You are on page 1of 3

ACF has failed the North Group From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna Tuesday, March 27, 2012 From

the Arewa Renaissance Initiative, ARI, came a damming verdict that the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, a group put together about 11 years ago, by eminent northerners and traditional rulers, to be the voice of the North and lead the way in search for a direction, has failed.

Photo: Sun News Publishing

More Stories on This Section

Similarly, while insisting that what should bother the North now should be how to make the governors in the North work, with a view to reducing the high rate of poverty and illiteracy in the region and not 2015 presidency, the group, led by Professor Ibrahim Malumfashi, a professor of Literary History, also dismissed the proliferation of groups in recent times in the North.The group said they were just the antics of people who want to reassert their relevance, ahead of 2015 elections. Addressing reporters in Kaduna last weekend, ARI, which is advocating for the convocation of a Northern Sovereign Conference, noted that the primary objective of its group, was to sensitize an average northerner, with a view to changing the status quo, where politicians only came around during electioneering, after which the people were left to suffer, with no one rising up to challenge elected public office holders on the need to be accountable to the people. We are not bothered about 2015. That is not our concern. Our concern is the North. We are concerned about making the governors work, by opening up the commercial activities of the region. And we will do this by going to the grassroots to educate our people and make them conscious of their rights. We intend to do this for another two to three years. If people are conscious of their rights, they can hold government accountable at all levels. 2015 is not the problem of the North. But how to feed our people, fix our roads, make our taps run, revive our industries, is our problem. If we are able solve this, 90 percent of our problems would have been solved. In the North alone, we have 16 million Almajiris, roaming the streets, we also have 11 million unemployed youths, doing nothing. So our primary concern should be how to solve this problem, not to be at helm of affairs. Apart from Obasanjo and the present government, we (North) have had it all the way, but how has it benefitted us? We have noticed that for long weve been moving around same pathetic circle because of our inability to imbibe the spirit of our own slogan: One North, One People and One Destiny. It is quite unfortunate that in spite of its shared history, cultural and social integration, the North is still far from being united, contrary to what it pretends to be. Divisive factors of religion, ethnicity and now political party affiliations are used by self-serving politicians and derailed elite as instruments for the manipulation of the common people. Thus, the more the North is divided along these lines, the more the region is manipulated by this elitist group. This group of exploiters may not be at ease with any decisive and practical approach to the reincarnation of One North, One People and One Destiny as advocated then and will continue to feel that way. We have in the past had cause to say this; in terms of party politics, the North now stands

disadvantaged. The purposeful leadership and political ideology implanted by Sir Ahmadu Bello, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, J. S. Tarka and other first and second republics politicians had since waned away. Majority of our current politicians lack political foresight, vision and purposeful ideology to mobilize and make any positive impact on the lives of the common northerner. Theirs is politics with no principles or guiding ideology. No vision, no mission was charted to guide their conduct and affairs while in public office. All over the North, politics is now hijacked by political thugs and political hangers-on, masquerading as leaders and politicians. These are unfocused, unprincipled politicians, who are guided in the conduct of their political game not by the positive change they intend to initiate or bring to their constituencies but by how much they could individually garner for themselves and their children. Now it is crystal clear, the absence of purposeful visionary leadership has rendered the North, vulnerable to ridicule from all sections of the country. While other regions are craving for relevance through well articulated means, the North stands akimbo, watching, living in the nostalgic memory of its glorious past. Every patriotic Northerner must ask himself: Who speaks for the North now? Whenever we ask ourselves this simple question, we always find it very difficult to pin point any who does because, unfortunately, those who are supposed to speak for the North, such as the Northern Consultative Forum (ACF), the Northern Union (NU), the Middle Belt Forum, the academia, non-governmental organizations, human rights activists, students and religious scholars are either fighting between themselves on who is legitimate enough to speak on our behalf or have seemed to have kept mute over the grand northern agenda for total transformation, concentrating only on their individual transformation and entirely relegating to the back seat the plight of the common man, the group added. Explaining further on why it thinks the ACF has failed in its primary responsibility, the group further said a situation where the forum goes cap-in-hand to state governors for contributions has eroded its moral authority. As a group, ACF can run on a shoe-string budget, especially to keep the secretariat functional. Apart from that, we do not see the need for a big budget, let alone a hefty amount, to prosecute its activities. According to reports, ACF is sitting on hundreds of millions of naira in donations and if this information is correct, we find it unreasonable for the forum to always seek endless donations from governors. In any case, a group such as ACF should finance its activities through annual dues and membership fees. In our view, much as ACF has failed, we also have strong misgivings about these nascent groups (Committee of Coalition of Concerned Northern Politicians, academics, professionals and businessmen, which was convened by Dr Junaidu Mohammed. About a week later, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, all former military Heads of State, as well as ex vice president, Atiku Abubakar converged on Abuja under the auspices of Arewa Citizens Action for Change. Similarly, Abdulsalami convened another meeting at his Minna residence, which Mallam Adamu Ciroma chaired, on the state of the nation) for the following reasons: The proliferation of groups in recent times are just the antics of people who want to reassert their relevance, more so, in the jockey that has began for the 2015 elections.

The speculation that both the Dr Junaid Mohammed group and the Babangida Arewa Citizens Action for Change have links with prominent politicians at state and federal levels respectively, lends credence to this fact. The fact that some names cut across the three or four groups show that some of the actors are just looking for relevance or a platform to gain visibility for their own agenda. These groups are just playing politics with the collective misery index of the North, using the Norths backwardness to bargain for juicy political appointments or fat contracts. The problems of the North are too well known to require groups that would articulate them. What is needed is action and not meetings, conferences or workshops. The problem of poverty, squalid living conditions and educational backwardness, as well as diseases, unemployment and the current security challenges that are facing the North can and should be tackled by the governors if they muster the political will. We make this assertion because a governor is the most important political office in Nigeria, because he can determine who becomes a councilor, local government chairman, state or federal legislator, commissioner and even minister. And because they control delegates, who are usually handpicked cronies, collectively, governors can determine who becomes president of Nigeria. It is for this reason that we placed the buck of solving some of the Norths problems at the governors table, the group which comprises professionals and academics of northern extraction, said.