NEF’s ‘unholy’ call for Buhari to resign

President Muhammadu Buhari

The call by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), for the immediate resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari, over killings across the country, especially in the North, is not only preposterous, ill timed and premeditated but it also smacks of a political subterfuge and gerrymandering.

In a press statement on Wedneday, the Director, Publicity and Advocacy of NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said: “The administration of President Buhari does not appear to have answers to the challenges of security to which we are exposed. We cannot continue to live and die under the dictates of killers, kidnappers, rapists and sundry criminal groups that have deprived us of our rights to live in peace and security”.

It said the nation’s constitution has provisions for leaders to voluntarily step down if they are challenged by personal reasons or they prove incapable of leading.

NEF advised President Buhari to seriously consider that option, since his leadership has proved spectacularly incapable of providing security for Nigerians. Noting the weight of its advice, NEF said it is also aware that Nigerians cannot continue to live under these conditions until 2023 when President Buhari’s term ends.

NEF said it made the recommendation with the highest sense of responsibility, and expressed the hope that there are many Nigerians who enjoy the confidence of President Buhari to advise him to consider resigning.

In a swift reaction to NEF’s call, the presidency said publicity is the oxygen for politicians who have failed to connect with voters in a democracy. It said it was not ready to be drawn into the high-decibel show in the media, taking the nation by the storm from the Northern Elders Forum.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement titled, “Reforms in internal security to take hold sooner than later”, said, “It is enough to say from our part, that resignation call on the president is not a solution to the security problems facing the country, something that has built up to a worrisome level following decades of neglect.

“It is more important that citizens know what their government is doing to deal with this situation and for politicians to come to terms with the fact that it is beneficial to all that they help to preserve the state so that when it is their turn, they will have a place that they will manage.

“People don’t have to destroy what is there in a desperate quest to get power.

“In response to the recent spike in terrorist activity particularly in the Kaduna and Niger states axis, the defense establishment, in response to presidential directives, has realigned and reorganised the ongoing operation in the areas, as well as that going on in the Niger Delta region.

“The new operations structures are being reinforced with land-based assets to increase the efficiency of the troops and intelligence is equally being reinforced.

“The air defense system is being reinforced with newly-acquired jets and drones which assemblage and training for operators has been hastened to meet the current exigencies.

“The country is equally getting assurances of early delivery of equipment on order from manufacturers and the effort is ongoing to conclude other major procurements still in process.”

Continuing, the statement said, “Only this morning, the government at a meeting of the cabinet approved the procurement of the largest ever single procurement of military vehicles.

“At the same time, similar major operations are going in the South-east and the South-south where the economic life wire of the nation and electricity transmission lines are currently being secured from saboteurs.

“What the sponsored saboteurs aim to show is that the government cannot provide power sabotaging equipment at switches and other vital points. They will not succeed. The public knows who is who, and who has done what in our country’s governance.

“Massive gains being made will shortly be manifesting. Large number of arrests have equally been made.

“Nigerians are assured that the government will keep its promise to the nation and threats to security will be handled with the firmness they call for. And government will remain firm in securing the country’s unity and progress.”

Coming barely six months, precisely on December 1, 2020, after NEF had called on President Buhari to resign, the latest call creates the impression that the elders’ forum is driven more by political undercurrent than by patriotism and nationalistic verve.

Rather than the demand for President Buhari to resign, we urge NEF to collaborate with the government in finding pragmatic solutions to the current security challenges, which have assumed more complex and unconventional dimensions.

Recent events have shown that neither the resignation of the president nor the sacking of the service chiefs will end the insecurity nightmare in the country, but could instead worsen the situation. This can be gleaned from the recent replacement of service chiefs, following a clamour for their removal; their removal by Mr President in December 2020 did not end insecurity.

As a matter of fact, the then immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Tukur Buratai (rtd), had warned during his ambassadorial screening at the senate in February 2021, that insurgency might linger in Nigeria for the next 20 years – a food for thought.

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