Facts emerged on Friday that the visit of some Northern leaders to President Goodluck Jonathan last Wed-nesday, during which they discussed how to end the bloodbath in the area, is breeding bad blood among leaders in the region.
Apparently, those riled by the visit are hardliners opposed to Jonathan’s admi-nistration.
The reaction of Dr. Junaid Mohammed confirmed the division of Northern leaders on the visit to Aso Rock.
Mohammed, spokes-person of the Coalition of Northern leaders, academics, professionals and businessmen, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, chided those who parleyed with the President.
He noted that some, who paraded themselves as true representatives of the North, were indeed far from what they claimed to be.
He said, “Many people are going about by the name ‘northern leaders.’ Some of them have gone to the President to claim that they are representing the North when they are not.
“I don’t want to be seen as that. They went to the President to say that the North is with him.
“He is the President of the country and should not wait for anyone to tell him those (who are) with or against him.
“Is it our right to quench crises in the north?
“The President be-lieves only in his tribe and that is why he has put them in strategic positions and even when they are not doing well, he dare not remove them.
“Look at the Ministry of Petroleum. Look at the scandals coming from there?
“Has the President deemed it fit to remove the woman? No! So, let him run his government the way he likes?”
Jonathan has been a subject of many rough political tackles from the core north since he became the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential flag bearer and winner of the 2011 election.
Prof. Ango Abdullah, who was on the team that visited the President on Wednesday, had earlier urged the Federal Government to implement some of what he called “well intentioned” findings of probe panels on sectarian crises that had ravaged the North for many years.
Abdullah believed that lipservice paid to recommendations of previous probes and bad governance encouraged the current wave of terrorism in the North.
The Northern leaders visit came on the heels of a call from the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, on May 24, to religious and political leaders from the area to close ranks.
He had advised them to resolutely declare to end the orgy of bloodletting, which had claimed thousands of lives in Maiduguri, Kano, Kaduna, Potiskum, Suleja, Bauchi, Jos, Abuja, amongst others.
The Sultan had said, “We must come back to our senses and say firmly and resolutely that enough is enough. The bloodshed must stop. Each and every one of us must come to appreciate that we cannot continue on this destructive4 path.”
His admonition came while addressing the Central Council of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam in Kaduna.
While some traditional rulers and opinion leaders have welcomed Sultan’s concerns, others remained indifferent.
One of those who supported the Sultan’s call is an ex-Deputy Senate President in the Second Republic, Alhaji Mamman Dan-Musa.
He cited lack of proper education and unemployment as the root of the violence; and lamented lack of genuine concern to solve the country’s socio-economic problems.
He told SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday that, “The solution lies in sincerity of purpose in tackling the problem, but what we have now is lip-service. I thought really that somebody like any of the Emirs or governors would by now assemble the northern leaders to find solution to the problem.
“The violence has greatly affected the region, because if Kano is affected, the North is affected. Kano has over the years, been a big supplier of raw materials and finished products through trade links with countries like Niger, Mali, Cameroun and Burkina Faso, among others.
Dan-Musa disclosed that Sultan had been networking to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
He explained, “Also, there is a new group (Northern Elders Forum) led by Alhaji Maitama Sule, which the Sultan also met. The Arewa Consultative Forum and the Maitama Sule group have agreed.
“So, we are waiting for the two groups to create a platform for us to meet and start to look for solution to the violence.”
However, a former governor of old Kaduna state, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, simply retorted, “The Sultan is a leader; he should know what to do. I don’t want to speak further on the issue.”
Similarly, the Federation of Middle Belt Peoples was cold in its response, describing the Sultan’s call as belated.
Its coordinator, Mr. Manasseh Watyil, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said since the President said the terrorists were in his cabinet, he should endeavour to fish them out.
He explained that a dialogue could only be done with people interested in reconciliation and not with a faceless group, adding that if Boko Haram wanted peace, they were welcomed.
Watyil said, “The Sultan’s call is belated because of the havoc already done. Churches have been burnt; our people have been destroyed, and have become refuges in our own land.
“Who are we going to dialogue with? If the Sultan knows where they are, he should talk to them.”
However, the Secretary-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Abdul-Lateef Adegbite, from the South-West, in an interview called on the political class in the North to denounce the on-going terrorism in the area.
According to him, “The Sultan wants all Muslim leaders to publicly reject terrorism. We are making comments and we shall continue to dissociate ourselves from terrorism.”