By AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna
Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Minister of Agriculture under President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term, Chief Audu Ogbe has lamented that, Nigeria has never witnessed the type of security challenges it is currently facing, where lives are wasted day and night, except during civil war.
Chief Ogbe stated this in Kaduna on Wednesday at the maiden meeting of the newly elected National Working Committee (NWC) of ACF, which he chairs.
The new ACF Chairman stated categorically that, the North, which covers 78 percent of the Nigeria’s landmass, is faced with the problems of killings day and night which are greater than ever, except during the civil war.
According to him, “we have not faced this challenge before: Killings day and night. At no time has life been so tough except during the civil war,” he said.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the Forum’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, the Chairman was quoted to have said that, “some Nigerians mistake the ACF to be an ethnic, tribal, religious or a political organization. It is none of these. We have over 300 tribes in the north and we cannot afford to be an ethnic organisation.”
According to the communiqué, “the Arewa Consultative Forum which was established in March 2000, held a General Assembly in March 2020 at which a new leadership was elected to fill positions in the forum.”
“Unfortunately, the country and in fact the whole world was gripped by the coronavirus pandemic which forced all of us into a lockdown. In this situation, meetings became impossible. Fortunately, the lockdown has been relaxed and this is why the first meeting of this new leadership was held just today.”
”The meeting was presided over by Chief Audu Ogbeh, the newly elected Chairman of the forum. In his opening remarks he regretted the inability of his executive committee to meet due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“He said some Nigerians mistake the ACF to be an ethnic, tribal, religious or a political organization. It is none of these. We have over 300 tribes in the north, he said and we cannot afford to be an ethnic organisation. He said that 78% of Nigerian land mass is in the north and we are faced with the problems of killings day and night which are greater than ever, except during the civil war.
“Our responsibility now is greater than before. We have not faced this challenge before: Killings day and night. At no time has life been so tough except during the civil war.
“He said the ACF is not a political party but an organization working for peace and stability in the north. He warned that “if we do not save the north now, we will lose the North.
“After careful deliberations on the chairman’s opening remarks and other items on the agenda, the National Working Committee adopted it and further resolved that: Northern states should take advantage of the N75billion loan to farmers in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). Northern state governments will do well to take advantage of such programs.
“Because of the existing tensions and crises leading to a general sense of insecurity, destruction of property and killings in the north, religious, ethnic, traditional and political leaders in the north should be cautious in their utterances and should refrain from making wild and inflammatory utterances that will aggravate the situation.” “Federal and state governments must take urgent steps to arrest the deteriorating security situation in northern Nigeria which has led to insurgency, terrorism, banditry, ethnic and religious disturbances all over the north.
“The government, particularly state governments of the northern region should pay adequate attention to agriculture which offers more opportunities for diversification and the development of a more sustainable economy for the north and the country.
“School enrollments have remained low in the northern region. State governors of the north should take urgent steps to enhance school enrolment and eradicate the rampant incidence of street begging which is very unhealthy for the overall development of the north.
“Unemployment has become a big menace to the northern region. State governors are advised to design employment schemes for our teeming youths who have become frustrated and pose an additional threat to the security of the north and the country. State governors are also advised to key into programs of the Federal Government designed to offer employment to the youth and alleviate poverty,” the communique read.