Northern group washes hands off NEF ‘s anti-Tinubu comments  


A group, Arewa Progressive Forum (APFO), has dissociated itself from the recent views of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidential approach to security in the region, saying that Nigeria’s unity not negotiable. 

The Northern Elders had claimed that it regretted its decision to vote for President Tinubu in the 2023 elections, while threatening that the North had learnt its lesson over heightened security challenges under the Tinubu administration and may do things differently in 2027.

But the National Secretary of the Forum, Magaji Abbas Danbatta, in a statement on Monday declared that the recent outbursts of the Elders Forum did not represent the Northern agenda for peace and national unity of the country, which is not negotiable. 

He added that it was an error for any group or political association to come out openly and announce their regret over majority decisions, warning that Northern elders are derailing from their counseling and advisory role to the government on national issues that affect the region.

The group further expressed support for the Minister of State Defense, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, over his candid response to the NEF outbursts against President Tinubu, saying that the people behind the claim were more interested in personal gains than the unity and survival of Nigeria. 

“We wholeheartedly endorsed the reactions of Minister of State Defense, Bello Mohammed Matawalle to some members of the Forum. They are not in tune with current realities in the North.

“Northern elders should be seen as mediators or opinion shapers on national unity, cohesion, and progress without regional bias. This is key because Nigeria’s unity can’t be negotiated on the pages of newspaper. The same elders that ignored and failed to unite some of our political gladiators that are fighting one another in Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Kaduna states, are talking about the region being abandoned to its plights,” he queried.

“Where were they when Zamfara Governor, Dauda Lawal was attacking his predecessor Bello Mohammed Matawalle over issues that could have been amicably resolved? The same with Umar Ganduje and Rabi’u Kwankwaso or Aliyu Wamakko and Attahiru Bafarawa before going into a fight with Aminu Waziri Tambuwal? In Kaduna, there is brewing misunderstanding between Governor Uba Sani and his predecessor, Nasir el-Rufai. All the Northern elders cared about was President Tinubu.

“We are concerned that the Northern elders have one of their members as an adviser on political matters to the Vice President, in the person of Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed who could have facilitated a meeting with who and who in the seat of power to discuss issues affecting the region or the country in general rather than rushing to the press.”

The Forum however commended the joint and unrelenting efforts of the National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, and Minister of State (Defence), Bello Muhammad Matawalle whose proactive measures have helped improve security in the Northern region. 

“We are of the view that President Tinubu’s approach to the issues of security in the North so far, especially Northwest, is one of the best compared to his immediate predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari’s approach,” Danbatta added.