Northern governors and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) on Sunday clashed over Operation Shege Ka Fasa, a security outfit, whose symbols were unveiled by the CNG on Wednesday.
The Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Mr Simon Lalong, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said northern governors were not part of the security outfit.
But the CNG told The PUNCH on Sunday that its decision not to consult northern governors was deliberate, saying the governors would have swept it under the carpet if they were consulted.
The coalition also hit the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, because of their stand on Operation Shege ka Fasa.
The CNG, while unveiling Operation Shege Ka Fasa’s symbols in Kaduna on Wednesday, had said that the security outfit would tackle kidnapping, banditry and other crimes in all the northern states.
The coalition move came amidst the setting up of Operation Amotekun by the South-West governors after initial opposition by the Federal Government.
The South-West attorneys general met on Friday in Ibadan, where they adopted a draft bill on Amotekun.
Also, when they met the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) two weeks ago, the South-East governors indicated their intention to set up a regional security outfit.
But the Northern governors disowned the CNG’s Operation Shege Ka Fasa. The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Lalong, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said northern governors were not part of the security outfit.
The Plateau State governor said he and his colleagues had no prior knowledge about the security outfit neither were they consulted before its symbols were unveiled in Kaduna on Wednesday.
Lalong, in response to an inquiry by one of our correspondents in Jos, said, “I don’t have information about it and Northern governors to the best of my knowledge are not party to that.”
But the CNG’s spokesman, AbdulAzeez Sulieman, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the coalition refused to consult the northern governors before unveiling Operation Shege ka Fasa.
Sulieman said if they had done that, the governors would have swept the idea under the carpet.
Suleiman said the northern elite were responsible for the retrogression in the region and by extension dragging the entire country backward.
According to him, the action of the CNG, merely exposed the inconsistencies of the northern elite in the affairs of the region.
He said having exposed the hypocrisy of the northern elite, the CNG planned to seek legal recognition for the security outfit from relevant federal authorities. We are consulting with our legal team to find a way forward,” he said.
Suleiman also tackled the Sultan of Sokoto and Ganduje, saying their comments only confirmed the concern about the failure of the northern elite and the traditional institution.
The Sultan had, at a security outfit of the Northern Nigeria in Kaduna on Thursday, dismissed Operation Shege Ka Fasa.
He had said, “What I want to talk about is the Northern Youth Coalition that just created their own security outfit with just two or three vehicles. I saw it on the television, and the media gave them attention. Now, the elders allowed youths to go forward. So, the elite are our problems, the elders are our problems.
“If the elders don’t take the lead, the youth will do whatever they like and think they are right. You have to caution these youths by giving them good leadership. Now, youths have launched their own security outfit. I don’t know what they call it, Shege Ka Fasa’, meaning what?
Also at the event, the Kano State Governor, Ganduje disowned the security outfit, saying that the state had no need for Operation Shege Ka Fasa
The governor said he preferred building a strong synergy between the communities and security agencies to backing the outfit.
But Suleiman argued that the Sultan’s statement and that of the governor of Kano showed the disconnect between the elite and the general population of the North.
The CNG spokesman said, “We are compelled by unfolding circumstances to return to the drawing board in view of the uncooperative position assumed by the northern elite – the Sultan and Ganduje – which is not unexpected.
“There is all along this feeling that the bankruptcy of the northern elite is responsible for the region’s retrogression and is to a large extent dragging the entire nation backwards.
“This explains why we had to go public before consulting them. If we had consulted them before the public presentation, they would have swept the matter under the carpet. Now we have exposed the elite inconsistencies.
“What the Sultan said merely confirmed the concern about the failure of the northern elite and the traditional institution he heads.”
Suleiman said the comments indicated that northern leaders were far from the ordinary northerners over the sundry attacks on their lives.
He called on the northern leaders to learn from the experience of the Emir of Potiskum, Alhaji Alhaji Umar Bubaram who was attacked by bandits on the Zaria-Kaduna highway in January.
The Ansaru militia later claimed responsibility for that attack.
Sulaiman stated, “The Sultan and Ganduje have confirmed the disconnect between the elite and the general population of the North that sees the self-defence initiative as the only solace to the pains and anguish they go through daily.
“The northern population is bleeding and weeping and unfortunately all these supposed leaders could see in a laudable move to cheer up the people is that the initiators could only parade two vehicles.
“One would have thought that if this group in its little way can offer to contribute 2000 vehicles for use in complementing the security efforts, people like the Sultan could offer 20 if that would save the lives of the people and secure communities.”
He said northern leaders appeared not to care about the deaths, attacks, the sacking of northern communities just because they felt “secure in their fortified mansions while the masses remain vulnerable.
“They should know that if the rain falls it will not fall on only one roof. Let them learn from the experience of the Emir of Potiskum in the hands of criminals.
“Having exposed the hypocrisy of the northern elite, we now plan to seek legal recognition from relevant federal authorities.
“We are consulting with our legal team to find a way forward. What is absolutely certain is that neither the Sultan or any of his collaborators can stop the people’s resolve to secure their lives and their communities by assisting the national security efforts.” – Punch.