Northern, Southern Leaders Resolve ‘to Pull Nigeria Back from the Brink’

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•Decry deterioration in governance, economy, security

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

North and southern leaders of Nigeria, comprising the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Middle Belt Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere and Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), yesterday, resolved to work together with the sole aim of pulling the country back from the brink.

Decrying the general state of governance, the economy and security, they also expressed their commitment to support and involve themselves in all activities targeted at improving the Nigerian constitution for the purpose of meeting the yearnings and aspirations of all Nigerian citizens.

The socio-cultural and political organisations stated this in a communiqué issued by the Convener, Ambassador Ahmed Magaji, after its consultative dialogue on the state of the nation and the critical challenges facing the country, held on the 9th and 10th of September in Abuja.

The communiqué revealed that the consultative dialogue was convened and facilitated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, following a fairly extensive consultation, support and encouragement received from elder statesmen, traditional, religious, political and business leaders across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

The former President set the stage for the dialogue, when he said only self-deluded people would claim that all is well in Nigeria.
The former President equally decried that Nigeria was slowly becoming a failed state and a basket case that urgently needed to be pulled from the brink of collapse, adding that many of the problems plaguing the country today were due to the recent mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity.

Obasanjo stated: “I do appreciate that you all feel sad and embarrassed as most of us feel as Nigerians with the situation we find ourselves in. Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state; economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.

“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country. Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere.

“I believe Nigeria is worth saving on the basis of mutuality and reciprocity and I also believe it can be done through the process of dialogues rather than talking at each other or resorting to violence. It will amount to dangerous and destructive self-delusion for anybody to claim that all is well in Nigeria today,” he maintained.

The former President lamented that rather than work on fixing the country and ensuring that grievances among several units within the country are addressed, some are fixated on the 2023 Presidential election.

According to him, “Some people are obsessed with 2023, I believe that with death, destruction, debt, disease, deceit, disbelief, disenchantment, doubt and suspicion around, we need to see our way through to 2023 and beyond in some form of unity of purpose, reasonable security, shared values, true democratic practice, inclusiveness and shared society. That is why we are here. No constitution is even permanent; it is dynamic with time and experience.”

However, in the communiqué, it was stated that the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Chairman, APC Governors Forum and Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu and Chairman, PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal were fully briefed on the initiative and its resolve.

The communiqué reads in part: “The meeting noted the grave dangers Nigeria is facing especially, in the areas of deterioration of governance, the economy, security, political intolerance, worsening social and inter-communal cohesion, poor performance of democratic and electoral structures, declining faith in leadership and those charged with leadership at all levels which have combined to push our beloved country to the brink. The meeting identified the primacy of pulling Nigeria back from the brink and resolved to deploy their individual and collective efforts to achieve that objective.”

The southern and northern leaders, the communiqué stressed, further committed themselves to work with other organisations, groups and governmental organs at all levels to improve the quality of governance, democratic and electoral processes as well as on all matters that can positively impact and improve the economic wellbeing of the Nigerian citizen.