Giving the 30-day ultimatum on implementation and acceptance of Ruga, the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, said the conspiracy to weaken the North had been perpetrated with the active connivance of some leaders from the region, accommodated by the cowardice of those that present themselves as northern political leaders today and feed on the negligence and insincerity of the federal authorities.
“Throughout the last four years, the administration of President Buhari had twisted and wobbled deceitfully around the visibly stewing security situation in Northern Nigeria, especially the herders and farmers’ conflict.
The administration had proposed several conflicting and ill-designed approaches to the issue, which were apparently only meant to buy time and never to be implemented.
“We find it odd that some northern political merchants, who could not rise to condemn what is happening to their kith and kin and do not deserve to be taken seriously, were busy going round in a bid to sell the conscience of the northerners to Bola Tinubu by shamelessly waging a campaign for a fraudulent shift of power to the South-West in 2019,” they stated.
The CNG, which had two years ago in Kaduna given an ultimatum to Igbo residing in the North to vacate the region, lamented that since the Federal Government announced the Ruga Settlement Scheme as a way out of the recurring farmers-herders clashes, southern leaders have been threatening fire and brimstone.
The coalition said the Fulani are today singled out for profiling and denied access to “ordinary grazing lands and the right to thoroughfare in the South and are being hunted, expelled or slaughtered while southerners are comfortably hosted in northern cities and towns.”
At a news conference Wednesday in Abuja, spokesman of the coalition, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman recalled that upon return from treatment abroad, President Buhari had in a reaction to the coalition’s Kaduna declaration proclaimed that every Nigerian had the right to live and flourish in any part of the country without hindrance.
“But President Buhari and the other compromised northern leaders, who were vocal against the Kaduna Declaration could not find their voices when today the Fulani are being maltreated and vilified in the South.
“Expectedly, instead of treating our submission as a warning from history which repeats itself once as a farce, and twice as a tragedy, a bankrupt section of the northern elite comprising some unscrupulous traditional rulers, professional political lobbyists, indecent businessmen, senile retired security personnel and some accidental state governors deliberately misrepresented that noble mission of ours. This uncultured section of northern elites went to great pains to downplay that decent expression of patriotism and love of our country and fellow citizens.
“Accordingly, we remind the nation that so long as the Fulani would not be allowed to enjoy their citizens’ right of living and flourishing in any part of this country including the South, no one should also expect us to allow any southerner to enjoy the same in northern Nigeria,” it added.
The CNG said: “While we warn all state governors that stand against the implementation of the Ruga initiative to desist and give peace a chance, we place President Buhari and the federal government on notice that they must act to halt and completely stop this raging madness within 30 days beginning from today, Wednesday July 3, 2019.
“The Nigerian security agencies are also placed on notice to check and bring under control the current unbridled inflammatory remarks by the southern leaders in the same manner they swiftly coined a tag of ‘hate speech’ around the Kaduna Declaration.
“We warn the elders, political and religious leaders of southern Nigeria to urgently halt the inciting remarks that provoke hate against the North, keeping in mind that no single person or group has the monopoly of unguarded remarks that instigate hatred.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we advise the federal authorities and the southern leaders to heed the 30-day notice failing which we would most definitely be left with no option than to consider resorting to our decisive line of action.
“In conclusion, we urge all chapters of CNG, our affiliates and ordinary peace loving northerners to remain calm and resolute as we gauge the level of government’s readiness to act within the 30-day ultimatum.”
They accused the President and northern leaders of being silent when the entire Fulani race is endangered, regardless of the distinction that most Fulani are not cattle herders and that although most cattle herders in Nigeria are Fulani, there are others that are not.
“Because some herdsmen commit crimes, this must not make all cattle herders criminals.”
The coalition added that the President and northern leaders are not bothered that the “current purge in the South does not take into account that the vast majority of the Fulani, including those who are cattle herders – are peaceful everyday people with the same needs, anxieties and hopes as the rest of Nigerians is pathetic and a further confirmation that the northerner is an unprotected orphan in Nigeria.
“And for them to look a different way in the face of the current murderous act against the Fulani is a sealed confirmation of our prediction on the manifestation of gross inequity in a system that tends to solely protect a certain category of citizens and endanger others.”
According to the CNG, the consciousness is eroding that for decades, different southern Nigerian tribes have been accommodated and tolerated in northern parts without discrimination, intimidation, harassment or endangering them, their families, their properties or their trades.
“Notwithstanding testimonies to the notoriety of these settlers in the perpetration, commission, spread and promotion of various crimes and antisocial behaviours that pollute their host communities, these people who refuse to allow northern herders a little grazing space in their bushes, enjoy a comfortable monopoly of the total available activity in our region including dominance in federal and state universities, business and trade environment, financial services and landed property.”
1966 coup strategies
The coalition also drew a nexus between the first military coup in 1966 and the current opposition to the Ruga project, saying there is a “clear pattern drawn from the strategies employed to achieve the results that the coupists of the First Republic failed to realize, namely, claiming ascendancy over the North by downsizing its population through direct annihilation, political manipulation and economic incapacitation. For too long, enemies of the North, both foreign and local have worked strenuously to ensure that the region remains backward, divided, weak, confused and bewildered by myriads of challenges and problems so it cannot survive long in the event of a breakup.”
The CNG equally berated Vice President Osinbajo on his recent comments on the Ruga project saying “apparently obsessed by curious ethnic tendencies, and in a haste to reassure his tribal lords,” Osinbajo quickly retracted by dissociating himself from the Ruga resettlement initiative announced by a government he is part of.
CNG said opposition to the project is now encouraged by the persistent hate-filled utterances by various shades of southern leaders and fuelled by the equally venomous sermons by their priests.
“The cleansing operation also derives inspiration and support from the damning remarks of their state governors, who also emphatically denounce and reject every effort to share space with fellow Nigerian citizens of northern extraction.
“Yet neither Buhari’s presidency nor our northern leaders could have the courage to see any element of hate in the war tunes constantly sounded and danced to by these warmongering southern elites the way they were quick to coin the phrase “hate speech” against us barely two years ago.
“Having come this far, we restate our emphatic repudiation of the vilification of one ethnic and religious group or the other for whatever reason or justification and deem the targeting of the entire Fulani race for vilification, systematic dehumanization, profiling, alienation or any action that will render them object of attack and persecution, not only immoral and illegal, but also abhorrent to our sensibilities and ordinary decency”, the coalition submitted.
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