By SaharaReporters, New York
The Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) this afternoon in Abuja has told the elite of Northern Nigeria to forget them in their 2015 presidential bid. The forum said it will no longer be cajoled in believing in one monolithic North irrespective of religion and ethnicity.
In a communiqué issued at the end of NOSCEF and the National Executive held in Kaduna on May 3, the Christian elders bemoaned the behavior of theNorthern elite and elders whom they accused of using the name of Sir Ahmadu Bello and Northern Christians in achieving political interests.
In the communique, which was signed by Evangelist Matthew Owoijaye, Chairman of NOSCEF, and IliyaYusuf, General Secretary, the Forum called on the Northern Elders and Muslim Ummah to call Boko Haram to order.
“The members of Boko Haram are not spirits,” they said. “They are flesh and blood. They live in houses, eat food somewhere and sleep somewhere. How come Village Heads and Traditional Rulers claim not to know them?”
NOSCEF also called for a National Conference. “We need to restructure Nigeria, the communique said. “We want the 6 geopolitical zones to become Regions with a little alteration here and there according to the wishes of the people.”
They said they would like to see each zone manage its resources and pay tax to the federal Government as it was in 1960 and 1963 constitution. Under their proposal, the Federal Government“will take off its hands from Education, Agriculture, Water Resources, Industries, Mineral Resources, Research and Technology, health, Power Generation, Women Affairs, Youths and sports, Works and Housing.”
Below is the full communiqué:
1. The meeting noted the deterioration of security especially in the north eastern sector of Nigeria and now encroaching into the middle belt of Nigeria.
2. Alarming still is the incessant and deliberate attacks bombings and shooting innocent Christians even at their places of worship i.e Churches – Kano, Plateau, Borno, Bauchi, Abuja,Gombe.
3. The reason Christians do not retaliate is not because we are cowardly but because that will be a sin. It is unfair to go and attack, kill or maim people that are innocent, that may not even know the attackers or may even hate what the attackers are doing. What offence did the worshippers in the churches commit against Boko Haram?
4. We had given the Federal Government of Nigeria time to retrain their security forces on how to tackle terrorism. Our patience is running out. We are hereby blaming the Federal Government for any woes visited on us.
5. We congratulate the Speaker and Faruk Lawan group for doing a bold job.
6. We also congratulate President Jonathan for not intruding in the probe. We condemn in totality the attempts to make Nigeria ungovernable.
7. We send our condolences to the family that are bereaved in these bombings and attack, may the good Lord comfort them.
8. We want to remind the northern politicians that 2015 is very close by their silence and inaction concerning our plight strongly noted. Let none of them come near our doors saying we are one hen it is time to canvas for votes.
9. We send a strong objection to those who are usingSardauna’s name to project themselves. Sardauna had Dr. BarauDikko a Christian as his personal physician and Chief SundayAwoniyi a Christian as his Secretary. Alas, today those who delight to use his name are overtly or secretly promoting or rejoicing on the genocidal war against Christians in the northern states. How would Sardauna feel now if he were to see the havoc wrought on the northern states by its own people?
10. Sardauna did not accumulate wealth neither did he loot the treasury. Those who lap on his name do not show any resemblance to Sardauna. Sardauna would not have kept quiet or sponsored the heinous crimes and vicious attacks on Christians in the northern states.
11. We hereby call on the Northern Elders and MuslimUmmah to call Boko Haram to order. The members of BokoHaram are not spirits. They are flesh and blood. They live in houses, eat food somewhere and sleep somewhere. How come Village Heads and Traditional Rulers claim not to know them?
It is the African tradition that fathers call their children who are misbehaving to order. It is a mark of failure for a father to invite the police to dialogue with his errant son. Police do not dialogue; they prosecute. How come the Northern Elders are calling on the Federal Government to dialogue with BokoHaram? Is it not the duty of these elders to keep their wards in check?
12. We call on the Federal Government to refuse to be intimidated and to show that they are not intimidated by bringing the sponsors of Boko Haram to justice. Security forces claim they have arrested so many members of Boko Haram. Have they not gathered enough information to move against the sponsors who want to make this country ungovernable if they are not in power?
13. TRUE FEDERALISM
We are hereby calling for National Conference. We need to restructure Nigeria. We want the 6 geopolitical zones to become Regions with a little alteration here and there according to the wishes of the people.
Each zone will manage its resources and pay tax to the federal Government as it was in 1960, 63 constitution. The Federal Government will take off its hands from Education, Agriculture, Water Resources, Industries, Mineral Resources, Research and Technology, health, Power Generation, Women Affairs, Youths and sports, Works and Housing.
The Federal Government will be solely in charge ofDefence, Foreign Affairs, Customs and Aviation.
14. The Region s and the Federal Government would share Judiciary, the police and information ministry. All the Federal Government Parastatals and Ministries that siphon trillions of naira every year will be scrapped. Wastages and outright looting of public funds would be a thing of the past. Each region will develop at its own pace. The Federal Government will get less than 30% of what it is getting now. Taking power at the centrewill become less attractive.
15. ALMAJIRI SCHOOLS OR MUSLIM MISSION SCHOOLS
We Christians in the northern states welcome the idea of the Federal Government helping almajiri schools in the present set up. We view almajiri schools as Muslim mission schools. We Christians also have our mission schools. There is only one main difference. The Muslim almajiri schools teach only Islamic studies while the Christian mission schools teach Christian religious studies and include secular subjects like physics, chemistry, biology which schools in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran,Iraq also teach. The Federal Government has released N5 billion to the Muslims, we congratulate the Minister of Education for that. We however remind Mr. President that the Christians are waiting for their own N5 billion naira. We remind Mr. President that the constitution forbids him favouring one religion above the other.
16. RECRUITMENT INTO THE POLICE
Our security men are overstretched. We suggest that the Federal Government should go into massive recruitment of graduates into the security system Nigeria would be able to curtail violence while at the same time employment will be available to jobless graduates.
17. KEROSINE SUBSIDY
We must maintain subsidy on kerosene for 2 main reasons
i. That is where the masses benefit
ii. High price of kerosene will lead to depletion or our forests, or our savannah trees in the north, leading to desert encroachment. Nigeria will then have to turn round and spend billions of naira in stopping desert encroachment.
18. We warn the National Assembly and the Federal Government not to turn deaf ears to the cry for a national conference. It is an urgent need. Failure to do this may consume them as it may consume Nigeria.
19. We agree with Elder Dr. Maitama Sule that Nigeria should not be allowed to break. We commend the Northern Elders for calling for meetings to see how to build unity in the North. Christian Religious study is not taught in government schools in the core north. It was shocking to us that the Northern Elders invited our leaders to the meeting but did not allow them to speak even after they had introduced themselves. There cannot be one North without equal treatment. They should concentrate on getting three friendly regions out of the North than thinking of the north as one region again. Situations have overthrown the idea of one north.
20. What took place in Bayero University Kano (BUK) would have not happened if the Christian community were allowed to have their own Chapel. We hereby call on the Federal Government and Head of Federal Institutions to allocate land for building of churches in the nineteen Northern States.
Evangelist Owojaiye Engr. IliyaYusuf
Chairman NOSCEF General Secretary