By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
A technical committee set up by the Northern Elders’ Forum and their Southern elders counterpart has agreed on a common platform to tackle the challenges facing the country.
The committee met at the weekend and agreed to establish Nigerian Elders Forum (NEF).
According to the committee, when established, the new umbrella body would understudy the situation in country, proffer solutions and make sure that the decisions have impact on the lives of the people.
Addressing journalists after the three and half hours closed door meeting at the weekend in Abuja, the spokesman of the groups, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said the elders were worried “that things are not well with our country,” adding that a lot were happening that ordinarily should not happen.
While speaking on the resolutions of the closed door meeting, Akintoye said: “What we have decided is to set up – and this is the height of our decisions, to set up a Nigerian Elders Forum.
“The Nigerian Elders Forum that will establish its own means of meeting and studying situation to provide solutions and make sure that the decisions have impact on the lives of our country. Those are the things we have decided today.”
Among those that attended the meeting were: Yinka Odumakin, Afred Mulade, Senator. Kofo Bucknor-Akerele, Senator. Chris Anyanwu, Francis Doukpola, Chike Dike, Bello Suleiman, Senator Ibrahim Y. Lame and Ambassador Bala Sani.
Others at the meeting included Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, Sheik Idris Hayatudeen, Senator Saidu M. Dansadau, Alhaji Falalu Bello, Doyin Okupe, Yerima Shettima, Charles Nwekeaku, G. G Darah, Abdullahi Usman Toro, Prof. Rahila P. Gowon and Abdulrazaq Adamu, among others.
According to Akintoye, there are big problems of governance and economy which need urgent attention of the elders.
He said: “We are elders, we are not active politicians. Most of us are not active politicians. We have come together because we are worried about the condition of our country. Things are not well with our country. A lot of things are happening in our country that ordinarily should not happen. Ours is a land of promise, a land well-endowed by nature with a lot of wealth but we are not using the wealth to enrich our people. Instead, we are going down, down and down in terms of prosperity and progress.
“So we have decided to work together – that is the most important thing because the problems are many. There is a general problem like the problems of ecology. The desert is moving South on upon us, upon our country and we are not doing anything about it. The ocean is moving in from the South, parts of Lagos already under sea level and we are not doing anything about it.
“Parts of the South-south too is already under the sea and we are not doing anything about it, and in the East, there is serious problem of gully erosion. Nobody seems to know what to do about it.
“And then on economy itself, we have become a country that is no longer productive because lack of productivity is the big problem now of our country, and we have to do something about it. We also have this huge problem of poor governance. It is no longer a question of a party, it is no longer a question of one party is doing better than the other, you can see now clearly, even though our political parties are rarely no longer political parties, they are just neighbours or combination of people who want to gather together and win elections and control the wealth of the country.
“That is what it has become, and the quality of leadership has fallen so drastically that it is not possible to have any progress in the hands of such poor leadership and then now we have reached a point at which we are actually killing one another. People burning and killing their countrymen and destroying their livelihoods.
“So we cannot go on like this, we elders of the country have decided that we cannot go on like this. We must take actions to change these things,” he stated.