The Nigerian Federal Government headed by Muhammadu Buhari and the Northern Elders Forum clashed on Friday over the poor state of the nation, particularly on insecurity and economy recession. The Northern Elders Forum, represented by its spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, declared that the country is collapsing due to the lack of effective leadership and good governance. The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, countered the claim stating that the northern elders were critical of the president because they wished the government to collapse.
Both parties spoke on Friday morning on a Channels Television programme, titled Sunrise Daily, monitored by Saturday Tribune. To the Northern elders, the country has become extremely insecure because we don’t have a leadership that shows capacity in governance and in securing the nation.
“We are not winning the war against Boko Haram and banditry” Baba-Ahmed said while mocking the Buhari government for claiming success over the terrorists in the North East.
“The people know that the government has failed to secure the nation. We wished that what Malam Shehu is saying is true but it is not true. Insecurity is increasing under their watch,” he said while adding that when Buhari came, Boko Haram was the only problem but today banditry is everywhere. These he said were in addition to threats against national unity and cohesion.
Baba-Ahmed added that this government does not have thinking capacity. They don’t know that there is a connection between their weakness and the opportunism of criminals. We don’t want to bring down Buhari’s government but we are asking Buhari to work. What do you tell parents whose children are kidnapped?”
The Northern Elders Forum spokesman also said that banditry had become a big industry in the North on Buhari’s watch, declaring that there is failure of leadership. The presidency has run out of ideas. He however, called on the government to put a stop to kidnapping and pull the country back from the brink.
According to Baba-Ahmed, the country’s condition has become precarious with respectable people and highly placed individuals now openly declaring that they no longer want to be part of Nigeria, because it is too insecure.
“If the presidency does not see this as an existence threat to the nation, then we are in greater trouble,” Northern Elders Forum spokesman, Baba-Ahmed declared.
In his response, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu reminded Nigerians that the country was in a very terrible shape when Buhari took over power in 2015. He added that the president was addressing all challenges, including insecurity, even as he admitted that crime and criminality were destroying the country.
According to his words; “We are making progress in all the key policies. It is unfortunate that the opposition is exploiting the crises but the president is not distracted,” he stated.
On the criticism of the Buhari regime by the Northern Elders Forum, Malam Garba Shehu averred that while the people had the right to tell the truth to the government, they cannot bring down the government.
He stressed that in a democracy, governments come through periodic elections unless Baba-Ahmed does not believe in what he has been teaching his students all these years. The presidential spokesman, who noted that the North East had been stabilized by President Muhammadu Buhari, however, urged Nigerians to give the new service chiefs a chance, lamenting that we don’t appreciate the sacrifices of our service men.
He stressed that contrary to the picture painted by the Northern Elders Forum, the government is not overwhelmed by the various security challenges it is facing. He added, however, that crime was destroying and complicating situations for the system as it kept changing in form and strategy.