Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Northern mouthpiece, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Wednesday hit hard on former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his recent open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on insecurity in the country.

Obasanjo had in a letter dated 15th July, asked President Buhari to brace up and address the spate of insecurity and poverty in the land.

However, ACF addressing a press conference through its National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad, Ibrahim Biu, said Obasanjo was rather a prophet of doom, rather than joining hands with Buhari to find solutions to the lingering problems.

“Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) is constrained to comment on the letter dated 15th July 2019, by the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari on issues he claimed are “very weighty and must be greatly worrisome to all concerned Nigerians,” hence the reason he made it open.

“ACF appreciates the freedom of expression and the right to hold opinion on all issues as guaranteed by our constitution by individuals or groups, as long as it’s within the confines of the law.

“The forum, therefore, believes that Chief Obasanjo used this privilege to raised the issues which mostly border on insecurity in his latest letter; it must however, be noted that the issues are not new to Nigerians as he had raised them in his previous open letters to the president, so also other Nigerians at different fora.

“All the same, in exercising our right to comment on the letter, it is our candid opinion that Chief Obasanjo being a former president and an elder statesman who has unfettered access to the president should use a better and most civilised way of communicating his views to a sitting president rather than going public to create unnecessary scene and trying to bring down the roof.

“It is true that Chief Obasanjo has become relentless in his self-appointed task of a cassandra-in-chief for Nigeria, always proclaiming doomsday, predicting upheaval and bloodbath, which to say the least has diminished his acclaimed status as a patriot and nationalist.

“As far as the ACF and indeed the North is concerned, Chief Obasanjo lacks the moral standing to make any damning statements against any government considering his antecedents while at the helm of affairs as president. His statements and comments on national issues are neither driven by altruism nor by patriotism, but sheer self aggrandisement.

“What, we must ask, motivates Chief Obasanjo’s current divisive activities? His recent outburst on ‘Islamisation’, Fulanisation’, and ‘Northernisation’ were clearly calculated at causing division and acrimony along religious, ethnic and regional lines which is most unfortunate. The former president knows more than any other Nigerian that there is no such thing as Islamisation or Fulanisation in the North’s agenda.

“Enemies of the North chose to propagate such negative narratives only with the view to causing disharmony among undiscerning Nigerians. Unfortunately, many including the highly-educated and politically-sophisticated elites have unwittingly fallen into the trap of believing in Obasanjo and his ilk.”

ACF also called on Nigerians to avoid generalising all Fulani as criminals, adding that it is wrong to give ethnic and religious colouration to criminality.

“The forum notes with sadness how the negative stereotype associated with the issue of “Fulani herdsmen” is gradually degenerating into a national crisis. We find the assertion that every crime committed in, especially the southern part of the country, as being committed by Fulani herdsmen, irresponsible and deliberately aimed at achieving some certain diabolical objectives.

“The narration that every criminal, armed robbers and kidnappers are Fulani herdsmen because a Fulani man is at helm of affairs is a dangerous precedent which has to stop. Criminals must be regarded as criminals without giving them any ethnic, religious or regional coloration. ACF therefore calls on groups and individuals who engage in such narratives to rise above such pettiness.

“We must realise that insurgency, banditry, kidnappings and armed robbery are our common enemies. We must join hands in finding a lasting solution to the menace.

“There is no gain saying the fact that the country is currently facing dire security challenges with its consequences; however, we must quickly add that the challenges are as a result of cumulative failures of past administrations.

“ACF notes the efforts of military, police and other security agencies in curtailing the menace of insecurity; however, it urges the government to be more decisive in dealing with these security challenges, more so that unpatriotic forces are taking advantage of the situation to forge ahead their evil agenda of destabilising the country.

“The president, more than ever before, should re-jig the nation’s security apparatus for effective performance. Furthermore, the forum appeals to the Federal government to employ both security and political solutions to the various challenges facing the nation.

“ACF wishes to reiterate its belief in the unity and invisibility of Nigeria. Our diversity in cultures, religions and tribes should be positively harnessed for the common good of all,” the body stated.