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SaMBA Spokesperson Rwang Pam said this in a statement on Monday.
He said that the NEF’s statement lacked any basis, wondering how the group could resort to such lowly submission when the nation was still battling with its unity.
“Let Dr Baba-Ahmed be reminded that without the Middle Belt, such numbers boasted about in the North are mere political posturing. It is disheartening that Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed will make such reckless and careless statement at a time when we are still battling to keep the country united,” he said.
“One would have expected that the retired permanent secretary with his exposure and academic prowess, will choose his words carefully, but it is quite unfortunate that NEF will talk recklessly.
“It is certain that some liberal-minded people in the North will be shedding secret tears as a result of the statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), because it is based on a delusion of a ‘one north’ that has treated the Middle Belt region as second class citizens.”
SaMBA noted that the so-called ‘North’ could not boast of numerical strength to win an election without reckoning with the force of the Middle Belt and other northern Christians that had decided to work with their southern Nigeria counterparts to produce fresh and effective leaders for the country.
Rather than boast of numerical strength to win elections, SaMBA asked the NEF to look for ways to turn the numerical strength into productivity.
“Nigeria is presently rated as the poverty headquarters of the world, because of poor standards of living in the region under the present leadership.
“We, therefore, urge liberal minded northerners to work with the Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA) to produce a new crop of leaders in 2023 with the requisite competence, character and courage to usher Nigeria into the 21st century.”
NEF Spokesperson Hakeem Baba-Ahmed had, during a public lecture at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, weekend said that the region ‘inherited’ leadership and would not be intimidated from taking a shot at the presidency in 2023.
He noted that the region was humble enough to know that it would run Nigeria with other people, but it would not play second fiddle to anybody.
Though the region’s economy is in a shambles, Baba-Ahmed said people from the region would fix it, stating the region was not for sale.
He said anyone who did not like it could leave the country if a northerner was voted president in 2023.