By Kolawole Oloyede
The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has called on the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, to be wary of mischievous Nigerians who may want to seize the opportunity of the absence of President Muhammad Buhari to cause rancour between him and the ailing president.
The elders also warned those seeking to achieve “dubious political goals” and “undeserved political advantages” to desists to steer clear.
Deputy Leader of the forum and Second Republic minister of information, Paul Unongo, on Thursday in Kano gave this warning while reading a communiqué of the forum jointly signed by Ango Abdullahi and Mouktar Mohammed, a retired Air Vice Marshal.
The forum said: “We are aware that attempts are being made to exploit the absence of President Buhari to achieve dubious political goals and we warn those seeking undeserved political advantages to desist.”
The group addressed the press after a two-day visit to Kano.
Their host and governor of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje, said the forum expressed its full support for Acting President Osinbajo and urged him to exercise responsibility as he did in the past with commitment and respect for the constitution.
He said: “We urge him to ignore mischief which seeks to pitch him against the President or the Nigerian people whose mandates they both exercise.”
According to him, NEF has followed national issues very closely, particularly in the past few months, “when our democracy, political unity and national security have come under serious scrutiny.”
The elders also stated that “as is the tradition of the forum, we have restrained from idle and unproductive engagement which only divert attention and dissipate energy of leadership at all levels and create tensions where none are necessary.
“We commend the steadfast respect for the constitution in the manner the President assigns responsibility to Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, whenever it has become necessary for him to travel for medical treatment.”
The group said it expects that the task of governing the nation will continue uninterrupted, until the return of President Buhari, and appealed to all “persons with responsibility to cooperate fully to sustain a united, focused and committed administration.”
The forum said it noted a “renewed interest in the clamour for political restructuring of the nation, and sentiments which tend to create tension around our coexistence as a nation that is diverse and united.”
“For the record, the forum wishes to state that the North welcomes honest and sincere discussions on all aspects of our existence, and remains available to engage any group to discuss and advance the nature of our union.
“We however resist the attempts to create the false impressions that the North is hostile to enquiries into the basics of the nation’s structure and operations.
“We will also join other Nigerians in resisting any attempt to seek sectional and parochial goals outside the constitution and the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The forum also welcomed the release of 82 Chibok girls, and appealed to the administration to intensify efforts to free all other abducted persons from Boko Haram.
The statement called on persons in leadership positions to work “much harder to reduce poverty, youth delinquency and unemployment.”
“Northern Governors in particular are reminded that they carry huge responsibilities to exercise mandates which expire in 2019.”