The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has dismissed the National Conference, which is planned to commence next week, saying it “lacks a constitutional basis or any form of legitimacy or authority to speak for the people of the North or other Nigerians.”
In a declaration adopted at the end of its meeting in Kano on Tuesday, the group said the proceedings, conclusions and recommendations of the National Conference would therefore be of no consequence and would not be accepted by the people of the North.
The NEF further added that the critical issues of national development were fairly well known and could be incorporated in amendments of the constitution, and that the North must work with other Nigerians to seek more legitimate avenues for discussing the nature and future of the Nigerian nation, including all options which may be negotiated with other Nigerians.
It noted that while the people of the North were aware that the on-going challenges to security of life and property in the area represented acts of hostility against the people by leaders who have responsibility to protect them, the intolerable assaults must be stopped by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, or “by another responsible and committed leadership that should emerge in its place.”
The northern elders’ declaration, among others, said, “The rather diabolical, purposive and systematic underdevelopment of Northern economic and its social structures by the national leadership and some leaders in the North must be resisted; and policies which deepen inequity, underdevelopment injustice against the North must be reversed.
“Political activities, including elections must respect the will of the people; and further attempts to deprive the North of its rights to benefit fully in the democratic process will be lawfully and firmly resisted;
“Unfair and unjust allocation of resources of the nation which deprive the North of its legitimate rights must cease; and the North must intensify efforts to improve the exploitation and management of its own human and other resources;
“The planned National Conference has no constitutional basis, or any form of legitimacy or authority to speak for the people of the North or other Nigerians. Its proceedings, conclusions and recommendations are therefore of no consequence and will not be accepted by the people of the North. The critical issues of national development are fairly well known and can be incorporated in amendments of the constitution.”
NEF also called for the 2015 elections to be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere throughout the North and the nation, stressing that the armed forces and the police must not be abused in the process and that the will of the people must prevail.
It urged Northerners to resist attempts to intensify insecurity or cause further divisions and violence around faith and ethnic groups in the North.
Meanwhile, practitioners of the African Traditional Religion in the country have predicted that the National Conference holding soon will “amount to nothing and end in futility.”
The ATR practitioners said this while again protesting their alleged exclusion from the conference. They said the conference was being built on pretence, self-deceit and hypocrisy, hence it would not stand.
The President of International Council for Ifa (African) Religion, who is also the Dean, School of Earth and Mineral Sciences at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Prof. Idowu Odeyemi, told journalists on Wednesday in Abuja that practitioners of ATR in the country had totally rejected the list of delegates to the national conference as presently compiled.