By John Shiklam
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has asked religious, traditional and political leaders in the north to refrain from making wild and inflammatory utterances that could aggravate the existing tension arising from the general sense of insecurity, killings and destruction of property.
In a communique issued on Wednesday in Kaduna after the first meeting of its newly elected National Working Committee (NWC) headed by former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, the forum said: “The federal and state governments must take urgent steps to arrest the deteriorating security situation in northern Nigeria which has led to insurgency, terrorism, banditry, ethnic and religious disturbances all over the north.”
The communique signed by the spokesman of the forum, Mr. Emmanuel Yahwe, called on the government, particularly state governments of the northern region to pay adequate attention to agriculture which offers more opportunities for diversification and the development of a more sustainable economy for the north and the country.
The forum also noted noted that school enrollments in the region have remained low and urged governors of the 19 states in the region “to take urgent steps to enhance school enrollment and eradicate the rampant incidence of street begging which is very unhealthy for the overall development of the north”.
The ACF said: “Northern states should take advantage of the N75 billion loan to farmers in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).”
The forum insisted that Northern
state governments will do well to take advantage of such programmes.
According to the communique, “Unemployment has become a big menace to the northern region.
“State governors are advised to design employment schemes for our teeming youths who have become frustrated and pose an additional threat to the security of the north and the country.
“State governors are also advised to key into programmes of the federal government designed to offer employment to the youth and alleviate poverty.”
The meeting was presided over by Chief Ogbeh, the newly elected Chairman of
Earlier in his opening remarks, he regretted the inability of his executive committee to meet due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said some Nigerians mistake the ACF to be an ethnic, tribal, religious or a political organization, maintaining that it is none of these.
“We have over 300 tribes in the north, and we cannot afford to be an ethnic organisation,” Ogbe said.
He added that: “78 per cent of Nigerian land mass is in the north and we are faced with the problems of killings day and night which are greater than ever, except during the civil war.
“Our responsibility now is greater than before. We have not faced this challenge
before — killings day and night.
“At no time has life been so tough except during the civil war.”
He said the ACF is not a political party but an organization working for the peace and stability in the north.
“If we do not save the north now, we will lose the north,” Ogbe warned.