A group of northern elders have condemned the religious attack on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Nyesom Wike, by a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi.
The elders under the umbrella body, North-East Consolidated Peoples Forum (NCPF), in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Alhaji Mohammed Abba Liman, said “Gumi’s attack was unprovoked, malicious, inciting and a deliberate misinterpretation of our history.”
The elders, who were displeased by this development, described the attack as “unhealthy and inciting statement” and that the cleric was a “divisive element”.
They also condemned the unnecessary religious sentiments by those they described as “misguided elements and their sponsors” over the Israeli-Hamas war with intent to cause disaffection and disunity in the country,” saying “such does not represent the collective view and interest of the North, and certainly not Nigeria’s interest”.
Last week, Gumi, a controversial cleric, apparently, taking side in the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war, had described the FCT minister as “satanic” for receiving the Israeli ambassador, Michael Freeman, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office Tuesday.
The visit occurred days before the Hamas’ attack on Israel and the consequent and continued retaliation by the Jewish nation.
The cleric equally accused the government of President Tinubu of pursuing Christian agenda against Muslims, and that Christians cannot be trusted with power.
Northern group kicks
However, the Northern elders who are made up of statesmen and women, disagreed with the cleric.
They said: “We totally condemn such unprovoked divisive statement from a divisive element who is seeking to destabilize the peace and unity of our dear county, Nigeria, for selfish reason.
“The utterance is toxic and it should not be accepted by any decent and sound minded person who loves peace and our Nigeria”.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, according to Liman, “gives power and right to any Nigerian irrespective of tribes, religion and political affiliation to be appointed to any position of power as long as that person operates within the limit of our law.
“What Nigeria needs now is a consolidation of its peace, unity and progress. We caution profiteers of religious fundamentalism and ethnicity, as well as agents of destabilization and instability to desist henceforth.
“We therefore stand with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief (Barr) Nyesom Wike. We indeed stand with Nigeria and, of course, Nigerian Constitution for a better governance system for all Nigeria.”
…PANDEF backs Wike
In a related development, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has urged Wike not to be distracted by the divisive antics of a few while urging him to carry out his duties and responsibilities as minister without biases, for the benefit of all; irrespective of religion, tribe or political proclivities.
In a statement by the forum’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Ken Robinson, the group said “it is necessary to underscore some unadorned facts Sheikh Gumi is pretending to overlook; Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and not a sectional capital; more so, it (FCT) was developed and continues to be developed with, mainly, the oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta region, where Nyesom Wike comes from.
“It is commonly known that crude oil was swapped instead of payment to contractors in building the infrastructure in Abuja, including the Aso Rock Villa. At that time, no one talked of Abuja belonging to any particular ethnic group.
“In fact, from the administration of Shehu Shagari up until the General Babangida regime, the federal government encouraged all citizens, no matter where they come from, to acquire and develop property in the Federal Capital Territory, because Abuja belongs to all Nigerians.
“We recall that our youths came to Abuja in l988 for a so-called “2 Million Man March” in support of the self-succession bid of General Sani Abacha, and saw how resources from their land were being used in building bridges, roads, and amazing structures, whereas their communities, meshed in an environment ravished and degraded by oil and gas exploration activities, are deprived of such “wonders”.
“The contradictions the youths saw, provoked renewed agitations in the Niger Delta leading to the “Kaiama Declaration” for Resource Control and Justice, in December 1988, and the subsequent crisis in the region.
“Suffice it to state that any Nigerian; from the North, South, East, or West, could and should, be appointed to serve as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).”
“Remarkably, Nyesom Wike is the 17th Minister of the FCT, but only the second Southerner to be appointed in 47 years, since the creation of the FCT.
“The first Southerner, and the very first Minister of the FCT, for that matter, was Mobolaji Ajose-Adeogun, who recently passed on at 96; he served as FCT Minister between 1976 and 1979, under the military regime of General Obasanjo. The other 15 past Ministers of the FCT are all persons of northern extraction. The records are there for all to see!
“Ironically, a Northerner, and one of the founding architects of this country, Musa Yar’Adua, father of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, served as the Minister of Lagos Affairs during the First Republic from 1963 until the military truncated the First Republic in 1966. Nobody complained then!
“We commend President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his patriotism and political will in appointing a Southerner, the former Governor of Rivers State, as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory after over four decades.
“It is needful that all patriots and true lovers of the nation, particularly of northern extraction, without equivocation, denounce the dangerous diatribes of Sheikh Gumi and those of his likes, in the national interest,” he said.
Wike dismisses false insinuations
Speaking on the controversial statement, FCT Minister Wike, dismissed as baseless and untrue, insinuations that he expressed support for Israel against Palestine.
The minister said he lacked the constitutional powers to determine Nigeria’s diplomatic relations with other countries, as such powers lies absolutely with the President and Commander-in-Chief.
He made the clarifications at a recent meeting with the leadership of the Abuja National Mosque Management Board.
He said: “I have heard from various social media platforms that we had a meeting that we are doing this and that with Israel. I am here acting on delegation of powers on behalf of Mr. President.
“I cannot determine a relationship between a country and another country. So, it is difficult for anybody to say I am doing this, I am doing that.
“Any foreign body that wants to have anything to do with Nigeria, it is the Minister of Foreign Affairs who will write to me and state that these people want to see me; it is simple. And when they come, it is in my position to say look, we want to partner with you. Take for instance, you are going into agriculture and we want to partner, then we tell you where exactly.”
He said his meeting with the Israeli Ambassador was purely for agricultural partnership in the interest of farmers in the FCT.
“In Abuja here, most of them have cultural farms and we say look, it is our own desire to help anybody who wants to invest in Abuja particularly in Agriculture in order to employ our people and in order to get more revenue. It has nothing to do with another country. It doesn’t work that way.
“When our people begin to now think different angles and people may not understand that it is not correct. So, I will like to use this opportunity to say look we have to talk to our people. In fact, we must live harmoniously. We must live together to make sure that development is promoted,” Wike stated.