The leadership and members of the Northern Elders, Professionals and Stakeholders’ Forum [NEPSF] have faulted the recent call for the sack of service chiefs by the pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere.
The group asked Buhari to ignore the recent call, saying that some political enemies have infiltrated their midst.
Chief Simon Shango, National President of the group in a communique after a stakeholders’ meeting mourned with President Buhari over the recent murder of some soldiers in Melete, Borno State.
Shango, a formed editor of Daily Times Newspapers and Publicity Secretary of NPN lauded Buhari for his efforts to restore peace to the nation.
The communique reads in full:
There is no doubt that these soldiers died for us to live and we are optimistic, the supreme price they paid for Nigerians and our fatherland would not go in vain. As we mourn their sudden passage to eternity, we pray Almighty God to grant their gentle souls peaceful rest in His bosom, as well as comfort the nation.
Sir, we consider it another rare compelling reason for us to scribble these few lines to you. Though, you are still in mourning mood, but we are also stimulated by the prevailing tragedy which befell the nation to empathize with you.
It is completely unnecessary to repeat what is already known to you and millions of Nigerians. But for the sake of emphasis, let us remind you about some of the issues which have already come to your attention.
It belittles reasoning and sense of patriotism that ethnic bigots, enemies of Nigeria, political charlatans, particularly, the opposition elements in Nigeria to so bizarrely seek to use the deaths of our soldiers in the hands of our mortal enemies as campaign weapon to fester their political nests. It is against the precepts of morality and spirit of fraternity or commiseration for families of the slain soldiers.
We perused some of the recent outbursts, the latest emanating from Afenifere, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group. We disappointedly discovered to our dismay that these anti-Nigerian forces may have infiltrated their ranks.
So, the agenda to lend supportive pillars to the atrocities of Boko Haram terrorists through media propaganda is only deemed complete, when their internal allies intentionally disparage your laudable efforts to contain these religious extremists bent on violent occupation of Nigeria.
The pro-Boko Haram disposition of these tribal associations, manifested more glaringly in the communiqué issued by Afenifere after its monthly meeting, which took place in Akure, Ondo state at the house of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
To say, we were shocked that the Afenifere enlivened the campaign for the sack of the incumbent Service Chiefs is to put it politely. But the infusion of a political tone into an otherwise mournful comments by praying God to “…give us a leadership that is more than equal to the challenges we face,” grassed the partisanship of the group on the matter.
And smarting from this mindset, Afenifere besmirched every effort made by your administration in the past three years, which has given respite to Nigerians, especially the communities in the Northeast, where the furnace of Boko Haram insurgency burned very hotly.
This is not a platform for us to engage the elders of Afenifere on a battle of words; but suffice it to say, their remarks were uncharitable, unpatriotic, misplaced, mendacious and grossly leading. The comments are condemnable and a tacit bolstering of the terrorists triumph and burgeoning to rise against our nation in pseudo might. That’s why they freely quoted unofficial and inflated figures of casualties of soldiers in the Metele attacks.
Indisputably, Afenifere is not blind to the commendable result-orientated selfless efforts of your Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai in the war against insurgency.
The welfare of troops is his topmost priority. And in spite of his tight schedules reflected in the supervision of troops all over the country, Gen. Buratai regularly visits the theatre of operation in the Northeast. It has been his commitment and cardinal focus since he became leader of the counter-insurgency operations.
Nigerians with untainted hearts have seen and felt the victories of our gallant troops against Boko Haram terrorists a countless times. And the determination of the Nigerian troops to sustain the winning streak against insurgents has remained unbroken and stanch.
But desirous to smear the image of your Presidency, the Afenifere has unconscionably queried the utilization of the $1 billion released for arms and ammunitions procurement. This in itself, is crying wolf where there is none, as attested by the Nigerian Army’s massive killings of the insurgents in their hideouts in Guzamala and other parts of the north-east.
We reiterate that the war against insurgency under your command and watch has recorded resounding success. Nigerian territories seized by Boko Haram terrorists have been reclaimed; nearly 20,000 thousands of Nigerians held hostage by terrorists have been rescued; sounds of bomb blasts no longer resonate in Abuja and other cities of Northern Nigeria, which insurgents held by the jugular before your Presidency. We are proud of you.
We have no scintilla of doubt that the war against terrorism as championed by the Nigerian Army and other security agencies is on course. And Nigerians are poised to resist any attempt to politicize these efforts. We shall not accept any unwarranted criticisms, as we encourage you to ride on. We pledge our continued support.
In all honesty, Afenifere cannot pretend ignorance of these milestones in the counter-insurgency operations. To therefore, berate your efforts because of the deaths of some soldiers, painful as it is, should not offer them a window to promote their narrow political interests. It is disservice to our nation.
We are obliged to call for more synergy among the various arms of the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency in our nation. We want to see more support to our ground troops from the Air Force, especially at critical times, as revealed by the incident in Metele.