been saying things as he has seen them. It is only very recently, some well-meaning Nigerians like him have come to agree that the country is been put in the wrong direction under the leadership of the present administration…
“We have said this before, what is Northern Elders Council? Who are they? Who do they speak for? But, we speak for Nigerians? But more so for Northern Nigerians. We did not hide the fact that, we protect the interest of Northern Nigerians at any stage, without sacrificing the rights of other Nigerians elsewhere under any guise.”