The Presidency on Tuesday berated the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) for asking a section of the country, the Igbos, to secede from Nigeria, saying that it is “delusional arrogance” for them to “publicly state terms and conditions for the existence of our nation.”
In a Press Release titled “STATEMENT ON THE CALL BY “NORTHERN ELDERS FORUM” ASKING A SECTION OF THE COUNTRY TO LEAVE THE FEDERATION,’ Presidential Spokesperson, Garba Shehu, queried who gave them the “right to ask for the exclusion, or expulsion of any one, group or section of the country from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
According to the statement by Garba Shehu, “we are aware of the latest statement from the so-called “Northern Elders Forum”.
“We wish to reassure Nigerians that it remains their democratically elected leadership which takes the decisions that steer our nation – and no one else.
“No self-appointed and unelected group can take this right from Nigerians – no matter how much coverage they might enjoy in the media. Nigerians listen to elected leaders, not opinionated tin-gods who have no traction with any responsible group.
“It is a delusional arrogance that would lead such a group to publicly state terms and conditions for the existence of our nation.
“Who gave them the right to ask for the exclusion, or expulsion of any one, group or section of the country from the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
“The Nigerian government does not take guidance nor invitations from such groups – only from the Nigerian people who put governments in office.
“Any group can refer to themselves as “leaders”, but in Nigeria, if you have not been elected by Nigerians to a leadership role, then you are not – and the government certainly doesn’t recognise you as such.
“Like many other countries around the world, Nigeria is feeling the strain of the current period of volatility and uncertainty. Now is not the time to seek to exacerbate divisions amongst Nigerians. Rather, we call on all Nigerians to come together and work to overcome the challenges we face as one nation, one people.”
In June last year, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said in other to prevent another civil war in Nigeria, the Southeast region populated by Igbos should be allowed to secede from Nigeria if the movement is popular among the people in the region.
“The Forum has arrived at the difficult conclusion that if support for secession among the Igbo is as widespread as it is being made to look, and Igbo leadership appears to be in support of it, then the country should be advised not to stand in its way,” NEF spokesman Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said in a statement on Monday
“It will not be the best choice for the Igbo or Nigerians to leave a country we have all toiled to build and a country we all have responsibility to fix, but it will not help a country already burdened with failures on its knees to fight another war to keep the Igbo in Nigeria.”
Baba-Ahmed further stated that standing in the way of the agitators will only worsen the insecurity in the country.
He said the agitation by the Igbo for secession has become widespread, adding that the leaders in the state appear to support the decision.