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North East – Roaring Lion or Whimpering Cat

| October 10, 2012 More

The dam has literally burst for the North-East Geopolitical zone in Nigeria, what with the myriad of challenges that the area is currently faced with. The cocktail is a combination of insecurity, poverty, hunger and disease, compounded by the natural disaster of unprecedented flooding of the area. This has made worse, an already existing predicament captured by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, when it revealed the State of Poverty in Nigeria.

The chairman, Dr Yemi Kale did not stun anyone; it was already well known, when he revealed in a damning report, that “the North-West and North-East geopolitical zones recorded the highest poverty rate in Nigeria with 77.7 per cent and 76.3 per cent respectively. This was in the 2011 annual report in which Dr. Kale that poverty rate in Nigeria might have risen to 71.5 per cent, 61.9 per cent, and 62.8 per cent using the relative, absolute and dollar-per-day measures respectively. The bureau was using “the relative, absolute and dollar-per-day poverty measures, and estimates that poverty may have further risen slightly to about 71.5 per cent, 61.9 per cent and 62.8 per cent respectively in 2011.”

Dr Kale said that between 2004 and 2010, Nigeria’s poverty rate had moved from 54.4 per cent to 69 per cent involving 112,518,507 Nigerians, adding that although the country’s Gross Domestic Growth (GDP) had grown since then, it had little impact on the poverty situation. it was that “while the North-West and the North-East geopolitical zones had the highest poor, the South-West recorded the lowest with 59 per cent.

As I write this note, I am filled with awe and a near surrender given the daily carnage and loss of human lives that has become the character of the North East geopolitical zone. From the small upheavals of early 2009, to the current war time situation, hundreds of thousands of lives of simple ordinary people have perished! For years, I wondered whether there were no more concerned citizens in the area that can rise to calm the storm by appealing to the sentiments of the aggrieved, instead of the ongoing destructive instability of the area.

Early in June, I was invited as elders gathered in Bauchi at Fariyah Suites in a meeting convened by septuagenarian Alhaji Mohammed Bello Kirfi, CON, the Waziri of Bauchi and seasoned politician of the area. He had risen from the rudiments of the civil service epitomizing as Minister of the Federal cabinet in the civilian administration headed by President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999. Prominent Northern leaders from the North-East region broke their silence on the Boko Haram insurgency, openly pleading with the Islamist militants to sheathe their sword and allow peace to reign. The leaders lamented that the activities of the Boko Haram and the continuing bloodletting particularly in the region had worsened the socio-economic situation of the people.

The meeting held at Fariah Suits, GRA, Bauchi had in attendance, former and present leaders in the region including , Malam Adamu Ciroma, Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Kirfi, the convener, former Deputy Speaker, Bayero Nafada, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Yayale Ahmed, Ibrahim Modibbo, former FCT minister.

Others were Architect Ibrahim Bunu, former FCT minister, Dr Yakubu Lame, former Police Affairs Minister, Alhaji Yerima Abdulahi, former Education Minister, Ibrahim Waziri, former Police Affairs Minister, Hajiya Fati Mu’azu, former INEC National Commissioner, Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, Senator representing Taraba North, Abdumalik Mohammed, former Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Garba Gadi, former deputy governor of Bauchi State and Yusuf Maitama Tugga, former CPC gubernatorial candidate in Bauchi State, serving members of the National Assembly, retired top security personnel, captains of Industries among other distinguished leaders from the region. The meeting included Alhaji Mohammadu Goni, former Governor of Borno State, Khalifa Hassan National Chairman of the Defunct Peoples Redemption Party, Ambassador Fatima Sa’ad Abubakar, and many past Governors both military and civilian. This was the last public outing for Senator Usman Albishir, who died in a car crash right after the meeting.

Almost in tears, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Kirfi pleaded that his contemporaries come out of their fears and seek the solution to the problems bedevilling the geopolitical zone. He called for ceasefire from members of the sect, adding that insecurity particularly in the north/east region has further worsened the socio-economic problems of the people by increasing poverty, unemployment and illiteracy for which the region was scored poorly. “Our region has been engulfed in strife of warfare, more complex and sophisticated than the Nigerian civil war…We plead with our brothers and sisters in the Jamatu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad to sheathe their swords immediately in the spirit of fatal submission.” Profusely drawing from the Glorious Qur’an Alhaji Kirfi concluded;- “to the will of Allah (SWT) and respect for the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) in order to restore peace and tranquillity and to enable us prop up the framework for peaceful engagement and attending to … grievances and our collective disposition. We should remember that Allah Taala and His messenger said “As SULHU KHAIR” meaning reconciliation is an excellent virtue.”

The concerned elders in the defunct North East Region which comprised of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states have continued since then, with frantic efforts to assist in the confrontation of the unique problems bedevilling the region. Contact committees all week, toured the States in the zone during to secure the nods of the State Governors and the Traditional rulers to a new effort aimed at securing stability in the Zone, in the renewed determination that elders and notable indigenes that the zone has been blessed with rise up to the challenges. At first, the idea was viewed with suspicion by stake holders. Politicians feared the Forum could be hijacked by powers and principalities; while state chief executives feared their opposition was scheming to get some crack in the wall. Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State captured the essence, when he opined that the forum would offer ample opportunity for common stand on the region’s common problems, regardless of political difference in opinion.

The delegation to Adamawa and Taraba States was led by the former Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, in company of Dr Ahmed Modibbo, Alhaji Dahiru Bobbo and Ambassador Fati Sa’ad Abubakar.

Alhaji Yayale Ahmed informed the leaders that after a careful evaluation of the myriad of issues bedevilling the once flourishing zone, namely disunity, poverty illiteracy and the well known general insecurity, the Forum was convened with a view to proffering solutions

Both the Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako and the Lamido Adamawa assured the group of their maximum support, while Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai in endorsing the moves criticized its exclusiveness but described the move as long overdue. Governor Danbaba warned that all the efforts will amount to naught, if the Governors of the States were excluded, promising to infuse more participants into the forum his State.

Category: Bauchi State News

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