The sultan said the governors must show practical commitment to discharging their duties by avoiding procrastination and implementing decisions capable of turning around the poor situation of the north.
Coming from the sultan, it is an indication that the northern establishment is set for self-evaluation. It is no longer prepared to pamper the issue of poor development in the north as the sultan’s call on the region’s political leadership to brace to the challenges of development is unmistakeable.
At a joint meeting of the Northern Governors’ Forum and traditional rulers at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House in Kaduna yesterday, the sultan said the northern elite must throw away their lazy attitude.
He urged traditional and religious leaders to guard their utterances and avoid inciting words which could cause chaos, saying that negative stories could be circulated by rumour mongers on the social media.
“During our last meeting six months ago, we spent a lot of time to discuss many things, but from the earlier discussion, is the north much better now than we were six months ago? If yes, it means we are making progress, if no, why?
“All that has been the problem is to implement decisions taken at such a meeting by everybody. I think we are not short of solutions to all our problems, what we are short of, all of us, is sincerity and commitment to really do what we say publicly. If we don’t change, our situation will continue to get worse.
“At this meeting, we need to discuss what came out of the January meeting, how far we have gone in trying to implement some of the decisions we have taken and chart the way forward.
“I should remind us, so many of us who are also religious leaders, to be cautious over inciting utterances and ambiguous words on issues that shouldn’t have been brought up.
“What we do or how we go about some of these issues, you don’t make ambiguous statements which will be very difficult to withdraw. We are aware of the implications because the social media is so negative now that people formulate stories that never existed and polish them to be true,” the monarch cautioned.
While commending some governors for hard work and resilience with regard to education in the north, he said the traditional rulers were collectively committed to making the north the envy of the rest of the world.
“But we have to and we must be up and doing, we must throw away our lazy attitude because whatever problems we have in our region, we are more educated to find solution to them. I assure you of our support, and you must continue to see us (traditional rulers) as partners in this long and tough journey to emancipating our people from the grip of poverty and lazy life.”
The governors cautioned those agitating for restructuring of the country and the protagonists of the Republic of Biafra against endangering the unity of Nigeria, saying that the nation might not survive under such divisive tendencies.
The Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum’s and Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima who spoke at the meeting listed the current issues threatening the unity of the nation as the agitation for restructuring, creation of a Biafran State and the Fulani herdsmen’s attacks on communities. He urged prompt action to tackle these issues.
Shettima, who was represented by the Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari at the two-day meeting which began yesterday, said: “Agreed that being citizens of a democratic country, Nigerians are entitled to exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and association, and the clamour for the restructuring of the country falls within the purview of these freedoms. But the exercise of such rights outside the confines of responsibility is not acceptable.
“The resort to shenanigans, hate speech, and sometimes incitement to violence by organisations such as IPOB and MASSOB must be unconditionally condemned as they are inimical to national unity, stability, peaceful coexistence and national security.
“These elements must be encouraged to pursue their agitations within processes enshrined in our constitution and with the full and willing participation of all parts of our nation.”
The governor urged southern leaders to condemn the agitation the way northern leaders condemned the ultimatum given by some northern youths to Igbo residing in the north to leave by October 1.
On the dangers allegedly posed by those agitating for restructuring and a Biafran State, the northern governors drew attention to contemporary history of countries where such tendencies led to destabilisation.
“We must constantly be aware of the terrain and times. We have a country that has gone through a civil war, military coups and counter-coups, some of them bloody, prolonged military dictatorships, several false starts as a democracy, insurgency and banditry and a huge youth population whose huge expectations are far from being met.
Our peculiar circumstances have made it difficult to deliver and what we need is trust and hope to see us through the difficult times. We shall overcome, but we need all the survival techniques our collective talent can muster.”
The governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, in an address, said: “We commend the resilience of our communities in the North-East which has begun the process of recovery from the ravages of insurgency.
“Security remains a challenge across our states. The frequency and savagery of communal clashes in some of our states, and the prevalence of untoward phenomena such as rural banditry, cattle-rustling and kidnapping need to be tackled.
The festering sores left by previous conflicts in which proper closure, accountability for crimes and reconciliation were not effected appear to be accelerating a descent into impunity and a situation in which many elites are too short-sighted to recognise the dangers of embroiling our communities in repeated cycles of violence.”