Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni (rtd)
By Chuks Okocha
The Arewa Consultative Forum has again called on the extremist Islamic sect, Boko Haram to lay down its arms, adopt dialogue and stop all violent activities.
The apex northern group also commended the efforts of the federal government to dialogue with the militants, while lampooning "those questioning Nigeria’s status as one united country."
According to a communiqué issued Friday in Abuja following a Board of Trustees meeting chaired by Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni and a National Executive Committee meeting chaired by Alhaji Aliko Mohammed, ACF also chided the Boko Haram sect and declared that "enough is enough."
The ACF statement signed by its spokesperson, Anthony Sani, said both meetings considered "the security challenges of the Boko Haram sect; ethno-religious crises in some states of the North and the spate of kidnappings and communal clashes across the South-East."
The meetings also examined "the widespread armed robberies in the South-West; and the militant activities and oil bunkering in the South-South."
The ACF also expressed appreciation with the efforts of northern state governors in setting up panels to help find lasting solution to the country’s security challenges and called on Nigerians to support government’s action.
The ACF also said it considered the expressions of ethnic nationalism as manifested by recent declaration of autonomy and hoisting of flags and anthems by some groups as unhelpful.
It noted that "actions which promote cleavages along ethnic and religious lines are unlikely to inspire national solidarity that must go with our relative pluralism."
The ACF also praised the actions of religious leaders whom it said took it upon themselves to promote tolerance between faiths through interdenominational breaking of fast "as hosted by Archbishop John Onaiyekan in Abuja; Archbishop Kaigama in Jos and many others who stood guard at places of worship while members of the opposite religion prayed."
It therefore called on all religious, political as well as community leaders to follow suit for collective good.
On the debate relating to the review of the constitution, the ACF objected to the concern expressed by the presidency: "It was the considered view of the meetings that, given the fact that progress comes from change through robust debates, and the fact that democracy is a contest of ideas and reasons, the debates should continue provided it is conducted with decorum and sense of patriotism."
The meetings also expressed concern about "the current state of affairs in the New Nigerian Development Company" and urged Northern state governments to look into it."